Friday, March 21, 2008

Being Happier: Friends and Where You Live

Sorry for the lag in posts, but I was in California (the Bay Area) enjoying life! I had a wonderful trip and it helped me remember 2 important things:
- Life is much better when you can share it with friends

- Where you live can have a big impact on your happiness
My closest college friends are in the Bay Area and it was great to spend time with them. There's something special about feeling comfortable and "at home" with old friends. They know you well, they understand who you are, and you can easily talk about anything. It could be a serious topic, embarrassing experience, or frivolous banter - all are welcome and expected.

While I have a healthy number of friends, as I get older I've been finding it more important to hang on to the good ones. It takes a long time to build up a "crew" that you can just hang out with. Especially when moving to a new location, it takes a while to build up that base of friends that you can call up for dinner randomly and feel comfortable sitting around with playing cards and looking up choice YouTube videos.

I used to think that I could be happy in any environment. While it's basically true, I know that I could be even happier in certain locations over others. I think it's important to find a location that is a good match for who you are and what you enjoy. There are certain universal factors to consider to help find a match:
  1. Weather (seasons, amount of sun, rain, cold, etc.)
  2. Type of people (friendliness, ethnic mix, acceptance)
  3. Culture (art, music, events, food)
  4. Lifestyle/Hobbies (what people do, popular activities)
  5. Values or Priorities (what is important to the people who live there)
  6. Existing friend base (who do you know where?)
  7. Rural vs Urban (population density, access to nature, commute, strip malls, etc.)
I've sampled a number of places and have lived/spent a lot of time in NY (Queens, Long Island, Manhattan, Brooklyn), Boston (Cambridge), CA (SF, Oakland, Palo Alto), and DC (VA). I've found that certain pockets of the Bay Area would be an ideal match for me in terms of a place to live.

It's frequently sunny, people are happy (for the most part), it's not too cold, there's culture if you want it, people are generally concerned about health and the environment, and there is plenty of open space and access to different types of nature in a 3-4 hour car ride (beach, mountains, foothills, desert). Just being there for a long weekend was enough to remember why I like it so much.

A walk around the Stanford Dish or Arastradero Preserve, with a short drive to Mount Tam or my favorite winery Chateau St. Jean are reason enough to move back. Then the thought of being able to enjoy them with my close friends and I'm sold!

  • How much of your happiness based on where you're living?
  • How much of your happiness based on being able to share it with good friends?
  • Which is more important to you?

1 comment:

Rob said...

Wish I could have been there!