Where Is Your Happy Place?
The term may be familiar to you, a common occurrence amongst us westerners who seek to attach labels to everything within society, both physically and existentially. But what exactly is a happy place? And, perhaps more importantly, where is it? Of course the answer to the latter question is different for every single one of us but the fundamental definition of a happy place can be applied across the globe. Somewhere we are, quite simply, happy.
Firstly, people can have a physical, tangible happy place and also an internal, almost spiritual one. The modern obsession with mindfulness appears to have commandeered the term for its own use but I think a special location can still be termed as a literal happy place for an individual. In fact, I have a few of them of my own which I’ll describe a little later. So back to the definition of a happy place. People who practice mindfulness (which, according to people who practice mindfulness, should be everyone) believe humans can learn how to calm their minds and create their own internal, portable, always accessible happy place. If you’re stressed at work or at home, take your mind to a happier place, they suggest. A place where you are at peace, relaxed, able to distress from daily life. If you want a laugh, please check out the WikiHow page: How to Be in Your Happy Place.
Personally, I don’t think visualising yourself somewhere else, as recommended by WikiHow, is really what the mindful crew were getting at. Mindfulness is about getting in touch with yourself and learning to be happy and content within your own life, not wishing you were somewhere else. It teaches you to identify problems or stresses and deal with them, rather than spiriting yourself psychologically away to a tropical island with an ice cold cocktail. That’s not mindfulness, that’s denial. I do, however, believe that everyone should practice how to get to their subconscious happy place. Not by visualising somewhere else, but by understanding what can help make our own reality a happier place to be. Being able to remove yourself from the stresses of daily life, decompress (without a good glass of wine), take stock of your position and rationalise yourself are all excellent skills to have and can help you may practical improvements to your own life.
That said, I’m not sure I have them personally. At the age of 26 I’ve still not come up against many stressful situations and I am usually a happy, upbeat person. I suppose I have a little way to go on an individual level to find my virtual happy place. Physically, however, I have one. Several in fact. The first one is, predictably, the village where I grew up. From a young age, I was soothed by the sensation of winding down the country lane towards my cottage when we returned from holidays. Now I’m living abroad, those emotions are only heightened when I travel for my annual trip back to the house in which my parents still live. Perhaps it helps that when the car crests the top of the hill the beautiful valley beneath is sprawled before me, beckoning me forwards into the familiar forests and farmlands which constituted my childhood playground and make up the memories of the happiest, most carefree years of my life. In fact, I feel like Ed Sheeran’s recent hit Castle On The Hill was written about where I grew up. There also happens to be a castle perched atop the hill above my village. Yes, England really is that quaint.
For any of you who have read my previous blogs, you can probably guess that my second happy place is Cambodia. Is it possible to have an entire country as a happy place? It seems a little greedy, perhaps, but it’s true. Ok, I have bad days here and there are aspects of the country which are challenging, but for the most part the simple act of stepping outside my front door makes me smile. I’ve never lived somewhere like that before (sorry two places I lived for university). Whether it’s the people or the food or the general atmosphere, there’s always something to make me grin. And no, it’s not perfect. All people are flawed so why can’t our happy places be too? It makes them more real, more relatable. Our minds may conjure up the perfect place for us to escape to but they don’t exist. Nothing in this world is perfect. Plus, you’re only supposed to be looking for your happy place, not the perfect place. Flaws are natural and should be accepted wherever they are found; people or places.
My final happy place is my bed. I’ve always been a good sleeper and simply adore curling up beneath my sheet (Cambodia is too hot for duvets) and watching TV or chatting with friends, almost always accompanied by my cat. It’s a comforting, familiar and ultimately personal space in which I feel safe. This didn’t change after I began working from home either. I was concerned spending 10 hours a day sitting at my desk at the foot of my bed would somehow alter my perception of the simple bedroom I have rented for over two years. It hasn’t, however, and when I clock off from my writing, I simply rotate my computer screen and click onto YouTube. Perhaps that’s my fourth happy place…
Every person is different and, of course, every person has a different happy place. But the feeling we get when we enter them, virtually or physically, are the same. Each and every person can feel comforted by a place, by a memory, by an overwhelming sensation of belonging. I guess some of us are lucky enough to have found our happy place. For others, the search continues.
Go. Do. Experience. More Good Deeds.