What Makes Us the Happiest About the Places We Live
You can sense it when you walk down Main Street on a warm afternoon. You will find it under the Friday night lights at high school football games. You will hear it in the laughter of children at the local parks or in the jovial banter at the coffee shop. You will see it as you run errands and bump into people you know. Hometown pride. No matter how far we travel, we always remember the things that make our hometown special: from a mom-and-pop restaurant to a local sports team, a favorite bench in the park to an annual summer festival, these are the things that create a source of pride for residents.
We read a lot about what makes Americans satisfied with their personal lives, jobs, and careers, but much less about what makes us satisfied with the places where we live. I have long argued that if you can choose where you live, you should always choose somewhere you do not need a coat. What can I say? I like our mild Lowcountry winters. Interestingly, statistics show now more than ever, people are relocating to communities not for jobs alone but also for quality of life. Other research is showing that it is not about finding the best place to live for you; it is about learning to love the place you are in, no matter where that is. You can choose to love your hometown. Simple as that.
You must admit that it is nice being able to count the traffic lights on your fingers. We are pretty much an hour from some amazing places no matter which direction you choose to drive. We enjoy the best of small town living with easy access to city life. People here say hi to you and smile at you. That does not happen everywhere.
It is important to keep in mind that your hometown (neighborhood, church, workplace, school…) reflects you. So, if there are things you do not like about it, you should do the things to make it better and ranting on Facebook does not count. Attend meetings, join committees, volunteer, if you see something that needs doing, do it.
We all have different routines, backgrounds and moods and we all see and experience our public places differently. From time to time when we are out and about, we come across something so joyful, beautiful, unique, or simply fun, that it gives the whole place a better experience. What would happen if we shared these moments? What if highlighting our positive experiences could change the way we collectively see and appreciate our town? Wouldn’t it be fun to see places through new eyes and start seeing positive features? Whether you have lived in your town your whole life or you just moved there, take the Hometown Pride challenge. Look for the beauty in where you live and share it!
Previously published in Hampton County Guardian Augusta Chronicle USA Today Network.