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Do you find the place that you live in boring and uninspiring?
Do you wish you lived somewhere else?
Do you constantly dream of other locations?
When you go on holiday, do you dread coming back home?
A month ago, Lee and I were visiting family in his hometown – a small working-class Lancashire town in the North of England. I personally love it there. The surrounding countryside is lovely, cheap pubs are plentiful, there are many excellent museums and historical sites within a short train ride in any direction and the town is just the right size so that I can walk to everything I need.
The Leeds to Liverpool Canal near Accrington, Lancashire
However, I have had this very same conversation with many locals:
Them: That accent’s not from around here is it?
Me: No, I’m from Canada.
Them: What do you think of it here?
Me: I love it here.
Them: *Astonishment and disbelief* Really?
They will then go ahead and tell me why I must be crazy because Canada must be so much better than this part of the world – this horrible and bleak stain on the map that I have found myself in.
I’ve already outlined the
reasons why I love it in Accrington in another post, but I think the point is more to do with perception. You see, I believe that I would have a good chance of enjoying myself whether I lived in Canada, or in New Zealand or Australia, Cambodia, Iceland, Sri Lanka, or Malaysia. It’s not this location that’s “terrible”, it’s the attitude of the people who are negative about it.
Attitude is Everything
Lee and I were in
Banff, Alberta during our Cross Canada Road Trip. This absolutely picture-postcard-perfect mountain town is so pretty it’s almost hard to believe it’s real. It’s nestled within the world-famous Rocky Mountains, a crystal clear mountain stream runs through it and it offers world-class skiing, hiking, canoeing, and an international backpacker party scene. Deer and elk wander down the street in the middle of the day. Who wouldn’t love it here?
Banff, Alberta, Canada – a picture-perfect town
However, we still managed to have an exchange with a negative local who complained to us that Banff was “boring” and “too cold” and he couldn’t wait to get out. We were shocked that someone could be bitter about living somewhere that people travel from all over the world to visit – but the truth is that it’s all about attitude.
If you have a negative attitude about the place you live, you will not enjoy living there no matter how amazing it is. Never underestimate the power of negativity to find a downside to the most awesome things in the world!
With a negative attitude you could live on a beach in Thailand and complain about the sand that gets tracked in on your floor, or live in the most fascinating cultural district of New York or Berlin and whine about the street noise at night.
The truth is that no matter where you live, the location offers pros and cons. Of course, I’m not talking about people who are living in war torn communities in the developing world, as they actually have legitimate reasons to be unhappy where they are. I’m talking to those who live in nice town and cities in the developed world and constantly complain about their surroundings – without making any effort to change their attitude or move.
Change Your Outlook, or Get Out?
Don’t be one of those people who constantly complains about something, yet doesn’t do a thing to change it. Ok, so you don’t like where you are currently living? You have two options.
Option #1: Change your perspective and discover the positives of where you live.
Option #2: Move.
If you can learn to appreciate the beauty of where you are, you will be happy wherever you live. If you really desire to live somewhere else… then why not get out?
Change your perspective! (McAffee’s Knob, Virginia, USA)
Option #2 Won’t Work for Those Who Can’t Master Option #1
If you can’t learn to appreciate the place that you live in, moving location will only be a temporary fix until the novelty of your new place starts to wear off. For example, you might be a Brit who always complains about the rain, the government, the economy, etc. So you decide to move to Spain and enjoy a better life for yourself.
At first, it was brilliant! You drink wine, eat tapas and get a tan. Everyone back home is jealous. However, after a while, things in Spain start to get on your nerves. Every simple thing takes forever, everyone is so loud and emotional, the bars are all filled with smoke and you can never get anything done in the afternoon because of the bloody Siesta.
Soon enough, you are miserable again in your new paradise and pining for home. Has Spain changed? Nope – it’s all you.
Stop making your happiness conditional on where you are – because there will always be something annoying and irritating about wherever you are. Instead, learn how to make the most of wherever you are, so that you will enjoy living there. That way, you will never have to move away from somewhere to “escape”, you will simply relocate because you are craving a different (not necessarily better) experience.
You don’t have to wear your backpack when pretending to be a tourist in your hometown…
How to Love Where You Live – Treat it Like a Travel Destination
Do you know why you love the destinations you visit on holiday more than you love your home town? It’s because of the way you experience them.
When you are visiting somewhere as a tourist, you experience all of the best aspects of that destination and very little of the bad. You stay in a nice hotel, splurge on a meal in a restaurant, go sightseeing in the prettiest part of the city and visit the best attractions. You spend a little more than usual and you treat yourself to nice things. Of course, you are going to love it there!
What if you viewed your “boring” hometown in the same way? Give it a try someday. Pretend you are a tourist to your region and go a Google search for the fun things to do in your area. Take your camera with you, snap photos of your town’s nicest buildings, sit in the prettiest park and have a picnic, eat at a new restaurant, visit your local museum or go for a hike along a local trail. Imagine you are seeing this place for the first time and seeing the beauty that is there.
Pretend you are researching your location in order to write a book or an article about it. What is the history of the town? What famous people lived there? What did that Victorian building in the main square used to be when it was first built? What are the significant events that shaped your town and gave it its identity? The more layers of history you uncover about a place, the more interesting it becomes.
Also, think about what people different what you might see in the place. Perhaps you find your small rural town boring because there is nothing to do, but if you were a parent with a young family you would appreciate the safe streets and friendly community. Again, it’s all about perspective.
You’re Not a Tree! Uproot Yourself and Try Somewhere Else
“Okay, so I’ve done all of the above and now I appreciate the unique beauty of my location and what it has to offer. However… I’ve lived here a long time and this place just doesn’t fulfill me anymore. What should I do now?”
Perhaps it’s time to dive in and explore somewhere new!
This is where Option #2 comes in – moving somewhere new. If you are craving a change of scenery, there is nothing wrong with going somewhere else. Perhaps you can go
work abroad somewhere else for a year? Maybe you can move from the big city to the countryside or vice versa? Maybe you want to pack your bags and go backpacking for a while? Go for it!
Of course, it is important to remember that your new destination will be flawed as well, so remember that you are not running away from a terrible place to somewhere better – you are simply seeking somewhere that suits your interests at this stage in your life.