I was listening to a podcast the other day where the host remembered a quote from a famous author about where you are impacting how you feel — and unfortunately, he couldn’t remember the author’s name.
The point of the podcast host’s offhanded, unattributed pseudo-quote was to support one of his concepts for creative self care: put yourself physically in a place more conducive to creative thinking.
I remembered that when I came across this quote from Adam Grant in my notes on his most recent book, Think Again:
“Our happiness often depends more on what we do than where we are. It’s our actions—not our surroundings—that bring us meaning and belonging.”
It got me thinking. What matters more, really? What we do or where we are?
If you’re doing the wrong things in the right place, are you happier and more creative than if you’re doing the right things in the wrong place?
This article in the Washington Post suggests that where you live has a massive impact on your health and happiness. The writer makes a compelling case.
I wonder, though, if location is more of a luxury, while doing meaningful activities is more accessible.
I’m lucky enough to live in Colorado, a state with great natural beauty and 300 days of sunshine a year, in a city with glorious hiking trails, great restaurants, one of the highest concentrations of authors in the country, and a burgeoning art scene. Also, I love what I do for a living. I wonder if my love of writing would sustain me if I was forced to move somewhere that made me less happy. I also wonder if this location would sustain me if I was forced to do something else to make a living. In my mind, one feeds the other in a continual feedback loop of satisfaction — and I would truly struggle if that loop were broken. Yes, I see the privilege in my position!
Yet if I were forced to choose, I would choose writing over living in Colorado. To the podcast host’s point, an inspiring location doesn’t have to be a city or a state — it can be your bathtub, your neighborhood, your local coffee shop. Heck, I’ve found happiness while thinking and daydreaming in bed.
An ideal location and meaningful activities are a magical combination. There’s no doubt about it. But I would put money on the fact that we can all probably find places that make us feel happy, wherever we live.