I live where it gets cold and snowy, and we average around 53% of possible sunshine a year. A lot of people get depressed because of the cloudy days, and many outdoor activities can only take place from March through September unless one really likes the cold. Which begs the question: why the heck do people still live here?
For me, this is the region that I grew up in and the region that I’ll probably be staying for the rest of my life. Other than the cold and clouds, we really don’t have much else to complain about. We don’t have a lot of severe weather, and our risk is almost non-existent for hurricanes, earthquakes, and wildfires.
One of my co-workers lives in Ventura, California. He and his family had to evacuate this week due to a wildfire that is knocking on his front door. In fact, the fire has already consumed several houses a mere 3,000 feet from his backyard. His location gives him great access to the Pacific Ocean, Los Padres National Forest, Yosemite National Park, and a ton more national parks and recreation areas. And the high temperatures never really stray much from 60-75 degrees for all of the months of the year. But, he is at risk for wildfires such as the current one, and earthquakes.
Would he trade his location for mine? No chance. Would I for his? Nope. Sure, the climate, recreational areas, lakes/oceans, and other natural features are checks in the Pros column, and the natural disasters are checks in the Con columns, but what really holds one to their current home? A Pew research poll shows that almost 4 out of 10 adults in the U.S. have never moved from their hometown, and almost 6 out of 10 have never moved from their home state. And the ones who do leave, the top answer for why they leave is a job or business opportunity. For people who live out West, they are more likely to state that climate and recreation are the reasons why they stay where they do.
But comparing the region where one lives to another’s is fraught with danger and competitiveness. Just ask anyone from Ohio what they think of Michigan, and vice-versa. Unless we know someone’s true motivations for living in an area, what cause have we to tell them that our region is better? But what I can do is be grateful for where I am. Sure, there are a lot of people who have no choice in where they are living. Perhaps they are tied there because of a job, or family, or other commitment that they cannot break. I’m definitely not saying that they should be grateful for their circumstances unless they truly can be grateful. And for me, I can be grateful for these reasons:
- I am close to family.
- I enjoy the seasons, including winter.
- The climate keeps certain animals, bugs, and reptiles to the south of me.
- I am close enough to drive to several of the Great Lakes, not to mention thousands of inland lakes.
- I can live close to work, without too much of a commuting hassle.
- I’ve been here for over 20 years, so I have an extensive friend network.
But why do this exercise of being grateful? I think I overlook the obvious things I could be grateful for sometimes. And being grateful has some awesome health benefits, such as:
- Being grateful can improve my sleep.
- Being grateful is good for my heart.
- Being grateful can help me cope with stress and can give me mental strength.
For today’s deliberate action, I will daily try to be grateful for where I am planted at this moment. I can continue to frown at the annoyances of this climate and traffic and other negatives of this region, but my sense of gratefulness should far overshadow anything I can come up with. And if it doesn’t, then I should just get the heck out of Dodge.