Where’s Your Happy Place?

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What constitutes a happy place?  We are all unique in our experiences, thoughts and feelings and our happy places are reflective of that.  There may be many places that make us feel happy and settled.  However, there is generally one or two locations that escalate our wellbeing to another level.

People reading this may be scratching their heads in a bid to recall previous holidays as they cannot bring to mind where their happy place is.  A blessed few will identify their home as their perfect place.  It is rare that our home is exactly how and where we want it to be but can still be our sanctuary.

When times are tough our happy place can be where we escape to unravel and decompress.  It needn’t be a far-flung destination, it could be the canal, Skipton Woods or Whinny Gill Reservoir.

There is a saying that people make a place, I’m more inclined to believe that the presence of lovely people adds something to a place.  The presence of others can sometimes hinder the experience of a place, particularly if the desired state is solitude and quiet.

A friend of mine would identify the stables where her horse is kept as her happy place.  I feel this is a combination of connecting with her beloved animal, being in a rural environment and amongst people who treat her with positive regard and to whom she has a sense of belonging with no explanation needed.

Places from childhood can leave an imprint on our soul of happier times even after the associated people have long gone.  I recall a gentleman who had suffered extreme hardship in childhood which had continued into adulthood.  When his circumstances became unmanageable and his resilience was waning he would take a holiday to a seaside resort he used to stay at every year as a boy when living in a children’s home.  Not only was the resort reminiscent of happy memories, he was able to form new friendships in adulthood as a consequence of the soothing effect on his personality.

There can be a reliance on alcohol to make a current situation or environment more tolerable, unfortunately, it keeps people stuck and prevents them from seeking out their happy place.

When working in the field of substance use I observed an exodus of drug and alcohol users relocating to seaside towns in the belief that they would be “cured.”  Moving away from old associations and cohorts can certainly be helpful in changing behaviour but a change of location does not eradicate dependency, triggers and cravings.

Many residential rehabilitation facilities are located in British seaside resorts.  Opening a multi-occupancy residence is more achievable with a raft of old hotels and grand Victorian buildings available.  There is also some intrinsic programming within us about bracing sea air being good for us and the belief that proximity to water will induce feelings of calm.  There tend to be strong recovery communities in these areas, however, the risk is the prevalence of an active substance using community who didn’t achieve sobriety.

Overseas retreats are a flourishing industry, irrespective of the therapies or treatments provided.  There is an acknowledgement that being in a picturesque setting, bathed in sunshine will kick-start feelings of wellness.

A phrase that is often used is “I have found my spiritual home.”  If a spiritual home indeed exists I would be hard pressed to choose between the whitewashed villages of Andalusia and Giggleswick.  I have fond childhood memories of spending time with grandparents for extended periods in Giggleswick, I also recall the heart-wrenching sense of loss when leaving and returning to “real life.”  Although family members have passed away and only one relative remains, the feelings of complete calm, and peace I feel when around Giggleswick and Settle is staggering.  The altered state achieved never fails to surprise me.  The only place that comes close is Andalusia.

Happy places can change over time as we gather new experiences, finding your happy place can be an exciting process of discovery.

Early morning last week, walking down Otley Street, I purposefully took the time to appreciate everything around me.  I passed a couple standing outside the butchers chatting about how smitten they were with Skipton and what a pleasant surprise it was to have discovered it on route to somewhere else.  If I were a tourist visiting Skipton, it would certainly tick all my boxes.

The journey to find your happy place may not take you as far away as you might think.

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