“A man is not where he lives but where he loves.” ~Proverb
I have moved 19 times in my life. At first it was from an adventurous spirit. I lived in Alaska for a summer in college and moved to the Southwest after graduating just because I’d never been there.
After I got married, the Navy decided my moves. My officer husband was stationed overseas, which gave me the opportunity to live in Japan for three years.
When my husband left the Navy, work opportunities drove our moves. Naturally, I have enjoyed living in some places more than others. Every location has its plusses and minuses.
The main lesson I have learned from my many moves is that home is wherever I live. My family is my home, and where we are located doesn’t really matter. I don’t have one location where I have spent a significant amount of time so I can’t say, “Oh my home is in _________.”
I have had to learn to make my home wherever we end up.
Moving can be hard. You are so new in the beginning. Just the simple things like how to drive to the grocery store from your house can be a challenge. Finding a good eye doctor or knowing where to get the best hair cut can seem like big mysteries. Realistically it can take up to a year to feel like you have made any friends.
Everyone handles change differently. When my mother moved from sunny, warm Florida to the cold, wet northwest she was miserable. She resisted the change, refused to see the beauty around her, and chose to be angry the whole time she was there.
Some people have the opposite thought. They think that moving will make their lives better. They are unhappy with their friends or family and think a change of location will fix their problems. They feel miserable in their job or neighborhood and long to escape. Everything will be so different if they just lived somewhere else.
The thing is, joy is not something you find outside of yourself. Joy is something you bring with you wherever you go.
If you are someone who responds to situations with anxiety or are shy and have a hard time making friends, moving to a new state is not going to magically make you brave and outgoing. If you can’t find a good romantic relationship in your current location, you are not going to have your phone ringing off the hook from all your potential suitors somewhere else.
You are still you no matter where you live. You will bring your insecurities, your quirks, your fears, and your strengths with you.
You can’t run away from your problems and you can’t find happiness if you are going to hang onto resentment and anger when you end up living somewhere other than where you think you want to be.
Like Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
So, if a move for work or change of life situation is in your near future, here are some suggestions on how to make it a joyous transition:
Choose to see it as a grand adventure.
Ignorant people refuse to learn new things. Be an intelligent person and learn as much as you can. Approach every situation with great curiosity. Every person you meet is a potential new friend. Every place you go is an exposure to newness that can only expand you as a person.
Explore your new location.
Challenge yourself to visit a new museum, local attraction, or event every weekend. Read the paper, look things up online. Explore the possibilities in your new area. You can find many free events so this doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money.
Introduce yourself to your neighbors.
Don’t sit back and wait for them to greet you. Be proactive and get to know them.
Ask for help.
If you need to find a good doctor ask your co-workers. If you can’t find the local Target ask your neighbors.
Immerse yourself in the area and try to make as many connections as you can.
Join clubs, volunteer at your church, become a board member of your home owners association, volunteer at your kid’s school.
Cherish your family.
Stay in contact with your friends. Talk to a friend if you feel lonely or overwhelmed. Remember you are loved whether they are with you in person or not. Facebook, email, and social media make it extremely easy to stay in contact with people all over the world.
When I lived in Japan email was new and Facebook didn’t exist. Letters took a week to make it home. The time difference was the complete opposite; our morning was their night. Now it is so easy to remain in contact. You can instant message a loved one and gain comfort in a conversation at any time.
If you want to move so that you will improve your life or escape from your problems, I encourage you to start making changes now. Remind yourself that wherever you go, there you are.
Your problems will not change; so if you are lonely, make friends now. If you are bored, sign up for a class, learn a new skill, or invite your friends over. You find your joy within not from someone or somewhere else.
“If you want to be happy, be.” ~Leo Tolstoy
Photo by Lel4nd