Someone once told to me that the city was not meant to be lived in. That quickly caught my attention. As someone who was born and raised in a big city, namely New York City, I disagreed with him. What is there not to like about the city? There are so many different places to eat, things to do and people to meet. It has EVERYTHING!
“Don’t let the bright lights fool you”, he said. People were originally from rural areas. Cities were eventually formed as central hubs for commerce and trade. When people started moving in for work and convenience, life began to change.
They become restless – always on the go and worrying about things. They always want more and more. Why is that? Influence from society and constant comparison of social status with others play a huge role in fostering that mindset. People are sometimes so “consumed” that they forget why they are doing it in the first place. Perhaps that is what happiness means?
A friend of mine from Ecuador, who grew up in the country, told me that life was relaxed, peaceful and joyful back then compared to the rushed, tense, and restless life in New York City. People took their time to enjoy others’ company in all that they do, whether it was work, play, cooking or eating together. She told me that her family had very little back then, but they were happier as well.
I saw it for myself when I visited in Nepal. Coming in contact with the local, mountain people during a trek, I felt a sense of community, positive vibes and friendliness. I recall one night dancing with the locals as part of their nightly ritual. It was so care-free, non-judgmental and most importantly, fun. Their simple lifestyle and attitude evoke happiness.
In regards to the city, how is it that people live under the same roof, yet they seldom sit down and eat together? How is it that there are millions of people in the city, yet many are lonely and depressed? How is that city dwellers have what seems to be infinitely more than do country dwellers, yet they are still unhappy?
It is ironic how some people sacrifice to come to the city with hopes of a better life, but just to find it to be worst. The “bright lights” of the city can alter our mindset and blind us from what is most important and conducive to our happiness.
We can change our “city mentality” through awareness, knowledge, and experience. A great way to achieve that is by traveling outside the city. We can learn so much, especially from other cultures, by visiting non-tourist dominated areas. The energy and connection that we experience from the exposure will have a great impact on us.
Be more curious about people’s values, way of thinking, way of life and ideas of happiness. Be less concerned about the money and goods they have. There are happy people out there who are willing to share their secrets with us.
The takeaway message is to never forget our own family values, culture, respect for ourselves, respect for others and the priority to be happy.
Sometimes we need to get away from the city to put our mindset in perspective and question our artificially constructed views.
Sometimes we need to take a step back to move forward.