In the last year, I’ve put a huge emphasis on finding my happy place.
I see it as being a goal of gross importance; finding that one location where I feel the most inspired, relaxed, or content. Recently, I discovered that there’s a wider movement focused around this concept, called shinrin-yoku, or ‘forest bathing’. It’s a branch of nature therapy, and it literally involves going outside, surrounding yourself with nature, and soaking in the atmosphere around you.
So, that’s what I’ve been doing.
Admittedly, I already had a few locations in mind, as I’m a regular explorer of the outdoors, but I needed something truly special. Unfortunately, I was ultimately unable to pick one individual location, and instead, I landed on three. Although, is that really a problem? If there are more places in which I can be truly happy, that must be a bonus.
I believe that everyone can find at least one happy place, whether it’s a lakeside retreat, a forest path, or even something as simple as an open field. It could be your back yard, a sandy beach, or the park you ran through as a child. If it makes you happy, it fits the bill.
Walking Back To Happiness
The first of my locations is a sprawling, historic national park, located a few minutes from my home. It’s located in the heart of my county, and it is a hugely popular destination for those looking to enjoy a beautiful walk, regardless of the season or the weather.
You can lose yourself in this park, spending hours wandering around expansive lakes and floral gardens to your heart’s content. There are evergreen pine forests, cascading waterfalls, and, bizarrely, Roman ruins that were imported from North Africa, many decades ago. It’s a gorgeous location that makes me feel so relaxed and inspired, and I take a walk there at least once a week.
In the summertime, it’s simply breathtaking, with the early morning sunrise glinting off the surface of the gargantuan, man-made lake. There are squirrels skittering through the undergrowth, and all manner of wild birds chirping in the trees. This is shinrin-yoku — enjoying the abundant nature to the full extent of its offering.
Happy Memories, Happy Place
My second happy place is located a little further from my home — some 110 miles away, to be precise. It’s a quaint and picturesque hamlet that sits perched atop a cliff, lined with a pebble beach and the frigid waters of the English Channel. If you didn’t already know it was there, you’d barely notice its existence.
It’s a tiny place; a minute collection of single-track country lanes flanked by cottages and quiet residences. There’s no real draw to the hamlet — there are no stores, no attractions, and nothing to explore, but it’s somewhere I just cannot keep away from. There are few places on Earth where I feel happier than I do when I’m there.
Last year, I drove there for a walk.
That’s right, I made a 220-mile round trip for a simple stroll along the pebble beach, soaking in the summertime sun and listening to the waves lap at the shore. It was an impromptu visit, which is honestly something that happens remarkably often where I’m concerned. I bought a small carton of gelato from a mobile ice cream truck and strolled up the seafront, the gulls calling out high above me.
It’s a meaningful location to me because it’s the first location my wife and I ever took a break away together. It was our first taste of independence; a few days down by the coast on a ‘staycation’ that still lives on in our hearts almost a decade later. If I’m honest, it’s a dream of ours to relocate there permanently, but that’s a story for another day.
If We Could Turn Back The Clock
My final happy place is nothing more than a simple town, but it’s special to me because I lived there, once upon a time. It was a location in which I felt as though I’d be happy forever, surrounded by nature, broad forests, and sparkling streams. I was only a teenager when I lived there, young, excited, full of life, and bursting with potential.
I can’t remember a single bad day from my time there. I was outside more than I was indoors, and I spent as much time as possible climbing trees, jumping into ponds, and riding my bike through remarkably clean streets. This happy place is an entire town, from border to border, and I try to visit the location at least once a month.
It isn’t too far away, and I can feel my spirits being lifted from simply passing through the area. Again, it’s that overwhelming force of nature that propels me ever forward. I trek through the forests there, or stroll across the ‘village green’, breathing in the fresh air, and I’m rejuvinated.
Again, it’s that shinrin-yoku.
Find Your Place
I urge you to find your place, regardless of where it might be.
Shinrin-yoku has to be connected to nature in some way, whether that’s a river, a beach, a forest, or a mountain, but that doesn’t mean your happy place can’t be urban. It can be be in the centre of a bustling city, or located in the heart of a busy shopping mall. It doesn’t really matter, so long as you’re truly happy there.
It could even be thousands of miles away, deep within another country. There could be an ocean between you and your happy place, but it’s still your happy place.
Go out there and find it.
Thank you for reading.
About the Author
Grant Taylor-Hill is a freelance writer, podcaster, and motivator, with a background in support and team management. He’s a writer by trade and a gamer by passion, and he absolutely loves inspiring others. In his spare time, he produces three podcasts and is constantly expanding his network. Connect with him on social media; just search Grant Taylor-Hill.