Wellbeing results in optimal health and happiness. I suffered with daily chronic pain for many years. Making wellbeing a focus of my healing has lead the way back to health including pain relief. Making conscious choices about where I live, what I do, who and what I spend time with, how I think and feel, focusing on my values, and making meaning of my life all contribute to my wellbeing.
I live in a small coastal town in far north-western California. I recently traveled to see my daughter in rural Florida. What struck me was how much more our human population is negatively impacting the planet now. I struggled with my mood when I got home around the feeling of doom and depression for our earth. This was familiar. I’d felt this before.
My wellbeing around where I live was high-lighted during and after the Florida trip. I recognized how many choices I’ve made that lead to my good sense of wellbeing. I grew up in the 1960’s to 1970’s in the San Francisco Bay Area. My parents emigrated from England in the mid-1950’s, seeking a better place to live for their wellbeing. The bay area’s population was booming when I was growing up. I witnessed development of wild lands into neighborhoods and the spread of freeways through my hometown.
Wellbeing in Sense of Place
As a child, I knew I loved being outdoors in wild places. Camping was one of my favorite things to do. I loved animals too. What we’re doing to our natural environment saddened me. I felt stressed being around so many people and cars. I was sad for all the wild critters that were being displaced by people, buildings and roads. After a year at the local community college, I chose to major in biology. With my AS I transferred to Humboldt State University, well known for its Wildlife Management program. I was going to save the world! I fell in love with the wildness of Humboldt County. It was such a contrast to the bay area. After getting my BS I eventually moved back the bay area for a few years. But then I came back to Humboldt, got married, and made a life here.
Even Here the World is Changing
Even though I grew up in a metropolitan area, at heart I’m a small-town girl. Behind the redwood curtain, I can hide out and pretend that all is well, that human caused climate-change and natural habitat destruction isn’t happening so rapidly, that the places I love are staying the way I love them. But there’s no salmon season this year. Their populations are too depleted from unhealthy river and ocean conditions. The crabs suffered during the drought years with toxic algae poisoning due to ocean warming making them uneatable. Irresponsible pot farmers are building greenhouses not up-to-code without permits and stealing water from creeks negatively impacting the environment. The list goes on. However, this is still a wonderful place to live. It still gives me a sense of wellbeing. This is emphasized every time I leave, I’m so relieved to get back!
Consciously Hiding Out
I’m aware that I’m hiding out here. And that’s okay. I’m thankful there’s a place like this where I can be out in nature every day, soaking in the beauty, watching the daily and seasonal changes, observing the wildlife, enjoying my community. But I don’t have wellbeing all the time. Nobody does. I do have it enough of the time though that it makes a difference in my overall enjoyment of life.
I recently ran into a wildlife professor I know. He told me about his recent birding trip to South East Asia. It’s really hard to find birds there because even the song birds are hunted and they’re so afraid of people, not like our song birds here which can be pretty tame. He also said were lots of people everywhere there. Not like here, where it’s still fairly pristine.
Coming Back to Wellbeing
When I reached my 30’s I lost my idealism about saving the world. It didn’t seem possible. There was so little positive impact I could have as one person, although I do what I can. In remembering the depression I recall how I came to terms with it, how I got my wellbeing back. I changed the way I think about the world. I accept the world is going to continue to change. It’s not going back to the way it was. I think of planet earth as a giant experiment. I observe and study it with curiosity and I let go of what I can’t control. I’m along for the ride, standing up for what I value, waiting to see the results of this experiment. In the meantime, I choose how I respond to my everyday world, continuing to find my place of wellbeing in this changing world.