In my adult life I have moved houses eleven times. It may not seem outrageous but counting the 12+2 years spent in our current home, we did move a lot from the ones that did not last more than two years. What is interesting is what made me move and how I found my new home each time. I believe there is a sweet balance between over-planning and following your gut when choosing a city, a neighborhood, a house. 

Here are my most memorable moving decisions to share. It started with being able to afford a really posh but small place on the 42nd floor overlooking Lake Ontario in downtown Toronto as newlyweds. There was not enough space for our clothes and our combined households, let alone an office. I learned to improvise: the small balcony became our summer dining room, the furniture had to be light and was constantly moved to accommodate office work, dinner parties and other projects. I never minded because the walls of window overlooking the lake and the city were my mansion.

It also taught me that I am not a city person. No matter how convenient the location, I prefer my privacy to not be shared with a 24-hour security guard.

Fast-forward to living with a toddler in crazy expensive California. Before relocating here to temporary housing, I had one day in-between work meetings to explore the Bay Area. We had learned that San Francisco was too cold for our taste, so we had to start our search from scratch.

I put our son in the car and drove south, planning to explore the beach and not worry about housing for now. Heading down Hwy 17 I saw a sign for Los Gatos which I thought was too cute a name, and on pure impulse, drove into town. It was so breathtakingly beautiful as I pushed the stroller down North Santa Cruz Avenue that I never made it to the beach.

Los Gatos, California has been our home for the past 18 years, raising our children and making wonderful friends. Interrupted by four years in India (finding a home in Bangalore is an entire story in itself).

What I remember is that we never questioned settling here. Things fell into place despite many obstacles. We found a great landlady who rented to us because she wanted a little boy to live in her house. We won a bidding war to buy our home because the seller liked us. 

All I can say is follow your instinct. Yes, decide what you cannot do without, such as schools and commuting times, but remember that you have alternatives. Between us, my husband and I have had long commutes lightened by flexible work arrangements, working from home and easy commutes. If you plan to stay, plant roots. If you know it’s only for a few years, ask yourself what kind of lifestyle you would like to experience. My own lesson? Home is where your heart is. 

Have you ever noticed how contageous the negativity can be? Particularly when you feel lonely and any kind of a conversation is better than none? Before long we find ourselves pulled into emotions of the negative neighbor or a person next to us in the supermarket, trying on their situations and judgements, venturing deeper into what’s not even our true feeling…  Just remember, it is always your choice!  Here is a great recent piece from personal development coach Manuela Pauer on negativity:

For some reason, I have been noticing a lot of negativity around me lately. There are updates on Facebook with various complaints, meetings in which people focus on all the things that are going wrong, and even when walking Rafa (our doggie) the other day, a regular park patron greeted me with “You are late!” rather than a “Good morning!”

Maybe you have noticed this phenomenon as well or have even felt more negative about things yourself. Why is it so much easier to be negative and how can we change it?

Over our lifetime we all accumulate various memories – some good, some bad. However, even when we have more positive experiences than negative ones, we remember more of the negative experiences. This is because our brain has a preference for recalling and reacting to unpleasant memories. This is called the “negativity bias” and it has an important evolutionary reason: To help us survive by avoiding danger and keeping us out of harm’s way.

The problem is that luckily most of us don’t have to deal with daily life or death situations, so this bias for negativity is causing us needless suffering. While we often cannot prevent negative experiences from happening altogether, we CAN create much more balance by fostering positive experiences and really internalizing them.

In the book “Buddha’s Brain”, Rick Hanson suggests a 3 –step process for focusing on the Positive:

1. Actively look for the good and positive every day

Every day, there are positive things all around us – someone is nice to us, we see a beautiful flower, the smell of an orange, interesting clouds in the sky, we finish a project – but we just let it roll by. Instead of just letting those moment go by, bring mindful awareness to them. Open up to them and let them affect you.

2. Savor the experience

Really stay with the experience for 5, 10, even 20 seconds – don’t let your attention wander to something else. Focus on your emotions and body sensations and let the experience be as intense as possible. Pay attention to what is rewarding about it (for example, how good it feels to get a great big hug from someone you love.) All of this will help strengthen the implicit memory so you can carry it inside you and remember more easily.

3. Fully absorb the experience

Imagine or feel that the experience is entering deeply into your mind and body, like the sun’s warmth that is soaking through. Keep relaxing your body and take in all the emotions, sensations, and thoughts of the experience.

The good news is that there is plenty of opportunity to practice – every day we experience 20,000 moments! What positive moments are you noticing and savoring today?

About Manuela Pauer

manuela pauerManuela is a Certified Professional Coach and workshop leader. Her passion is to empower women to find more meaning, balance, and success, and to finally be happy with themselves and their lives.

Manuela loves helping professional women bring more balance, happiness and success into their lives! Visit Manuela’s Website for Professional Life Coaching and Powerful Workshops.