Happy in Boulder!
What does “balance” have to do with happiness?
By Arn Rasker
Defining Happiness is a tricky subject. Possibly because the term is generally a subjective one to start with. But, somehow, those of us that live in Boulder have the privilege of living in what magazines have described as “The Happiest City” in America. So what does that mean?
No, I don’t think it means that we, here in Boulder, walk around laughing and smiling all day long. Like anyone else, living anywhere else, we have our stressors, problems, and imperfections. We are human, and as humans surrounded by other humans, we know very well that we are not perfect. We make mistakes. We experience tragedies, consequences, and sometimes death. Life in the happiest place in America is not perfect.
I personally believe happiness can be a state of mind… A state of mind that is closely related to “balance”. I believe happiness is actually a measure of “balance”.
Is happiness directly related to perfection? Does perfection have anything to do with happiness? My reaction to that thought is: No, probably not in most cases. The people that I have personally witnessed as being very happy usually did not live in perfect homes, did not own perfect things, and were not surrounded by “perfect” people. Actually, the happiest people I have ever been around, and this is a very personal perspective on happiness, had very little in the way of material wealth. They were also surrounded by people who were human, with all of the imperfections that make us human.
I spent my formative years in Mexico City, a very cosmopolitan and modern city, but I always preferred the rural towns and villages over the big city. I found the happiest people in Mexico in rural villages, where life was generally not forgiving or easy by any measure, and definitely not luxurious. Mexico City has many excellent and often expensive restaurants, luxurious homes, and impressive material wealth. Some of the best restaurants in the world are located in Mexico City. Some of the most impressive architecture and art in the world is located in Mexico City. Some of the most advance manufacturing facilities, producing from automobiles to electronics, are located in Mexico. However, after living in Mexico for twelve years, I never witnessed high levels of happiness in Mexico City, when compared to what I witnessed in the rural areas. The happiest people I have met in Mexico didn’t even come close to having the material wealth of the upper-class who lived in Mexico City. So what is root of this difference in happiness?
Perhaps the roots of happiness are more related to “balance”. By balance, I mean balance between work and recreation, indoor and outdoor activities, warm and cold weather, direction and tolerance, values and respect, goals and reality, safety and risk, etc, etc; … A balance between all of the elements that make up life.
Boulder is a place where many values and cultures intersect. As a town that is founded on an education-and-science-based platform, it is made up by organizations such as: Colorado University, Naropa University, the National Bureau of Standards, the National Institute for Science and Technology, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and many innovative and ground-breaking companies.
Consequently, Boulder has a high number of intellectual citizens, who give the issues that affect all of us a lot of thought. The companies that make-up Boulder’s economy excel in many different areas, from electronics and software, to biology, to biochemical, to chemical, to pharmaceutical, to health, to energy, to metaphysical, to water, to foods, to sports science, and more. Boulder is a place where creative energy intersects business and technology on a daily basis.
Boulder is a place where people work hard during the work hours, and play hard during the play hours. It is a place where dialogue and sometimes arguments take place over fundamental issues, trying to find a “balance” point that is optimal. When you look at Boulder from the outside, it is easy to conclude that we are all crazy. All aspect of issues are brought to the table, and sometimes the issues that are discussed, or the direction of the discussion, seem utterly ridiculous. But ultimately, the process of addressing and studying all options and concerns is a healthy attempt to get to a point of balance.
I personally have made negative comments about many of the issues that have been discussed and voted on, here in Boulder. Achieving balance is not always an easy process. Sometimes you need to hear something that you don’t want to hear, or that you don’t agree with, in order to gain perspective. However, in the end, the mere fact that these often controversial issues are even brought to the table make Boulder a special place. Boulder is a place where thought and dialogue are actively energized, controversial issues are discussed, and sometimes over-discussed. The importance of this process, in the final analysis, is that by doing so, we are closer to achieving a “balanced” perspective. And if balance really does have anything to do with happiness, by reviewing and discussing the complexities and hurdles associated with seeking this balance point, the process seems very worthwhile.
In conclusion, I feel that the mere effort and energy that has been dedicated towards achieving a “balance” point here in Boulder is a reason to be happy.
Realtor & Associate Broker
RE/MAX Alliance on Walnut
1911 11th Street
Boulder, CO 80302