Popular psychology suggests that happiness has nothing to do with weather. People get used to a mild climate very quickly, happiness research suggests. According to this research, Florida is not gonna make me happier than Michigan this winter. That may be true…but it doesn’t seem true to me.
I never take the delicious feel of the sun on my skin for granted. I love the greater mobility and peace of mind snow and ice-free roads affords me. But happiness is more complex than that. Without the snow and cold to hinder me, I get around more, and being active, researchers agree, does contribute to happiness.
I’m not sure why I had to move to another state to figure out that I needed to get busy and move my body more, engage with other people, socialize more. I had to come here to figure out I couldn’t just sit in my room every day and write my book. I need to write, but I also need to get out and about, meet people, be social, do stuff like dance. I really danced a lot last night at a Valentine’s Day party here. My new friend Karen was out on the floor with me as were others I’ve met since moving here.
In Florida (Dad calls it “God’s waiting room” because so many people move here after retirement), the condo associations do all kinds of things to bring people together socially. A healthy social life makes a happy person, researchers agree. And here the calendar is full of different kinds of events every day, all opportunities to meet new people. When I decided to go to the Big Dance a couple of weeks ago, I started dropping in at a line dance class that meets twice a week at the clubhouse, just a stone’s throw from my condo. Yes, I was rusty with the dances, but moving that way, however awkwardly, brought me joy. And class was mild compared to really dancing like I did last night.
I sat here this morning and tried to figure out how long it’s been since I’ve danced like that. My body says a really long time…and after thinking about it, I’m pretty sure it’s been three years! This from a woman who used to go dancing every weekend. All the things I used to do somehow slowly dropped away in winter, snowflake by snowflake. I pretty much stopped pursuing activities that are proven to increase happiness, like socializing and dancing. Despite what the research claims, moving to a warmer climate has made me very happy.