Sunday, October 21, 2012

the big announcement

the other day, i watched a wonderful documentary entitled "happy", and it proceeded to examine several different people and groups of people in different areas of the world to determine what makes people happy.  sounds like a pretty vague concept, no?  well, it wasn't.  check out the trailer:

i was glad to see that much of the information presented was not only observational, but also information backed by scientific study.  one of the most interesting studies they brought up was one in which it was determined that 50% of our happiness level is determined by genetics, and only 10% is determined by our circumstances; i.e. our job, our health, how much money we have, and where we live.  only 10%!  this leaves 40% that is determined by what they call intentional behavior, in other words, actions that we take in our lives to cause something to happen.  this can include exercise, social activities, etc.

wow!  here i have been spending the last few years thinking that a move to another city would have a major impact on my level of happiness, when the research shows that our choice of where we live is only a portion of a 10% impact!

well, this took me by surprise, indeed!  but here is the thing, and i promise that this is leading up to the BIG ANNOUNCEMENT.  the thing is that i watched this documentary after making the decision behind the BIG ANNOUNCEMENT.  so while this information did not have a direct impact on my decision, it certainly did help to support it.  so here is the BIG ANNOUNCEMENT:

i am not moving to san francisco.  

that's right.  i am not moving out of los angeles.  i am not, as the saying goes, leaving caLi(forniA).  here is how it came to pass...

i was riding my bike to the counseling center to see clients on a saturday morning, when all of a sudden i had a sensation in my body.  this sensation "told" me, in no uncertain terms, that i was not going to be moving.  and when i felt it, i was immediately aware that it was a certainty, and that i would not, indeed, be moving.  the next sensation i remember feeling was relief.  and then, out of the blue, while riding my bike to the center to see clients, i did the most unusual thing--i started laughing.  and later that day, when i got back to my apartment, i looked around and i actually said to the walls, "i am not leaving!", and i meant it.  i would not be dismantling and leaving this apartment that i love so much--this place that has been my home for the last ten years.  you can take a look for yourself at these photos from my airbnb profile:

the main room looking toward the dining area
the dining area and my childhood piano
my office and beloved bookshelf
my sunny kitchen

the sanctuary
can you see what i mean?  and can you see why it is hard to get excited about leaving this rent-free two bedroom apartment in order to move into the highest rising cost rental market in the united states?  i think that i have been down this year because i have been failing in my attempts to get excited about living in the bay area.  i have been able to get excited about leaving los angeles, just not living in the bay area, if that makes sense.  i feel that there has been a developing suspicion that all would not be that much different up there, i would just be in such a worse place financially, at least for a couple of years.  and maybe that was fine when i was in my 30's, but in my 50's, after working my whole life to build a bit of a comfortable life, i just can't see the reward in throwing that away for the chance that i may rebuild it again in the future.

here is the bottom line:  i knew i could never stay in los angeles out of fear of moving.  i knew that the only way i could stay is if i came to the decision that it was what i preferred to do.  and the truth is that i do prefer to stay--at this time.  it will be SO much easier to study for my MFT licensing exam, take the exam, and build a practice while remaining in my apartment and being in the same city as my support system.  i already have clients who i can move into my practice, i already have friends, and i already have a setup that makes it easy to slowly build a new practice without the worry of financial hardship or pressure.  it just took me five years of processing to come to that decision!

of course, you know what i am doing here...i am building up evidence to support my change of mind.  but i'm not doing that, really, because the change of mind came about as a result of evidence, not the other way around.  i feel that i really thought it through.  there is a wonderful book (of COURSE there is a book involved!) that i read last year called "stumbling on happiness" that i may have mentioned in my posts before.  one main point of this book is to illustrate how poorly we generally predict our own happiness in the future.  we think about all the goodies that we will get by doing something or moving somewhere, and ignore all the unpleasant details.  then we do the thing or we move to the place and discover that it is not all we had thought it would be.  well, that is something that i cannot afford to have happen.  so my though process involved as much bad as good, and at the end of the day, the good that i came up with did not outweigh the advantages that i have in staying here.  and it all came to me while riding on my bicycle.  pretty perfect, i would say!

so now what?  well, i have some work to do on my relationship with los angeles.  i will tell you this--i AM excited about exploring possibilities for increased community here, it will just take more effort than i have been investing.  but one benefit that has already manifested is that i have been able to break the news to my friends here, who have surprised me with their expressions of relief that i am not moving.  i am very moved by this.  and the blog?  well, just because i am not leaving california now doesn't mean that i won't eventually might just say that i have delayed the process for a while.

so stay tuned, folks...


  1. You know Tony? This does make sense to me too! I have found when one plans something, whether big or small, so far in advance that as time passes and we get closer to the event, the energy/initial impetus has changed......for any number of reasons.
    We are pros at this and it's the main reason we don't plan anything too far in advance unless we really have to.
    But the advantages of doing so are many, as you have stated. Getting closer to a timeline can really peel away the any perceived advantages. I guess reality has a say in the matter.
    Hey, it works for you at this time and that is a positive thing.
    Have a great week in that fabulous city of LA!!!
    Which I am sure it is. We just hear about the other stuff.

    1. your comments are always wonderfully supportive, jim! maybe you are onto something there with the planning too far in advance thing, but the truth is that this is just really the worst time that anyone could move to san fran, what with the prices and the state of the economy. i can tough it out here for a while longer, and since i am staying, i will actually be toughing it out less than i would if i were to move my life to a new place. relief!

  2. That definitely is big news -- and much more interesting than Trump's attempt at being newsworthy. Glad you decided to stay for now. I agree, it would be difficult to leave such a beautiful apartment, and I love the bookshelf (which is something I need to get instead of using the IKEA plywood thing I currently have).

  3. I don't know if my last attempt at posting succeeded. Blogspot is being temperamental today.

    Your news is definitely bigger than Trump's attempt at being newsworthy. Glad that you decided to stay for now. I agree about the apartment, especially that bookshelf (of which I am incredibly jealous).

    1. well, greg, the bookshelf IS ikea--got it years ago for $99. i think they now run $199!

  4. hohoho
    so many religions and philosophies have been saying this for ages! It is nice to see it 'confirmed' though.
    Good move on your part, not to move! :-)

    1. thanks, michael! it really is pretty simple, this happiness thing. but damned if we don't work harder than we have to, mostly by completely going around the easy route.

  5. I just discovered your blog from a comment on my blog ;-). I look forward to reading it.

    1. thanks brent! that's how it works, it seems, we "find" each other! glad to have you stop by.