Where’s your happy place?

Have you ever noticed your mood changing depending on where you are? It’s a fairly common phenomenon, actually.

For the past few weeks I’ve been contributing to the Stanford University radio station KZSU’s Friday evening news hour, as the show’s emotional well-being correspondent.

Each week, the host, Darlene Franklin, and I explore a topical news item involving emotional well-being. I suggest tips that could help listeners, then Darlene plays short interviews she’s recorded with people on the university campus, commenting on the theme.

We also encourage listeners to contribute to the show with texts and tweets.

It’s such a fun project to work on, and if you’d like to hear last Friday’s segment, there’s a link to a recording below.

But if you don’t have time to listen, here’s the gist of the news story.

Researchers at the Israel Institute of Technology studied 14 million tweets sent by people who were out and about in New York City.

These tweets were geo-tagged, making it possible to identify the precise locations from which they were sent.

The tweets were then run through some special “sentiment analysis” software, that automatically determined emotions expressed by those who sent them.

In this way, researchers could build an emotion map of NYC, showing which emotions were felt where.

They focused on six in particular: anger, fear, disgust, happiness, sadness, and surprise.

So what did they find? Well, a few results stood out for me.

One was that people expressed a wide variety of intense emotions (all those examined, actually) when they tweeted from theatres and cinemas – presumably feeling strongly moved one way or another by the play or movie they’d just seen.

It was also intriguing to learn that the predominant emotion associated with transport hubs, such as railway stations and bus stops, was anger. Let the train cause the pain, eh?

Meanwhile, in terms of happy places, these were often open-air spots such as Central Park and Washington Square.

KZSU listeners had plenty to say about their own happy places – so I wonder where yours is (or are)? Maybe you’ll share them in the comments below.

My three Moodnudge suggestions around this topic are:

1. Once you’ve identified your own happy place, do your best to seek it out whenever you can. It makes sense to spend time in a place that makes you feel good.

2. On the other hand, if there are places with less happy associations for you, try limiting your exposure to them if possible, or change the way you think about them. You could turn a long, boring slog in a waiting room into a chance to enjoy listening to a podcast or reading a book, for example, and actually look forward to it.

3. Ask others about their happy places. Based on our listeners’ responses, it’s a good way to learn more about people, and also pick up tips on great spots you could visit yourself.

Finally, here’s the emotional well-being spot last Friday on KZSU.

It’s unedited, and a little long at 37 minutes, but if you have the time, I think you’ll enjoy it.

And please let us all know about your happy place, in the comments.

6 thoughts on “Where’s your happy place?

  1. My happy place is a garden in Rosedale, Yorkshire. I can’t go there often except in my head, but there I know all is well. I’ve spent happy times sitting there, either in meditation or on the swing, or enjoying all the surrounding beauty. Even typing this is taking me there very vividly and making me smile.

    1. Great to hear you were able to visit the Rosedale garden in your mind, Mary. Thanks for a reminder of how powerful this can be – you don’t always need to be there to benefit from your happy place.

  2. Hi Jon – I am writing this from my “happy place” after having listened to the radio broadcast you mention in your blog. It is a cafe on the South Coast Of England, near Brighton, called Carats. Why do I feel happy here? There are very large skies, which always uplift me for some reason. There is the view out to sea, which I also like. The staff are always friendly and courteous, which counts for a lot. I can browse the internet and find subjects that interest me.


    1. Super to think of you enjoying Carats, with all it has to offer you. It sounds like a great place. How amazing to be able to enjoy the cafe at the same time as seeing the sea. Thanks for telling us about it.

  3. Some years ago I tried to change my thinking in certain places, transport hubs, traveling, and driving. It works , but I started allowing myself more time to travel so maybe it was a case of reviewing the situation and making little changes. Leave the house minutes earlier and take a book or whatever.

    Thanks for all the ‘help’ over the years Jon.

    1. Thanks, Jane. Really good advice to suggest not only changing the way you think about potentially stressful places and activities, but also to modify routines where possible. It’s amazing that sometimes it really is a case of simply leaving *minutes* earlier, in order to completely change the experience. It’s a pleasure to hear that you’ve found the posts useful. That’s what it’s all about.

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