When I tell people that I have an amazing view from my apartment in New Haven, they usually respond with some skepticism. As in, “Really? What can you see in New Haven?”
My poor part-time city. It doesn’t get a lot of respect as a scenic destination.
My apartment faces north. And, it is on the 26th floor of one of the tallest buildings in town. And, I have floor-to-ceiling windows that make my tiny space feel much bigger than it actually is.
And, dominating my vista is a spectacular geologic formation. East Rock is a 200-million year old trap-rock ridge. Its peak is 366 feet above sea level. It is comprised mostly of diabase, a mineral compound that oxidizes when exposed to air (I looked it up), turning the face a beautiful shade of reddish-brown. All of the non-rocky surfaces are crowded with oak, elm, and maple trees. Since we’re in Connecticut, and it’s October, you can imagine the colors out my window this week. But why just imagine, when I can share the sunset view from my living room on Monday evening?
What can you see in New Haven? Well, I can see this.
And also (because I seem to be beginning most of the sentences in this post with the word and), just to give you a bit more perspective on the whole “Views in New Haven” concept, consider the following. This is the view from East Rock looking downtown.
This photo was taken one week before the sunset shot above. You can see across the top of the Yale campus and out to Long Island Sound.
I love my part-time city.
I have a thing about my morning coffee. It’s been mentioned in previous posts, and here it is again. A 4-shot latte. Usually called a “quad venti,” because I usually get it at Starbucks. Otherwise, it’s just a large four-shot latte. The point is, I order this beverage. By talking to a person. While smiling and usually while making conversation about the weather or some other relevant topic.
When I started my new job last year and rented my new apartment, a lot of my favorite people asked me about my coffee thing. Now that I’d be walking to work, didn’t I want a Keurig, or an espresso machine, or some other handy appliance?
I absolutely do NOT want a coffee-making toy. I am way too much of an extrovert to make my coffee all alone and walk to school for half an hour without speaking to anyone. One of the reasons I decided to live downtown and walk to work was specifically so that I could find a coffee shop (or more than one) where I could stop every morning and talk to someone. Where people might get to know me a little, and might recognize me and say hello when I opened the door. And also, that they would make me a nice strong latte.
I am happy to say that my morning routine is exactly what I envisioned. Because sometimes, in both large and small ways, we get to make our lives happen. The coffee thing is kind of small. But it is really nice. Today, it was pouring out when I left the apartment building, so I drove the whole 1.9 mile route instead of walking. But I stopped for coffee anyway. And when I walked into the cafe, the barista smiled at me and said, “4-shot latte?” And I said, “oh, yes, please.” And then we talked about the weather.
One of the many reasons I love my job: The Head of School has initiated a “happiness group” among the faculty and staff. A couple of weeks ago, she sent a link to a TED talk by psychologist Shawn Achor, which has been viewed countless times and which, no doubt, has inspired countless people to re-think their ideas about success, satisfaction, and daily experiences. Toward the end of his talk, Dr. Achor offers suggestions for five daily practices that have been proven to raise our level of happiness:
- Naming 3 “gratitudes” each day
- Keeping a journal
- Performing random acts of kindness
One of our 7th grade teachers had brought the talk to the head of school with the thought, “wouldn’t this be a great message to share with our middle school students?”
Of course, it’s a great idea. But before we bring it to the kids, our wise head of school said, let’s offer a challenge to the adults in the community. Let’s see if we can raise our own happiness quotients.
And so, our “happiness group” was born. More than two dozen people volunteered to choose one or more of Achor’s behaviors, and make a 21-day commitment to stick with it. We’ll all be checking in with ourselves and each other during the next three weeks as we try to make happiness a habit.
I like to think of myself as a generally happy person, and I think I try to seek opportunities to discover happiness in my day–but couldn’t we all be a bit more mindful about finding the good in our lives?