Why a Change of Scenery is More Important Than You Think

Ten years ago, I moved to Hawai'i for the first time. It was a passionate and short-lived affair, as within mere months of moving here, I begrudgingly moved back to Los Angeles, where I was born and raised. But I never got Hawai'i out of my soul, and every year when we vacationed here, I'd vow that I'd move back here one day.

I wanted a very specific change of scenery, and I wanted it to include warm waters, rainbows, and trade winds. I was unhappy living in Los Angeles, so ten years after my first foray into living in Hawai'i, my husband and I finally made the decision to move here.

As a freelance writer, editor, and mentor who works from home, it was difficult for me to make friends at first. I'd sit at my computer, staring out the window at those yearned-after warm waters and watch the trade winds blow through the palms, and I'd wonder: how did I recreate the same experience of loneliness for myself here that I did on the mainland?

I had originally thought that the change of scenery to this idyllic landscape would somehow magically transform me, that I would easily slip into new social circles, making friends everywhere I went and becoming part of the local fabric without much effort. But that's not exactly how it went down.

What really happened was that I finally realized how much work goes into creating the life you want--and this goes for every area of my life. None of it comes without concerted focus, and with that awareness, I looked at my new external landscape and decided I was going to find a way to be happy, no matter where I was.

Along the way, I learned a few important things about community, social involvement, and my very human experience that I think are important to share.

1. Wherever you go, there you are. If I am unhappy in one place, I'm going to be unhappy in another place. It isn't until I can find peace inside myself that I can enjoy the world around me.

2. If I want to make cool friends, I need to focus on being one. Since moving here, I've found some of the most amazing people and formed a (still burgeoning) network of smart, focused people that I am lucky to call friends. But I realize that I could have done this anywhere. What changed was my intentional effort not to rest on my laurels and be lazy in friendships. If I want to attract genuine friendships, I need to offer genuine friendship to the world.

3. No matter what the idea is in my head, the reality of it will be different. I had envisioned lots of "realistic" things when we planned our move here this time, and none of them were technically wrong. But planning can't account for the emotional experiences we have when we are put in new situations, and our emotional interpretation of a situation can quite literally make or break our life experience. Make a plan for what you want, but be flexible enough to ride the tide of the emotions that come and go. It's a lot easier than rigidity.

In the long run, I'm so clear today on the value of a change of scenery to get the gears moving again that I keep trying to have new experiences to keep igniting the fire within me. I know that stepping foot into a new situation--whether it be moving your home, attending a new Meet Up group, a mom's club, a new position at work, or a new restaurant with your friends--newness provides the container for real introspection and personal evolution.

As one of my favorites, Danielle LaPorte, said so poignantly in a recent post: "Life is always spiraling outward, upward, seeking it's own creative edge." When we go with the tide of newness, embracing the change and even seeking it out, we evolve into richer beings.

I'd love to hear from you: Have you done a geographic or changed up your scenery and had a similar or different experience? Let's connect in the comments and get this conversation going!