There was an interesting headline recently in the New York Times asking, “Can a House Confer Bliss?”
Despite its locale in the Real Estate section, I figured this article just had to delve into a wellness topic that was close to my own heart — finding serenity in a home.
The subhead, “Homeownership gets a knock from some experts in well-being,” though, made me sigh. Other people out there must get it, I had originally thought. Apparently not.
As the 20-year owner of an old house on a hill overlooking cityscape and rolling river valley, I have long known that a home can be a real harbor for the soul.
Was I just lucky, or crazy, or for some reason especially acclimated to this sensation that I love my house and even the ground it sits on? (Probably a little of all.) I do believe, though, that if it was a fairly good enough choice in the first place, where we put down roots can really become us.
I needed only scan the article a bit to see dismaying anecdotes, such as people unhappy with having to maintain a house rather than just clean an apartment. Many disliked the steep initial costs associated with (some) real estate purchases.
Readership was centered on New Yorkers, who ironically plunk down their earnings monthly on rents equivalent to full house down payments in other parts of the country. This article took the angle that a house, nevertheless, is just a big thing, and some people like experiences better than things. I am one of them. (My husband, on the other hand, likes things, and fills some rooms of our home accordingly.)
A house is much more than a thing. I will always steer people toward finding a place to truly call one’s own.
Nothing makes more sense financially. Equity aside, a house can confer bliss.
It is where loved friends and family are perhaps invited in for joyful parties; it is that place of peace, mainly, which recharges our batteries and can provide contentment and good feeling to rival that of therapy or marriage or job success. Well-matched, or at least adjusted to fit the style of personalities living in it, a house is a place of retreat from the outer world. (Who doesn’t occasionally need that?)
Finding or “making” one’s home is a gratification not unlike finding a career. It shelters and nourishes, and is an extension of the self. Indeed, where we plant ourselves should be a balm in our life.
The rooms of our old place provide me comfort and happiness, quite simply. Outside, sitting on a patch of the sloped ground, my eye adjusts to points far past while under a canopy of trees, and stillness fills me. It is literally my one favorite place in all of the world, this backyard. It is our own.
There I find the drug of satisfaction and peace, amid a life that has known a little frenzy.