Living in the Country

Posted on March 23, 2009 by



A lot of my Facebook friends have been taking the “Where should you be living?” quiz, and the most common result is “The country”. I can appreciate that. Some of my favorite pastimes are hiking around in the hills and trees, enjoying beautiful sunrises, and spending a pleasant evening with friends out on the front porch. Where better than the country for these?

The thing that first jumped out at me in the Facebook description of the country is, “lots of wide open spaces where you can unwind and enjoy the quiet.” That got me wondering if people have unrealistic expectations about what a locale can do for them. I wonder if “unwinding and enjoying the quiet” has less to do with where you live than it has to do with habits and lifestyle — one’s job, friends, and pastimes.

A friend of mine is an architect. She designs Victorian-style country dream homes. She told me that she’s discovered a sad pattern in her work. People come to her, hoping that she will build them a perfect little haven, where life will be wonderful. When their homes are finished, they find that not much has changed. They still have the same job and the same relationships; they are still the same people. And so they blame her, and say that she didn’t do the house right, since it didn’t fix all their problems.

On a related side note, in our management class last semester we learned about the “two factor theory” of employee motivation. It says that the things that motivate people and the things that demotivate people are two totally separate categories of things. For example, below-standard pay tends to demotivate employees, but above-standard pay doesn’t motivate employees much more than just standard pay. On the other hand, work that feels like it’s part of a noble cause tends to motivate employees, while work that doesn’t have some great cause doesn’t necessarily demotivate them.

This creates a sort of “luxury vs. necessity” framework. Things that motivate people are luxuries, and things that demotivate people are necessities. The two factor theory is important because it explains that luxuries don’t help until you have the necessities worked out. The Facebook description of the country falls right into this framework. What are the necessities one needs first in order to enjoy the luxury of  “lots of wide open spaces where you can unwind and enjoy the quiet”?

If you can’t meet your financial obligations, if you’re in an unhealthy relationship, if you’re sick or are carrying guilt, then no paradise lifestyle is going to take that burden away. You could probably make a pretty short list of the things that need to be working in life (hmm…sounds like a future blog post for me). Perhaps more important than actually living in the country is learning to live a “country lifestyle” — taking time to enjoy simple things, taking time to spend with friends, taking time to appreciate the beauty of nature, and of life. And these can be done no matter where you live.

Posted in: Dream, Green Hill