I believe we all have them. Places that, being there just makes us happy. Where trouble melts like lemon drops and the stresses of the world just disappear. Where you and your spouse can sit and be content where you are in that moment and not want to leave anytime soon. Where you look around and say, “Wow, this place is amazing. I’m so grateful - #blessed.”
To me, a Happy Place is a place you've been to before. It's not, say, being at Larvotto beach in Monaco, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea on the French Riviera, as wonderful as that may be and as happy as that may make you feel. (And believe me, I’ve been there, it's lovely, and made me very happy). Unless, of course, you have returned several times to the French Riviera to seal the Happy Place deal.
Obviously, this definition of a Happy Place is my definition. That being said, I’d like to share with you our top three Happy Places to go as a couple because I think it's important for couples to discover their happy places and visit them often.
HAPPY PLACE #1: HAWAII (specifically the island of Oahu)
Being on the Island of Oahu is my favorite places to be in the world. I've been to other islands but I like Oahu the best. I love the beauty, the ocean and the variety of things to do. I enjoy going to Waikiki beach, snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, riding a motorcycle to the North Shore (Haleiwa), hiking Diamond Head, paddle boarding, watching the sunset, working out, sitting in the rocking chairs at the Royal Hawaiian, shopping and eating out at delicious restaurants.
HAPPY PLACE #2: SANTA BARBARA
I became familiar with Santa Barbara by attending college there. Santa Barbara reminds me of the French Riviera. In fact, it’s been called, “America’s answer to the French Riviera.” Just like the French Riviera, you have the beautiful Pacific Ocean surrounded by majestic mountains. The weather is primarily in the 70’s year round. I enjoy going to the beach, shopping on State Street, visiting Westmont College, swimming laps at the Los Banos Del Mar pool, and eating at my favorite Mexican eatery – La Playa Azul Café.
HAPPY PLACE #3: LAGUNA BEACH
I started going to Laguna Beach as a kid. My dad owned property there and we could go anytime we wanted. I learned to bodysurf and boogie board in Laguna. I played in 3-on-3 basketball tournaments on the main beach each summer. I’d run from “the hole in the rock” to the main beach, exactly two miles round trip. I like going to the beach, walking on the boardwalk, visiting Wyland’s art studio and eating at the Urth Caffe.
Do you see anything in common in our Happy Places? You guessed it - they are all located on the ocean, all of them are beautiful beach cities. We relax best next to water. Maybe it’s because God placed us in water for nine months prior to the shock of our birth. All I know is that these Happy Places do it for us. Each place has a unique culture, style and vibe. Each place is laid back, full of adventure, and fun to visit.
As an addendum, I’d like to add AUBURN, CA to my list. We lived there for ten years and found it to be one of the most charming, unique, and beautiful cities we’ve ever visited. I enjoy running by the American River and swimming in the river. I started a church in Auburn, lived there for ten years, and made some lifelong friends. Our kids essentially grew up there and still consider it their hometown. I go back every year and announce my return on Facebook. I let people know I’ll be at a certain Starbucks on a particular day, at a set time, and anywhere from a dozen to thirty friends show up to visit. Another potential Happy Place is Paris. The problem is I’ve only been there twice in my life. I plan to get there again soon and take my lovely wife with me.
If you don't have one yet, choose a happy place where the both of you love to escape and vow to return to together on a frequent basis. Happy places help make happy marriages.
Where is your Happy Place? I’d be very interested to know where you and your spouse like to go, the place that makes you happy. My hope is that you will find your Happy Place and visit there often.