Lesson from San Luis Obispo: Live Close to Your Work
A key component of thriving, especially for Americans, is satisfying work. And a key component of satisfying work, Buettner emphasizes, is a short commute. “We know dependably that one of the things Americans hate is commuting by car,” he says.
Even better than a short drive is walking or biking to work. This is easy in places like San Luis Obispo, °Arhus or Monterrey, all of which have abundant sidewalks and bike lanes. By making exercise “the easy option,” these civic features facilitate active commutes that are a healthy part of people’s days. Activity levels in walkable communities are 35 percent higher than in communities where it’s difficult to get around, Buettner reports.
An additional advantage to reasonable commutes: They leave you surplus time and energy to live out your values. As one SLO resident told Buettner, “When you get home from a half-hour commute from work, there’s no way you’re going to feel like going to a city council meeting.”
By contrast, when your drive is short, or you walk or bike home — enjoying the breeze and waving to neighbors — you’re more likely to feel ready for anything.
Learn more about Buettner’s happiness project in his 2011 book, Thrive (National Geographic, 2010).