While your “station in life” is a British phrase referencing your status in your community, I feel that it’s a negative term used to keep people in their place and so I’ve decided to commandeer it for a more positive use. The context of this article is about the different stations in your life. You do not have one station in life – you have many – and that’s a good thing. (Note: if you’re looking for how to improve your work life, try this article about how to work a life of purpose.)
I recently wrote about how the number of stations in your community (places you go regularly throughout your day) is directly linked to happiness. But what I didn’t mention was how to increase the number of stations in your life or how to improve the ones you already have. In this blog post I’ll share my ideas on how to get the most out of your community. The first step is to identify the community you already have. To do this I’ll give you three different examples.
My Brother’s Stations in Life
My brother lives in Bargersville and drives to Terre Haute most weekdays. It’s an hour and a half commute by car. In the morning he stops in the kitchen for breakfast with coffee (Station 1). There he’s greeted by one to three kids, depending on their sleeping schedule. When low on gas he stops by the local gas station (Station 2) where he recognizes the clerk, makes small talk, but feels uncomfortable calling them by name (even though he knows it). When he gets to work (Station 3) he’s greeted by his coworkers – some happy to see him. For lunch he goes out to the same restaurant where he talks to the same host and the same waiter. Again he knows their name, but doesn’t move beyond small talk. After he gets home he goes to his garage (Station 4) to get his mower and heads off to his first lawn client (Station 5). Occasionally he might go to our parents house (Station 6) for dinner or to drop off his kids so he can go to a nice restaurant (Station 7) with his wife.
My Friend’s Stations in Life
My friend lives in Nora. He lives five minutes by car from his work in a walkable neighborhood right next to the Monon Trail. In the morning he stops in the kitchen (Station 1) for coffee before sitting at his desk in the living room (Station 2) to read his email before heading off to work (to check his other email). He rarely stops at the gas station (Station 3) anymore and while he lives near two Starbucks (Station 4), doesn’t go there as often anymore. At work (Station 5) he’s greeted by several coworkers, but most days he goes home for lunch. When he does go out it’s usually with coworkers and he doesn’t take the time to learn more about the staff at the counter. He doesn’t know their names and they don’t know him. When he comes home at night he’s greeted by his neighbors as he drives by or when he goes for a walk with his family. On the weekends he might go to his local hardware store (Station 6) and on Sunday his local church (Station 7).
My Stations in Life
I live in Tipton, but work mostly in Carmel, but travel all around the Indianapolis area. It takes me about 45 minutes by car to get to my first job each day. My wife wakes me up, makes me coffee and breakfast with a side of water. I sit down at the kitchen table (Station 1) to eat. While I’m eating my wife makes my lunch. By the time I’m done eating she has packed my lunch in my car with coffee to go. My kids are now awake, wait by the door, and demand kisses before I leave. When I arrive at my first job (Station 2) I get a few nods. Afterwards I may go to my second job (Station 3), to Starbucks (Station 4), or to my friend’s house in Nora (Station 5). If my gas tank is at a quarter or below I’ll stop at the gas station in Tipton (Station 6) on my way home. When I walk in the door I sit down to dinner, then get up to go check on the garden (Station 7). On Sundays I go to church in Noblesville (Station 8). Some weekends I go to parent’s homes (Station 9).
How to Improve Your Station in Life
Appreciating what you have and be thankful first. If you’re not first happy where you are now, you won’t be happy ‘there’. The grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence, it’s greener where you water it. Your community is made up of your stations in life and it’s up to you to be thankful, appreciative, engaging, and involved in order to get the most out of it. By helping others and continually adding value to your relationships, you will build a stronger community and improve your stations in life. If you don’t live in a walkable neighborhood, walk around. It will become walkable. If you hate where you live, don’t move (yet), first find what you like about it and practice focusing on that. Be the change you want to see in your community. Start with yourself – the only thing you can change. Don’t try to change too much at a time – the longest journey begins with the smallest step. So get walking!