To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soulSimone Weil
What if a place becomes the right place only by our choosing to love it?
Melody Warnick, author of the fabulous book This Is Where You Belong, sets the whole tone of her book in the first chapter talking about “Place Attachment.”
Humans are instinctively driven to form connection with places.
The most common term for this is “place attachment,” because it suggests the affectionate, almost familial connection that can form between us and where we live. You mostly know it when you feel it, which you probably have. When you roll into your town after being away for awhile and say, “It’s good to be home,” that’s a product of place attachment. So is feeling drawn as if by magic to a particular city, never wanting to leave the place where you grew up, or never wanting to leave the place you live right now.
If all this sounds a bit touch-feely, it is. Like happiness, place attachment exists partly as emotion and partly as a pattern of thought, which makes it difficult to quantify.
Over the years researchers have developed a “place attachment scale” of statements they use to gauge the sensation. Study participants are usually asked to rank their agreement on a scale of 1 to 5, but for the sake of simplicity, you can assess your own place attachment by answering each of the questions below “true” or “false” about the town or city where you live. Click here or on the image below for a PDF.
The more times you answer “true,” the more likely you are to be attached to your town. Making nineteen or more “true” answers, which puts you in the top quartile, indicates that you probably feel strongly connected to where you live. Six or fewer, on the other hand, suggests that you live somewhere unfamiliar or in a town you’re not particularly over the moon about. And if you’re not very place attached you may be saying to yourself, “Clearly place attachment feels nice. But why should I care? Will it actually make my life feel better?”
According to place attachment research, the answer is a resounding yes. Studies show that when you pit “Stayers” – long-term residents of a place – against “Movers,” the Stayers are generally far more social.
Where we live matters, and staying where we live matters. When it comes to place attachment, our towns are what we think they are.
No matter what anyone else thinks, your town just has to make you happy.
And being a good neighbor starts with you.
I can’t emphasize this enough: If you like the idea of loving where you live, of being a better neighbor, or anything remotely connected, you MUST check out the work of Melody Warnick. Follow her on social media. Buy the book (below). Sign up for her newsletter on her website. Peruse the website for other articles she has written. It’s all PURE GOLD.
Inspired and adapted from
This is Where You Belong, Melody Warnick