Today I got kicked in my perception…again. A friend of mine sent me an article about Duluth, MN as the least stressed city in the United States. Not only did that surprise me, but if someone would have asked me, I would have ranked it at the bottom. But that’s my perception.
I lived in Duluth for about 20 years until I moved away in 2004 to another city about 200 miles away. I visited my family, who still lives there, at least twice a year. So I do know something about Duluth, at least until today.
If you have never been there, it’s a city of just under 100,000 people on the shores of Lake Superior in Northern Minnesota. It’s been called a mini San Francisco due to the huge lake, and steep hillside that many houses are built on. It’s beautiful to be sure, but the winters are long, and because of the lake effect, there is lots of snow, wind, and in the summer, fog. I always said it’s a great place to be from. (which means I got out)
I think we get so caught up in the small area that we inhabit, and mostly assume that’s the way it is for everyone. I went through a few lean years, worked a stressful and long hour job, and lived on an island connected by a bridge (the kind that goes up and down). One way on, one way off. Many times I waited for boats to enter the harbor, the bridge up, with my longest wait time over 3 hours one night. That was stressful. And I get that it was my perception. My Mom also lived on this island, and she loved to wait at the bridge. She had a book and it gave her time to read or watch all the people. Same scenario, different perception.
And that was a different economic time I know. But it’s funny how I have carried that idea of Duluth on my trips to visit my family. Every time I went, I thought the drivers were aggressive, waitresses rude, nobody had a job, winter never ends, too many mosquitoes, roads beat up, taxes too high, just a downright stressed out city. Seemed to me everyone was trying to get out. And Fitbit called it the fittest city in the US in 2016. I thought everyone was overweight. Boy, am I wrong.
I take full responsibility for feeling this way. I may always feel this way, one article probably isn’t going to change it. But what it does is examine my perception of other things. I plan to stop and think more before I judge. I’m going to drive into Duluth like it’s the first time. Most of all, I’m going to try to teach my kids the value of seeing things as they really are, not tainted by memory or judgment. And be wary of expectation. It can alter your perception by what you want things to be.
Even though my perception bubble got popped today, congratulations people of Duluth. In a world of so much unhappiness and stress, you found a way to enjoy your place on Earth.
Here is the link to the article if you are interested.