Finding joy and meaning in a chaotic world.
It’s where you go when you need a mood boost, a recharge, a fresh perspective. It’s a break from chaos, a retreat from uncertainty, a shelter from stress, a shot of vitality. It’s your happy place.
The geography of joy varies. For the introverts among us, our happy place is where we can withdraw from other people and look inward. For extroverts, a happy place is nearly always well populated. Our sanctuaries aren’t always pretty in the scenic cottage-by-the-sea sense. And, one person’s harbor from the storm can feel like very rocky seas to someone else.
Here, one Live Happy reader shares the place that has filled her with a sense of awe and a feeling of belonging since she was in high school.
Eileen Anne Zyko—The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
The first time Eileen Anne Zyko visited New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art was on a trip with her art history class when she was a high school junior. “I remember walking up the front steps and feeling the way some girls probably feel when they go to Cinderella’s castle in Disney World,” Eileen says. “I was totally transported.”
More than 25 years later, she experiences the same thrill when she visits the Met today. “It starts when I’m taking the train from my home in New Jersey,” Eileen says. “I get that kind of bubbly feeling inside that I’m going someplace exciting. And when I walk off the street and through the museum doors, I still feel like I’m stepping into a place that’s full of magic and wonder.”
A sense of calm
On every visit, she heads first to the Temple of Dendur. Built on the West Bank of Egypt's Nile River during the reign of Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar about 15 B.C., the three-room temple was installed in the Met in 1978. “That’s how I prepare myself for the rest of the day,” Eileen says. “It’s like taking a shower before you dive into a swimming pool. Sometimes I’ll just sit and gather my thoughts. The temple has a sense of permanence that I find very calming.”
Next, she heads to the American Wing Gallery and the living room of a home that was built by the architect Frank Lloyd Wright. (“I’ve often dreamed about being locked into the Met and having to stay overnight,” Eileen says. “If that happened, I would sleep in the Frank Lloyd Wright house.”)
After that, Eileen stops at Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with Straw Hat. “There was a time in my life when I also felt misunderstood and not appreciated,” she says. “For someone to be able to express their pain through painting is extraordinary to me. When I was growing up I couldn’t express myself very well. I was very good at school, but I’ve never been particularly creative."
A sense of belonging
"If you asked me what I liked or didn’t like, I couldn’t tell you. In high school, I was a scholarship student at a fancy all-girls boarding school, and I didn’t feel like I really belonged there. But I had an art history teacher named Sonja Osborn, and she changed everything for me. Art history became a magical way for me to understand and engage with the world.”
We’d love to hear about your happy place! Let us know in the comments section, below. For more, look for the feature story on "Joyful Havens" in the August 2015 issue of Live Happy magazine.
Shelly Levitt is a freelance journalist and editor-at-large for Live Happy. She lives in Southern California.