Finding Happiness in Los Angeles

Friday, July 11, 2014 0 Permalink 0

About to make the move to Los Angeles? Already have? You should know this city does not harbor the pretentious reputation so many are convinced it carries. We all know that a major struggle for anyone in a new city is finding our feet on solid ground. Be it friends, career, lifestyle, or other, we should be looking beyond creature comforts to maximize the enjoyment of wherever we land. Sometimes that takes a little bit of work, but again, we know, well worth it. I’m confident if you look in the right places, you’ll find happiness in Los Angeles.

The reality of Los Angeles is that it’s an incredible city.  Yes, there’s traffic.  No, there’s not great public transit.  And, yes, there are pretentious a-holes in this city. But let’s be honest with ourselves, you’ll find the same flavor of jackass from LA to New York and London to Paris.  Time to put that weed wacker to use–cut the bullshit.

Most of us are probably okay at this, but really be honest with yourself and who you want to hang out with.  If you don’t get a good vibe, no need to hang out.  Don’t waste your time or theirs with relationships you aren’t convinced will be mutually beneficial–especially if you are a “giver”.  There are a lot of “takers” out there that like to “take” it all.  That goes for anywhere in the world.  And you certainly don’t need to make yourself feel bad for not wanting to hang out with the “takers”.  They probably aren’t going to produce that circle of friendship you’re interested in anyway.  You know there’s no forcing the square block in the circle hole.

But be patient and continue to experience the people of Los Angeles.  The key to finding your happiness in a new city is finding YOUR crew.  A city is just a city without the friends that make it YOUR city.  Best scribbled by Christopher McCandless, “Happiness is only real when shared.”  Find those people to share that.  I promise it’s much easier than you think.  Stay open to it.  It’s a surprisingly kind, competent, creative, and caring city.  If finding those friends doesn’t seem so easy, kindly, you probably have some work to do on yourself.  Touch a nerve?  Think about it.

The reality is that Los Angeles is full of AMAZING people!  It’s a wonderful mix of locals and transplants.  It’s a city inspired by creativity and its evidence is everywhere.  It’s a city rich with collaboration and breathe given to dreams.

I had a very proud moment a few years back when I was coming off of a hike at Runyon Canyon in Hollywood.  My friend and I pulled up behind a “star-seeing” van stuffed with Germans, Japanese, and Floridians.  They were nipping at the buds to spot a celebrity.  Cameras out.  Snapshots of everything.  From the Jack Sparrow’s on the Walk of Fame to the celebrity homes, they were elated and inspired by this tiny little section of the greater Los Angeles area known as Hollywood.  As we followed the van I said to myself, “I’m so glad they are getting something out of this city”.  I thought for a second how absolutely cheesy it was to see all the vans and sidewalks carrying the same comically dressed tourists, overdressed buildings, and horrendous souvenir shops. Never mind the general chaos of the Hollywood and Highland intersect.

There it was.  The dawn on me.  All that “cheese” had become my cheese.  It was people from around the world coming to see my city.  Sure I’ve only lived here for about seven years, and much of that time was spent traveling for work, but I’m emotionally invested in this city.  I want to be the driver of my own van for all of my friends around the world.  I want to be the teacher of all things that make LA so wonderful for me.

So what makes LA so great?

I found that living in the midst of this particular array of terrain, I had volunteered myself to live an active lifestyle.  There are mountains and ocean and trails.  You have some insanely beautiful hikes with hidden waterfalls all around LA County–including the heart of Hollywood.  You can surf some of the best spots this country has to offer from Ventura County all the way down to San Diego.  And I love to surf.  There are miles and miles of bike path…although I’ll be the guy you’re pulling on a skateboard.  Cliche, but true, you can snowboard or ski yourself stupid by day and still be surfing by sunset.  I’ve done it.  And, yes, I slept like a monster.

And then, of course, because Los Angeles is an entertainment capital, there is a tremendous amount of creative energy.  There are always projects happening that you can collaborate on.  There’s no limit to what you can set in motion.  There’s no real “structure” to way things are succeeded.  You can achieve the same successes as a Julliard graduate without a lick of formal education.  And you have access to all the same people and equipment.  The question is will you get it all because its what you really want?

I have made friends in film, music, sports, web, and advertising.  Some are happy.  Some are not.  But it’s to be expected.  Some own their own companies.  Others work for agencies or major production companies.

To the ones that feel “stuck” in a job in a city full of creative opportunity, I say, “quit your day job.”  If you can’t, save enough for a few months, then quit.  You have always been in complete control.  Don’t let fear of failure get in your way.  Don’t let fear of failure force anger on a city that is ripe for your picking.  Once you shed your fears, I promise you’ll have nothing to lose.  I have always believed it a safe bet to assume your successes.  Bets are you’re far more capable than you give yourself credit for.

The one thing I have gratitude for, in all my time in LA, is my friends.  I thank everything for the people I’ve met and the bonds I’ve forged with them.  They are the ones that make living in Los Angeles worth it.  Even if they come and go.  They are the ones that encourage me when I’m lacking motivation.  They are the ones I will encourage when they are running on empty.  It is the people in this fine city and region that make me proud to live here.  For the last several years, whenever asked, I proudly admit that “I love Los Angeles”.

So get out there and meet people until you meet your people.  It’ll make the whole journey to LA complete.  You don’t want to go to the Long Beach Lobsterfest alone do you?

Photo Credit: Navid Serrano

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