Peter Lazar, Coho/US President, Shadowlake Village (Blacksburg VA)
After World War Two, my grandmother and her husband fled Hungary as refugees to New York City with nothing but their suitcases. They got jobs at an assembly line in a paper cup factory and toiled for many years towards the American Dream. But their dream was cut short when my grandfather suddenly died of a heart attack in the New York public library. He left my grandmother alone to raise their young children while also working to get by.
My grandmother finally retired after a long career and achieved her goal of buying a condo in Florida. An excellent condo management company took care of yard work, pool maintenance and a golf course. Residents could theoretically live a life of ease. She had achieved her retirement dream, or so I thought.
After my grandmother died, I was helping move out her belongings. I came across a book where she had highlighted some passages. The passages described the author's sense of void from her meaningless retirement community life wiling away the time without relatives nearby and without a sense of purpose.
My charming and gregarious grandmother never complained and I always assumed she was entirely happy in her condo. So this made me think completely differently and with sadness about her later years.
When people are asked what’s most important in life, they will respond with words like “Happiness,” “Relationships,” “Health,” and “Purpose.”
But when people make the most important purchase of their life, which is their home, why do they apply different values?
My grandmother moved into a place that provided excellent “cost per square foot” and excellent “amenities,” but was short on providing “Relationships” and “Life Purpose.”
We shouldn’t be measuring “Cost per square foot” but rather “Happiness per square foot.”
So I have created a tool for measuring our homes according to values people state are most important: “Happiness,” “Relationships,” “Health,” and “Purpose.” I call it the “Home Happiness Calculator.” I hope you enjoy trying it out below or by clicking here for the Home Happiness Calculator. Feel free to send me suggestions at peter[ at]emersoncommons.org :