42 Things I Love About Santa Monica

Almost three months ago I was on a very rough flight from Boston to LA. There was turbulence, there was horrid pain in my ears and there was fear that this time the plane may not make it to LA. To my big surprise we landed. I saw my friend but couldn’t hear her. She picked me up and drove me to her home in Santa Monica. I instantly felt warmth both of her presence and warm air of LA. No more cold of Boston winter. I saw light-minded palm trees instead of trees with no leaves. It felt as if I died and wend to paradise. I was still sick but I knew I was going to get better. I stayed on my friend’s couch, wrote and looked through the bay windows at the lush tropical vegetation that was curiously looking back at me as if saying: “Who is new here?”

On the second day I walked to the beach and sat on the bench, it was all I could do, as I had no energy to exercise yet. I just wanted to absorb ocean breeze and see the beach. It felt familiar, just like back home in Sochi. People mainly with dogs were passing by and we didn’t know each other’s stories. But I wanted them to know that I was happy just to be here. Everything may pass you by unless you choose to take a note and appreciated every moment of it. I’ve been looking around me and noticing all. I made a big step into improving my life. I’m so glad I came and explored Santa Monica, but it is time to leave. How familiar can you get with something in just over 2 months? Familiar enough to love it:

  1. Wind-bended rows of Palm trees on the 4th Street
  2. Strangers on the beach walk asking you to try their products or validate their business ideas
  3. Captive chess pieces waiting to be released in the chess park cells
  4. Homeless people sleeping in the Palisades Park in the morning with child-like peaceful faces
  5. The bucket of Shrimper’s Net Catch with Secret Recipe Cajun spice at Bubba Gump
  6. Dragon Roll at Hara sushi, always packed and serving only fresh, tasty and half-priced sushi
  7. Jazz nights at Casa del Mar with older than your average crowd
  8. Quantified Self events, where people and numbers meet at Coloft
  9. Writing from Inner Self Class with Rachelle at Santa Monica Community College
  10. Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Herbs at Yo San University Clinic
  11. Chocolate croissant at the Coffee Bean with fire pit on Wilshire Street
  12. One Dollar Oyster specials at Enterprise Fish Company on Main Street
  13. Church bells ringing at The First United Methodist Church on 11th street at 11AM
  14. Socializing with drinks in the garden by the pool at Viceroy
  15. Urth café on Main street, where I organized my first CA happiness formula testing
  16. The drills of beach volleyball with Thao Pham at 106 Entrada Drive
  17. Pet center on 826 Wilshire Blvd, where you can volunteer to walk the dog, who is unfortunate
  18. Handsome men working as cashiers in the Whole Foods store
  19. Tall grown up man walking an elderly woman on Washington street every day
  20. Lounge at Sonoma wine country in Santa Monica Place
  21. Drivers’ and pedestrians’ agitation during Farmer’s market on Wednesdays
  22. Monthly Philosophy Club with Brian at Yahoo center
  23. Beautiful courtyard of the Main Library and its themed events
  24. No plastic bag policy in the stores
  25. Lean LA events with panel discussions in the Civic Center
  26. Post office as a remainder of the old era: while you can hardly find a post office box on the street, some people still use snail mail
  27. One week free pass to work at the Coworksla sharing space
  28. Muscle gym puzzle because you never know if those who practice there are normal people or Circle de Soleil gymnasts
  29. Napoleon cake at the Ukrainian Deli on Wilshire
  30. Vons smart-phone friendly sophisticated coupon system
  31. 24 hour Fedex on Wilshire with its ivy-covered wall
  32. Eclectic plays like “Why we have a body” at Edgemar center for the arts
  33. The Aquamarine color of the Lady, The Georgian Hotel
  34. The feel of the Callahan’s diner reminds me of New York
  35. Montana Street’s Fathers Office, where noone under 21 is admitted
  36. Fog and rain, and you are in a completely different place altogether
  37. Tourists off sightseeing buses eating Krispy Kreme donuts as part of their tour in the Palisades Park
  38. Architectural feats of different ages, shapes and colors
  39. Group joggers, boot campers and serious cyclists in full gear in action by the beach
  40. Exotic trees and flawless flower beds in very unexpected places
  41. The challenge of the big stairs from the beach to the bluffs
  42. Wide white beach, the ultimate answer to Santa Monica’s heart

Live Group Testing of the Happiness Tool in Santa Monica, CA

There were seven of us in Urth Cafe in Santa Monica at 7PM on Wednesday. Due to traffic I was a little stressed, but “Peace of mind” tea cured it all. I was pleasantly surprised with overall attendance: 6 people showed up from 10 RSVPs which is pretty high.

We gathered in the courtyard, where it is more quiet, plenty of shade and more space in comparison to the main room. After quick introduction, participants scattered around the courtyard and completed the forms with 20 questions.

While I was entering numbers from the first set of forms into the Excel file and calculating participants’ happiness ratios, they wrote questions about their obstacles of happiness.  We rotated the second set of  forms among participants, so that each of them had a chance to answer other people’s questions. The questions were about romantic life, work life balance, connecting to people better, etc.

At the end everyone received two forms back: one with their happiness ratio and the other with answers to their questions. We had a discussion and the feedback was most valuable. Kim enjoyed giving answers, while writing her own questions was hard.

Warren said that he tried to answer questions as best as he could because he knew how important it was for the other person and that person’s happiness depended on it. He also mentioned that it would be nice to do this test every morning, because it is a good check for someone’s life. Warren was surprised at the complexity of the test. Even though there were just twenty questions, they do cover all sources of happiness and the happiness ratio is correct.

I was asked “What does the ratio mean?” and the answer is “of everything you want for your happiness how much do you think you have right now”. I was curious if the exercise helped to focus on what participants have or what they don’t have. Kim said that for her it was about understanding how many good things she has in her life and about being grateful for them.

I explained that this assessment could work both ways: it could either direct you to lower your expectations or help achieve what you need the most in your life (being more proactive).

As we drove back my friend, who also participated in the event, said that she wrote a question and the answer was not new to her but it was reassuring to hear it from a stranger, which just reconfirmed that she really needs to do it and really focus on it. Imagine that 100 people read your question and gave you 100 great answers. Even  if you don’t act upon their recommendation, it is possible that  you will be happier simply because so many people care about you and your happiness.

It turned out that one of the participants Ricky has a great website Lifelong happiness, he gave us special bracelets, which are part of the 30 day challenge. I checked his website out after the event and was very impressed. All the content on the website is to help people to achieve happiness in life. One of the quotes is “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. ~Mother Teresa”

As for the testing of the tool in San Francisco that was planned for June 30, only one person showed up who happens to be my friend 🙂 We waited for the rest of the folks in Epicenter Cafe for about 40 minutes and then went to Udupi Palace for an Indian dinner. I didn’t get upset that others didn’t show up because I realized that on Thursday before the 4th of July many people may decide to travel or run last minute errands, so I was totally fine with having a dinner with my friend instead. But that same day he introduced me to a guy who was really interested in the tool and I promised to send it to him. If I can help one person learn something that will help him find his happiness I’m happy.

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