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Positive Living—Finding Happiness in Your Community

New research connects diverse neighborhoods with feelings of satisfaction at home.

Meeting neighbors
Credit: Getty Images

“Home isn’t a place, it’s a feeling,” said the Irish novelist Cecilia Ahern. And while many of the feelings of home come inside the walls of wherever you dwell, a significant factor  has to do with who lives next door, around the corner or down the hall.

New sociological research conducted at Johns Hopkins University has found that living in a diverse neighborhood—particularly a multi-racial neighborhood—is a predictor of feeling happy about where you live.

The study, which was published in the journal Social Problems, surveyed 1,500 residents of racially diverse neighborhoods around Washington, D.C., and found what the authors called “shared satisfaction” among people of color and white residents alike.

In the study, 70 percent of residents reported feeling happy about where they live. “This research will help people see that the long-term viability of diverse neighborhoods is possible,” said lead author Michael Bader.

Further, Bader noted the social change reflected in the findings. “The high level of satisfaction shows that attitudes have evolved about living in multiracial neighborhoods,” he said. And it reflects an understanding about how positive living means living in ways that expand our worldviews and having opportunities to meet people with different life experiences, backgrounds and perspectives.

The study focused on racial diversity, but other research has connected happiness at home with other types of diversity, such as age.

So next time you take a walk in the neighborhood, look around. Start a conversation. Enjoy the opportunity to relish your home as both a place and a feeling—and an opportunity for relationships, both within and outside your own walls.

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