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5 ways “where you are” might be more important than both “who you know” and “what you know”:

location

 

1) Happiness

Want to be happier? Sad as it may be, part of happiness is generated by your relative status. Research shows people are happier living in a rich neighborhood in a poor county.

 

2) Creativity

Do creative work at home. Do boring work at the office:

On the uncreative tasks, people were 6% to 10% less productive outside the lab. The fall-off was steepest among the least productive third of workers. (People who reported procrastinating on their homework were also, unsurprisingly, poor telecommuters—as were men.) On the creative tasks, by contrast, people were 11% to 20% more productive outside the lab.

Want to be more creative? You might want to move to a big city: the average resident of a metropolis with a population of five million people was almost three times more creative than the average resident of a town of a hundred thousand.”

Via Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation:

A city that was ten times larger than its neighbor wasn’t ten times more innovative; it was seventeen times more innovative. A metropolis fifty times bigger than a town was 130 times more innovative.

Kleiber’s law proved that as life gets bigger, it slows down. But West’s model demonstrated one crucial way in which human-built cities broke from the patterns of biological life: as cities get bigger, they generate ideas at a faster clip. This is what we call “superlinear scaling”: if creativity scaled with size in a straight, linear fashion, you would of course find more patents and inventions in a larger city, but the number of patents and inventions per capita would be stable. West’s power laws suggested something far more provocative: that despite all the noise and crowding and distraction, the average resident of a metropolis with a population of five million people was almost three times more creative than the average resident of a town of a hundred thousand.

 

3) Love

Looking for a spouse? Get out of that big city: Too many choices makes people ridiculously picky: “Manhattan had the highest percentage of single people of any county in America except for an island in Hawaii originally settled as a leper colony.”

From Willpower: Resdiscovering the Greatest Human Strength:

For a column in 1995, Tierney did a semiscientific survey to investigate a New York phenomenon: the huge number of intelligent and attractive people who complained that it was impossible to find a romantic partner. Manhattan had the highest percentage of single people of any county in America except for an island in Hawaii originally settled as a leper colony. What was keeping New Yorkers apart? Tierney surveyed a sampling of personal ads in the city magazines of Boston, Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. He found that singles in the biggest city, New York, not only had the most choices but were also the pickiest in listing the attributes of their desired partners.The average personal ad in New York magazine listed 5.7 criteria required in a partner, significantly more than second-place Chicago’s average (4.1 criteria) and about twice the average for the other three cities.

 

4) What are the best places to live and work?

Look for areas to live where people are always learning new things. Seek out workplaces where employees are treated as partners, not underlings.

Gallup says the Pacific, West, and West North Central regions of the United States currently score highest in those categories.

Learning something new and interesting daily is an important psychological need and one of the most prevalent attributes that people in communities with high wellbeing have in common. A key element in work environment wellbeing, being treated as a partner rather than as an underling lays a foundation for higher employee engagement and productivity, as well as better emotional and physical health.

Gallup

 

5) Is there really “no place like home”?

Feeling at home is incredibly powerful. “Home field advantage” isn’t just for sports teams.

Negotiating on “home turf” can increase what you take away by 160%. And when you ask the boss for a raise, make sure to do it in your office.

Via Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing 

Brown concluded that those who are on their home turf receive a huge windfall. Their takeaway may be worth up to 160% more than what the away-team opponents will bring home.

Someone asking his boss for a raise is more likely to be successful if he’s in his own office than in his boss’s, according to Brown. When two teams at a firm work together on a project, the team hosting the coffee and bagels in their conference room is more likely to take charge of the entire endeavor.

Why? We’re naturally territorial.

Given findings such as these, researchers have increasingly come to the conclusion that the home advantage is an evolutionary one, rooted in territorialism— a deeply rooted, innate need to control one’s own space. And once this sense of territorialism is activated, you become more competitive; you’re more willing to challenge potential intruders. You’re more confident, more motivated, and more aggressive when you perceive a potential threat.

Unfortunately that territoriality can also be annoying. Ever wonder why people seem to take longer exiting a parking spot when they see you waiting for it?

They do take longer. And being territorial is why:

Via Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing

In an Atlanta shopping mall, researchers timed how long it took for cars to exit parking spots. If another car was waiting for the space, people took twice as long to exit. Even though their goal was to get out of the parking lot, they still took longer to leave, if leaving meant they had to surrender their turf to someone else.

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About Eric Barker