No one can control their emotions, good or bad. If you spend your attention on how you feel, you’ll be in a constant state of anxiety. If you feel good, you’ll start worrying about how to keep that feeling. If you feel bad, you’ll fret over how to feel better. For better or worse, the place where we grew up usually retains an iconic status. But while its human nature to want to have a place to belong, we also want to be special, and defining yourself as someone who once lived somewhere more interesting than the suburbs of Chicago is one way to do that. The house is the place you stay together with your family. A good house is the house that makes the dweller feels so comfortable. Houses won’t build by themselves though, they should start within you, and your vision is what makes your house.

Home starts with a word. You’ll build your own home together with your family. “Home sweet home” is a word that really could express your feeling to have such a great house. If the house is good, then you’ll really feel at home. The warmth of a home for some people is a warm bed that you can’t get out of in the morning, a tiny toothbrush in the bathroom, and the sound of a key in the door each time they enter. There are endless options that could leave us constantly wondering if there isn’t some place with better schools, a better neighborhood, more green space, and on and on. We may leave a pretty good thing behind, hoping that the next place will be even more desirable. In some ways, this mobility has become part of the natural course of a life.

This script is a familiar one: you move out of your parents’ house, maybe go to college, get a place of your own, get a bigger house when you have kids, then a smaller one when the kids move out. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. Even if we did stay in one place, it’s unlikely we would ever have the same deep attachment to our environment as those from some South Asian communities do (evacuations every now and then). It just doesn’t fit with our culture. But in spite of everything — in spite of the mobility, the individualism, and the economy — on some level we do recognize the importance of place. The first thing we ask someone when we meet them, after their name, is where they are from, or the much more interestingly-phrased “where’s home for you?” We ask, not just to place a pushpin for them in our mental map of acquaintances, but because we recognize that the answer tells us something important about them. My answer for “where are you from?” is usually Chicago, but “where’s home for you?” is a little harder.

If home is where the heart is, then by its most literal definition, my home is wherever I am. I’ve always been liberal in my use of the word. If I’m going to visit my parents, I’m going home and if I’m returning to Chicago, I’m also going home. The truth is, the location of your heart, as well as the rest of your body, does affect who you are. The differences may seem trivial (a new subculture means new friends, more open spaces make you want to go outside more), but they can lead to lifestyle changes that are significant.  Not to sound like a broken record, but do spend time thinking about the things you’re grateful for about your house.