Finding the Happiest Place on Earth

by Terre Dunivant
Gaia Graphics & Associates

San Luis Obispo, home of Gaia Graphics & Associates on California’s Central Coast, has been named one of the “happiest place on Earth” by author Dan Buettner of a new book called Thrive.

In Thrive, Buettner unravels the stories of each happiness hotspot, revealing how he discovered each location and found the happiest people in Denmark, Singapore, northeastern Mexico, and San Luis Obispo, where I’m writing this from my home office. It’s 72 degrees and sunny, a little November breeze ruffling the leaves of the orange tree, a hint of woodsmoke puffing through the window screen. 

Economists, psychologists, sociologists, politicians, writers, and other experts interviewed by Buettner explain what contributes to each region’s happiness. Essentially, it’s all about the way we live our lives: the food we eat, the way we exercise, and the social networks we foster that feed our bodies and spirits. 

The Happy Tax

For graphic designers in San Luis Obispo, we have what I think of as the ‘sunshine tax’ or the dollar cost of doing business in paradise. Many of us could make more money in Los Angeles or San Francisco, but all that stress and traffic is not worth a bigger income. Maybe ‘happy tax’ is a more accurate idea. 

San Luis Obispo is a great place to pursue happiness, and the Gaia Graphics crew feels not only happy but blessed to work with the City of San Luis Obispo’s Open Space programs, which clearly contribute to the overall level of happiness here. 

We’ve designed direct mail fundraising brochures that consistently bring in high donations to preserve land and develop recreational opportunities. We worked with botanists from Cal Poly and the Native Plant Society for 16 months to produce a beautiful wildflower book showing hundreds of local flowers in full color. We’ve created a whole series of interpretive panels for hiking and biking trails, which detail natural and historical wonders of San Luis Obispo.

Happiness happens when you do what you love, in a place you love, with people you love.