Here we are, all of us, caught up in the daily routine of work, family, chores, and responsibilities. Does it sometimes feel like all you want is a break to recharge?
Have you ever yearned for a place to escape to? Somewhere that is comfortable and familiar and yet, does not have any of the chores or responsibilities of your home or work? Well, that my friend is called the 3rd place and you really need to find one for yourself.
The 3rd place is where you should want to be, when you are not at home (your 1st place) or at work (your 2nd place). It is a haven that will allow you to recharge and relax in the company of like-minded individuals. A place to escape to daily, or at least consistently, where you can converse on subjects of interest with other people, who also find these subjects interesting. Here is the hard part, it is also a physical place, with walls, windows, and people that you can see, faces that can react to your thoughts and ideas. It must be easy to get to; it can’t take an uncomfortable amount of time or effort to get there. And yet, you cannot get the same experience, by connecting online from the comfort of your home.
It is equally important to get up, get out and go there. Believe it or not, humans are indeed social animals and we do need to get our fix of belonging, not from behind our keyboards, but actually among other people. A challenge at the best of time, add in a society that gives accolades for being busy and culture the nurtures the need for having everything and doing everything…well it isn’t easy to justify this time away from work and home. I can hear your objections now, and I totally get it, I am a single mother of two small children, and probably 99% of the time, I put myself on the back burner, in order to do everything that needs to get done in a day. I mean any parent can tell you that the idea of Self Care is fantastic, and please call me in about 20 years when I can schedule you in. Realistically though you can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself and having a 3rd place will make that Self Care that much easier to find.
The concept of the 3rd place was first coined back in 1989 by a Sociologist named Ray Oldenburg in his book “The Great Good Place”. It’s not a new concept; I was first introduced to it when I worked for a coffee giant who shall remain nameless, I didn’t realize that they had borrowed it until just recently. Coffee Shops are a great example of a 3rd place and they have been around since the Court of the Sun King in France. In fact the entire French revolution was hatched by Coffee House Patrons hopped up on Caffeine.
During my days as a Barista, I once worked in a shop that had the most regular Regulars you have ever met. This particular group would come every day, at least once a day, and they had set times 7am, 5pm or 7pm. These regulars had no obligation to show up, but if they were coming they knew that could find another friend or a few at any of these three times a day. Here we are years later, and sadly I mean at least 15 years later, the Regulars are still meeting up daily over coffee and tea. So as much as I thought they were kinds of crazy, well I think they have been doing something right all these years and I am not going to lie, I kinda want it.
The great thing about a 3rd Place is that it can be anywhere you find it, churches, clubs, parks, or even a neighborhood front porch. Maybe your 3rd place is a friend’s kitchen counter. Somewhere to meet, talk, and socialize on a regular basis. A place to connect with others and feel seen heard and acknowledged. So really for your own mental health, you will need to get a 3rd Place stat! All joking aside, feelings of disconnection from other people and activities are one of the leading signs of mental illness and it is time to take mental health as seriously as we take our physical health.
On the topic of physical health, maybe your 3rd Place is your Gym, Yoga Studio or Hockey Club. If it isn’t, maybe it can be. I mean if you are already making the effort to get there on a regular basis, maybe putting some effort into connecting with other people while you are there could pay off and you could find your new tribe. Ok, ok…so maybe making conversation during Downward Dog might be pushing it…but could you make eye contact and small talk after class, or by the water cooler?
Personally I think it’s time to actively seek out a 3rd Place, I am so very lucky to have found mine and not only does it speak to my mental well-being it allows me to nourish my physical health as well. Since walking through the doors of this funky little studio back in June I have made it my regular stomping grounds.
Sweet Serenity Yoga And Wellness make it easy to feel welcomed and at ease. From day one, I have always been welcomed into the studio with a smile and typically welcomed by name. (They really do take the time to know who you are and what you like.) The environment is comfortable and fun, as it’s a new studio, all props and accessories are new and in great shape. Every time I think “Man I would love it if they had larger bolsters, weighted eye pillows, etc etc” , on my next visit it seems like they have read my mind because the wished-for props have magically appeared.
I love the fact that there is a huge range of classes available, so I can really decide what kind of class I feel like participating in today, what serves me best. On top of the regularly scheduled classes, the studio has made every effort to offer a huge range of special workshops and events that promote community and connection. From Cat Yoga to Life Coaching and Glow Yoga to Massage, I can’t wait to see what is offered next.
Really the 3rd Place is about connection! And not in a superficial “How’s it going? Have a nice day!” kinda way. It means really wanting to know the answer to questions you ask; it also means having someone else really listen when you answer their questions. Being seen, being heard, and being welcomed: these things are not easy to come by anymore. And they are really so very important.
For our universal sanity, because we really are all part of one huge universe, please go find your 3rd Place, seek your Welcome.