Looking further into the details of this list, I suppose it's unsurprising that the criteria the Economist used to judge cities around the world were aimed ultimately at measuring how good it would be for businesses to locate there. The Economist wanted to provide a list for business leaders who needed to know "whether or not companies should pay staff a hardship allowance if they make employees relocate to a different country. Its researchers look at how 'tolerable' it is to live in a particular place given its crime levels, threat of conflict, quality of medical care, levels of censorship, temperature, schools and transport links." In other words, they were measuring how productive a place is for workers to toil away their lives. So that explains it. That explains the difference between the Economist's rankings and my own experience of these places. I'm not looking for a place to "tolerate." I'm looking for a place to thrive. Places where the architecture inspires me, the history motivates me, the people want to cooperate with me, the cuisine nourishes me, and the values ennoble me. I'm looking for places where people who want to know themselves will have opportunities to do so and then be able to live lives in harmony with what they find. Australia - a wealthy country with strict immigration and tons of natural resources - may be able to provide a stable place for its workers, but its history and people provide almost none of the thriving culture that I myself am looking for.
In taking the time on this website to express my own philosophy, I wasn't going after writing specifics that were specific to me alone. This evolutionary philosophy I'm trying to share is based on the idea that we all share a common evolutionary history so there are common truths to the philosophical questions we all ask as well. When it comes to our questions about place, my answers have led me to a quiet seaside village in North East England, a short metro ride from the downtown of a historical and vibrant city. Not everyone will come up with this same answer - thank goodness! - but everyone should be searching for their own individual answer rather than simply accepting the situation they were born in, or the rankings of a commercial magazine whose profit motives they do not share. As you search to know thyself and find your own place in this world, here are some considerations:
Where You Live
Given that your personality is an expression of your genes and your environment, the place you live will have a profound effect on who you are. Be aware of the influence of your place. Be unafraid to move if you have to improve. Wherever you do live, you are a social animal in need of social relations. Sink in roots. Get to know and help your community. Invest for the long-term.
When ecosystems are stable, species remaining in the same place learn to thrive. When resource availability or threat presences change, a species must adapt. If such a change takes place faster than adaptation can occur, the species must be able to move. This is why all species evolve a spectrum of personalities that range from wanting to stay put or preferring to roam. The species needs both personalities. Respect this. Play your part. Encourage others to play their part. The need to “burrow in” builds resources. The need to “see over the next hill” extends from your neighborhood to the entire universe.
Analysis is dependent on comparison. Without dark there is no light, without hot there is no cold, etc. To properly know yourself and your environment, you need to understand other places. Living somewhere provides more information than merely traveling through does.
Where You Travel
Travel bombards your mind with opportunities for learning. Culture, customs, food, architecture, fashion, geography, zoology, weather, history, art - everything that humans touch or are touched by can be different when you travel. Stretch your mind when you travel. Gather ideas for your own environment. Gain understanding and love for all the world and its history. If you want to turn your mind off, stay at home and learn stillness. If you want hedonistic short-term pleasure, keep it short.