3. Process/Play, 4D Wellness, Travel

Familiarity Breeds Content: How to Find Joy in Familiar Places

In mid-April, I spent a few days in Portugal – my first time abroad all year.

It’s crazy to type that, as my ‘past’ life feels like I spent more time OUT of the country than in the country. ‘The country’ meaning the UK – Manchester, England to be precise – for those who are new here.

But Monte Gordo is my home from home. 

I first travelled to Monte Gordo (The Algarve, Portugal) in 2007, I believe (it could have been 2008, actually?!) – my first ever experience of warm weather training.

And so, fifteen or so years later, here I am again. For at least the 10th or 11th time. (I’m also back at the hotel I first stayed at all those years ago, too! Crazzzzy!)

I’m so familiar with this place. And that brings comfort and centres me when I’m tired and need re-energising – by the sunshine and the familiarity. 


What’s that saying that’s actually meant to be a negative one? ‘Familiarity breeds contempt.’

Well, I much prefer Anna Quindlen’s adage: ‘Familiarity breeds content.’ (Possibly taken from or inspired by American writer, George Ade (1866-1944) who expressed the same, less catchy sentiment before Anna was even born: ‘Familiarity breeds contentment.’)

Why? Well, it’s centring.

So, whenever you feel stressed, anxious, out of sorts, or just a little lost, go to your familiar (but perhaps not too familiar) place. Go to that place that brings you joy, calm and peace. If you can. I know it’s a privilege that I’m extremely grateful for – the option to pop to Portugal for a few days because two days before I flew out, I checked the weather forecast, saw 27 and 28 degrees celsius and thought, I absolutely MUST leave this cold, wet country for my sanity!

I’ve done this on several occasions where I just needed to get away to recentre and refresh – 2012 & 2017 are two specific last-minute, short visits to Monte Gordo that spring to mind! And both occasions led to breakthrough, clarity and a renewed zeal for life and purpose.

Find Your Joy

That which brings you most joy will bring you most!

Iris Van Ooyen

I know not everybody enjoys the impromptu, last-minute jaunts. 

But, for me – joy is sunshine, joy is good food with good people, joy is being in my own company and walking along the beach, watching the waves rush in again and again onto the soft, crumbly, beige sand. 

Joy is the slowness of each day out here. 

Joy is bumping into people I haven’t seen in years and years – the random encounters that make no sense, but put a smile on your face. 

Literally, as I type this, an acquaintance I last saw in 2011 in Aix-en-Provence walked downstairs in the restaurant where I am eating the yummiest, freshly-caught (I’m assuming) sea bream and he said – ‘Abigail?’ 


Wow. What are the chances?!

(And – just like that, I had a chance to practice my French.)

Anyway, what is joy to you? Do you know what it looks like? If not, I’d encourage you to visualise and write down a joyful day or joyful moments so you can capture them with your whole heart and being when you’re in them.

Follow Your Joy

Ultimately, Monte Gordo is a familiar enough place for me to feel comfortable enough whilst there to do regular, run-of-the-mill activities (eating good food, walks, cycling, beach days…) that bring me joy. But I had to be aware of that, book the flights, hotel, etc and make the effort to get myself there to have those experiences that renewed my joy and refreshed me for my season ahead. So, here’s the kicker – whenever and wherever you have the opportunity, follow your joy. (It may be in a familiar place – Portugal. It may be somewhere new – Bora Bora? It may be close to home and easy to access – a swing in the local park.)

But, lovely people, whatever you do –

Follow your joy. 

Ciao! Let’s Stay Connected?

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this latest update? Sometimes, I’ll be efficient and share updates here through the month; at other times, not so much! But, if you’d love more regular updates… 

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Have a beautiful day! 

– Abs x

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