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10 Things the Rest of the US Can Learn From Alaska

by Kaitlin Armstrong May 7, 2018

Ask any Alaskan, and they’ll tell you that compared to our counterparts in the Lower 48, our priorities are a little different. We’re willing to put up with months of darkness and an insane cost of living in exchange for a lifestyle — one that we’re fiercely proud of, one we wouldn’t trade for the world. Sure it may mean sacrifices, but ultimately it helps us keep the important things in life in perspective.

In fact, the rest of the US could learn a thing or two from the way of life in Alaska; here are just a few.

1. Working to live beats living to work.

Alaskans clock in long hours to get food on the table, but we resist getting caught up in any drudgery. “Work hard, play hard” and “work to live” are the prevailing attitudes here, meaning we don’t allow our jobs encroach on our lifestyle. We know there’s plenty to life outside of work, and we won’t sacrifice our friendships, hobbies, or outdoor pursuits to the corporate grind.

2. Things taste better when you know where they come from.

Our experiences fishing, hunting, and gathering create an intimate understanding of where our food comes from and how it’s sourced. Hunting and fishing may be on the decline for those in the Lower 48, but for Alaskans, harvesting our own food fosters an appreciation and reverence for the way nature’s bounty sustains us year after year.

3. It pays to be handy.

When something breaks down, we don’t always have the luxury of hauling it off to get serviced or replacing it instantly. Rather than throw our hands in the air, we get resourceful. Alaskans reign at DIY repairs and can fix just about anything with some creativity and a little duct tape.

4. Nature is the best medicine.

Few things make one’s troubles feel less significant than a retreat into the unbridled wilderness. Lucky for us, the state has plenty — so when we’re down, hiking, camping, or a wild escape can provide a sobering burst of relief.

5. Community is everything.

The hallmark of life in Alaska’s small towns is their powerful sense of community. Through the winters, our friend groups become the surrogate family we turn to for help and good company. Even when you’re sick of neighbors being in your business, there’s comfort in belonging to a tight-knit community and knowing your chosen family has got your back.

6. A heightened appreciation for the change of seasons.

Dramatic seasonal shifts define life up north, and there’s little you can do but embrace them. Summer is for fishing and camping; fall for canning and preserving; winter is for getting cozy and those cold-weather sports. The seasons pass quickly, but we know that each one has its own opportunity and its place in the yearly cycle.

7. Brand names ≠ status.

Alaskans don’t measure status through brand-name clothing, and we’re more laissez-faire about fashion than most. We don’t judge each other based on appearance or style — and we forgo fast fashion for pieces that are practical, comfortable, and long-lasting.

8. How to master the side-hustle.

The high cost of living, boom and bust economy, and sparse job opportunities require us to get creative, so Alaskans are masters of the side-hustle. When income streams dwindle we don’t fret — we turn to investment properties, selling our creative wares, or odd jobs for a little extra economic padding.

9. The importance of conservation.

While many states have seen wildlife populations decline over the last century, Alaskans understand that conservation is paramount. We manage our fisheries, our wilderness, and our wildlife carefully so we can enjoy them for years to come.

10. Take a step back and slow down.

Everything moves a little bit slower in Alaska — even in the city, there’s a distinctively leisurely pace of life. Rather than spending our lives rushing around, we’re not afraid to take a step back, savor our surroundings, and keep family, community, and the good things in life at the center of it all.

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