Happy! Sand sledding at White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

Happy! Sand sledding at White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

I am happy. Almost all of you who read this blog know me personally and care about me and so I want you to know this since I have not explicitly stated this before; I tell you and show you what I do and where I go, but I’ve never addressed this directly. So, for all of you who were wondering, I want you to know that I am happy. I am a happy traveler. I am a happy hiker. I am a happy explorer. I am a happy student of what I see around me. I am a happy vegan. I am a happy reader. I am a happy volunteer. I am a happy blogger. I am a happy camper. I am happy. I am happy because I am doing what I feel in my heart to be what I’m supposed to do. I am extremely grateful for the ability to do this. And I am especially grateful for the support of old and new friends who have helped me along the way.

If you don’t know me personally or this is enough for you, I would take no offense (nor would I ever know) if you care to skip the rest of this post so by all means, go for it. But there is something I would like to tell all of you who care to listen.

I know a lot of you who read my blog are happy, I know some of you are not happy, and some of you I don’t if you’re happy or not because we’ve never talked about it. But I would ask you to take a few seconds and ask yourself if you are happy. And whether or not you classify yourself as happy, as yourself a second question: “What makes me happy?” This should only take a second because everyone knows what makes them happy. It can be spending time with friends, shopping, sleeping late on weekends, watching television, hiking, going out to dinner – anything. Now, make plans to do that thing, whatever it is. And while you are doing it, while you are dozing in bed after 10am on Saturday, having drinks with your friends, watching one of your favorite shows, I would ask you to take one more minute and be aware of how good you feel; notice your mood and revel in it – because this is life, this is what is what makes it worth it. Without these moments it is too easy to ask, “What’s the point?” And it’s also too easy to not notice the moments you’re already having, the happiness that already exists in your life.

I realize the time I’m asking you to take is quickly adding up, but the next time you spend time with your spouse, family, girlfriend/boyfriend, or kids, take another moment and be in the feelings of joy that the people closest to you bring. Recognize and appreciate those in your life that you love. Just take a second. Don’t let your frustrations with them, the problems in your relationship with them, the fact that they may not put away the dishes when you ask, or the fact that they don’t want to go to bed on time on a school night, or that they may nag you about your life choices distract you for one minute – just one – and remember why you love them. I talked to a man I met in the park here in Las Cruces a few days ago and he reminded me of something very important: that love and happiness are gifts, truly. When you think of life, there is really nothing else that matters when you come down to it. Just do what makes you happy and be with those you love as often as you can, and with the awareness of what it means to you. Happiness can be achieved through finding a great pair of new shoes or through having a beer at the end of the work day. There is no wrong or right way to get there so just do whatever you know will bring you joy.

There is no blueprint to happiness, no one path. I would never claim that doing what I did – quitting my job, giving up my home and belongings, and traveling around the country in my car – is what everyone should do. I know many of you would actually NOT be happy doing this. I am in no position to know or suggest what will bring you happiness, satisfaction, or sense of purpose. I do not pretend to know anything you don’t know. And I am not asking you to think about what I’ve said above because I am now claiming to be some enlightened being or because I think I have some sort of wisdom that I didn’t before, but because I care about all of you: those I’ve known since I was a kid, those of you I’ve met as an adult, as well as those of you whom I’ve never met in person or even exchanged a blog comment with.

As amazing as my journey is and has been, don’t let me mislead you into thinking it’s all been a ‘walk in the park’ because not every moment in and of itself has been a happy one. I’ve been tired. I’ve been irritated. I’ve not felt well. I’ve been anxious. I’ve been challenged – in ways I did not wish to be at the time. But these were (almost always) very short lived moments and they have not affected my overall happiness. They have never made me doubt what I was doing or regret the choices I made that got me here. I realize how lucky I am that I can say this. The point is that even though I’m happy and even though I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing, these moments still happen. I just try (please note the word try) to remember to not let them define my experience, that is, make me unhappy. This is ridiculously difficult for all of you who are not living your dream however. Believe me I remember, and I had a great former life. So if you’re still reading and you haven’t stopped to think about what I’ve written above, please just do this: go do something or spend time with someone that makes you happy. And repeat as often as possible.

I wish you all a wonderful week.