Happiness- could this be any more vague?! What even is happiness? Is it posting cool Instagrams, eating and drinking at trendy places in trendy cities, getting your tan on at the beach, hustling to pursue your dream career, having the perfect relationships? I’ve been thinking about what being “happy” means a lot lately. To me, happiness isn’t black and white. There are many facets to being happy and it can look totally different depending on the person. But how do we know if we are happy and how can we improve our happiness?! Hopefully this post can shed a bit of light. So…here goes a little different type of blog post than usual. Watch out..it may get personal!
Throughout my travels, I often ask myself: if I had a flight home/___ country tomorrow, how would I feel? If I would be sad about it, then I don’t book a flight. It may be oversimplifying things, but many decisions in life can be made this way. Forget the pros and cons lists, just ask yourself: which of these two options will give me more joy?
This reminds me of a concept found in a book my grandma told me about called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing”, which provides a unique tactic to help declutter your life. As someone who lives out of a backpack, this concept is particularly important to me. The point being, through the simple act of deciding whether an object brings you joy or not can easily help you declutter your living space or make moving easier. This same concept applies to most decisions in life. Yes, we must weigh the possibilities and there are certain limitations such as time, money, family, health, etc. but I challenge anyone to try this simple practice out in their daily life. It can be as simple as what you are going to eat for dinner or whether you go out to meet a friend. Which option brings you the most joy?
When I think of the times I have been most happy, I am usually surrounded by passionate, interesting people, on a beach, in the sun, or underwater. I think about each of those memories with a critical eye- why was it that I was so happy in that moment?
This reminds me of an activity I did for one of my previous jobs: The Wheel of Life happiness assessment. In essence, the “Wheel of Life” is broken up into categories, which you rank from 1-10 based on how satisfied you are with that area. The activity encourages you not only to rank each category, but to reflect on why you feel the way you do and how you can change small aspects of your life to see vast improvements with your happiness. I won’t go on about it, but you can read more about it on this website if you’d like!
According to the “Wheel of Life”, the eight categories of happiness are: family/friends, romance, health, fun/recreation, finances, career/business, personal growth, and physical environment.
I absolutely love this activity because it puts a vague feeling like “happiness” into tangible, objective terms that you can set clear and realistic goals to improve particular aspects of your life. The best part is that it helps you realize that no one on earth will have a 10/10 score for every category, and that is totally okay! Identifying the areas of your life that you are highly satisfied with is actually just as helpful as knowing the ones you aren’t. The key is to focus on balance, not perfection, and to remember that your happiness is up to you and shouldn’t be compared with anyone else’s. I would love to hear what you think about the “Wheel of Life” activity or the art of decluttering your life, or even if you just want someone to talk to! Feel free to send me a private message or email :).
Alright, here’s where it gets personal…
For those of you who know me (most who are reading this probably do), you may be wondering how I’m doing personally. Or not. If not, feel free to close this tab :). Most of you know I have been traveling for more than three years continuously (both for fun and for work), that I often post awesome pictures of the exciting things I have been doing and seem to be “living the dream.” I’m sure some of you know there is a certain level of facade social media plays and that day-to-day life is not always reflected. I personally choose to share positive, exciting or funny things in my life, and not always the challenging or difficult things, which is a personal choice. (What purpose does it serve anyone else to share my negativity to the world?) You don’t see me posting about going through hell with customs trying to get a package with my medication that’s being held (on two separate occasions in two countries, mind you), or when I feel exhausted and irritated after a long travel day, or when I’m frustrated at technological issues with my tablet (yes, I wrote this post from my phone). No, not everything in my life is perfect and that’s okay, but I also choose to look at most situations with a positive attitude. Sure, when my phone got stolen in Vietnam it sucked, but I am now able to look at it as a lesson and have grown from it (yay for unintentional phone detoxes!). I’m currently waiting out an annoying tropical storm in Thailand and wish I could be at the beach, but I’m writing this and watching House of Cards instead (Frank Underwood, you dog).
I know many bloggers, Instagrammers and travelers in general who may post picturesque views and share the excitement of their lives, all while being unhappy underneath or they may be traveling for the wrong reasons. Some may be homesick, broke, tired, or the lifestyle may not be for them. Luckily, my friends and family know I am not one of those people (phew!), but I also know my limitations and will follow what makes me happiest. Happiness cannot be forced, whether it is with a job, a new city, traveling, or relationships.
So, how am I feeling? I’m turning 26 in three days and I have been doing a lot of reflecting lately. To be totally honest, if I were to rank certain parts of my life on a scale of 1-10, I think all of the categories would score very close to either a 1 or a 10, which sounds a bit odd. Many of the categories that people my age are typically not satisfied with (travel, excitement, personal growth, independence/freedom, physical location, no stressors) are all 10s for me, which is awesome. However, when it comes down to it, the categories I have been neglecting are really being neglected (as in, for years). My relationships with friends and family, my dating life (#foreveralone), being intellectually challenged, pursuing my career goals, my health and my finances are all scoring pretty dang low. So, what am I gonna do about it?! Who knows… Maybe some big changes are a comin’! Stay tuned :).
*ominous House of Cards theme song plays…*