Monday I returned from a British Columbia road trip, face planting onto my bed, feeling nearly crippled by anxiety, rather than being relieved to be home. I took several big breaths, attempting to re-gain normal breathing, while mentally cycling through the next 15 days – what I consider one of the most important personal and work months of the year. Overwhelming feelings and anxiety set in, thrusting me into this feeling of fight, flight, or freeze. Yet I don’t do any of those. Instead, I put on my headphones and Chuck Taylors and run out the door, with the expectation that I’m not coming back until those feelings of anxiety have been replaced with contentment. An hour and a couple miles later and I’m sitting on the floor of a map store, previously undiscovered, with maps laid out all around me, bobbing my head to music while I plot out my next big adventure. It’s then that I feel a tap on my shoulder. “Sir, I’m not sure if I’ve seen someone older than 5 in here with such a look of contentment, but nonetheless, it’s time to close up shop.”
It was about a year and a half ago that I had hit something of a ceiling. Much of my work had become humdrum, I was starting to get restless after not traveling abroad for nearly a year, and I was starting to ask questions again about the story I wanted to be writing for my life. It was then, at the beginning of 2012, that a seed was planted to start doing things even more unconventionally than I had already been doing. 2011 had seen me just returning from a year of living and traveling abroad, which had changed my life. Yet as inherent as travel was to me, something told me that it wasn’t just travel that could change my life. I began disrupting my day-to-day life with things that whether big or small, weren’t part of my life before, but things that I hoped would bring greater challenges, happiness, and purpose to my life. Months later I’m still doing many of those same things and the following is a little bit about what I’ve been doing and learning from this pursuit of happiness.
Listen, I’m not saying I’ve got it all figured out. All this is coming from a guy who got the feathers of an arrow stuck in his finger when shooting a bow and arrow last weekend (<<I’ll save that story for later). I’m no Katniss. The thing is that life doesn’t always pan out like we dream. But if we believe that life can in fact come pretty close to how we imagine, then sometimes it does. Well here lately, it feels like it’s come pretty close for me. And yet this week I can’t help but feel like I’ve just scraped the surface, like I’m on the cusp of something. Something big and groundbreaking for me. It’s as if my response is, “Why stop now?” And so, there’s no slowing anytime soon.
These things I’ve done to create a life of happiness might not work for you. In fact, none of them might. But find whatever it is that does. You won’t find happiness like I do, nor should you. Finding purpose and happiness isn’t an out of the box solution, because life isn’t a problem with an exclusive solution. Life is a reality to be experienced. In the words of Butch Walker (Not to be confused with Butch Cassidy), “For once, once in your life, won’t you do what feels right instead of waiting for the next big compromise.”
What have you learned from your own pursuit of happiness?