Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated – Confucius
I grew up with the mindset that more was always better.
More friends. More learning. More money. More materials. More experiences. More opportunities.
There was never enough.
I would strive and strive in search for the next thing; only to realise that just as I arrived there, I was already wishing for the next thing.
It was a never ending cycle which would leave me unsatisfied and yearning for more.
I lived like this for 21 years. I had just graduated from university. I was meant to be happy but i wasn’t.
What i thought would fill me with joy, left me feeling numb and empty.
That struck me hard, and I realised I was running a race to happiness that had no finish line.
I knew that i needed to make a change, so I decided to take a year out and travel in an attempt to reexamine my personal philosophy, values and beliefs.
Life in Australia
It was 2012 when I embarked on my first ever long-term travel journey. With pretty much no money to my name, I lent off a friend and booked a one way ticket to Australia.
There was no turning back. I was petrified, but it felt right inside. The first two weeks were hell, i considered coming home many times, but i persevered through and managed to land a temporary job as a grain labourer in a place called Merriwagga in the Australian outback.
Now i know why other Australian’s didn’t want the job. The job required me to live on site and dedicate the next 4 months of my life to shovelling grain.
Here’s an insight to my life on the grain:
- I worked 12-15 hour days, 7 days a week in the blistering 40 degrees heat.
- I was 100km a supermarket, and would have an afternoon each week to drive and bulk buy food for the week.
- I cooked all my food on a portable camping stove.
- I slept on a mattress on the floor of the hut were people had their dinner.
- I had to travel 20 minutes to get phone signal or to interact with the outside world.
- I spent most of my evening’s journalling or kicking a football around the grain yard.
It was certainly not an easy experience, and many people I’ve told the story to couldn’t understand why i wanted to do that in the first place. Very early on in the grain experience, i have a vivid memory of walking back to the hut as the sun was setting and feeling very calm, present and content with where i was for the first time in my life.
Upon reflecting, I’ve come to understand why:
I was leading an incredibly simple life. I’d accepted where i was and what i was doing. There was no noise or desire for anything else. I was living life in the present moment.
For the rest of the article I want to explore a few reasons how and why my life became simpler, in hope that you can apply some of these ideas to your life:
Why Life Became So Much Simpler
Less to Worry About – Before travelling, each object gave me something to look after, worry about and take care of. When i made the decision to travel I had to let go of most of my objects. It was just my backpack and I, and there was nothing else wearing me down. This freed up a remarkable amount of mental space, giving me a lot more energy to spend doing the things I enjoyed.
Experiences Could Come Out Of Anything – I used to believe that a great experience came at a cost but working at the grain made me realise that an excellent experience can come from anywhere and doesn’t have to cost anything at all.
Desire Was Tamed – Before travelling i was surrounded by constant stimulation and choices to acquire materials. That changed when i headed out to the outback for the grain harvest. The remote living meant that i didn’t have access or the opportunity to acquire materials. I realised that i could either suffer through the pain of desire or arrive at a point of acceptance. I chose acceptance, and like a flame starving from oxygen, over time my desire for anything outside of myself faded away.
Happiness Comes From Within – I came to realise that happiness wasn’t derived from the external world, but instead, came from within. I looked within and began to realise that I already had everything I needed to be happy. It was a liberating feeling and for the first time in my life I felt content in myself, without the tug of searching for happiness in the external world.
The grain harvest taught me that you don’t need much to enjoy life.
It was just me, my backpack and the bare necessities of good food, water and company.
After the grain it was clear to me that finishing life with the most toys and materials wasn’t an automatic solution for happiness.
The realisation, for me, was that happiness is found in simplicity and being content with less.
Thanks for reading and all the best,
Dan Beaumont, Sunday 29th May 2016
About the Author
Hello everyone, I’m Dan – a 28-year-old social entrepreneur and writer from the north of England, living in Bucharest, Romania. I’m currently writing my first book about my 4-year journey around the world seeking wisdom and life-lessons from everyday people I met hitchhiking and Couchsurfing.
I discovered that travel, if approached with the right mindset, can be life-changing, and a trip combining travel, purpose and introspection is a great way to learn, challenge oneself and change for the better. Now my mission in life is to share what I’ve learned to inspire others to embark on their own journey of self-discovery and use travel, entrepreneurship and technology as a means to make the world a better place.
I’m also the founder of Podstel – a vision to help humanity belong and grow by creating a worldwide network of ‘homes’ that bring locals and travellers together to share their stories, passions and skills. The first two Podstels are open and thriving in Bucharest, so if you’re passing through, be sure to come and say hi, or stay the night with us.
If you enjoyed reading this article, please share it with your friends and join the discussion below by posting your thoughts and questions.
If you want to read more articles like this then please subscribe to my mailing list here to receive content directly to your inbox.