Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy. – Guillaume Apollinaire
I grew up chasing happiness. Like switching on the light in a dark room, I was taught to believe that happiness was some kind of destination I’d arrive at some point in the future.
I was searching for happiness in the external world: the materials I bought, the music I listened to, the clothes I wore and the things I watched.
It was all a show. A show that impressed everyone else apart from myself.
Something needed to change.
In 2012, I was confused after graduating from university and made a rash decision to hit the road in search of purpose and a new version of happiness.
A Societal Problem
We all share the same desire to be happy, but we live in a society that teaches us that happiness is some kind of worthy pursuit that is attained outside ourselves.
And it’s a plausible narrative.
We’re taught that happiness is something we can chase, buy, or strive for.
We’re taught to want more, be more, experience more, but we never ask the most important question… WHY.
We adopt notions such as: If I just get X then I’ll be happy.
And granted when we attain X, it feels good, and we feel a short lived sense of gratification.
But it’s still never enough, and once we’ve got X, we want Y.
But when does it stop? Where’s the peace in more is better?
The Happiest Family
In 2013 I was trekking the beautiful Annapurna Circuit of the Himalayas in Nepal. I was on a crowded bus heading to the start of the hiking trail when I got speaking to a Nepali man named Manish from a small village called Besisahar.
Manish didn’t speak English, but through the power of body language we made it work. It was a fun conversation and I could clearly see Manish had a great heart.
It was already dark by the time I arrived in Besisahar and I was going to book in at a hotel when Manish kindly invited me to his family home to stay the evening.
We climbed the 200 or so steps to Manish’s beautiful home which was perched on a hill overlooking the village and dramatic peaks of the Himilayan mountains.
I received a warm greeting from the rest of his family and luckily his younger son, Amir, spoke good English and was able to mediate the conversation for the evening.
It was a refreshing experience and I was blown away by how this simple Nepali family lived their lives. It was an extremely empowering experience and marked the first time that I questioned my own version of happiness.
From my observations of this beautiful Nepali family, there were some clear differences between Eastern and Western philosophy pertaining to the subject of happiness:
- They all lived a very simple life and were only focused on the bare necessities: food, shelter, family and community.
- They all lived a very community focused, collaborative life rather than one set on ideals of competition/individual – the family lived in a house which they built themselves with the help of people from the village. The family also grew their own food and traded using a barter system with other people in the village.
- They showed little desire for more – the whole family exuded a heightened sense of contentment and seemed very appreciative with what they had.
- They didn’t have unrealistic fears and expectations about the world – TV and internet were in scarce supply so news didn’t reach the village very easily. As a result, the family was somewhat oblivious to issues occurring in the wider world, which in turn provided more space for them to focus on the village and issues right in front of their eyes.
- Happiness wasn’t something they were searching for in the external world or materials – they had been brought up with the mindset that they were already enough and that they didn’t need more.
- They were kind and generous – paradoxically, even though the family had little food and things to offer, they were extremely giving.
The points I’ve made above are observations and extremely general, and of course, one could question their validity.
I’ve simply put my observations out there to provoke thought. That’s exactly what this experience did for me.
Throughout my journey, I’ve experienced many people’s versions of happiness, but this was my most empowering experience.
I reflected on my experience in my journal and came to the realisation that:
You will not find happiness if you spend your life searching for what happiness consists of.
Happiness is not a pursuit, something that can earned or a destination you arrive at in the future.
It comes from within, and you already have everything you need to be happy, and it’s completely your choice.
What’s your view on happiness? Have your say below in the comments.
Thanks for reading and all the best,
Daniel Beaumont, Friday 8th January 2016
About the Author
Hello everyone, I’m
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.
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