This is the week of the year that you'll hear the word "happy" more than any other. In honor of that, we asked our friend Britt – the ultimate happiness seeker – to share some thoughts.Be sure to check out her site; it's a favorite of ours. We appreciate her raw, honest take on self-discovery. More than that, though, we love that she, too, is consistently striving to make the most out of life.
Like Kent and Caanan, I spend a lot of my time writing about destinations people can visit. I take pretty pictures of pretty places and tell people about tourist attractions worth experiencing. I make my living, in part, as a travel writer. I also work to help people find happiness, and in that endeavor I have learned this:
Happiness is not a destination.
It's because of this truth that I kind of hate vision boards (although, like any self-help obsessive, I've made more than one "Dream Board.") The purpose of a vision board is to help you create a picture of what happiness looks like. By seeing the destination, the story goes, your subconscious will work to ensure you arrive there.
But again: happiness is not a destination.
It can't be photographed like Caribbean beaches or arrived at like Costa Rican bungalows. It is not a place you walk, run or fly to; it is a journey you choose to take.
Happiness, I've learned, is a direction.
Furthermore, the happiest people I know - and I'm fortunate and brazen enough to include myself in that group - have long ago stopped trying to arrive at Happiness and instead have elected to move towards happier as often as possible. Happier, I can tell you, is more easily achieved.
The pressure to get somewhere - especially somewhere you can't locate on a map or look up on the Internet - is so great that many people just give up. They decide that happiness is a fairy tale, or at least a reality that is much too far away from their current home. And they don't give up because they are lazy or unevolved, but because they are practical and mired in real-life responsibilities. They are too busy surviving to plan a trip to the mythical island of Happiness.
But even the most pragmatic among us can walk in the direction of happier.
Happier is just putting one foot in front of the other, and pausing for a moment to decide exactly where that single step will take you.
Happier is deciding to smile at the parking attendant when he hands you the ticket.
Happier is putting blueberries on your oatmeal.
Happier is turning off the TV for the night and playing a board game with your loved ones.
Happier is saying yes when a friend suggests you check out that new restaurant.
Happier is investing in a painter's starter kit and spending a Sunday trying to recreate a sunset, just because you've always wanted to make something.
Happier is choosing to find gratitude in even the most painful days and extending kindness to even the biggest creep.
Happier is a hell of a lot less intimidating than the great and powerful Happiness.
Travel writers and magazines focus their efforts on highlighting the destination, the places where we end up, but any travel junky will tell you that it's what doesn't make the pages that really makes the best stories. It is the journey, and not the destination, that makes the greatest trips worth taking; the journey just doesn't photograph as well.
A big thanks to Britt for writing this. Go click around her site!