How to Stay on the Path of Happiness
I love this time of year. Finally, the days are getting longer. January marks the beginning of a new calendar year which symbolizes fresh starts. I don’t make resolutions per se, but it is natural for me to review, assess, and rethink what I’ve done and plan to do. And the new year is the best time to plan for new adventure.
As you probably guessed, we have adventures planned already. The life we’re living right now in Poland IS a new adventure. Additionally, we’re planning a trip to Greece. Not a super big deal from central Europe; it’s as normal as driving to the coast in America. But it’s our first trip to Greece together so we consider it an adventure.
Big or Small, Enjoy Them All
In our retirement, we cut back on big adventures. The months-long expeditions in wild and remote locations are a thing of the past. From now on, I’ll sleep in a bed. Eat from a plate. Live like normal people, pretty much. We spent a week this summer on a whitewater adventure in the Frank Church Wilderness but only a week. We’ll hike, not climb… lay on the beach for a couple weeks; no more roughing it. We like to travel but only for a while. Nowadays, we take smaller doses of adventure more often.
When we met a few years ago, it was ‘adventure’ that brought us together. I used the word as one of several descriptors for people I wanted to attract to my Texas Yeti page. Hikers, backpackers, travellers and adventurers… a demographic with whom I could share my passion for experiencing life. Elżbieta subscribed to that lifestyle and, in 2019, to my adventure page.
In 2020, I completed one final winter adventure. During that 3-month sabbatical in the Frank Church Wilderness, I made plans to re-engage with the outside world. Several companies with whom I had prior business experience and strong personal relationships agreed to sponsor a seminar I produced. When I left the wilderness in March, I flew to New York City to launch a spring seminar tour, but arrived at the exact same time as the COVID pandemic.
Can You Imagine?
Months of planning and investment in my new adventure went to waste. In hindsight, the timing could not have been worse. Trains were empty. There was no toilet paper. People were panicking.
My fresh start never started. The business tour was cancelled before it began. My adventure ended abruptly in abject failure (that happens sometimes); I was forced to retreat and regroup. I was disappointed, not depressed… one adventure leads to another, even when they fail.
On my way back to the mountains, I checked in with social media and updated my friends. A frequent contributor from Poland was supportive, as usual. Her optimistic comments transcended the language barrier. I messaged her while waiting at the airport and she responded. Over the next few weeks, she provided a helpful presence.
I want to say it was perfect timing, but it was not; we had a great deal in common but the pandemic kept us from exploring our compatibility in person. By mid-summer, our friendship had matured and I was invited to attend an event with her in Europe. Happy to oblige, I purchased a ticket for the September date. But international travel was locked down by COVID restrictions. It was a year before I could use the travel credit.
For a year, we met twice a day online. We worked on our relationship day-by-day and carefully built it to last. As a couple we knew that waiting was, in fact, an adventure of its own. We spent the time planning our meeting in Poland. We used our time apart to prepare for the next adventure.
We wrote letters to embassies and immigration officials, and we were rejected. Still, we continued to explore for openings in the fence that separated us. We hoped to spend her September birthday together. We hoped to spend Christmas together. Month after month, season after season passed. In July 2021, one year after deciding to meet, travel restrictions between Europe and the USA were lifted. I left for Poland on the earliest available flight.
It felt like a first date. When we dated online (messaging, never video or phone), we had the luxury of Google Translate to help us find the right words. When I moved to Poland, it was more challenging. Not like climbing or diving or travelling but a real adventure, to be sure.
In the morning, I prepare breakfast for us while my partner walks the dog. Then we walk to town to do our shopping. It may not sound exciting, but we cultivate daily adventures. We’ve learned how and it’s become our habit.
It helps to have a goal or intention, a purpose… beyond labouring to pay bills. Our simple goal is to feel good and share it. We’re happy when we use our energy to generate good vibes and positively influence the world around us.
Help Others Laugh and
Join Them in that Moment
We have other priorities, private goals and motivations, but trust me when I tell you that we wake up each day and intentionally adopt a good mood. That’s not hard for us to do. We waited a year to begin a life together. When we start our day in each other’s company, it’s easy to be positive.
It’s easy to be negative, too. I’ve abused my body during a lifetime of adventure and it reminds daily. It reciprocates with aches and pains I never knew in my youth. The conditions of living are no different for me than any other 66-year old man; only my perspective. I could wake up and give attention to legitimate complaints. Instead, I pretend that everything is perfect. Elżbieta taught me that…
We count our blessings and calculate a positive balance, then we give that good energy away. The best time to share is when we’re shopping. We don’t know how it will happen, only that we’re ready to share… and that becomes our daily adventure.
We see someone and wave or smile, or talk with someone we know. Sometimes with someone we don’t know which can lead to new adventures. Little ones maybe, but they make life brighter and better.
Some people have difficulty finding adventure in their lives. They wonder which opportunity is the right opportunity. And I tell them it’s like prospecting; you might have to sift through a lot of dirt to find gold. Keep looking and you’ll find it.
In my experience, few adventures work as planned. My trip to New York to start a new life crashed before it took off. But it led to meeting Ela… which became a new adventure. It balances out if you give life enough time, and watching it happen is part of the magic.
I find adventure by following my happiness. I exercise my freedom to pursue it. The things that bring me joy change over time; my interests change and I allow it. That’s how I stay happy.
It starts with daily adventures. Get out in the world with your best vibe and naturally attract others with whom you have something to share. Look for things that make you happy. Imagine cool things to do with your life and do them. Intentionally pursue new adventure.