Mastering the Art of Wanderlust
Wow. Such great feedback from last week's post! Almost 300 page views! Not a bad start.
Thank you so much! It's inspiring so I'll try to keep this going.
Do More of What Makes You Happy...
So... what the hell is The Art of Wanderlust anyway? What do I mean by that? And why would I use that name for my whole website?
As I've gone through life, rather than simply going with the flow, I've tried to make an effort to be self-aware and capture the kinds of activities, things and people that make me happy. I believe that a key to living a happy life is to do more of the things you love. To me, this means*:
Cramming my day with people I enjoy hanging out with.
Going to new places. The more different and unexpected, the better.
Soaking in the books and movies that make my heart happy. Mine are particularly nerdy ones.
Being a creator. Ideating. Innovating. Changing. Tweaking. Accelerating. Making art of different kinds.
Spending money on experiences that help me grow, not on possessions that tie me down. Adventure > Stuff.
Exchanging ideas. Debating. Expanding my point of view.
Singing in the shower. Doing weird things. Trying things for the first time.
Similarly, I try to eliminate —as much as possible— the activities, people and things that I consider toxic and time-wasting. I don't own a TV. I have an active "information diet", having renounced the 24-hour news cycle that I found made me needlessly angry and seldom provided meaningful content. I have eliminated most processed foods from my menu. I try to create systems in both my personal and professional life that help me spend as little time as possible on mundane activities (like, say, email or laundry). And I've deleted my share of phone contacts and Facebook "friends". All in the spirit of de-cluttering. (You can expect more detailed posts on these Lifestyle Design topics further along the road).
The truth is, life is to damn short to spend it around assholes or doing meaningless stuff. Don't be constrained by what others tell you is right or "appropriate". You somehow already know the things that make you happy, that keep you in that state of flow, that give you a sense of purpose, that put you in a place where you would not rather be anywhere but in that very moment. Happiness is in following this bliss.
But back to my previous point...
When I stepped back, I realized that all of the activities that make me happy have to do with one thing: Growth. Movement. Forward momentum. Exploration. And that is precisely what I crave. There is nothing I enjoy more than wandering, be it literally (travel) or figuratively (being creative, meeting new people). Hence, I suspect I will have a full-blown, lifelong case of Wanderlust (definition here).
…But Be Grateful for Today
But... what about the things I already do? The present? The people I know and love? What about now?
You see, the trouble with Wanderlust is that it can, if left unchecked, give you a perpetual sense of anxiety over the things you haven't done, the goals you haven't achieved, the people you haven't met. There is always a new place to explore, a new job to get, a new adventure to experience, a new shiny object to purchase. But if you let these desires overtake you, you will live a life of perpetual "wanting".
Think about it. Most of us are constantly seeking the next stage, yet few of us pause to enjoy the here and now.
We constantly go "I'll be happy when ____________".
"I'll be happy when I have a job."
"I'll be happy when I get a better job."
"I'll be happy when I live in a different city."
"I'll be happy when I lose weight."
"I'll be happy when I'm not single. I'll be happy when I'm married. I'll be happy when I have a kid. I'll be happy when I have two. I'll be happy when my kids leave the house. I'll be happy when my kids visit."
And the cycle goes on and on and on…
But the fact is, science says otherwise. Ambition is positive to the extent that it doesn't overpower gratitude. Dreaming is good as long as you're not constantly sleeping.
Suddenly it hit me: Wanderlust is an art!!
YES, you must fight for your goals. YES, you must constantly seek life-enriching experiences. YES, you must make an effort to surround yourself with good people. YES, you must do things that make you happy. But throughout this uphill battle that we call life, never forget to be thankful. Never forget to pause, breathe, and look around you. Pat yourself in the back for what you've achieved so far. Generously thank those who have helped you. Take a look at your surroundings as if you were a child again, basking in the beauty in the world. I promise you, actively seeking these moments of mindfulness will change your entire outlook on life.
Therefore, my revised key to happiness is that living a happy life means doing more of the things you love, while being grateful for the here and now. Happiness is a balance between growing and glazing. Moving and stopping. Creating and admiring.
Wanderlust, then, is an Art.
And like any art, Wanderlust is something that requires a lifelong pursuit of mastery. Seek to be content, but not complacent. Seek adventure, while pausing to admire. Dream, yet be awake.
I hope you will join me in the lifelong pursuit of the Art of Wanderlust.
What are the things that make you happy? What are you grateful for? Please let me know in the comments or on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. I'm curious to hear how others balance the Art of Wanderlust!
*List is not exhaustive.