Adventurous Kate contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks!
Around a year ago, I was working at a job that I truly despised. To escape, every day during my lunch, I would take an hourlong walk around the suburban neighborhood that surrounded my office, and I’d listen to my favorite music.
If I were having a bad day at work, I’d listen to Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite. Or D’Angelo’s Voodoo. Or Marvin Gaye’s I Want You. If it were a particularly horrid day, I’d listen to all three in their entirety.
Yes, this girl loves her R&B. It’s the first music I ever discovered independently – the first two albums I ever bought for myself were TLC’s CrazySexyCool and Boyz II Men’s II.
It took me a long time to realize that once I arrived in Asia, I rarely listened to R&B anymore. Most of the time, I would turn on the dance music, and turn it up loud.
It puzzled me.
And then I realized why – I was happy. Back in Boston, I had turned R&B from something I enjoyed into a tool to cope with my depression.
I hadn’t been happy for a long time.
Looking back now, I realize that things had not been right in my life for years. A hellish work life certainly contributed to this, as did Boston’s depressingly long winters.
But I owe most of it to an unhealthy lifestyle – overscheduled, overworked, eating far too little, barely living within my means, and trying to stay afloat in an expensive, competitive city that seemed to be choking me by the day.
In the meantime, I spent my money on increasingly extravagant things – a fancy gym membership, designer bags from online sample sales, blowout weekends in Las Vegas.
I didn’t realize it at first, but I was overcompensating for feeling miserable all the time.
I had stopped nurturing my dreams, leaving them for dead in the imaginary utopia known as “someday.”
So I hit the brakes — and flew to Asia.
I know, I know. It’s easy to think that the answer to everyone’s troubles is to quit your job and spend the next six months lying on a beach in Thailand with a cocktail in your hand.
Sure, that will make you happy…for a few hours. I’m talking about the kind of contentedness that gives you lasting happiness and fulfillment in your life.
If you want to be happy, you need to build a life that makes you happy. I created a new lifestyle that works for me. Over the past six months, I learned what my version of happiness is:
Happiness is…time richness.
If there’s any big secret that I’ve discovered while traveling, it’s this – people who are rich in time are happier than people who are rich in money.
With a time-rich life, I have the opportunity to see friends more often, travel like crazy, read more books, see more movies, exercise, explore hobbies, and do it all without constant stress and exhaustion.
I swear to you — time richness is the secret.
Happiness is…creative, fulfilling work.
My entire life, I’ve only wanted to do two things for a career: to create and to entertain. These days, I build web sites, write books, and entertain thousands of monthly visitors with a travel blog. I get to think critically and problem-solve, and I’m constantly dreaming up new ventures. Best of all, I’m my own boss.
I work hard — because I can’t get enough of it. While I occasionally slog through the unpleasant aspects of it, there’s no question that I absolutely love being a professional writer/blogger/web guru/digital entrepreneur.
I’m slowly turning this work into a full-time career, and for me, that is the ultimate lottery win.
Nothing gives me a bigger rush than booking a random, spur-of-the-moment trip, especially if it comes out of nowhere.
Knowing that I have the ability to do so, just in case an opportunity pops up, gives me an incredible satisfaction that thrums in my heart at all times.
Happiness is…taking the unconventional route.
I like being different. I always have. And knowing that I’m living an unusual but interesting life by choice is what keeps me happy.
Those are the big things. Plenty of other items contribute to my happiness significantly: Spending lots of time with friends. Living in a beautiful place. Being surrounded by heat and sunshine. And, of course, traveling as much as possible.
The Next Steps
I can’t live this life full-time yet.
I’m working on it. I fully believe that I’ll be financially sustainable one year from now. But in the meantime, I need to make more money – and that means getting a more traditional job at home for the time being.
It’s a means to an end, and it won’t be forever.
But I return with this newfound wisdom of what happiness means to me, and from now on, I will consciously nurture these aspects of my life.
In the meantime, I promise you this — while part of my online work is selling ads on AdventurousKate.com, I will never sell out. I value my own voice and my own writing too much to turn this site into a mess of generic sponsored “What to Do in X Destination” posts in exchange for a few hundred dollars a month.
That may work for other travel blogs, but this isn’t a traditional travel blog. You come here for my stories, and I never forget that.
What Is Your Happiness?
This is the secret to my personal happiness. But what works for me might not necessarily work for you.
So I challenge you: go find what makes you truly, deeply happy to your core.
Find that happiness. Grab it. Prioritize it — always. With this knowledge, you can create the life of your dreams.