I’ve Found The Secret To Happiness

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.

Happiness is…flexibility.

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?I've found the secret to 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.

Get email updates from KateNever miss a post. Unsubscribe anytime!

67 thoughts on “I’ve Found The Secret To Happiness”

  1. So inspiring!!! Besides selling ads, how are you sustaining your lifestyle online? Do you know where you’d like to wander after some down time back home in Boston?

    1. Patricia, I do writing, I do a bit of online marketing work for small businesses, I sell a lot of links on other sites I own, and I’m currently writing a two books and preparing a business to go live in October or November. Lots of stuff. 🙂

      I want to wander EVERYWHERE, but I have been thinking about New Zealand and Colombia a lot lately! But who knows, really?

  2. Wow! This is really inspiring! I started following your blog months back while searching for a good read about tubing in Vang Vieng online and from then on I was glued. I can’t believe your backpacking trip in Asia has come to an end now. Can’t wait to read about your next adventures Adventurous Kate! More power!

  3. I love this post!!! Totally true that you have to build the life you want.
    Time-richness – another factor I couldn’t agree more with. I feel blessed to have a job that enables me to work from home, whenever I want (and it’s a real, sustainable gig at a marketing/PR firm!)
    I can easily take an hour and leave my house to run errands, or work earlier so I can take the afternoon off. Although it would be a dream to be my own boss I still feel like I’m living some version of “the dream” 🙂
    That would be so amazing if you were able to turn this passion of yours into a full-time gig! I’m sure maybe this is already in the works, but I also think you should write a book about your adventures in Asia!

  4. When Ryan and I filled out our adoption profile book, we had to list our top ten values. Our first was that we were Christians and would raise our child up to love God and all other people through the lense of their faith. Our second value was that we defined success in our career through doing what you love, NOT by how much money you make.

    We’ve had mulitple people say to us that we look really happy. And we are. I love my job, I love writing and I love chasing the impossible dream while still being creative. Being a pastor fufills Ryan in every way possible. We are both pretty much our own bosses. While our happiness base is our faith, our jobs and lifestyle definitely help.

    I couldn’t agree with you more!

    1. Colleen, it sounds like you and Ryan have SUCH a happy life — that comes through your blog so well! And your life is rich in time as well — you are able to travel so much, read so many books, and write your own book in addition to having your own business!

  5. What an amazing and inspiring post!! I absolutely loved this one. I’m so thrilled that you’ve discovered what makes you happy. You give me motivation to create the happy life I want too 🙂

  6. I love everything about this post. I chanced upon your blog through Twitter a few weeks back and I find myself checking it almost daily now for a dose of travel inspiration. Like you, I made the decision to quit a job and a career that I could not stand anymore, and this past January my fiance and I packed up our belongings to travel around the world and follow our dreams (him: folk musician, me: fiction and travel writer) – and we have no idea when we’re going back!

    Your blog, and this post especially, have really confirmed for me the value of this lifestyle we’ve chosen, even when just a few hours ago I was feeling homesick and a little blue! Thanks so much, and I will be sure to continue reading!

  7. Hi Kate,

    I’m also from Boston and have been following your blog since you started your trip. I really love this post and feel happy that you’ve figured out what you want to do…and have goals and direction. I’m working to figure it all out, as well, but I’m not quite there yet. I’ve been teaching in South Korea for the year…and it’s not quite what I hoped it would be. I imagined living abroad would present challenges that would inspire me, but that hasn’t really been the case. I can’t believe your trip is over and I hope you’ll keep writing from wherever you are. Anything in life is an adventure–even the small things!!!

  8. Great post Kate! I think it’s awesome that you’re not letting your blog become one big advertisement, unlike maybe 1 or 2 popular travel blogs out there. I like hearing YOUR voice – funny, frank and refreshing ^^

    I totally feel you with what you write about Boston draining you (different city in my case)…I’d be working my ass off each month and then have nothing to show after rent, taxes, gas, electric, internet, TV license, credit cards had all come out of my bank…and I was miserable. So, like you, I slammed the breaks down and came to Asia!

    Keep doing what you love 🙂

  9. You’ve been a total inspiration for me. I just left my job and am planning on living in Argentina for awhile. I’m so glad that you’ve find the secret to happiness, and may it continue even when you are back in Boston. As a frequent reader, I’m so glad I was a part of the ride 🙂

  10. Kate, I really didn’t think I’d be that interested in following a young lady’s trek around Southeast Asia, but your talent, energy, topics and professionalism definitely kept my interest every step of the way!

    And now, to top it all off, you’ve got this really, really awesome post about what happiness is. I’m also from the US, but have been living in the Philippines for the last 3 years, and each of your Happiness points helped to remind me of why I’ve done this. Thanks so, so much, keep up the great work and best wishes for everything you put your hands to.

  11. Time-richness, nice phrase, you could totally squeeze a book out on that.

    You make some good observations in this post. I think a lot of people think their current work situation will one day get better, but it never really does. I believe that is called the “rat race,” a term I learned from the book “Rich Dad Poor Dad.”

    Anyways, keep going strong at your goal of being independent, entrepreneur travel expert! Great journey to have!

  12. I love music and it brings me a lot of joy, but I can relate to using it as a coping tool also. I worked a shitty job at an airport and used to listen to my ipod whenever I could at work just to deal with a job I hated. A lot of things can easily become a crutch when you’re living a life that isn’t right for you.

    I’m glad you found a way to happiness. Time richness seems a lot better than money richness.

  13. Its great that you found peace and happiness with your travels. So many people wake up every day dreading going to work for money thinking that the money will make them happy and they still aren’t. Love the stories and the traveling adventures.

  14. I really like this post and will be staying tuned to find out how you make it work for yourself full-time! You raise a good, common-sense point when you say in order to be happy, you need to build a life that makes you happy. Key word-“YOU” meaning that a happy life will be different for each person. For you, it meant a complete transformation of your life. Props to you for that!

  15. Amen, sista. I get so many of those “sponsored guest post” requests and turn them down left and right and am so disappointed when I see other travel bloggers running them…it is the epitome of selling out (in my mind). There are other ways to monetize while still staying true to your mission.

    Good luck on your road toward happiness! The husband and I also have plans to obtain the same in the coming months.

    1. And good luck to you!! I’m glad to see you and the husband are doing the same.

      I often tell companies that they can do a sponsored paragraph at the end of one of my own posts. I think that’s the perfect happy medium for all parties.

  16. If you want to be happy, be. – Leo Tolstoy

    The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up. – Mark Twain

    Happiness is not an ideal of reason, but of imagination. – Immanuel Kant

    Happiness is a warm gun – The Beatles

  17. ‘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.’

    I agree with this wholeheartedly!! The thing I like most about your blog is that your personality actually comes through – readers actually get a sense of who you are as a person. There are a million and other travel blogs out there which have obviously done well for their writers, but they’re not at all enjoyable to read anymore because the writer’s personality has been replaced by generic ‘Top X Things to Do’ lists. It’s really a pity when that happens…

    1. Thank you, Naomi! I work hard to get my voice through. And I feel the same way about some blogs. Most blogs have these posts rarely — maybe three times a month or so — and I always click to the next item in my Reader without reading it.

  18. Love this post! We can totally relate to it. Before we went traveling, we were ALWAYS stressed and tired – we had an amazing life in London but we always tried to fit in too many things: concerts, the gym, theater, going out, weekend getaways, friends, etc… We did everything we could to compensate for jobs that didn’t make us happy, but it was tiring. Now we work much more than before, but we decide where & when we get our stuff done, and we are enjoying a lifestyle that is truly fulfilling! We hope that you reach your goal of becoming financially sustainable within a year – we are 100 % confident that you can make it happen!!

  19. I hear what you’re saying Kate, I just had to run to the bathroom and do a semi vomit when I heard “web-guru”. Sorry 😉

    “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.”

    You are right if you have BOTH. Being broke @$$ but time rich is cool when you’re younger say 20’s-mid 30’s. After that I think it would be depressing. Also I am sure there are lot’s of really bitter 65+ crowd still working as the have no choice and no pension.

    I’m with you, I agree with post but just throwing it out there! I wish you best of success and think you’ll make it happen. #TeamBangkok needs more representatives.

    Was great chilling with you on several occasions and the road will miss you, madame.

    1. Totally hear you, Rob. But isn’t there a happy medium? I don’t necessarily mean being nearly broke but time-rich — there are options like working reduced schedules and living modestly but not in quasi-destitution. That, I think, can work for most people.

      See you somewhere around the world, bud. Maybe Europe this summer!

  20. Hey Kate,

    Rob up above ^ has a good point..and such an eloquent way of conveying it 🙂

    As a newly single mom of two little girls, I’m now trying to figure out how to blend my wunderlust with a long standing IT career. It’s not possible for me to drop things and write travel blogs on the road, but I’m searching for a happy medium. That could mean really pursuing those international jobs I never thought were possible. Giving my girls a couple of years in another country? Yes, please!
    Until then I steal a few weeks here and there each year to head out in any particular direction.

    Having said that, you’re still young and should take full advantage of this time to do as you please. I wish I would’ve done some long term travel when I was younger. Glad you didn’t just spend all these months drinking and partying, but took time to reflect on who you are and what you want moving forward. It’s very liberating.


    1. I’m sure I will, Matt! The running joke is that I’ve never been to Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket, despite a lifetime in Massachusetts. I’ll be trying to fit in a trip there. And the Asia stories will continue!

  21. Kate, I’ve LOVED following along on this journey of yours — the literal one, as well as the personal one. I’m so happy to know that you’ve found happiness in travel, and that you’re so determined to hang onto that happiness and go after your dreams. You’re an inspiration, for sure!

    Can’t wait to see what the next 6 months bring your way!

  22. Completely agree that the key to happiness is enjoying what you do. To add to that, it is also the people in your life that matter. If you have those two things, you can truly enjoy life!

  23. It’s great to read about someone who is working their way towards their dream of full-time travel. It gives the rest of us who dream of that some hope that we could do it too.

  24. Really enjoyed following your blog and enjoyed this post. I have to agree with you, it’s hard to understand what’s out there and the joys of travelling and breaking out of the normal work grind unless you take that one step, I hope your blog helps others to do the same thing and you carry on riding the train for many more adventures to come

  25. I love the time rich vs. money rich, so true. After raising 3 kids we pulled the ripchord and have been traveling ever since. We do it as cheaply as possible and are time rich these days. We never were very money rich but we sure can’t complain. Anyway, loved the post.

  26. Wow, it sounds like you were in the exact same position as I’m in now! It’s so awful when you get that feeling of being trapped in the 9-5 lifestyle, and the guilt over not being a “career woman”. I think we’re very lucky to live in an era where it’s so easy to travel, and relatively easy to make our own destiny. Hopefully some day soon I’ll be en route to finding my own happiness, too! 🙂 Since you wrote this almost a year ago, I’m guessing you’ve just about reached your goal of being financially secure?


    1. Financially secure is relative. How many people sit back and say, “You know what, I don’t need to make any more money than I am now!”?

      I am breaking even right now, even through the flights I book, and that is very nice. 🙂

  27. This post really resonates with me. Finding our own reasons to be happy is one the greatest, yet toughest, adventures we could ever embark on. Thank you for sharing, Kate. I hope your journey continues to treat you well. Jonny.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe to the blog: