I have a confession to make, one that may not entirely make sense, travel hasn’t made me happier. This may sound conflicting, especially when compared to all of my other posts that glorify travel, but even though travel is one of my greatest loves, it isn’t the cause of my happiness.
Yes, it’s true that I am at my happiest state while traveling, but often when I arrive home, it seems to slip away from me entirely. I think that’s one of the most difficult challenges of travel, making sure that we aren’t using it as an escape from our lives. If we do, in many ways, it becomes counterintuitive.
Travel is supposed to enhance our lives and our well-being, but what I have discovered is that while doing this, it also lends a hand to other feelings, more difficult ones.
While traveling, I have been able to see how the world actually lives, which makes me feel a sort of responsibility, an urgency to work on improving the world; it also makes me feel as though I am not doing enough. My day to day life feels insignificant to what others in the world are doing, and travel has only enhanced my understanding of this. But, while doing this, it has also led me to a better understanding of what true happiness is.
My realization of this has opened my eyes entirely. It’s also made me think of one of my favorite quotes about happiness by author, Elizabeth Gilbert:
“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.”
Happiness is fleeting, it does not stay without work, and for some of us, the work may be harder than others. But, the ultimate lesson is the fact that happiness comes from within and there’s nothing that the outside world can do to make us happy unless we are internally happy; the job is an inside one.
I thought traveling more frequently would make me a happier person, until I realized that while traveling did make me happy, coming home got more and more difficult. I was using travel as an escape from reality, a method to distract myself from something that wasn’t quite right at home.
The fact is that when it comes down to it, no matter how happy travel may make us, it doesn’t remove the fact that we may not be happy with who we are and the lives we lead when we come home. Sometimes, it may even take a trip for us to realize this, but that’s not necessarily negative.
I have found that because I have traveled, my mind has been opened up to the world, and I have realized my place in it. It may not always be one that I understand or am comfortable with, but the understanding of what small space I take up in the world has changed my outlook for the better. It has also made me become conscious of the present moment and grateful for the people I have in my life.
I am a very happy person today, but travel is not the reason why. Happiness is something we carry with us, no matter who we are with or where in the world we are, and it is up to us alone to ensure we are happy. So, while travel hasn’t made me happier, I do believe that it has enriched my life in more ways than staying home ever would have done.
Still, I do believe it is also important to note that unless we are happy with who we are before we leave our front doors, happiness is something we will continue to chase forever, and something we may never find.