It was always the plan this year that when I arrived in Ecuador, I would stop traveling for a while. “Why?” you may ask, given I have the resources to keep going.
There are a couple of reasons related directly to me:
- I haven’t had any income for over a year and I need to do something about that so that I can continue to have the resources to travel. Unfortunately, my bank account is not infinitely deep 🙁
- Even though I don’t travel very quickly and tend to spend at least a week in each place, last year I found that I got tired after about 3 months of moving around. I really needed to stop and recharge, and for this reason I ended up hanging out in an Antigua, Guatemala for 3 weeks mid-year, and Santiago, Chile for a month at the end of the year.
But there is another reason as well that applies more broadly.
Mark Manson is one of my 2 favourite bloggers (the other is Tim Urban who writes “Wait but Why“). He makes a point at around minute 41:45 of this podcast with Lewis Howes that absolutely resonates with what I’ve grown to feel/realise over the past 1.5 years.
“Overcoming problems is the engine that generates happiness … When you remove problems, it creates its own special kind of misery… You need the problems because that’s what generates the meaning. If you don’t have the meaning, then everything else feels pointless”
My biggest “problems” for the past 1.5 years have been deciding what to eat, where to sleep, what to do the next day, and how to get from A to B. And although I’m definitely not miserable (I’m actually incredibly happy with the life I’m leading), it really has started to feel as if there is something missing. I have started to feel useless, which is actually very unpleasant.
Hence the break. To establish myself as a freelancer and find work where I feel I am contributing again.
In her Ted Talk about the 4 Pillars of Happiness, Emily Esfahani Smith also talks about how important belonging, purpose, transcendence, and storytelling are to happiness. From my own experiences – I absolutely concur – though the pillars manifest in different strengths depending on your circumstances. If you haven’t seen it, I encourage you to take 12 minutes to watch!