14 Happiness Lessons from Traveling 100+ Countries (Part 1)
14 Happiness Lessons from Traveling 100+ Countries (Part 2)
Having traveled to over 100 countries, with a location independent coaching business, I’ve had the privilege to study happiness. Here’s Part 2 of what I discovered about being happy.
8. Things don't buy happiness
I travelled countries 40-60 with a 22kg wheeled suitcase. My entire universe fit into one suitcase. Then for countries 60-80, I downgraded to a 14kg suitcase. My belongs shrunk yet I felt like my universe expanded. For the final 80-110 countries, I lived out of a 10kg carry-on suitcase. Things don’t make you happy. The right people make you happy.
9. Belonging is tricky
From age 5, I knew I didn’t belong: too quiet for the rowdy crowd, but too social for the nerdy crowd; too smart for make-up obsessed girls, but not prodigy enough for a gifted program; too tom-boy for the girls, but not girly enough for the boys; too white for the Asians, but not white enough for the WASPs. It took 70+ countries to help me realize that trying to fit in is a happiness killer.
10. FAMILY is everywhere
Even though I belonged nowhere, I realized that my richest memories were forged with my Girl Gone International family, CTI - The Coaches Training Institute family, Antigravity Yoga family, Digital Nomad Girls family, Vipassana meditation family and Ayahuasca consciousness family. “We are all a little weird and life is a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.” – Dr. Seuss
“We are all a little weird and life is a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.”
– Dr. Seuss
11. Guilt serves no one
My peeps back home sent me pictures of freak snowstorms and I sent them pictures of me floating in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, sipping mango lassies on Philippine’s paradise beach, and snorkeling with turtles in Barbados. I can’t tell you the number of finger emoticons I got back. Never be sorry for living to your fullest capacity for joy.
Wadi Rum, Jordan 2016 © Ellany Lea
12. When given nine lives, use them well
I completed a volunteer project in Vietnam and was transiting through Singapore airport, en route to southern Thailand for Christmas holidays. Since I was at the airport, I poked my nose into the check-in desk and got on a standby flight back to Canada a week early, to surprise my family. This was 2004. Little did I know that 3 hours after take-off, South East Asia would be hit by a 9.6 tsunami!
13. Words carry power
In Amman, Jordan, I went to visit the roman ruins and was followed for 5 blocks by a man with both his hands in his pockets. He could have had a knife, gun, or fistful of self-loathing that he thought he could take out on women/me. Even though I had taken self-defense classes, I knew physical force would not prevail. Without knowing it, I must have channelled EVERY wounded girl or abused woman in the history of humankind, because I whipped around, stomped my foot, roared 11 words at him like a banshee erupting from a volcano. He scurried off like a little mouse. Words are powerful, use them wisely.
14. There are no random coincidences
My bus from Dar Es Salam, Tanzania to Nairobi, Kenya broke down. I waited 5 hours and all passengers squeezed onto the next bus. It arrived too late to cross the border, so we all somehow slept 3 to a seat on the bus until sunrise. I didn’t feel upset or bothered, which was odd. When I reached Nairobi, I found out that the bus ahead of us swerved off a cliff. Talk about having angels looking after you on the quest for happiness.
In the end
When people are in fear, they label adventure as reckless, courage as crazy and uniqueness as wrong. May you not let their fears corrode your heart or use up your nine lives.
Let the shooting stars in the Sahara desert, the spotted rays in the Belizean cayes, and the Northern Lights in the Norwegian tundra beckon and enchant you far beyond the fear-criticism of “those people.”