Lesson #27: Repeat important points often. Here’s a truth you already know but have most likely forgotten.

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What should we do with our lives? Fresh out of college we are told the world is ours for the taking, a sentiment both paralyzing and empowering.  Enormous goals are created. Distant plans of contentment are formed. We begin to strive for something that we are sure will make us happy one day.

When I was home I noticed it everywhere, regardless of age, a question perched on the forefront of almost everyone’s minds, what to do with this life in front of us.

Is what I’m doing today enough? Does this path I’m on make me happy?

So I started thinking about happiness, I thought about it a lot, and as everyone who has ever thought about happiness before knows, the more you think the more confused you become.

I travel because it is always something that has brought me immense pleasure, and now here I am turning my passion into a job. Writing as I go, exploring and cataloging my findings in order to share them with others wishing to uncover similar lands. If you had asked me what I wanted to do with life one day when I was 16 I would have told you I wanted to be a teacher, and then I would have mumbled something about travel writing, knowing how ridiculous my far fetched goal sounded.

Today, I am sitting beside a pool in Santa Marta, Colombia, typing away, turning the beginnings of my dreams into a reality. I’m turning my post grad goals into something tangible. I’m doing something I love. Does it mean that I am content, happiness achieved, a big old check on the to-do list? No.

I know I am stating the obvious but bear with me, because I believe it is something that needs reiterating. It’s a truth we all know, but the consumption of life often drives us away from this simple fact.

The simple reality that what we do does not define us.

Those big decisions, those identity qualifiers that we all carry around with us, they can make us proud, they can make us feel content, they can bring us joy, but they do not in and of themselves create happiness.

Here’s what does create happiness; uncontrollable laughter, conversations with new people, taking time for art, conversations with long time friends, reading a fantastic book, lying in a hammock, sweet morning kisses, cilantro, fresh discoveries, blank pages, explosions of color, a perfectly placed rhythm, coffee in the morning, sour pickles, back tickles, patience, unfiltered excitement, footsie pajamas, you get the point.

I’ve written about this topic before, but I feel inclined to bring it up again mostly because things have changed for me recently. I always had this thought in the back of my head that if I traveled for a living I wouldn’t need anything else, that this simple purpose and use of my life would transform every bad day into a good one.

I’m not going to lie it does help, doing what you love is satisfying, immensely satisfying, but it is not the answer. Work is not the answer, finding the perfect job is not the answer. It’s a part of the picture but it is not the entire thing. The key lies in the details and that is what they fail to tell you at graduation, that is why the idea of the world being yours for the taking is paralyzing. It’s not about the big picture, it’s not about where you are going. It’s about each day, as simple as this may sound.

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