12 Simple Principles for a Happy Life On (or Off) the Road
Miro and I both feel blessed to lead a very happy lives. I look at this as an achievement as many of the people around the world are simply not happy in their own lives. Together, Miro and I put together a list of the 12 basic tried-and-tested principles that we choose to live by.
We’ve learned so much through living on the road for the last four years, have grown individually as people and collectively as we examine our relationship to the world. In many cases, our travels have allowed us experience the world in a totally different light.
As Thanksgiving approaches in the States we have much gratitude for the gifts our experiences have given us and grateful you have shared this journey with us. Our gift to you is our promise to continue sharing all that we’ve learned in hopes we can inspire you in some tiny way, in your lives. We’re hoping these 12 Simple Principles for a Happy Life On the Road will serve you, even if you are not literally traveling. But what we all have in common is we are all traveling on the Road of Life.
Here’s our 12 Simple Principles for a Happy Life On (or Off) the Road:
1. Humanity, remember, we are all part of the human race.
Look at every person you meet and remember that first and foremost, we are all human. That is the commonality, the common thread connecting us all to each other. It is only beneath he label of being ‘human’, you can layer the rest: nationality, religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, profession, age, economical status and self proclaimed identity. Remember, they are all just words, behind ideas that we each interpret & value differently. And really, are these ideas more important than being human? They are just words. But the one undeniable tangible commonality is our sameness in ‘being human’. In other words, our ‘Humanity’ is the grandest truth and that is how we should connect with one another.
2. Choose fearless living.
THE WORLD: Is it scary? Is it filled with criminals, evil doers around every corner, just waiting to ‘get’ you? Do you see nothing but war, inequalities, crime and oppression? I’m not denying it exists, but is this ALL you see when you see the world? Being afraid is a choice. Also a choice: Choosing to live fearlessly.
All over the world (and in the United States especially) people have become accustomed to being afraid of crime, being afraid of our differences, being afraid of our similarities. People are accustomed to being afraid of loosing what they’ve got to someone who hasn’t got the same thing and afraid of what that would mean in their lives. People are accustomed to being afraid of not having enough, someone having more than themselves, the light, the dark, spiders and success. And being accustomed to these things are in effect, a choice of habit.
Guess what? People can as easily become accustomed to living fearlessly and appreciate the present which is exactly where they are. People can as easily choose gratitude and presence which transports you out of fearful thinking. How do I know? I did it and continue to do it every day. It’s a choice.
3. Tap into your inspiration.
It’s there, every human comes equipped with it, just as we have brains and teeth. It’s standard issue, living inside of you, providing a light in a stormy night. Inspiration leads to purpose and drive. Inspiration is that little voice telling you to go left instead of right, and keeping you on purpose delivering messages to you conscious mind. If you don’t believe me, how can you explain that ‘inner knowing’ that keeps you alive? What about your specific ‘likes and dislikes’, drive, tastes, desires and dreams? All of these things are an expression of your personal inspiration. Do whatever you can to tap into it. Do whatever you can to encourage it to have a place in your life. Do whatever you can to nurture your inspiration.
Need some more inspiration? Check out this post called Naked at 700 days.
Adapting to a minimalist lifestyle can only improve the quality of your life. You heard me. At its core, “minimalism” means removing from your life stuff that doesn’t add value. It’s not enough to keep ‘things’ simply because you have it and you believe there is some monetary value attached to its ownership. Things have energy and by keeping things in excess, things you don’t need, you are zapping your own energy, time, and resources. If you can, try getting rid of most of your physical possessions and see how that feels. You know this when you are traveling, since you are required to carry everything with you. Less is more, lesson learned.
For those of you NOT traveling, here’s a trick: Try putting your ‘things’ into storage just to see if you can live without it. Pay for 3 months in advance and commit to canceling the account after the 3 months expire. Then, make the solemn commitment to yourself that if you don’t go to your storage to retrieve the items before the 3 months is up, establish you don’t really need it. THEN GET RID OF IT SINCE YOU’VE JUST LIVED WITHOUT IT.
5. Don’t ‘need’ anything.
And right along with # 4, stop needing anything. I am not talking about needing food, water, shelter, air, etc. I am talking about having the need for things, achievements, statuses and titles. Beyond life sustaining items, treat all the others as ‘preferences’. This simple shift in your perspective will change how you approach and experience your life. If things are perceived as a preference and have not yet been actualized, then there cannot be drama surrounding having or not having it. It’s simply a preference and shift in your relationship to the desire.
On the other hand, if the preference is achieved, then you realize that your ‘preference’ made it so and appreciation and gratitude becomes present in your experience.
But what really is the difference between having the ‘preference’ to have a thing versus having the ‘need’ to have it? The difference is, if you feel you need a thing, then you will automatically create a layer of fear around it, based on the idea of loss. “I needed my iPhone, but I’m afraid someone will steal it from me.” And the emotion of need and fear will overpower the experience of having. And remember #2 above? If we are choosing fearless living, then we must surely chose not to ‘need’ anything. Perceiving things as preference versus a need is within your power. Make that conscious shift in your perspective. Make that choice.
6. Respect the planet.
The plant earth is our home and she supports all of us and all life. Without her, then what? Realize it’s a symbiotic relationship. Be conscious and always make planet friendly choices. You control your own actions, from simple things like not littering to larger things like choosing to travel over land slowly. You have the power to make conscious choices so do it.
7. Sustain this!
Being ‘sustainable’ has multiple meanings, and I invite you to take a look what this means not only in relationship to the ideas explored #6 above, but what it means to your personal sustainability. In other words, consider your consuming habits, your spending, your diet, your health. Consider what it means to support yourself and your family and what needs to come in relation to what’s going out. Consider what renewable resources you are choosing which non- renewable ones as well. Consider which goals you are chasing, the intentions behind them and the toll the pursuit takes on your self sustainability. Integrate the concept of sustainability in all of your choices, from the planet, personal pursuits, your finances, your family and your travel choices.
8. Experience life with an open-mind.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
All of us function within a set of understandings that we don’t bother to question or think about, as they’ve become the framework of our personal belief systems. It’s our paradigm of understanding and the filters through which we experience the world. But in many cases these paradigms are designed to be limiting . And without realizing it, we have a closed-minded perspective of the world. And the most damaging examples are the unquestioned ‘truths’ that have become integrated into our perception of the world.
An example may be, ”Developing countries are so behind that they need Western education to get ahead.” Ok, this was a loaded example, but based on all that you know about our lifestyle, this is a truth we questioned and choose to reframe basis of understanding the world. Reframing that truth to, “Western education has damaged the psyche of developing nations to incorporate a culture of greed, consumerism and capitalism that disconnect many of the indigenous cultures from their ancient knowledge including living symbiotically with the land.”
Whether this new paradigm is true or not, is not the point. And granted, the new paradigm contains broad sweeping generalities too, but through shifting our foundation of thinking about the world, we’ve been able to frame our present experiences in a new way.
I know the statement above may be controversial and you may or may not agree with it, but the point is, I want to invite each person to explore how shifting your own relationship to the ‘truths’ within your belief systems can impact how you view the world. Having the freedom to try on new beliefs will create a new experience. And when you travel, your experiences will be limited if you are sitting in judgement and comparing the world to your comfortable ‘paradigm’ of existence from back home. Advice? Do whatever you can to remain open-minded and that means challenging your unquestioned set of beliefs.
I just examined this recently in a post called Stupid life lessons I don’t buy into anymore.
9. Make life enriching choices.
We are constantly evolving and our path is based on our own personal choices. Make conscious choices that improve your life. If you are committed to always bettering yourself, expanding your world and viewpoints and enriching your life, than you are walking the path of happiness.. and only you can consciously make life enriching choices.
10. Live in the moment.
The only way to prevent stress and find happiness is living in the moment. I have been influenced by dozens of teachers all sharing the same knowledge. But it’s not enough to know this, one must commit to being in the moment, living in the moment, being present and appreciating all that ‘is’. In that place, you will not find stress, worries, or fear. In that place, there is only perfection. And once you can created this appreciation as a practice, life becomes joyful in every situation.
11. Travel slowly.
Take your time. Travel deep and immersive rather than wide and fast. It really doesn’t matter how many stamps you have in your passport or how many countries or territories you’ve visited. What matters is that you’ve connected with the experience, the people and the place in a truly meaningful way. You can only do that by ‘being present’ (see #10 above) and allowing yourself the time to have a deep experience with a location, the culture and the people who live there. There’s so much to learn, so much to experience and time is the key element to this process. Go deep, not wide.. Think about how we value “deep thoughts” in ourselves and other people. It’s the same thing when we put ourself in the world. It’s the same thing when we travel.
12. Nurture natural learning.
Travel presents the grandest opportunity for learning, and this happens whether or not you are conscious of it. The world provides new sights, sounds and colors, cultures, customs and traditions. Travel introduces new experiences, opportunities and choices, which in fact, is the ripest of condition for learning. And these new sensory stimulations invite you to identify what touches and inspires you. What do you wish to pursue more of? What you care to declare as an authentic interest? And this is the gift offered to each individual simply by being in the world, whether you are traveling or not. And these opportunities become natural learning experiences, which is the very foundation of unschooling. This naturally happens in children and adults alike. Follow your interests, ignite your passions and be open to learning and expanding your understanding of yourself and the world around you.
We are so honored to share these 12 principles with you, and can only hope you remain inspired in your own lives. Miro and I both are so thankful for all the emails we receive from you and wanted to express once again how grateful we are for taking this journey along with us.
Please leave us a comment below, especially if you have your own principles of a happy life to add! Happy Thanksgiving to our American friends and we’re extending a cycle of gratitude to everyone throughout the world.