We’ve now reached the theoretical half way point of our 12 month journey around the world. I’ve spent a lot of time in my own head on this journey. An unexpected reality of leaving routine behind is that suddenly the number of choices you have explodes and if you are like me that also opens up endless opportunities to question yourself, your motives and your convictions. These choices go from things as mundane as what to have for breakfast (not straightforward when you are living in a country that doesn’t really believe in ‘breakfast food’) to ethical dilemmas like why don’t I want to give a homeless person here the equivalent of 10p to much more open ended ones like where we want to be when this journey is over.
We talk these things over a lot and although we don’t have many answers, our greatest insight so far has been that choosing to make things harder for yourself almost always leads to good outcomes – or rather ignoring your instinct to make life easy is generally pretty constructive in the decision making process. Indeed the unexpected positives that have come from choosing the difficult option have so far been significant. We chose not to fly for environmental reasons (despite constant reminders from almost every traveller that we should just get on a plane because it’s simpler and cheaper) and we actually found that staying on the ground gives a much better sense of the scale and beauty of our planet. We chose to stay in budget hostels for financial reasons (even though sometimes all you want is the privacy of your own bedroom and the luxury of a hotel bed) and have met some really great people in those hostels – who led us to incredible experiences. We wouldn’t even be on this journey if we’d just stuck with our very comfortable lives.
I’m not going to say that this is the secret to happiness. We were both very happy in our old lives and I think that the easiest route to be happy is to learn to love what you’ve got. But we both realised that we wanted to experience more and do more and I think if you want to achieve that you have to be honest with yourself about your reasons for not doing something and eliminate “I can’t be bothered” as a justification. My biggest regret of this trip so far is turning down the opportunity to play basketball with some friends in Beijing. At the time I told myself that it was too hot, too far away and I wasn’t wearing the right footwear – I now realise I just couldn’t be arsed and that’s rubbish. Most of the time when we’ve pushed ourselves out of our comfort zone we’ve been rewarded and on the occasions where it turned out badly (that hard seat night train… what a mistake) it’s still much easier to forgive yourself for a poor decision than it is to convince yourself you made the right one.
Today we pushed ourselves to hike a mountain and we were very happy with the results. Here’s to a successful 6 months passed and however many more ahead of us.