New Year, New You. Or Is It?
I’m not the type to set New Years resolutions. I decided a long time ago that I wanted to be responsible for my life and constantly working on myself rather than deciding once a year what would make me a happier, better person. But then I got to thinking, it isn’t the worst idea to reflect on my life so far and things I’d like to accomplish in the future.
I started by thinking about the things that have made me the happiest throughout my life. Being in good shape, cutting out dairy (this is bitter sweet, but the lactose intolerant girl in me feels 100% better when I’m not eating dairy), making new friends, and killing it at work all crossed my mind. But when I think about the times that I’ve been the absolute happiest, it’s hands down when I’m traveling.
My first time in South America, I was meeting up with a group at a hotel in Lima. As we got closer to the hotel, the taxi driver told me that he wouldn’t be able to drop me right at the hotel because it was on a pedestrian street – or at least that’s what my basic level of Spanish interpreted. He parked the car with some guys at an autobody shop and then got out and grabbed my bag and motioned for me to follow him. This was well before international cell phone service, probably even before GPS, so I just trusted he was taking me to the hotel. He made sure I not only got to the hotel but dropped me off at reception and explained to them which group I was meeting up with – it was an incredible act of kindness. I was happy.
I did a trip a few years ago where we drove and camped throughout a few countries in Africa. I joined the group by myself and after a month and a half the people I was traveling with became like family. There’s something about taking a ton of bathroom breaks together along the side of the road that really bonds you. When we were in Botswana, we took mokoros (dug out canoes) along the Okavango Delta for a night of camping in the wild – seriously, we saw elephants and other animals within walking distance of our campsite. That night, I stood outside with some of my travel buddies and witnessed the most incredible nights sky I’ve ever seen. I was happy.
In Ecuador a few years ago I had the opportunity to stay with a family that lived way out in a village. They gave us a tour of the area around the house and told us about the different benefits of various animals and plant species. We enjoyed an amazing dinner together and finished the night by playing cards. But the best part was when we hopped in the back of their truck and drove down a long, winding dirt road to a local lake. Hanging out in nice weather in the back of the truck – I was happy.
So, this year I may not be making any resolutions but I challenge us all to be more present in new experiences. Make friends with your taxi driver, look up at the stars, and go somewhere off the beaten path. Together we will enjoy the journey instead of just focusing on the destination.
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