Our adventure to find the secret of inner happiness started with failure.
A couple of weekends ago, my wife and I made a mistake. We spent our entire weekend being lazy, because we thought immersing ourselves in laziness would be refreshing. So for a couple of days we laid around our home and aimlessly stared at our phones.
We watched utube, TV, and stared at our phones. We watched our social media accounts flash in front of us like they were portals into a virtual reality world of our lives. We thought this laziness would be relaxing, and make us feel good on the inside. But we were majorly wrong.
As the weekend ended, we realized all that laziness actually made us feel miserable, wasteful, and empty. The consumption of nothingness; and interacting with life through the virtual reality portal of social media; actually made us feel exhausted, disconnected and worthless.
The weekend was a revelation to us: Wasting life is the antithesis of a wealthy life. Inner happiness is NOT found through the consumption of fake images. The secret of happiness is NOT found in laziness.
After that weekend, we decided we wanted to find the secret to happiness and never waste our lives again. So, as the next weekend neared, we made a plan.
Rather than laying in bed with our soul-sucking phones attached to us like a virtual-reality feeding tube, we made a plan to do an afternoon hike on the river bluffs of the St. Croix River. We were hoping that exploring nature would lead us to find a few secrets to inner happiness.
It was fun watching our home disappear in the rear view mirror as we jumped in our car and drove away. The adventure instantly made us feel like we were doing something new. It was different. It was out of our normal routine.
After a 50 minute drive through small towns, forests and corn fields, we pulled into Interstate Park that is known for its hiking trails on the bluffs of the river. We grabbed a map at the entrance of the park, and drove to the first trail head.
As we climbed out of the car, a fresh breeze blew against our faces. New bright colors filled our eyes.
We felt more happiness in the first 3 minutes outside than we’d felt the entire previous weekend lost in a world of virtual reality as we stared at our phones. Instantly, I realized exploration is part of the equation to find inner peace and happiness.
The view over the river was exhilarating as we hiked along the trail and looked over the cliff.Rocks jutted out over the river bluffs. Pine trees twisted up to the sky and their branches swayed in the wind. Sounds from the river rapids echoed in the canyon walls below us.
A breeze whipped through the valley and the smell of nature rushed into our nostrils. The stress of normal life melted away. I felt happiness. I realized that creating this moment was what was inspiring this feeling in me.
It wasn’t fake. It wasn’t easy. We had made a plan to explore, and the happiness I was feeling was derived from executing our plan, and creating a special life moment.
I realized that the secret to inner happiness has a lot to do with the creation of special life moments. When you create them consciously, they create happiness. When you consume them brainlessly, they steal happiness.
My next thought as we hiked along the bluffs of the river was: Is the amount of money in your life directly responsible for the amount of happiness that you can experience? As the trail narrowed between rocky bluffs, I remembered a quote I heard a long time ago.
“The things we enjoy most in life, often, don’t cost us any money.”
Far behind us, was our home, mortgage, cars, and bank account statements. Sure, they make me feel good when I am home. But these things really weren’t impacting my happiness when I was out here exploring and trying to find my answers in life.
I thought of all the children in third world countries. A lot of them are able to have smiles on their faces even without huge bank accounts. This made me think even deeper about the secret to inner happiness.
I realized the happiness I was experiencing on this hike was originating from an adventure to find the answers to my questions about life. The secret of happiness, I realized, is found by creating special life adventures. We find happiness as a result of going on adventures that lead us to the answers of our deepest life questions.
We climbed a rocky trail back up onto another bluff. My mind flashed back to the weekend before when we chose consuming laziness over creating exploration. I remembered how empty and drained we felt when Monday arrived and we had to go back to work.
But out here on the trail, we were living the life of special-life-moment creators, and we were being rewarded with inner happiness and peace every step we took.
I realized that finding happiness is the adventure that all of our investments and stuff should lead us to. Money’s purpose is to create adventure so that we can explore the meaning, purpose, and reason for our lives. Money is meant to buy us answers. Not to buy us laziness.
I realized that the wealth we accumulate should be used so that we can interact better with the world . Wealth’s primary purpose, then, is to fund the journey for us to find our purpose in life. We looked down at the river from the highest cliff. I realized something about inner happiness that I’d never thought of before:
Finding the secret to inner happiness takes effort. Happiness can not be consumed by buying a product.
Happiness is created when the effort we exert into the world is focused on finding the answers to our deepest life questions.
The trail led back to the parking lot. We climbed into our car and drank some water before driving home. We had exerted effort to create a special moment, and we were rewarded with a new feeling of happiness as a result. That is the secret to inner happiness, I realized:
The secret to inner happiness is found when we create special life moments that make us appreciate the quality of our lives.
This is why poor cultures can be even happier than rich cultures. Finding happiness is not about needing more money. It’s about exerting effort to find the answers of our deepest life questions, and feeling satisfied with the quality of the answers that we find. This hike made me realize it.
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