Five Reasons to be HAPPY!

Alright guys, I’m done with moping around – I’m done with the feeling sorry for yourself, kind of stuff! So I came up with five reasons that there are to be happy – this should help me, but it should also help you…or anyone else, who is a moany, groany bastard lately!

Enjoy! Oh…and if there are any more reasons – why not share them! Would love to hear ’em! 

If you have a video request you can leave a comment, or send me an email – if it’s a cool/interesting idea then I will get to it as soon as I can!

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Broke? Travel Anyway!

I often get emails, and messages from people – asking the same question – “how do you afford travel? Are you from a rich family? Do you have connections? Did you get some crazy compensation deal – and have decided to blow it all on roaming the world rather than making sound investments?!” 

Well, no. No to all of those. I wish it was something as easy as being in a car accident – and getting free money, but it isn’t. It’s kind of like The Wizard of Oz…it looks like a spectacular vision until you see the cogs turning behind the curtain. Yes, the actual facts of the matter are a lot less glossy – and  whilst this may be hard to take for some…I actually work. 

Take my first major trip on my own, for example. My year abroad studying in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

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For two years before that I worked at an electrical store, moving televisions around, and trying to sell people outdated SCART cables they didn’t want…taking overtime whenever I could, whilst also taking shifts at my Aunt’s pub on the weekend…all the while squirreling away money whenever possible. With no disrespect intended, I wasn’t like the others that were accepted on to the study abroad programme (Newcastle UK – Atlanta USA) there would be no money from my Mother, or Father…I’m one of five children, I would feel rude even asking.

But I made it – and before I knew it I was in the midst of my own travel scrapbook! Carving out new memories for myself…whether it be visa worries at passport control, attempting to make the transition to the different pace of American life, or dancing insane jigs with Waka Flocka, I had flew from the ordinary day-to-day, and was living out these once impossible fantasies!

Sounds dreamy, dreamy – I’m sure? But the truth was my budgeted money soon ran out, and there were a couple of very hairy months – I recall that after weeks of eating next to nothing I sent my parents a whimpering email explaining the situation…and I received something along the lines of – “you’ll figure it out.” And I felt it was harsh, but the fact is…you will…if you want it that badly – you will. (And I’m still alive, so I guess I did!)

Study abroad programmes can be a great way to get away, and experience a different culture first hand – there are often great schemes, and incentives – with mine I was actually reimbursed for any costs throughout the year. Which meant I had thousands to play with at the end of it all – long story short, two weeks in Greece with some of my best friends from back home. 

My second major trip came just after I graduated university- although I was recruited before I had even been given my degree…and a month after I flew out to Beijing, China.

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Again I had saved, and saved working some terrible job – this time around it was a sportswear store, selling people trainers, and trying not to touch their sweaty feet as I assisted them with trying on their shoes. Not ideal – but a means to an end. This was just so I had some initial spends, as the programme actually flew me out at no cost, and many of the site-seeing trips, and other interesting adventures were paid for, or massively subsidised.

Either way, there I was again – in a totally foreign, and unknown environment…forced out of my comfort zone…but that’s what it’s all about…I was experiencing all of the weirdness, that was so different to anything the 9 to 5 version of myself would be encountering…whether it be bizarre disputes over taxi fares, relaxed views to public pooping, or trying to sample local dishes without being sick (such as dog) – I knew these were memories that would last a lifetime.

And thanks to the cheap day-to-day living China affords, I was able to save a little for the NEXT trip…you see, that is important – always have the next trip in mind. 

My third major trip to Scandinavia came unexpectedly…but was well worth it…

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My sister – someone who has worked all over the world with nothing more than a can-do attitude, and flexibility – found a two month long  job in the Arctic Circle at a remote lodge…it was placed right between Sweden, and Finland. Did I fancy it? Well…OF COURSE I DID! There was a catch though, we had to fly out (again at their expense, so no worries) the following day! You see, sometimes the opportunity comes abruptly, and if you ponder over it too much, it will go to someone else – you sometimes just have to grab it, and say YES! 

And I certainly did. Before I knew it I was crashing snowmobiles in Sweden, experiencing The Shining effect first hand in Finland, and after I finished my contract – experiencing the raw natural beauty of the Norwegian Fjords first hand.

The work was often not pretty; six day weeks, with long hours – and if my boss was ever pissed off he would make me scrub toilets for an ungodly amount of time…but still…huski racing? The Northern Lights? Spending a night in an igloo? You can’t tell me that wasn’t worth it. 

For my next major trip, I was off to South Korea! I scraped together the last of my meager savings – put up with the horrendous visa process…and then went on my way!

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And I couldn’t have asked for more! Yet again I was flown out at my employer’s expense, provided with a cosy home to stay in for free, and continue to live very comfortably – whilst also having an amazing time, with some amazing kids, in a truly amazing country! And, using Korea as a base, I have been able to save very efficiently, which allows for a great many adventures; including a  Christmas trip to Vietnam,  an interesting excursion to North Korea’s border, a heat-stricken jaunt to Nepal…back home to England, and Scotland – then on to Italy, Hungary, and Austriathen…well, you get the picture – the world suddenly doesn’t seem as hugely inaccessible as it once did!

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You see it’s not difficult, you just make it difficult. If you really want to travel, like really, really want to…then be willing to work, and be willing to take every opportunity. Rich, or not – you’ll get there – so stop just posting random sunset photographs, with “W A N D E R L U S T” etched over them, and start planning that next trip…and start filling up your passport, and with it your little book of memories. 

~

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Happiness – What Could Have Been…

I am fascinated with life, and the idea of each and every person having their own pathway on which they follow… 

It’s not that I believe in fate, or that I think we have any kind of predetermined outcome by some fella upstairs…instead I think of us as paving our own way – desperately struggling to lay the yellow bricks in front of us as we attempt to navigate through our lives. Sometimes we stumble across good eggs like Scarecrow, Tim Woodman, and Cowardly Lion – and then occasionally there are sadistic witches and flying killer monkeys who rip off all of your limbs…

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Swings, and roundabouts I suppose…

 I mean granted not everything can be cheese, back rubs, and new posts from Storytime with John, right? There are shitty moments too – it’s just all about finding those happy moments, and treasuring them, whilst also trying to derive some purpose from our small window of life (wherever, and however that may be!); after all we all want to be happy!

But you know what? I have some rather backward advice (which just so happens to work!) when it comes to being happier with your present situation…it’s not particularly to look at the things that you are lucky enough to possess; a loving family? A great set of friends? A job you actually enjoy? A really comfortable pair of socks? Whatever! No. 

Although naturally…good for you – especially the socks thing.

But I do find that spending some time considering what could have been (for the worst), really helps pump you up, and give a greater perspective on your life as a whole. It’s basically like you are looking backwards down the yellow brick road, and viewing the different paths that you see were no available…but you didn’t take. And as you are older, and hopefully a smidge wiser you now see they would have led to doom and gloom. I find this gives confidence in going forward…PUMP UP DAT CHEST, BRUH! 

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For me I look back at past relationships that would have anchored me to one spot…limited me…and kept me in a closed community, with a minimal amount of opportunity – so I look back at that, and then examine the present day…and I feel more positive about meekly edging forward. Or perhaps I peer pack down the yellow brick road again, and see friendship circles centered solely around drinking, drugs, and a lack of ambition…then again I look at the now…and feel a stronger person for being where I am today.

If I had made certain other choices, my reality would be totally different. 

I could of course ramble more about this for a lot longer, but it wouldn’t make much sense to you…after all life isn’t always a cohesive narrative, it is actually a very personal story which is only ever reported as a polished epilogue – one with which we can perhaps relate, but never truly experience – each of us walk in our own shoes, on our own path. 

But just try it, look back and see where your life could have taken you…not for the better, but for the worse…it should bring a wry smile to your face – and hopefully more faith in yourself, and your future…

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You’ve got this my friend!

(This post is dedicated to my very good friend over at Pixelated Lifestyle – keep going, just keep going…oh and watch out for the flying monkeys.)

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Please buy my collection of stories! Get it in paperback here – or on Kindle here! ALL proceeds go towards Macmillan Cancer Support!