How I Created My Own Roadmap for Happiness When I Was Feeling Lost in Life

Relaxation

“Doing what you like is freedom, liking what you do is happiness.” ~Frank Tyger

Life is a web of uncertainty, where we often believe we are on the right path, only to realize we’ve been wandering down the wrong road all along. Ever been there? Thinking you have your whole life planned out? Deciding to go after the things that you think will make you happy, only to end up disappointed on the other side? If so, I completely understand how you feel.

There’s no definitive map leading to a happy or fulfilled life. There is no right or wrong way. Society provides us with predefined milestones like graduation, marriage, and homeownership, but what if these conventional goals don’t bring true happiness to you?

Let me be the first to say, there is nothing wrong with these goals, but for some, these goals feel out of alignment with what we want for ourselves in our lives.

Two years ago, I found myself relentlessly questioning my existence. “What am I even doing with my life?” Not in the conventional way of needing a new career or relationship, but more in an existential crisis of “ I was put here for a reason, but for what?”

These nagging thoughts became loud and urged me to search for an alternative path, a life less conventional, one completely out of my comfort zone and brimming with excitement. It was time to embrace the nomadic spirit and embark on a journey of self-discovery. We decided we were ready to sell everything we owned and go on the road in an RV, living off savings at first.

The decision was made, we sold our stuff, bought our trailer, and we hit the open road, ready to explore our country and uncover its mysteries. But life had other plans.

On the day we set off, tragedy struck; my father passed away unexpectedly. I had made it six hours away before I received the devastating news. We immediately pulled over in the middle of nowhere to decide our next move. Sitting at a truck stop in Wisconsin, shocked and heartbroken, I questioned my choices once again. “What am I doing with my life? Why is this happening right now?”

Amidst the shock and grief, I knew I had to press on. I couldn’t change what had happened, and I couldn’t afford to dwell on it; I had to keep moving forward.

My dad had been thrilled about my next adventure. He was so proud of me for taking a big leap and for embracing all the experiences this country had to offer. Right before he died, he told me to come back with good stories and I intend to do so in his honor. And so, our nomadic journey began, and over the course of the next year, it transformed our lives in ways we couldn’t have imagined.

Some may perceive traveling as escapism, a way to flee from reality. However, our journey became an awakening, a confrontation with the deepest aspects of our lives and minds. On the road, we reevaluated our priorities, understanding what truly mattered and what needed to be left behind. It provided the space for self-reflection and growth, shedding the limitations that had held us back for so long including some we didn’t even know existed.

Routine, we discovered, was a thief that stole our precious time. Staying within the comfort zone deprived us of rich experiences, and a scarcity mindset barred us from seizing opportunities. But breaking free from these so-called chains was liberating, enabling us to find ourselves in ways we never thought possible. We started living a little more for the unexpected parts of our lives versus relying on our routine to keep us going.

In the face of life’s challenges—including health and legal issues on top of the loss of my father—we discovered the so-called secret to happiness. It wasn’t about avoiding adversity; it was about embracing life fully, no matter the circumstances. To choose to perceive that in each moment something positive can come out of it and recognizing that happiness was within my grasp.

Now, after a year on the road, our priorities have shifted dramatically. Keeping up with societal expectations no longer appeals to me. Instead, I crave a slower, more intentional life—a life where I immerse myself in the present, valuing experiences over material possessions, and forming meaningful connections with others.

You may wonder how to infuse your everyday life with happiness without embarking on a nomadic adventure. Here are a few of our suggestions.

Embrace playfulness.

Rediscover the joy of being childlike. Engage in activities that bring out your playful side, whether it’s snowboarding, climbing trees, or observing lizards. These moments of play can rejuvenate your spirit.

Embrace challenges.

Dare to step out of your comfort zone. Trying something new, whether it’s a sport, a course, or a skill, broadens your perspective and encourages growth.

Cultivate gratitude.

Seek out things to be thankful for, no matter how small they may seem. Gratitude transforms your outlook on life and truly allows you to remember how much you already have.

Embrace novelty.

Break free from the shackles of routine. Seek out new experiences, whether it’s trying a different meal at your favorite restaurant, exploring new places in your town, or trying one new activity each week.

Life can be bewildering, but it’s through shaking up our approach to living that we find our way back to ourselves and happiness. Living fully is a choice, a conscious decision to seek joy in the face of challenges, grief, and routine. So, no matter where life leads you, embrace it with open arms and choose to live out loud over and over again.

Since we hit the road, our new mantra is to live well by exploring more. Exploring more love, more intentions, more connections, and more experiences that light our souls on fire. For us, we have decided to create our own definition of happiness each and every day, and you can too.

About Christina Mendelson

Christina Mendelson is a sales director, travel writer, and full-time digital nomad. She shares her adventures and lessons from the road to help others live well by exploring more. Check out her adventures on Instagram @livewellexploremore

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