I want to begin this article by clarifying a few important keynotes regarding the difference between happiness and joy, as well as the type of travel I am referring to.
Joy is cultivated internally, whereas happiness is externally triggered. Joy is more long-lasting and it exists inside each one of us – waiting to be tapped into. While some might consider travel to be an external inquiry to chase (the temporary and fleeting feeling of) happiness, I propose that experienced intentionally, travel is actually quite the opposite. It is a beautiful opportunity to uncover joy from within. To learn through uncertainty and stretching experiences, just how secure and at peace you are with yourself or who you aspire to be! Joy is a muscle that can be strengthened and fired up through purposeful travel.
I am not an all-inclusive traveler. Give me the hidden gems, authentic food, all the culture. The messy. The kind of experiences that spark something deep inside. I yearn for travel that cultivates real change and a wider perspective. I aspire to come back a better, more connected / compassionate / fulfilled version of myself. This is joy.
I want a life with more play, expansion, experiences and purpose…
While I, admittedly, am an enthusiastic advocate for travel as an essential part of our health and well-being, I do not claim that it will make me happy, nor am I in pursuit of happiness, I am however, open to a life with more play, expansion, experiences and purpose. What I do believe, wholeheartedly, is that when we take agency for how we experience travel, it will induce feelings of joy, meaning, a sense of belonging, and a renewed zest for life…all that stem from within. In a world that tips more to the external (that masculine energy), traveling with these intentions, spending time in nature, and filling ourselves with love and care, despite any circumstance, is a way to bring that balance back in order (going inward – expanding feminine energy).
Discovering more about yourself
One of the ways we can cultivate a feeling of wholeness within ourselves is to learn about who we are – outside of our comfort zone. Of course, we can immediately focus on the positive aspects to this. We are often the best version of ourselves when we are experiencing something new, especially when it feels exciting. I am more present than ever, hardly checking email, social media, and so on. We aren’t weighed down by our mundane daily responsibilities. However, this does not mean that all of our self-discoveries are pleasant! We might notice that we are more controlling, or less of a free spirit than we proclaim to be. We might uncover new fears or be confronted with challenges that rock our beliefs or experiences to date. Travel can reveal struggles with thinking outside of the box or handling emotions during stressful situations. We might meet parts of ourselves that we repress in our everyday life, without the challenges that travel can present.
I actually find the latter the most profound, it is through the shadow parts of ourselves that offer the most opportunity for growth. We can then do the work to heal, persevere, and feel a sense of empowerment at the situations we might have to face and the layers of self we unravel in the process. If we stayed home all the time, in our bubble, would these opportunities arise? Through meaningful travel, we know that no matter what didn’t go the way we hoped, we still found peace and security from within.
Integrating all of ourselves that we might unearth during the journey is a path to joy. It offers an opportunity to connect us with our inner nature in such a profound way.
Feeling a sense of a global community
It is no surprise that meeting incredible people and feeling more connected to our human experience will ultimately enhance our contentment in life. Being a kind and compassionate human goes a long way to cultivating joy.
Like joy, making true, deep connection is purpose-driven. These brief, yet powerful connections go beyond the fragile feel-good feeling of the more temporary happiness. I love hearing people’s stories. It breeds a deeper sense of belonging to this planet. It can be expansive. And, it reaffirms that there is good in the world. I feel hopeful. And, like joy, great conversation keeps you in the present moment.
Even in other parts of the world, where we might not be able to communicate through language, we resort to using universal alternative ways to connect such as shared laughter, a genuine smile, or even a hug. It’s so rewarding. I get giddy just thinking about it. How could these experiences and new connections not have a significant impact on our well being and personal [soul] growth…which lead to greater joy?!
Now let’s get more specific around joy…
This is a big one for me. I choose joy. It lives within me.
Am I always feeling joyful? Nope.
In fact, I oftentimes experience ‘forboden joy’ which is terrible. It’s the emotion of not being fully present in the most joyful moments because you’re already thinking about them coming to an end! However, with practice and awareness, I work at this every day. It is through joy that I continue to discover more and more of myself and the life I want to live.
The inner joy I feel from new experiences around the world, the self-discoveries I make along the way, help me to become at peace with who I am and strive to be.
There are said to be eight pillars of joy:
I can’t think of a single travel experience I have had that did not include each of the eight pillars listed above. Joy comes from recognizing the world larger than yourself.
It is through the growth I have experienced on my journeys that I have learned to practice each of these eight pillars every single day of my life.
Can you make the distinction and choose to travel for joy?
Like anything in life – we need a balance of masculine and feminine energy. The external versus the internal. If we aren’t careful, travel can be misconstrued as a way to chase happiness and mask dissatisfaction.
I pose the idea that if we travel with purpose and intention – adventure of any kind can be quite the spiritual endeavor. Joyful experiences are deep and memorable. Similarly, joy and travel involve trials, hardship and transformation. They are intense and worthwhile.
Meaningful travel increases the joy we feel from within, regardless of the forces outside of ourselves. I am so grateful for every lesson, human, and enduring memory I have been fortunate enough to experience during my travels. Even the crazy ones! I feel filled with joy just by bringing them to mind. Travel…the gift that keeps on giving.