First, there was a friend’s wedding to go to that had more than its fair share of city bankers. There were plenty there seeming “successful” – some of them old school friends. Then it was off to a prestigious school that charges in excess of £40,000 a year to give a talk about my happiness. . .
So, given that I’d spent the run up to these events rolling about the south of England on my bicycle with very tatty looking kit and camping up in friend’s gardens as needed, I did wonder how I’d come to be at either of these events – enjoying both of them beyond words. Yet, I also did some wondering as to whether I might have been happier had I made my way in life a different way than I have.
All about connection
First and foremost, let’s honour the importance of connection in getting me to those events. I’m not talking about connection in a networking sense. No, I’m talking about connection in a deeper human sense. The kind of connection that brings me fully present with my whole heart listening to the new person before me – honouring what others have to say as best I can without letting my judgements and prejudices get in the way.
Allowing others to simply be as they are. We all need some of that…more than anything else…my best work has been in learning to give that.
I love people. Not because it gets me fancy places, but because it is a sure route to happiness – theirs, mine. . .and that is, I suppose, what gets me into worlds I am not from.
Welcoming in the doubt
The importance of connection aside, being in these situations compel me to reflect on my own life. Maybe I could have been a banker, had some kids, and sent them to a prestigious school. Maybe my assertions on money and happiness are wrong. Maybe.
A friend once said to me he doesn’t quite trust people who don’t hold at least some openness that their firmest convictions could be wrong. It is healthy to have our deepest convictions tested and from time to time wonder what if. . .there is openness and connection in that.
Yet, didn’t I analyse a lot of happiness data and critically evaluate enough academic research on money and happiness to be sure? All that work challenged me enough to let go of the conviction I had prior to then that money was important…but nothing wrong with a bit of doubt. For me that doubting process brings gratitude for what I do have, for what I have chosen.
And let’s not forget there was that journey I made on a bicycle to the country of Bhutan…and I’m sure a lot of people I met recently might imagine that would be a happier life for them than their present…maybe, maybe not, as long as connection is at the core you’ll be fine…
The most inspiring connection…
It was the students in the school who brought the most connection of the week. Far more than the bankers. The openness of the students was startling.
Yet, the most inspiring connection of them all from last week came just before that talk from someone taking a curiosity in me – it was a young cyclist, who’d spent some time in jail and had a willingness to share their reflections on their life in a profoundly moving way – this happiness journeyman departed was inspired.
***I have written and published a book about my journey to Bhutan on a bicycle. If you want to learn more about happiness then consider buying A Journey For Happiness: The Man Who Cycled to Bhutan today.