Monday, 10 June 2013

Wise Words from a World Wanderer, Part 2 - The Happiness Project

We all know that happiness is a function of time and money. The majority of people today place a greater emphasis on money. I did at one point too. But the most valuable lesson I learned, for myself and many others I have met on my travels, is that time has a much stronger effect on producing happiness than money.

My interpretation of happiness uses the simple equation below:

happiness = timen X money
n = an unknown exponent which places greater emphasis on time

This is the ultimate equation to everything in life and with respect to travelling, it works two fold. If you have more time, you will not only increase your happiness but you will also reduce the amount of money you spend.

However, in today's reality, most people cannot devote enough time to travel and, instead, spend excessive amounts of money to make up for it. Really, the problem starts with the short vacations permitted from work. While it is still possible to take your time on short vacations, the temptation of knocking off as many bucket list items as possible is too alluring.

I even admit my own pace was super-quick and exhausting when I began my travels. But I slowly realized that it was more fulfilling to take my time (all of which I was so blessed to be granted for work) and maximize every moment, instead of spreading my energies thinly across these moments, enjoying each one less. So I changed my pace.

I left early and walked to the museum instead of taking transit, enjoying a leisurely stroll, observing the local culture on the street and people-watching along the way. I took the bus versus train, which takes more time but is much cheaper. In the extreme case, I hitchhiked, which usually takes the most time and patience, but I traveled virtually for free, and ended up having nice conversations with my drivers, thereby increasing my happiness.

In the future I will try, somehow, to travel even slower, and at some point in my life, I want to do some cycle touring. Riding a bike across a country is very alluring to me, especially because it is a slow way to see and understand a country. So I guess my point is...

Take. Your. Time!

This is my ultimate lesson for you folks and, believe it or not, it not only maximizes happiness but saves money. I really can't stress this enough!

It is important to note that the debate about whether time or money is important for happiness is an impossible one. In the end everyone has their own approach. But I do suspect that more people in the world are fooled into thinking that money is more important time than vice versa.

At least in North America, my prevailing observation is that most people are overworked, busy and tired, while still blowing most of their cash on things that produce fleeting happiness. In Europe I get more of the sense that people worry less about money, and spend more time on simple yet important things such as food or good company, and they are overall more relaxed, less stressed and complain less.

Have a nice day. And I hope today that you take your time in whatever you do =)

1 comment:

  1. Well written Andrew, I think that other than time, one also needs the will, determination and drive to actually go and do what you have accomplished. It is absolutely true that most Asian and North American are more focus on one of the 7 sins........Greed! One needs to strike a balance between time and money. As I passed my half century mark, I often ponder my future paths. If I knew then what I know now from reading your blogs, I would take a step back and see the world to seek personal enlightenment and knowledge.....but instead I am trapped in a fast paced mundane life form. At least your experience has provoked my thoughts and given me hopes and dreams.