The Most Important Lesson Learnt In Asia

The Most Important Lesson Learnt In Asia

Heather at at Taiwanese Temple

I bought a one-way ticket to Asia almost three years ago in search of adventure, fun, and happiness. Of the three things I was hoping to find while abroad, the only one I didn’t find was happiness.

HappinessAdventure was found every weekend as I explored different cities, streets, and villages, and fun was found in every new friendship I established while I was exploring the world.

I never did find happiness abroad.

After two years of living abroad and another year living back home, I finally learned that happiness cannot be found. It must be created.

It’s been a strange lesson to learn, especially while I was abroad because I was positive that if I were in the right surroundings happiness would just come about easily and fluidly.

The problem was, I’d been mistaking upbeat feelings for happiness.

As soon as my plane landed in South Korea, I thought I felt happy, but really what I felt was excitement. After life in South Korea became routine, I found myself unhappy again. Unhappy with my job, activities, and outlook on life.

So, I bought a one-way ticket to Taiwan. “Surely, in Taipei where there are so many like-minded creative expats I’ll be happy,” I told myself.

Of course, that wasn’t to be the case. For the first few months or so, I thought I was experiencing happiness. I had made new friends, enjoyed new experiences, and loved the change in scenery.

As soon as life became predictable (and it does no matter where in the world you are), I began to realize that I wouldn’t find happiness in Taiwan either. I jumped online and booked a ticket home. “Back to the drawing board, and back to my search for happiness in a new place,” I thought as I boarded the plane bound for a new state in the U.S.

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My plane landed in Washington D.C., a city I had never been to before. Again, for the third time, I thought I was in the right place that would lead me to find happiness. Imagine my frustration when after only a few short weeks, I still hadn’t captured that elusive happiness that seemed to avoid me no matter where I went in the world.

Discovering that I couldn’t look out into the world to discover happiness, I began to look inward. And what I discovered taught me more about myself than I had learned in my years of travel.

Happiness cannot be found. It is created. Click To Tweet

So, I did as many things as I could to create happiness in my own life. I took up new and fun hobbies that let me practice my creativity, I made it a point to visit with friends at least once a week, I took up a gratitude journal (which I highly recommended if you don’t already have one), and I made sure to text or call my mom at least once a day.

After this new routine that focused on creativity, relationships, and my own feelings, I finally had happiness. Happiness that I had created myself – which made it even more precious to me.

At times, I get a little regretful that I hadn’t discovered this truth sooner. Maybe I would’ve enjoyed my time abroad even more. Maybe I would have made more friendships. Maybe I would have stayed longer in Asia.

But, then I realize that I needed to go abroad to learn this truth for myself. It was during that time while I was in some of the most beautiful places in the world, that I felt most unhappy. If happiness couldn’t be found in the most beautiful of places, where can it be found? Well, it can’t, I learned, and I don’t know that I would’ve ever found that truth had I not gone abroad in search of happiness without finding it.

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In the end, I created the most amazing happiness within myself, and I’m so grateful to my travels for this lesson.

What do you do in your life to create happiness? Do you believe that happiness can be found or must be created? We would like to know your thoughts in the comments section below. 

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