"The boy smiled because now he knew. There was no treasure greater than the treasure of the happiness that comes from following your heart, and of fulfilling your own personal destiny."
I am often asked how can I possibly be happy with my life, when I am living alone, away from my family and friends back in England? I get asked how can I bear it to keep moving from one place to another? Don't I want to be settled? I'm told that it must get lonely and depressing always being alone. So, why is it then that I don't ever feel lonely or depressed living my life the way that I do?
It wasn't always this way. I've had experiences of loneliness in my life, both as a child and as an adult. In my childhood, those times would come as a result of starting a new school where I knew no one, or when I had been temporarily ostracised by my group of friends after a falling out.
In my adult life, there would be occasions when I felt retched and lonely because I was single. For long periods of time, I would be unable to find a girlfriend. A few of those periods lasted around three years between partners. I'd have a few dates in that time, but nothing more than that. During those times of being single, I would beat myself up, telling myself I was worthless, ugly, useless. My friends and colleagues always seemed to have girlfriends, wives and partners and this generated even more self-created pressure and anxiety about my situation. What was wrong with me?
There were times when I felt empty in life. Even though I had stumbled quite by chance into a good career during my mid-twenties, enjoying promotions and business travel, working with some great colleagues, enjoying my working life, I always felt that something was missing. I had taken out a mortgage and purchased a house, I upgraded my car several times, until I treated myself to my dream car, I bought myself the latest CDs, went to the movies, met up with friends and socialised. In fact, I did pretty much what everyone else was doing and I did exactly what I was expected to do. So why did I feel so empty inside and unfulfilled?
When I look back now, I can see that I was unhappy. I reasoned with myself at the time that the cause of my unhappiness and the empty feeling was because I had no one in which to share my life, no special person to share in my experiences. I strongly believed that the path to happiness lay with finding someone in which to share life and love. That having a partner would be the cure for my loneliness and for the unhappiness that I was experiencing. I thought that having a partner would fix everything that seemed wrong in my life. A magical cure to all of my problems. A way to fill the void.
But I was wrong. I was very wrong.
From the moment that I quit my job, packed up the few things I had remaining and headed off to Asia with a backpack, I began to fulfil my dreams, to walk my true path in life. I was finally doing something that I had long dreamed of doing and with that, I began to find an inner peace and happiness that I had never known before. For the first time in my life, I was truly content with everything that I had. The choice to be where I was and to do what I was doing was mine, it was of my own making. Therefore, it became impossible for me to feel sad or lonely any longer. Instead, I found something quite extraordinary, something I never expected and it was something incredibly powerful. I discovered happiness. Not a transient or short-term kind of happiness. This was a happiness that was rooted in the very fibre of my being. It was the essence of me.
With this new found feeling, everything else changed. My eyes opened and it felt as if I had finally woken up, as if in all the time that preceded this moment, I had been asleep. I felt that the great truth of life had been revealed to me. For all my life up to this point, I had been seeing, but not actually seeing. I began to see life all around me and it filled my soul with joy. Everything in nature took on a new meaning. I marvelled at the wonders of creation. I no longer just saw a bird in flight, I saw a miracle of life. I truly realised for the first time that every thing that exists on this planet, and in this universe, is actually part of the same thing. That everything is part of the one thing only.
I was now experiencing happiness because of me, because of my choices. If I was walking alone along the beach, or sitting alone at a restaurant, it was because I had chosen it. No one else could be at fault. There was no one to blame except for myself. It didn't matter to me that I had no partner in which to share the moment. I was simply sharing it with myself, giving myself a gift. I realised later that by choosing to walk my path, I had given myself the ultimate gift. The gift of love.
There was another realisation that I experienced, that even through the times when I didn't have a partner, I had never been alone. My heart had always been with me, keeping me company, talking to me. It was just that for so many years, I had chosen not to listen, not to heed the words that it spoke. Now that I was walking my path, I embraced my heart, I heard its voice. We became inseparable friends. I knew that I would never stop listening to it, even if the words that it spoke to me were sometimes difficult words to hear.
True happiness comes from within each of us. It resides there, waiting to be discovered. I learned that you cannot obtain happiness from someone else. By daring to realise my dreams, I found a sense of stability and peace that had eluded me throughout my life. Perhaps it would have been better to learn that lesson earlier, but that was not my path. All that was important was that I reached that point.
And this is why I no longer feel loneliness, why I can be away from my family and friends in England and why I don't feel the need to be settled in my life right now. Perhaps one day I will return, I will settle and be content, but that will only happen when the time is right and it is the next stage on my journey. Until then, I will continue to walk the path of my own making and to continue to fulfil my dreams.
If you want to discover happiness, go in search of your dreams. On the journey along your chosen path is where you will discover your true treasure. The treasure of happiness. And there is no greater gift that you can give to yourself.