What I learnt about Happiness from Sailing in Mexico

“Do you want to go sailing tomorrow? Bring limes and crackers.”

I’m in Puerto Vallarta enjoying what can only be described as, well, not fun. It’s Spring Break but man do I feel too old for this shizz! Sailing sounds like a nice break from drunk out their mind 19 year olds asking me to bring them another round. Yeah, they thought I was a Mexican waiter…

I wasn’t really sure where we were going and who we were meeting but that’s all part of the adventure right?

We meet our mutual friend and hire a local fisherman to try and find these guy’s boat. Of course, our friend has forgotten the name of the boat and well, all boats kind of look the same. Boats also don’t have doorbells so you kinda just have to yell, see who sticks their head out and apologise until you get the right boat.

We finally make it on board. A fine vessel she was. We meet Brad and Corey who have an abundance of tequila and cheese (ok now the lime and crackers make sense).

Corey, who owns the boat, offers to let me steer the ship. “Keep her steady” he says. So naturally I zig zag across the bay in anything but a straight line.

We all get talking, trading travel stories, enjoying the sun and admiring my amazing sailing skills. Finally it comes to what they do.

This is where it got interesting. Both these guys are on the board of directors of a non-profit called First Descents. In a nutshell, they take young adults affected by cancer, put them on awesome adventure trips like whitewater kayaking with others that have been through the same, and through the group bonding experience and activities it helps with their overall recovery. How awesome is that!

Sailing 1

The other guys head top side leaving Corey and I on the wheel (I’m actually getting better by this point). I start delving deeper into his story. He travelled all over the world competing in whitewater slalom at an international level, was an Olympic coach and then set up his own training group (and a bunch of other equally awesome achievements). He tells me he had his fun with all the international travel and competing (and the partying that went with it). He found something meaningful working for First Descents. I guess you could say, he found his purpose. I asked him how many cancer patients his work has helped. Yup, certainly more than a thousand odd.

So this is where I stopped and contemplated. I really looked at this guy. He had travelled the world, had the self actualisation of being a national champion at his sport, he’s happily married, lives on a boat for half the year (where he surfs and SUP’s) and is doing something that positively affects and improves the lives of people who have had cancer.

I just came out and asked him: “What would make you happier?”

He scratches his chin, pauses, looks out over the water and then replies “A bigger boat.”

That’s it. A bigger boat!

Sailing 2

It really struck a chord with me. About happiness, about life and what we can do with it. I guess what I took away from this is the importance of finding your “thing”. Whether that’s the pursuit of a dream, doing something charitable, living with an abundance mindset, finding your bliss or just doing what makes you happy.

I came to settle on a few things in my mind. Don’t have dreams, have goals. Don’t live in years but by the actions you take and the intentions behind them. Live by thoughts and feelings and not heartbeats or breaths. Happiness isn’t the absence of the unpleasant but the pursuit of living, really living. Where does all this start? From within. Taking steps towards Satori if you will, uncovering your inner nature and perpetuating that in this world.

One day the backpacking, adventure and partying will eventually stop. They’ll come a point when you’ll be looking out over the ocean wondering what will make you happier. Will it be that you wished you’d worked less, helped more people, allowed yourself to be happier, followed a path you wanted… or do you just want nothing much at all. Maybe a slightly bigger boat?

7 Comments

  • I love the sentiment of this article! I too hope to just become happy one day and be free from chasing it all of the time!

  • andreea

    October 15, 2013

    Many times i thought hapiness is something you have to fight for, but then, after feeling i was wrong, i got my answer in one of Dostroievski’s books, 2 remarkable, wonderful pages that are close to what you write here, at least what i understood: taking the time to actually feel life in your deep inner soul, let it flow and enjoy whatever it brings you!

  • John

    October 17, 2013

    What a wonderful article. Very inspiring for those who love to sail, those who love to travel and those who are simply pursuing their dreams.

  • BakoymaTravels

    October 18, 2013

    This brought tears to my eyes – such a great post. I felt the same thing when I decided that my dream of travelling could be a plan, rather than just a dream. I felt (and feel) more alive and with purpose than before.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  • Katie - Living in Dubai

    October 19, 2013

    Such a meaningful article! This especially strikes a chord in travel lovers like me. For people who are always on the move, there comes a time when you start to wonder if and when you’ll decide to settle. Where would you want to grow old and be happy with loved ones?

    In my experience as a blogger about life in Dubai, I have come across people who just keep on traveling from one place to another, exploring various cultures, absorbing as much as they can, trying out new things. At one point or another, these people begin to question the future. What will make them happy when they get a bit older and cannot travel as much anymore? Where shall they settle?

    I guess what we need to do is think over our priorities and what really makes us happy. What does it mean when you go for “really living the life”? That would depend on you because it’s different for every person.

    For me, I’m loving “really living” in Dubai and this is why I aim to share my experiences with others across the globe.

  • Heidi (@WagonersAbroad)

    March 24, 2014

    Oh, how I love this article. It is so easy to get stuck in the “if only I had” or “when I get ….I will”… why wait, why not make your dreams happen. I completely agree with making goals and taking actions. With each and every daily decision or choice you make, ask if it is helping your reach your goals.

    There will always be an unlimited pool of excuses and perhaps naysayers to hold you back. Take that old Nike slogan to hear and Just do it! Make your dreams happen, everyday should be contributing to making that goal realized.

    We have been living our dream everyday for the past 19 months and will continue to do so. We will figure it out and keep it going as long as possible. It is amazing how simplifying your life can make you happier, rather than having more things. Thanks for this!

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