I liked to read and write about Adventure, Minimalism and Wellbeing and I wanted to meet some people with similar interests, so I started a MeetUp group. One night I organised a screening of a documentary called Happy, by a filmmaker called Roko Belic, who travels to more than a dozen countries, searching for the meaning of happiness.
It made me realise that people need to feel in control of their own happiness and future, as well as our collective future. I read more about happiness and learned that The World Happiness Report 2016 identified Copenhagen as the happiest place on Earth. Also that Bhutan measures prosperity by gauging its citizens' happiness levels, rather than by measuring gross domestic product (GDP) like most other countries.
This gave me the idea to journey from the UK to Bhutan, via Copenhagen, to research how we can create a happier world.
My happiness adventure
In 2015, I announced my plan for the journey, which is entirely self-funded: it has taken two years of hard work and some careful budgeting. Some people save up to buy a house or have a family, but travelling held far more appeal for me!
The grand plan
My partner and I will travel 12,000 miles from the UK to Bhutan, which will take us through 18 countries. We arrive at our first stop – Amsterdam – on World Happiness Day 2017 (20th March) at which point we will explore the City and visit the Body Worlds Exhibition - The Happiness Project.
The journey is also an opportunity for us to undertake some formal research conducted as an ‘expedition’ for the Royal Geographical Society. More info on my blog – Road to Happiness.
Interest is growing around the world in how we define and measure happiness and subjective well-being (our personal opinion of wellbeing) and how these concepts indicate the quality of human development. We hope our research will contribute to this growing field of study. Doing the whole journey overland, rather than flying, means we will be able to immerse ourselves more in each country we travel through.
We plan to research happiness in five ways:
1. Using the Subjective Happiness Scale to measure the happiness of people we meet on our journey
2. Visiting educational facilities to speak to students about their thoughts on happiness and social change.
3. Hosting talks and workshops on 'Ten Keys to Happier Living' using Action For Happiness Research.
4. Carrying out subjective fieldwork on the cities and countries we visit that will enable us to developideas on leading more fulfillinglives – this will be documented on our blog.
As well as the trip and all the research we are doing along the way, I also have work commitments. My laptop and wifi 4G dongle will enable me to keep on top of this, working from cafes / universities.
I run Stag & Raven, a UK Tattoo Art brand with my best friend Kate. I also work as the Festival Manager for Off The Record, a multi venue Music Event and Conference in Manchester.
In 2012 I suffered a traumatic head injury which has left me with short term memory loss. However tools like Trello and Google Docs keep me organised. EVERYTHING needs to be written down!
Advice for others looking for adventure
I think every adventure has a purpose, and this doesn’t need to be anything big and bold. My other trips away have helped me to learn more about myself and other people, and that in itself has been incredibly rewarding. I think there can be a lot of pressure in the adventure community for a journey or adventure to be physically demanding – testing your body’s limits - but I think that’s the wrong way to think about it.
Becoming comfortable with who you are and how you want to live and travel is the most important thing, and then everything else just follows.
What makes you happy?
I’ve changed a lot as a person in the last few years. I spent my twenties being quite angry with the world and tried to be someone I wasn’t. A hectic busy social life and career was what I thought I wanted but I’ve since discovered it’s actually the opposite.
In the last few years, I’ve become more comfortable with who I am, and I have also realised I prefer spending time one on one with people or in small groups. I have a few close friends who I wouldn’t change for the world. I like to have a lot of time alone to read and write. I like good food, reading and travelling. And I ADORE travelling by train - I can’t wait to start the journey!
My personal goals for the trip
In my twenties I was very busy with work and social commitments, which often lead to periods of ‘burn out’. This has helped me realise the importance of finding balance and taking better care of myself. I am going to explore this further on the trip by thinking about what makes me happy and what can help me to lead a balanced life.
Aside from the fieldwork, I am really excited to document the journey and write a book about what I discover about happiness.
I’ve spent a lot of my life not liking myself. I’ve not always been a good friend, good daughter or good employee. I want to feel more in control of my happiness and my future, and I think this journey is going to help me to discover some incredible things about myself and others.