If happiness in the moment is felt through our biological functions as a reaction to what is happening in our lives, then we should be able to find all the happiness we need from simple, idle pleasures like video games, TV, or other instant attractions designed to provide us with high-frequency, low-doses of happiness. And yet, that's clearly not enough. There's a feeling of self-worth and accomplishment that provides us deeper, more lasting happiness, which can continue well beyond the activity itself. So, how do we find this fountain of happiness?

The feeling of self-worth and accomplishment is a far different flavor of happiness than the one we feel when we get that extra like, view, or retweet. It's one that isn't easily earned through trivial activities, but rather is gained through trials and tribulations, often involving significant bouts of unhappiness or negative feelings along the way. Whether creating a work of art, training for and climbing a mountain, or volunteering time to help others, self-worth and accomplishment are earned over time and can continue to spur happiness as we reflect back on overcoming of some obstacle and achieving something meaningful. Perhaps self-worth is developed through our investment of time, energy, and emotion toward a greater cause. The incorporation of both negative and positive feelings, of overcoming something significant, and of accomplishing something meaningful.

And yet, society constantly entices us with the high-frequency jolts of happiness, the latest gadget, this season's new styles, the newest season of that show. The path toward self worth includes not just accomplishing something meaningful, but also dodging enough of these societal traps to even allow us the time and mental space to focus on what we truly want to do.

As we become increasingly bound to our devices, this becomes even more difficult with every app providing us notifications to draw us back into their world of dopamine overload. 

To get beyond this draw, it takes increasing awareness, certainly one reason why mindfulness and meditation have become so much more popular in recent years. We need to take time to proactively disconnect from the constant demands on our attention to ensure we can stay in tune with ourselves and our true desires when they are present.

The pursuit of self-worth is incredibly powerful. It provides a greater sense of happiness and fulfilment than any app, game, or show ever could. And once we lay these foundations for self-worth, working toward and accomplishing something meaningful, we can reach back to them and feel a dose of happiness each time we remember or tell the story. The investment continues to pay off throughout our lives, a far more sustainable happiness from the one-and-done high frequency dopamine triggers.

In our lives, we now carve out time to live in analog, setting our digital devices aside so we can live more intentionally. Creating the space for meditation, exercise, conversation, writing, reading (especially long-form works), travel, and our personal or work-related projects. Even if it takes effort, even if it isn't the easiest path to immediate pleasure, this has become the time we find the most enjoyment in our lives, bringing us self-worth and accomplishment. -T


For our last day in the Maldives, Todd and I decided to repeat the flawless itinerary we had curated over the course of the week. We woke up late, around 10:00AM, and had breakfast. Caffeine carried us through the rest of the morning while we read our books and wrote by the ocean. Lunch and an afternoon cocktail made our bodies heavy and eventually the heat lured us back to our air conditioned room, where we could still enjoy the ocean views through the comfort of sliding glass doors. Sleep is inevitable the second you lay your head on a proper pillow, so we helplessly surrendered to a long nap. When we awoke, its was a slow saunter back outside to continue our schedule of reading, writing, and intermittently closing our eyes. With the heat at its peak, we ordered more drinks and waited for the sun to fall. 

As evening drew the clouds rolled in particularly low, turning the sky orange as the sun sank and then black in an instant. We had intentions to temporarily escape the private oasis our bungalow provided and walk around the island one last time. Maybe get dinner at one of the restaurants instead of shuffling room service trays back and forth all day. But the gusting winds and sheets of rain held us hostage - in the most perfect way. 

There is something so poetically romantic about storms. Their sudden force followed by an unsettling calm. Nothing can leave the air quite so clear - literally and metaphorically. A good storm can awaken your soul, change your course, maybe even give you a new life. 

We sat and absorbed its strength as it tore across the island. Only when the skies cleared did we begin to pack our bags and prepare for our next destination - a ritual we had grown quite accustomed to on our four month trip around the world. But this time it was different. It felt like our adventure had ceremoniously concluded and I wanted to go home. Rejuvenated, relaxed and ready to start fresh with everything I had learned, everything I had experienced. It was the first time I craved home more than the next adventure. And we still had 59 days to go.