The Pursuit of Happiness is something innate to all humans, but we all go about it in different ways. In this series of articles people from every walk of life share their experience of making the decision to be happy, grabbing life by the horns, and taking the plunge into a happier and healthier life. If you’d like to contribute your own story, please contact me.
Jonny Blair’s Story
It was early 2009. I was sad. Life was going nowhere. But that should never have been the case. For the previous 6 years (2003-2009) I had managed to travel round the world, backpack through my own continent of Europe, get a degree, work in about 20 different jobs and enjoy my fair share of nights out and happy memories. But I had become very depressed. “I’ve got no distance left to run”.
How had I gone from backpacking round the world with a zest for life to wanting to give it all up?
It was 2008 when I met the girl that ultimately ruined me. Within an hour of meeting her I was drinking coffee with her, within a day I was hanging out with her, within a month I was in her bedroom. Within 6 months it was all over. I had fallen in love and ruined myself in the process. I took her round Europe, even splashing out more than my backpacker budget permitted when we did cities like Venice, London and Budapest together. But this unworldly Hungarian chick had other ideas. She didn’t want to see me again. She wanted her boring life back. She hated British guys who like football, beer and travel. We were the perfect match but only in my eyes. And I couldn’t cope with it at all. I was ready to end it. I’d seen the world already and I couldn’t get what I wanted anymore. “Everybody cries and everybody hurts sometimes”.
During our short relationship, I did some ridiculous things that weren’t even things I normally would ever do. I gave up attending the rest of the football matches for the whole season because of this girl. Looking back it was crazy. I had been going to watch my team (AFC Bournemouth) for 6 years on and off. I was a fanatic and then boom – I no longer went even though I owned a season ticket. Wasting the money on my season ticket completely and not even bothering to check the results. I also bizarrely gave up alcohol. I did it for 6 months. Not a drink. Very odd for me, as I had always built a good social networks around bars and drinking. I also gave up using Facebook for 6 months – something which all my mates knew wasn’t really me -as they had enjoyed my photo updates and football chat on there. I dedicated myself to this girl for 6 months and when it ended, I suddenly had nothing. Less than what I started with. “You gave me nothing now it’s all I’ve got”.
So what did I do? I cried. A lot. I worked as much as I could and I sat at home on my own feeling depressed. Life for me was over. I worked EIGHT days a week. 4 days a week I served in the restaurant on ferries between England and France and 4 days a week I served ice cream on a beach in southern England. There was a day of overlap where I got up at 4.30 am and worked in both jobs until almost midnight (hence the 8 days work in 7). It was crazy stuff but it kept my mind off depression for a bit. I was still feeling horrible though. Except I had one thing going for me. Working so much meant I now had money saved. At 3am after a late shift on the ferries, I booked a one way ticket to Taiwan from London. I didn’t know if I would use it or not, but I had booked it now. I needed to do something I loved. I had been to China before, but not Taiwan. I had a good mate living out there so I thought we could party and backpack again like old times. I loved travelling, I loved football, I loved random adventures and I loved having a beer with my mates. It was time to get my happiness back.
I took the decision to be happy and do what I want. It was tough at the start. But I boarded the flight to Taiwan, found a new girl to join me (travel buddy rather than lover this time) and took life from there. That was 4 years ago now. I’ve been nomadic ever since. I’ve found jobs on farms, in bars, in schools and some PR work and I’ve increased the readership of my travel blog (which started in 2007). So I left behind my memories of a girl, and she lost her destiny to be with me, but that’s life. For al of us. It has ups and downs. But I’m so pleased to say I have found love again and with a special lady. She has travelled more than me and every day with her is a new adventure. Here comes my happiness again.
I’ve now been to all 7 continents and over 70 countries and I’m happier. There’s always a bit of depression that sets in but the very title of my travel blog is Don’t Stop Living, it doesn’t mean everything is always good, it’s just means we need to keep doing what we want and of course we need to be happy to survive. I’ve seen guys in offices slave their guts out and then complain about it. It was their choice to pursue that lifestyle. It was my choice to become nomadic.
I’m happy exploring places. I love it. I hate a routine lifestyle and for the last 10 years I have never had a routine. Almost everyday of my life has been different. I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs and I guess being a traveller is the same as staying in the same place. We have good days and bad days but ultimately we have chosen the life we want and we need to be happy with it. “Happiness lies in your own hands”.
I’m writing this from the city of Chongqing in China. It’s colossal. It’s rumoured to be the world’s largest city. I could well believe it. It was a childhood dream of mine to visit here and I’ve done it.
I’m planning the next few months of travels with my girlfriend now. We hope to visit Azerbaijan, Armenia, Jordan, Georgia and Nagorno Karabakh. I am excited. It is a truly cherished existence. Don’t let nobody get you down. “I got knocked down, but I got up again”. Don’t Stop Living.
Safe travels my friends.
* I’d like to thank Adam Pervez for giving me the chance to share my story on Happiness Plunge. I love Adam’s outlook on life and the message that his website brings. I haven’t yet met Adam, but I hope our paths with cross at some point.