We explore the many different roads towards happiness, taken by those who seek a deeper meaning in what they do.
Just for fun, I looked up the #goodlife hashtag on Instagram, and found that it had over 13.5M posts (and an additional 3.6M for #thegoodlife), with scores more added by the hour. Ignoring the posts from people showing off their bodies, the images were uniformly about travel and about luxury. Exotic destinations, fancy hotels, fantastic views. Watches, yachts, cars, champagne. All the trappings one would expect from a life of riches.
But that’s the thing, isn’t it? A life of riches is not necessarily a life of good.
Not that luxury, or comfort, or being free from want isn’t good. Material things may not be happiness in and of themselves, but they sure can bring something that’s pretty damn close to it (or, as a friend would say: It’s much nicer to cry from inside your private jet). But this simulacrum of happiness will never take the place of the real thing, of that real destination.
And while this issue is dedicated to the many and different roads towards happiness, there seems to be a similarity to all the stories here. Most obviously, they’re all about people who are looking for a deeper meaning to what they do. The people in Escuela Taller brings together communities and marginalized sectors to preserve our built heritage. The outdoorsmen working for Waves for Water use travel as a tool to bring water to remote communities. The designers featured on our cover imbue their work with a bigger cause beyond fashion.
The stories here, perhaps less obviously, are about the inspiration that being outside, amongst the world brings to travelers. An Ilongga looks to her hometown, and draws upon personal memory to build bridges towards the Iloilo of the present. The people of Escuela Taller not only work to preserve historic buildings, but they also ensure that they’re building lives while they’re at it. The volunteers of W4W understood that, as travelers, they were privileged enough to see parts of the country that few other outsiders were able to—and so they use that privilege to bring some good into the places they visit.
The road to happiness is necessarily a personal one, in that no one can ever tell you exactly where it is, or to take it on your behalf—which, come to think of it, is like travel. For all the maps and guidebooks you may be armed with, every journey will be different. And for the journey to matter, you must undertake it yourself.