In a review of three books on happiness, Barry Schwartz writes, “Rich people have more life satisfaction than working class people, but no more day-to-day satisfaction.” When I read this, something clicked, not because I’m rich, but because it explained something about travel.
A friend told Tanya and me that we have been Living The Dream. Three months of cycling and hiking in New Zealand, then four months in Europe. Of course, when you travel that much, not everything goes as well as you’d like. Yet when talking or writing about our travels, I’ve been reluctant to talk about the bad things.
I’ve believed that since I’m living the dream, I shouldn’t be saying anything negative about our travels. Complaining would be ungrateful, not appreciating our good fortune. It would be whining.
I know this belief is foolish because when I read other people’s writing – whether about travel or something else – the writing that impacts me most is writing where the author shows that they are human. Where they expose their vulnerabilities and inadequacies; where they talk about their failures and things that went wrong.
Yet a part of me still has this belief that since I am living the dream, I’m supposed to be happy and glad and appreciate my good fortune – all the time. That I’m supposed be living a Facebook Life.
I can tell you that the traveling life is not always wonderful. The place we are staying is horrible; it rains; Tanya and I fight; we can’t find anything good to eat; I get stressed when I can’t understand how to pay the toll road fee; the gas station won’t take our credit card; our phones don’t work with the new SIMs. Things go wrong.
What Barry Schwartz pointed out to me is that it’s okay to admit that sometimes things suck. I may be immensely fortunate and may get a lot of life satisfaction from our travels, but it’s okay to acknowledge that, day-to-day, things don’t always go well.
So, it’s just another Retirement Lesson. While travel gives me the opportunity to live a rich and full life, it’s not going to be Facebook all the time.