Part 2: What makes me happy

If there’s one thing that two years of living out of backpack for two years teaches you, it’s what is important to you. I can live pretty much anywhere. I don’t need many material possessions. But there are a few things that immediately affect my happiness levels in a given place, regardless of what project I’m working on.

1. Staying connected. I may be constantly changing locations and constantly meeting new people, but staying connected to those important to me at least provides some continuity. I’ve got my system – internet on my phone and an unlocked 3G modem for my computer – working in every country.

2. Exercise. I need to exercise on a regular basis to feel healthy. I do a daily stretching/yoga routine, and I run every chance I get. I would ideally like to be in a place where I can rock climb and practice aikido, but I’ll take what I can get. As long as I can be active.

3. Music and dance. Not only do music and dance teach me a lot about the local culture, but they can lift my spirits no matter what mood I’m in; they add color to an otherwise gray day.

4. People. This is a pretty vague one, but the general gist is that my experience in a given place is often defined by the people I know there. I gravitate towards places where I find friendly, entertaining, and inspiring people. And I remember the people more than I remember the place or the project.

5. Nature. I feel most at home in the woods. I enjoy living in cities, but I need to be able to escape from them regularly.

(Also check out part 1.)