Pursuit of Happiness? (Egypt 2016)

So I’m back!  What was supposed to be  a short blogging break accidentally turned into an extended one I guess. It’s been what seems like decades. My days have been filled to the brim, my nights often too short and passing by too quickly.  Lately,I get immersed in the routine of life, and it almost seems like I’m going through the motions without even being there.  The other day I drove home from school and my mind was so wrapped up in the things I had to finish that when I pulled into my driveway, I wondered how I even drove home. The hustle and the bustle of life is often very mind-consuming and it’s easy to just do what you have to do without stopping to think about it. I’m reading a book by former  gold medal winning Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson and in it she talks about how we need to stop and smell the roses every now and again.  She talks about how people search for complicated formulas to being happy but the fastest way to happiness is really just doing more of what makes you happy.  So I thought to myself “what makes me happy??” 

A lot of different things came to my mind when I picked up my phone and began sifting through all my pictures.  I hit pictures from my trip to Egypt last year and i realized, it has been exactly a year since i visited Cairo for the first time.  Such amazing memories.  I remember wanting to go on a mission trip and sifting through the seven or so different trips my school had for spring break.  I remember indiscriminately picking Egypt and not really being sure why.  I remember how I was making payments leading up to that trip, but it all seemed so surreal, right up until we boarded the first leg flight to Amsterdam.

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I think I have always had a little bit of a travel bug and a love of visiting new places- I did choose to go to a college 7 states away from home, on a whim.  But it’s funny how these things work out.  I shocked myself in Egypt because that trip was mostly a solo decision and a solo adventure.  I went with 12 other people from my school who I did not know, to a country I did not know much about.  I ended up loving the experience so much that i went back to Egypt again during the summer.

My Egypt trip taught me…

  • that I could travel internationally on my own and not die
  • that i could speak to large crowds
  • that God has a bigger plan for me than i can imagine at times
  • that history doesnt have to be thatttt boring: the ancient Egyptians were anything but boring and I was fully intrigued
  • that i CAN make a difference
  • that i could trust myself
  • that learning is a joint process- teachers can also become students and vice versa
  • I learned that you gotta be a little uncomfortable to appreciate what it’s like to be comfortable
  • I learned that people speak different languages, but there are universal things that break down all barriers- things like love and laughter, music and food
  • I learned that although I am prone to wanna fix things, sometimes all i can do is be physically there- listening, caring, sharing a smile or a hug.
  • Above all, I learned how much i love learning about people in all their different shapes and sizes- learning what they love, what troubles them, what their heart yearns for.

I think traveling gives you a different perspective because you are not in your comfort zone.  It forces you to physically step into someone else’s shoes and see the world through their eyes.

It’s been a year and I can still taste the amazing Egyptian ice cream; I can hear the children at NUA laughing and playing soccer intramurals; I look at my Facebook timeline and smile at the pictures and memories that keep popping up and I have no regrets at all.  Going forth I was trying to figure out how I recreate the happiness i felt during that trip.  I am planning a few different trips and saving money for that financially, but I think i can recreate that happiness in my city too.  I think for me, that means doing more of what I love here.- intentionally going out and meeting new people and learning more about their stories, maybe trying some new foods at food trucks in LA, making sure i experience something new at least once a week, and trusting God to put me where i need to be to help the people who need help the most.

So this week, I encourage you to ask yourself what makes you happy, and do more of that.  When was the last time that you felt blissfully happy? What were you doing and how can you get back to that?

P.S. If anyone has any super cool travel destination ideas hit me up!! I’ve got a few on my list (Right now New York City, the Netherlands, Kenya, London, & Greece) but I would LOVE to hear about places you visited and loved, or recommend!  I’ll do more travel blogs when I can too:)

P.P.S. Again, I’d like to thank the people who participated in my Love Series around Valentines Day.  It ended up being so much more awesome than I anticipated. All the people who wrote for me, I’m super grateful and the readers who offered feedback and support, you all are just as awesome. It’s good to know I can experiment with a few things on here and people won’t freak out on me or stop reading. 



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