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What does it mean to live a happy life? What does it mean to live a productive life? What about a meaningful life? How do I use my time here to answer these questions?

I do have to say when I first read these questions I was slightly overwhelmed as they are indeed quite hefty. During my time so far in Nepal I’ve been trying to figure out what I want my life to look like and the actions I can take to lead a life of fulfilment. For the first time in a while I feel as if I have enough time and energy think about such questions and what they mean in the context of my life.

To me, a happy life is one where I spend my time with the people I love, doing the things I enjoy and prioritising my emotional and physical health. Despite these sounding relatively easy to implement, I’ve found that once you forget your intentions it becomes worryingly easy to neglect the most important parts of life. For example, how often do we see ourselves, members of our family or our friends, neglecting some aspect of their health to focus on work? How often in times of stress do we choose to tackle things on our own rather than ask for help or support from our loved ones? We all seek happiness and joy, but we can quickly forget those intentions when life gets in the way.

Living a productive life is slightly more ambiguous in my mind. For the majority of my life, I have thought of productivity in an academic context and thus I have found it challenging to associate the word with other ideas. Recently though, I’ve been starting to view productivity in a new light where I use my time effectively to address my needs and responsibilities. For example, during free time here, I sometimes want alone time or to be social. Instead of looking at what everyone else is doing, I’ve been trying to honour how I feel and to use that time to respect what I need. My time in Nepal so far has shown me how important it is to listen to what my needs and to prioritise self-care.

I think that living a meaningful life is very similar to living a happy life, but with a greater emphasis of spending time with our loved ones and doing the things we want to do. When thinking about this question, my mind drifted to one of the final moments from “Into the Wild” where the main character realises true happiness only exists when you share it with others – many apologies if that’s a spoiler. Of course, there are times in life where we’ll have responsibilities and obligations that won’t necessarily bring us joy, but if we prioritise the things that make us feel content, we’ll hopefully be living a life of greater meaning.

After thinking about these questions I realise how much more I still need to consider them. I’m very grateful to have the remainder of my time here to continue thinking about them and the roles they will play when I come home.