Four and a half years ago, I took a hike. It was about a week into my full-timing adventure, when I’d settled in enough to finally take in what I was doing. That hike was an amazing experience of extreme emotion and giddy anticipation. I’ll never forget how free I felt standing on top of that grassy hill in South Dakota.
Two days ago, I also took a hike. It was a serene experience of peaceful contentment. Over time, the details will blur together with the hikes surrounding it, one more among the hundreds I’ve done since hitting the road.
They were both good experiences, but two very different types of happiness.
People tend to place more value on the first type. It’s loud and charged and can’t be ignored. It’s the kind of happiness that makes you feel alive. But it doesn’t come every day.
It’s the novelty that makes that kind of happiness so visceral. With increased exposure, the happiness doesn’t go away, but it becomes something quieter. This happens in all areas of life, whether you go full-timing, get a new job you enjoy, or start a new relationship.
Sometimes the transformation from the first type to the second leads people to think that something must be wrong with their job or relationship or their approach to full-time RVing. I say it’s just the way we are, and not necessarily a bad thing. Because that quieter joy runs deeper. Instead of sweeping you along in its wake like tempest, it fills you up and grounds you.
Contentment may not be as sexy as ecstatic happiness, but its effect is longer lasting. And a lot of people, particularly those who read blogs like this, ignore it in pursuit of the next big adventure.
By all means, don’t stop reaching for that next moment of overwhelming joy, they make up the highlight reel of life. But don’t get so caught up in hunting those moments that you overlook the peace that contentment can bring, because that will account for a much greater portion of your life, if you allow it.
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Today’s pictures are from the Lower Chimney Rock Trail, a 1.3 mile loop within the city limits of Sedona, AZ offering great views of red rock formations. The unsettled skies that day made for some fun pictures. Definitely worth it if you’re in the area and enjoy hiking!