In October 2017 I quit my academic job researching happiness and began cycling to Bhutan. Ironically I wasn’t happy in my job and so I decided to undertake a journey that felt more personally meaningful than writing another academic paper (for more about why I went on the journey read this).
I finally arrived in Bhutan on March 2019, 18 months later. It was an epic journey focused around happiness that took me to 27 countries and pedalling 20,000kms.
Along the way I picked up some media attention for my journey. For example, The Times wrote an interesting piece, and my Spanish got a real test when I encountered Mexican journalists, who did a nice news report. There were also a few other bits along the way, including radio, as well as in Bhutan when I finally arrived there.
Below is the route I took – it was not a direct route because I wanted to pass through places where happiness is taken more seriously – such as Costa Rica and Canada. More details about my route can be found by clicking on the map.
As I journeyed I wrote about my experiences and how they enriched my understanding of happiness. Many of the posts I wrote can be found here, but below are the titles and links to a few of the best:
- The 3 most important things I learnt about happiness from cycling to Bhutan (my biggest personal learnings from the trip)
- Bhutan: Happiness despite the cost (this was what I found upon reaching Bhutan – a country fully embracing happiness as a policy objective)
- Beneath the triumph (despite arriving there in one piece I was exhausted and this post highlights the often unspoken about reality of achievement)
- And then came the tears (my happiest moment from the trip, perhaps my life, probably came two weeks before I arrived in Bhutan)
- Is Peru a happy place? (as I cycled for days on end I had lots of time to connect with local people and reflect on the things I saw and heard – this is what I deduced about happiness in Peru from my time there)
- Latin America – what is it that makes you so happy? (on the importance of community, which seems to be in abundance in Latin America)
My journey involved a lot of happiness, but there was also deep personal struggle. Here are a few posts about some of that struggle:
- Resentment, hostility, and hatred arise… (only three months in to the journey I got bitten by a street dog, and it was, as you might imagine, quite a struggle. It was very difficult to continue. I wrote several blog posts about the experience got through it in the end – this post highlights an important insight about happiness from the experience)
- Vegas and the desperate hunt for an improbable happiness! (Las Vegas stands out as being the most difficult places to be – exuberance and destitution – a recipe for unhappiness, my own mental health felt constantly under threat)
- The ultimate lesson in happiness: Self-acceptance (I was 150km away from the Bhutanese border and, because of a massive error of judgement on my part, I had the most serious bike mechanical issue of my journey. This post explores this)
Now I am back I am trying to figure out what I do with my experience. There is no hurry – I have a clear life purpose now. I am always happy to talk about my journey – media, public talk, or even over a coffee, so feel free to get in touch.