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4 Tactics For Becoming an Unconventional Tourist

The following is a guest post. My love of unconventional travel started when I was 12 years old. My dad had decided that, of all the ways to spend Christmas, we should go on a cycling tour around Cuba. And so we did it. We figured out how to...

I Hate Hair: Reasons Why Shaving Your Head Skyrockets Confidence

Welcome to #DifferentLifeStories, where Without Boxes is sharing how people are living differently right now in the real world. Enter Aron James: Hair loss is something that happens to our grandfathers. It is the sign of the wisdom that comes with old age; a rite of...

How to Be a Solo-Female Hiker: Put One Foot in Front of the Other

Welcome to #DifferentLifeStories, where Without Boxes shares how people are living differently right now in the real world. Enter Hayley Turner (a.k.a. Little Foot): I can still remember everything about that day, from waking up and walking 12 miles by noon, the dogs...

Do You Really “Find Yourself” When You Travel?

"I know this sounds cliché, but I have to ask—do you really 'find yourself' when you travel?" the girl asked me. Her young friend crouched next to my table, gently stroking the cats as they slept. Café Neko is a small coffee shop in Vienna that allows cats to wander...

When Not Everything Goes as Planned, It Still Goes: A Story About Finding Your Passion

Welcome to #DifferentLifeStories, where Without Boxes is sharing how people are living differently right now in the real world. Enter Jen: As a kid, I was told that I was lucky that I already knew what I wanted to do with my life. From age four, I knew I wanted to be...

The Digital Nomad’s Roadmap – A Complete Guide: Successfully Live, Work, and Travel Anywhere

So you wanna be a digital nomad. I’m not surprised: the future is bright for freelancers and location independent workers. Statistics show 40% of Americans will be contingent workers by 2020. That’s a lot of potential for digital nomads! Yet there’s no hands-on guide...

Limitations: Why the 9–5 Job Doesn’t Need To Stop You

Over the years I’ve had a number of conversations with people who talk about cool things they want to do, see, or make. A lot of these conversations end with “Well, I’d love to do it, but unfortunately I have XYZ,” and many times those XYZs are very valid limitations...

Stealing Second Base: From Side Gig to Self Employed Full Time

Welcome to #DifferentLifeStories, where Without Boxes is sharing how people are living differently right now in the real world. Enter Katherine Stimson: “You can’t steal second base with one foot still on first.” In the spring of 2010, a Facebook ad posted by a total...

Dreams Are Like Pirate Treasure: Hard to Find, But Worth the Risk

All dreams start somewhere and typically, no matter the size of the overall dream, most dreams start small. Let’s say yours is to feel better at work every day. You focus on sitting up straight in week one. Week two finds you taking a 10-minute walk at lunchtime. Week...

What’s the point?

What

Life will never be what you want it to be.

That’s the truth. It turns out that we’re each living in our own self-centered worlds, hiding deep dark secrets that we believe make us truly bad people. We each tuck our natures away, attempt to deal with things on our own that we should really be talking to a therapist about, and then we expect to be able to carry out what we perceive to be a normal life.

The secret we’re scared to admit is that nobody knows what they are doing.

A lot of people and groups believe that they have the answers to these things, and perhaps there are the rare few that have truly found inner peace. Even as such, the most stable people still experience inner conflict and constantly battle doubt and fear.

“Well, that sucks,” you say. “What’s the point of life, then?”

Isn’t that what we’re all asking?

Even if you believe in a God that has assigned purpose to your life, even if you have goals and dreams and visions, what is the end game here? What is the point?

There will always be darkness. There will always be people who believe their purpose on earth is to intrude into yours.

Everyone is the protagonist in their own story.

Because while we are yet lost and unsure, the world as we know it revolves around our own existence. We have no other way to translate and understand the world than through our own narrow viewport of a life.

What am I getting at, then?

My point is that we’re actually all fighting the same battle. We’re all trying to survive our day to day without melting down into a puddle of goo, giving up on everything we ever tried to accomplish. We’re struggling to achieve things that we can only hope will give us a sense of happiness and purpose.

I implore you to take the following life guidelines into consideration.

Quit trying to find an antagonist (there is none).

Protagonist vs Antagonist

Your life is not a book or a movie. There’s no overarching plot (other than the one you’re creating in your mind) and it’s not here for entertainment purposes.

Yes, there are people out there who will make your life difficult. There will be people who hate you, people who will attack you (if not physically, emotionally), and people who will make your life just a little worse every day.

In their mind, you are the antagonist to their protagonist. They have a mission and you’re in their way. Maybe they have something to prove to the world. Maybe you are literally in their way while they’d like to buy their sandwich and they honestly believe they are a more valid human being and believe they deserve service before you.

Don’t play the game. Don’t fuel the you-vs-me mentality.

We’re all just defending what we believe in. Only, more often than not we’re defending against people who aren’t actually attacking us.

It is not heroic to defend your beliefs against those who aren’t trying to force you to live outside of them. It is not heroic to think that the mere existence of other beliefs is a direct attack on your own. It is not heroic to put down or restrict another life just because you don’t understand it.

Everyone is doing the best they can according to their own convictions. Turning that into a gloves-off fight is only going to make things worse for everyone involved.

Life is not a competition.

There cannot be an antagonist because there is no protagonist anywhere but in your own mind. We’re all here together, working our way through.

The goal is to be happy.

The goal is to be happy.

I cannot say this enough… Whether you believe in heaven and hell, being reincarnated, or that we’ll all rot in the ground after death – only one thing is for sure: we’re alive, right here and right now.

You and me. Alive. Breathing. Learning. Experiencing. Loving. Hurting. Living.

This is all we have. This moment. The entire world could literally go to nuclear war within the next few hours. We could be struck by a devastating meteor flying by this time tomorrow. I could hit my head just wrong by tripping and falling while walking to the kitchen for a glass of water, and die in seconds. (I’m a klutz, it could happen.)

What makes you happy?

Joyful. Carefree. Safe. Exhilarated. Excited. Jump-up-and-down happy.

No matter where you are in life, and where you hope to go, there are things out there that simply make you happy. What those things are is completely relative to you. You have your own personality, your own quirks, your own way of enjoying experiences.

These things cannot be defined or judged by anyone but you.

(Carrying over from the first guideline, you cannot judge define or judge these things for anyone else, either.)

Aiming for financial security and providing for those you have responsibilities for is a given here, I’m not talking about walking away from everything to only consume yourself with selfish pleasures.

I’m talking life goals, day to day habits, and creating a dream for your future.

Does taking care of kids make you happy? Pursuing academia? Counseling people? Creating art? The challenge of crunching numbers? Hiking in the wilderness? Telling stories through the written word?

What your parents told you to aim for is irrelevant. What society tells you makes you a successful human being is completely off base.

You are valid. Your happiness, and your pursuit of it, is valid – no matter what they say.

The hardest thing to do is to cut out the people in your life who would hold you back from finding happiness. You cannot change them, you cannot make them support you. They may claim to be shutting you down in the name of love, but love is not a game of control or manipulation.

It’s okay to walk away from the people you care about when they’re hurting you.

There are a lot of truly amazing, supportive people in the world, just waiting to let you into their circle. Make sure you have at least one of these people in your life, and be that person for others to the best of your ability.

Focusing on anything that allows your life to be negative is a one-way train to fatigue, sadness and exhaustion. Stick to the things that make you happy. It’s one thing to deal with the less happy things in life, but you don’t have to commiserate over them.

Negative energy destroys everything it touches, including you.

Your life is a joke, it’s okay to laugh.

Is life just a joke?

I grew up feeling this way, and even now as an adult I’ve talked to plenty of people who continue to agree: Doesn’t it just feel like your life is some kind of cosmic joke?

Everything that could possibly go wrong goes wrong at the time it will hurt us the most at this point in our lives. The little things that make you say, “Well, but of course that just happened to me.”

This feeling can become unbearable at times.

The thing to remember is that this is just life. Life itself is not a sentient thing that controls or manipulates us.

This is why people talk about things like karma, blame misfortune on mythical creatures, and why we have historically looked to various gods or God himself. We want to know our suffering is not in vain, or at the very least know that we are martyrs for something bigger than ourselves. You might literally only exist to be part of a test for someone else’s life.

What keeps me grounded is remembering that our lives are only awful respective to our idea of what our lives should be. Our perspective on life is the only common ground I can find between people who are happy or unhappy. There are fantastically rich people who have only ever been met with success and love, who have committed suicide. There are people who have nothing, are hated and despised, and are happier than you could possibly imagine.

Chemical imbalances aside (in which case you should be seeking professional help – although I think we could all use professional help), your perspective on life and what you focus on is what determines your happiness.

Your image of what your life should look like is probably largely influenced by what others have told you it should look like. It won’t happen overnight, but you should probably scrap that and start working on what you think your life should look likewith your happiness front and center.

Bad things happen to everyone. You don’t need to read into it or try to find a pattern. It’s all in your head.

Don’t be an a**hole about finding happiness.

Don

The only caveat to all of this is that some people try to take their happiness at the expense of others.

Whether it’s enforcing your own idea of happiness onto others, or carrying out your happiness in such a way that it restricts the ability of someone else to find their own happiness – just, don’t do it. Don’t be an a**hole.

So, what’s the point?

If I had to pick just one, it’d be this: Be happy.

If that’s not your big goal in life, then what the hell are you doing, anyways?

– Anne
Captain of the Pirate Ninjas

P.S. Here’s a life update on where I’m at these days, if you wanted to know.

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