How to be happy… despite occasional unintended consequences

Sol and Becky. Admittedly they didn’t look quite this beautiful last week…

We can’t quite believe we’re saying this, but sometimes we’ll admit that there are more important things in life than wifi, M&Ms and a kettle

Things like smoked salmon. And the start of the next season of The Bachelor. 

Oh, and also things like health.

18 months ago, Mish’s brother Sol and his girlfriend Becky chucked in their corporate jobs and flew off to South America for a self-organised cycling tour. They had no idea how long they’d be away for – they just knew that, like us, a life that involved a gigantic mortgage on a house in the suburbs with 2.4 kids, jobs in accounting and an addiction to the John Lewis furnishings department wasn’t for them. And they wanted to try something different.

Despite some hilariously terrifying experiences, they had THE most wonderful and life-changing time, and they planned to settle down on a farm in Venezuela – where they’d own and work on a plot of land to make enough money. After thinking about it for a while though, they decided to move closer to home – to Spain – where there are similar communities with whom they can live, farm and enjoy an altogether idyllic lifestyle.

The day they landed in Spain, we hung out with them at Madrid airport before their coach ride later that evening to Granada. Two days later, they were in hospital – Sol with malaria; Becky with a double whammy of malaria AND meningitis.

At the time of writing, they’re about to be discharged from hospital, having spent a week being drugged up to the max and generally not feeling too wonderful. It got a bit scary for a while, but they’re going to be fine.

And while some may disagree with what we’re about to say next, we think their experience provides a valuable lesson for us all:

Life’s too short to waste time doing what you don’t want to do.

Of course Sol and Becky wouldn’t have contracted malaria in a boring North London suburb. But they might have been run over by a knackered dad who’s working all hours to pay for the family’s blow-out ski trip. You just don’t know. So in the meantime, do what makes you happy. As long as you’re not hurting anyone or ignoring any responsibilities, you’re silly not to.

If you’re happy doing the job-mortgage-take-kids-to-ballet thing, that’s absolutely fine and we have no problem with that. But if you’re dissatisfied and want to make a change, for goodness’ sake DO IT! We’re not saying you have to go to Sol-and-Becky extremes, of course. We’re not even saying you need to become “digital nomads” like we are. Travel doesn’t have to be a part of it at all. We’re just saying you should create a life that makes you happy, regardless of what everyone else thinks you should do.

And Sol and Becky’s experience has made us even more certain that we’re doing the right thing by living the lives we want to live rather than the prescribed lives we could easily have ended up with.

Shit happens to good people at random times. So in the meantime, we think it’s important to lead a life that delights you.

(Unusually deep-and-meaningful newsletter over. Full service will resume next week. Unless Rob witnesses a puppy looking marginally unhappy – in which case all bets are off.)

p.s. Sol and Becky have been writing a blog all about their adventures at http://rebsolomon.wordpress.com. It’s awesome, although there’s a chance you’ll be very jealous indeed when you read it (until they update it with tales of malaria, that is).