Wednesday, February 27, 2013
After reading The Happiness Project in January I made a few mental notes of how I could increase my own happiness. If happiness is a choice what small acts could I engage in that would contribute to my overall life satisfaction? The beauty of this question is that the answer looks different for everyone. Meaning no two happiness projects are alike. Part of what I appreciated most about reading this book was reading it in conjunction with my friend J. We'd swap text messages and ideas as we read, creating a space whereby we encouraged one another throughout the process. Another friend of mine, who also recently read this book, is hosting a year long book club, where group members meet monthly to discuss one chapter each month. (I participate as a long distance member.) Unlike some, identifying what makes me happy was a no-brainer. Travel. Food. Friends. Music. Books.
As someone who lives with perpetual wanderlust (the insatiable desire to travel) I constantly balance what I want against what is practical. Part of this means making international travel a priority. Years ago I only dreamed of places I hoped to one day visit. Now, thanks to hard work and a professional salary, I can happily say those dreams have became reality. Although I didn't start traveling internationally until I was 25 I feel lucky and grateful for where I have been. And I look forward to future excursions. The question however remains. If travel gives me such immense satisfaction how can I reasonably incorporate more of it into my daily life? Not just the expectation and planning of an upcoming adventure (which is also exciting), but creating connections with real people. People outside my community, city, country, and continent. Which is where postcards come in.
The other day a friend of mine lamented that she had received an anonymous letter in the mail with a DC postmark. I quickly responded that real mail is the new email. We all love it. Even if it is anonymous. It is a tangible reminder that someone took the time and energy to share their thoughts with us. I then suggested she simply bask in the surprise and perhaps pay it forward. Back to postcards. Postcrossing has been around for nearly a decade now. It is a postcard exchange project that allows anyone to receive postcards from random places in the world. Basically you create an account, write your five postcards, place a shiny new international postcard stamp on them (pictured above) and pop them in the mail. Then you wait. After a week or two postcards start appearing in your mailbox. Exciting, right? So far I have received postcards from India, Portugal, and Missouri (exotic, I know). Since I set my preferences to receive domestic postcards I never know who or where I'll hear from next. Which is kind of the unexpected beauty and happiness of travel by proxy.