In my late 30’s, my teaching involved conveying the importance of self-esteem to teens. One day when making preparations for class, I came across some of the readings by philosophers over centuries of time on happiness. I read about the “3 Essential Needs to Happiness” and realized by trial and error I had some how based my own life around these concepts. It was just something I had fallen into on my journey through life. I was living according to these “3 Essentials…” unknowingly. It seemed that whenever I drifted my focus away from WORKING and basing my life around these ideas I was less content and would make the swing back to this focus to find my happiness.
Several months after returning home after the hike from Georgia to Maine on the “Trail”, I realized I missed all those kids I taught for so many years, especially the “lost” troubled ones. Maybe, this is because once upon a time I was one of them.
I offered to do a program for DYS (Department of Youth Services), a lock-up facility for young criminals, in the city I worked in for 29 years. I figured I had a beautiful digital slide show of my adventure and a story to tell. It wasn’t so much the 2176 mile journey through 14 states, but the journey of my troubled youth and my transition to a life of happiness and fulfillment. I wanted these kids to see where the happiness came from and understand that happiness isn’t tangible or something that happens because of circumstances. Winning that lottery ticket is not the secret to happiness. Believe me when I say true fulfillment and happiness can only be achieved through HARD WORK. Don’t be afraid to struggle, get discouraged, fall on your face in the mud, confront what you conceive as failure, because without all this you will NEVER truly understand and reach HAPPINESS and a life of FULFILLMENT.
It seems most people I know chase wealth and money. The majority of people think that success and happiness is getting that well paying job, big house, the car, a certain wardrobe, jewelry, etc. Seventy percent (70%) of our money is spent on items. We are over indulging consumers. We buy THINGS thinking this will make us happy. Corporations spend billions of dollars on advertising and marketing their products for a reason and most buy into it. Chasing and working for these THINGS will NEVER bring happiness according to the teachings from the greatest thinkers that have walked this earth through the centuries of time.
After speaking with many kids at different lock-up facilities and alternative high schools, I started conducted presentations to adults. Everywhere I went it became apparent that no one seemed to understand the “3 Essential Needs to Happiness” and the wisdom passed down to us.
It became very clear to me why so many are having a difficult time. Our children, especially, are having a hard time coping with life. We are now in a national epidemic of depression/suicide and opiate addiction. This has to be one of the saddest eras of my lifetime. Our young people are suffering and are in BIG trouble! There is a way out, if they just listen to the lessons of the past and accept the gifts given to us.
I have read, and watched documentaries about the worst year in American History. It was the year I finally pulled out of high school at 19. The year was 1968. We are now in the 50th Anniversary of this horrific year. It ripped the “guts” right out of this country. All the drugs came in because of these times and our racial problems escalated. We have NEVER recovered and many of our difficulties today are related to what happen during these 12 months. It doesn’t seem to be taught and discussed in our schools, so if you are not aware of the happenings please do some research. This will give you a better understanding why we are now in the mess we’re in and how we as a nation can move forward.
My biggest dream and challenge in life now is to assist people, especially our young people, find that path to happiness and fulfillment, as I stumbled upon. I developed a website, “traildreams.com”, and published my book, “Trail Dreams”, with the help of a wonderful daughter. She does amazing work as a graphic designer and realized my passion to reach out to others in these troubled times. She is there constantly to assist and help me with my mission of hope.
Happiness is simple, but in this fast paced, technologically advanced society many are struggling to find peace and happiness. The rest of my life will be dedicated to assist and clarify this simple concept, especially for our youth. Too many are hurting and I will do all I can to help. Happiness is not some tangible entity. It is found in all of us. Next time I will begin writing about these “3 Essential Needs…”