Finding Paths to Happiness

How do people who battle anxiety and/or depression find peace and happiness?

I have found answers to this question through reading the wisdom of some brilliant writers whose works I have featured here. (Click on “more books” in the menu to see them.)

But I have found some of my life’s most enjoyable times on the long-distant trails in Europe. My story about my first such journey became an adventure memoir, Camino Sunrise: Walking With My Shadows.

I am finding this happiness again in England on the South West Coast Path. Sue and I are about a third of the way through our 260-mile trek from Minehead to Land’s End. Here are a few scenes from England.

The Salt Path: A Book Comes to Life in England

The path plunges and rises with the valleys, over and over.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then walking the South West Coast Path is indescribable.

I am reading Raynor Winn’s best-selling book, The Salt Path, while walking in her footsteps on England’s South West Coast Path.

Except I am hardly following her lead.

Winn walked after she and her husband Moth lost their home in a business deal gone sour. Plus, he had just gotten news that he was dying from a neurological disease. They camped, mostly, and she wrote that they lived off 48 pounds a week. In two segments, they trekked almost all of the 630 miles.

Sue and I are fortunate that we are healthy and will return to our Oregon home. We have a shower, warm bed, and pub meals at the end of each day. We are carrying everything we need on our backs, sans the tent, sleeping bags and stove. Finally, should our script play out, we will hike “just” 260 miles from Minehead to Land’s End.

But, like Raynor and her husband and all who venture here, we are astounded by the glory of England’s southwest coast. The steep path challenges, but our senses bask in this experience.

An Adventurer Explores His Passion to be Way Out There

A warning: Read Way Out There and you may find yourself buying an old VW Beetle, driving to Alaska and discovering magic while camping in the wild. At 22, J. Robert Harris drove solo across Canada on his way to Alaska and as I read the opening chapter, his words delivered his unbridled sense of adventure.

Now 75, Harris writes about his favorite backpacking journeys that many would not consider, even with expert guides. The Arctic National Park and Preserve, Baffin Island, Tasmania, the northern reaches of Canada, Switzerland and Australia are among his destinations. One chapter takes readers for a gripping canoe adventure.

He packs impressive courage and finds a sense of peace miles from civilization, in the home territories of polar bears, grizzlies and wolves. He is often alone, but never lonely. Danger follows him, but it only succeeds in making his stories impossible to put aside.

Read Way Out There, if you dare.

Dalai Lama: Ethics and Life in a Big, Big World

He is the spiritual leader of the people of Tibet, living as a refugee in India for 60 years.

He was Lhamo Thondup at birth. Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, he has traveled the world, speaking out on topics well beyond his passions of human rights and Buddhism.

The 14th Dalai Lama, now 84, has authored numerous works, including Beyond Religion, a book I have read and read, and then read again.

One of the most revered leaders in the world, he draws readers into thought about the purpose of life, ethics, and how to be a better and happier person. His appeal crosses nationalities, races, religions, and practically every distinction that can be used to divide.

He poses questions about justice, nonviolence, materialism, capitalism, economic justice and a mountain of other topics.

In Beyond Religion, the Dalai Lama is optimistic and practical. Eloquent and approachable. Spiritual and human.

In the final chapter, he is a teacher, guiding readers through methods of mental cultivation through meditation.