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.

This Road to Freedom Will Captivate You

Freedom. Henry David Thoreau wrote about it in Walden. Cheryl Strayed experienced it as she walked the Pacific Crest Trail. Jon Krakauer wrote how a young man encountered it in Into the Wild.

When Ken Ilgunas graduated the University of Buffalo with $32,000 in debt, he feared a life without the freedom he valued more than anything. Defying his mother and conventional wisdom, he endured hardships and life-threatening adventures in Alaska as he worked jobs few would consider. He knew that difficult times, mixed with astounding experiences, would build memories he would treasure forever. Through it all, he penny-pinched himself debt-free.

Now what? he thought. His answer may seem out of character for readers of Walden on Wheels. I will reserve it for your discovery when you read Ilgunas’ superb book, which often made me recall the words of Thoreau, Strayed, and Krakauer.

Ken Ilgunas is as extraordinary a writer as he is an impressive person. His book is an adventure, but so much more. It will tug at your heart, tickle your funny bone, and spark thoughts like “I wish I could do that!”

Seneca Says: Get on With Your Life!

“Life is short.”

Seneca’s On the Shortness of Life is likely to transform your thoughts about those three words.

The Roman stoic philosopher’s vision of human existence viewed life as plenty long enough, if you use it.

“Just do it! What are you waiting for?” he would say if he were writing a self-help book in the 21st Century. Time is your ally if you don’t put things off.

Here are a few from a wealth of jewels from the English translation available on Amazon:

“Let us turn to private possessions, the greatest source of human misery. For if you compare all the other things from which we suffer, deaths, illnesses, fears, desires, endurance of pains and toils, with the evils which money brings us, the latter will far outweigh the others.”

“…it is easier to bear and simpler not to acquire than to lose, so you will notice that those people are more cheerful whom Fortune has never favoured than those whom she has deserted.”

“So we should make light of all things and endure them with tolerance: it is more civilized to make fun of life than to bewail it.”

“Fortune hands out such unfair rewards.”

“…there is a healthy moderation in wine, as in liberty.”

Seneca, an advisor to Nero, accumulated great wealth and was a controversial figure two thousand years ago. His words may make you wonder about the originality of current self-help writing.