What I Saw While Dirtbiking Around the Coast in the Philippines

I was driving a dirt bike up a sandy coastal road in the Philippines when I look over and see a clearing just below, with a cluster of shacks with mud for floors and enough for maybe the basics of living. There’s not a chance that there’s power in the huts, and as I look to the left I see a woman washing what looks like children’s clothes in a basket.

My glance is met with a glowing smile, and a wave.

I kind of feel like a jerk because the amount of concentration and balance needed to manoeuvre the bike through the slippery, sandy, dirt hill is enough to make me sweaty, and because of this I can’t return the gesture.

The wheels I took around the island

Over to the right are kids running around and playing together, and sounds of laughter are heard throughout the little pasture of dwellings.
No phones, no roads, no appliances- all of them living more minimal than most people in North America do when they’re camping.

But no happiness? It’s infectious and found mostly everywhere you look. While riding on past, all I see are people smiling, socializing, and truly seeming to be content with the moment they are in right now.

You might think that this is something atypical, lucky, or even rare- but that’s just not the case over here. While I didn’t have the luxury of time to travel the country entirely, all of the places I did go had the same thing in common.

These people truly epitomize happiness and connectedness. The former concept is joyful, but the way these people value communion and social interaction is admirable. Each individual can attest to the way they feel connected to those around them, and the results are living right in front of you. While a vast majority of people from the Western world would view this minimalist lifestyle as torturous and unpleasant, the people here who are immersed in this way of life are living a life with tremendous gratitude for what they have, and who they have.

In the same way that Western culture has placed an importance on capitalism and making money to be successful, this little region of Pacific culture has cultivated a priority on community. The proof is in our backyard too: Filipino’s have created their own communities and do a pretty good job of orchestrating groups and leagues by which they can all gather together with.

I think it’s amazing. To have a culture so warmly embrace togetherness is inspiring, and the results can speak for themselves. The social structures connecting everyone are found everywhere, and the sense of community is unparalleled in our culture. We live in a world where all of us feel like there’s always something we need to be happy, perpetually seeking the next thing and the next dollar.

“Once I can afford that car, then I’ll definitely be happy.”

This goes on and on forever, steadily keeping pace with you and the next thing you want, only resulting in endless dissatisfaction.

Learning to be happy with what you have, and letting gratitude be at the forefront of your life will pay you the biggest dividends. The Happiness Advantage is an eye-opening book that truly instigated this paradigm shift in me, and the fact that is the one I chose to bring with me to read while travelling through the Philippines is astoundingly coincidental- and to this day, still blows my mind. One of the main themes of this book is the concept that money and success will bring you happiness, when in reality it’s not true. Constant hunger for more stems from this, and happiness will always elude you as you race towards the illusional rainbow.

Instead, the truth is that happiness is what fuels success, and focusing on your own happiness will actually make you more creative, motivated, and energetic.

My belief is that adding gratitude into the equation will compound this even further, because allowing your happiness to rely on what you already have rather than what you want is the key to being in love with the moment and the life you are submersed in.

For me personally, the proof is in the country and culture I was lucky enough to experience overseas. This was the main trait that was consistently found; people wrapped up in gratitude for what they have and the community around them.

Allowing yourself to let your motivation come from happiness rather than “more” is the rewarding experience you deserve, and what ends up happening when you become happier is amazing. Everyone deserves to be more motivated and energetic, and the byproducts of these two qualities will naturally bring you more. There’s nothing wrong with getting more, it’s simply the prioritization of acquiring more that is counter-productive, and will end up making you less happy. This ends up causing a chain reaction, in turn making you less motivated, with less energy, while your creativity dwindles. It’s a vicious cycle, but adjusting this to be centred around happiness allows you to snowball in the direction you want- naturally attracting more and more to you instead.

It starts with the little things; smiling at people, holding the door for someone, or even waving at someone.

Unless you’re biking up a steep hill.

If you’d like to give The Happiness Advantage a read, scroll down to the bottom of the page.

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