Interview: The Happiness Plunge (Adam Pervez)

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Have you ever had that feeling that there was something more out there? Do you find yourself daydreaming from your cubicle, classroom, job or office and thinking ‘I had a goal, I’ve met that goal but now I have a new one?’ How many times do you say to yourself ‘this is no longer my passion and if I could, I’d rather be doing THIS!’ Meet Adam Pervez. He did just that. He went to school and then more university, had a career and then a second career and decided to ditch it all for HAPPINESS. He quit a six-figure job to explore the world and created the Happiness Plunge. Traveling, remaining off the beaten path and learning how others find their happy became his. Here he shares his story of bringing out his happy and what he believes to be the gifts of travel.

208 Speaking At TEDxYerevan In Armenia (4)

Speaking at a TEDx event in Armenia

1.When did you get started traveling? In my senior year of college at Ohio State University (in 2004) I took a class about Egyptian history and culture. The class then took a 10-day trip to Egypt during spring break. It opened my eyes to how amazing travel is, and I realized traveling was far less difficult than I imagined.

2.What circumstances led you to make the jump to long-term travel? I had been to over 40 countries by the time I undertook The Happy Nomad Tour. Apart from the six countries I lived in, most of my travel was limited to hit-and-run traveling. I’d arrive in a place, run around for a few days taking pictures of the sights, and then leaving. I knew I was missing so much – most of all the interaction with locals that I so dearly wanted.

3.How did you come up with the Happiness Plunge? Well, it’s a long story. Basically, my life’s story was always one of getting better and better, happier and happier, but I knew the trajectory I was on would never get me where I wanted to be. While unhappily living in Denmark, the world’s happiest country, I decided to look within and figure out what my passions are and what makes me happy. Traveling was my top passion so everything else was built around travel. I eventually got to a point of no return where I had to take the plunge into happiness. There was no turning back.

adam pervez mangrove trees phillipines

4.How did you save money to be able to afford to travel often/long-term? I had a very well-paying job in Denmark working in renewable energy. I saved up for a year and lived an extremely simple life there.

5.When traveling how did you choose your destinations and for how long you’d stay? What type of accommodations did you typically choose? Are there any specific resources you recommend? My journey unfolded quite organically, with whims often taking me to different continents. I didn’t expect to travel for more than one year, and in the end it lasted two and a half. I wanted to start in Latin America. I’m from the US but I had never been south of Texas. I did my masters degree in Spain (English-language program) but never learned more than basic Spanish. I wanted to learn Spanish. I traveled from Texas all the way down to Peru by bus with a boat ride from Panama to Colombia. Then I went to Southeast Asia, South Asia, Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Africa. I stayed with friends in some places as well as hostels, but the majority of my accommodations were through Couch-surfing. I spent only $897 on accommodation during my 2.5 year journey. How long I’d stay in a place sometimes depended on how long I could stay with a host, sometimes on volunteering opportunities, and sometimes on how much I was enjoying a particular place. I definitely recommend Couch-surfing. Even if you don’t want to sleep on strangers’ couches, the forums helped me find volunteering opportunities and get off the beaten path.

6.What are your top two travel tips? What are your top two happiness tips? My top travel tip is the same as my top happiness tip: get outside your comfort zone. If you want to grow as a person and increase your empathy about the human condition, get outside your comfort zone. And once outside, keep pushing the boundaries. Another happiness tip is actually making the decision to be happy. Happiness is all about attitude, but you aren’t going to cultivate a happier mindset if you haven’t first decided that you are going to be happy – just as the pounds and kilos aren’t going to come off if you don’t first decide that you want to lose weight. A travel tip: Don’t judge. When you travel you get exposed to very different ways of life. It’s easy to get frustrated and angry when you encounter things with which you don’t agree. The harder route is to try to understand why things are the way they are. Harder still is accepting it all. But again, this is a metaphor for life as there is so much we disagree with and have no control over in our lives in our home countries. If you can learn to accept things on the road, accepting things at home when you get back will be easier.

067 At The Orphanage In Atacames, Ecuador (2)

7.How has your life changed since your experience with travel? EVERYTHING has changed. The context you have for life and the world is completely different when you feel so connected to the rest of the world and humanity. In some ways, coming “home” is fascinating as you rediscover old habits through changed eyes. In other ways, it’s horribly boring compared to the daily learning and new experiences on the road. If I go back ten years ago before I started traveling, I assumed traveling was something you do when you retire and have more money than you know what to do with. Now I can’t imagine life without traveling, though having an excess of money to travel remains elusive.

8. If you were to offer advice to others making the jump to travel, long-term travel or location-independence, what would you tell them? I think this is a very different lifestyle and you really need to know yourself before you embark on such a journey. Know who you are, why you are doing it, and realize it’s not going to be as easy as you think. Nothing is easy. If you realize it’s not for you, then you can adjust your plans. But if it does work, congratulations!

9.How have the gifts of travel contributed to your happiness? I don’t even know where to begin. Traveling makes me happy, so by definition I’m happier when on the road. I like solving problems and challenging myself and I get to do lots of that on the road. But I also get to march to the beat of my own drum and constantly push myself to be a better person. I love taking pictures and learning, and traveling lets me to do both constantly. Most of all, traveling makes me feel alive and feeling alive is one of the happiest feelings of all!

10.In your experience, what would you describe as three ‘gifts of travel’?

  • Empathy – Nothing connects you with humanity the way traveling does. Being able to walk a mile in so many peoples’ shoes is really humbling and beautiful.
  • Growth – Nothing makes you grow as a person the way traveling does. I traveled solo so I had lots of time for reflection and contemplation. I have grown immeasurably in the past 10 years, but especially in the past 3 years as a result of my long-term travel.
  • People – As a shy introvert, I also forced myself to break out of my shell and numerous lifelong friendships are now the result.

241  Still Happy Even If My Minibus Breaks Down In Rural Ethiopia

 To follow Adam on The Happiness Plunge click here.

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