Dear Friends,

Red-eyed and sleepy after hours of weather delays, I read a story in an in-flight magazine late last night about the happiest man on the planet. He’s a young man, 24 years old, and he’s not been educated in the traditional sense. Instead, on a small piece of land in western Colorado his family raised him to pursue what he wants… and only what he wants. Read when you want to read, play music if you want to play music, and ski and snowboard if you want to ski or snowboard.

The result, according to the article, was not a spoiled brat who got what he wanted—indeed nobody handed him anything and he lived in his own shack 12-feet by 7-feet since grade school. Rather, he became a young man mature beyond his years, one who travels for days at a time through nature, surviving happily on the land and helping others realize that less is often more.

He is a survivalist in ways, but only to demonstrate to others that it is the experience of life that matters, and living on those experiences is what’s important. He talks of the misgivings of what is normal in America. “People go to school and study hard to get good grades so they can get into college. They go to college and study hard so they can get good grades so they can get a good job. They get a job and work really hard so they can make money to buy the things they think will make them happy. I decided, if all this is about getting happy, I can take a short cut. I can be happy right now.”

He smiles often and takes joy from nearly everything that surrounds him, and he sings with his friends but not to get onto American idol—just to sing. He catches trout with his hands and starts fires with sage and a stick. Perhaps most interesting to me is his take on religion: he is a dedicated Christian but he insists on not rejecting any other beliefs. We could probably use a little less rejecting right now.

I think of my own boys and wonder what I can do to encourage them to purse their own interests, to forget the “things” and pursue the “experiences”. They surely love to travel and I will take them on a big trip this summer. I wonder how I can encourage that trip to translate into a daily focus on life. I write these blogs specifically to remind myself what is important (I like writing, it’s not work to me). If any of you run into me or my boys, please give us a gentle reminder about what it is that matters. Happiness now sounds pretty good.

I hope to see you out there,

Ben Bressler
Founder & Director
Natural Habitat Adventures