Happiness Diaries Episode 18: Tom Mackay (Buenos Aires)


It was great timing (you asked me) to write this for you as I have given it a lot of thought recently with my move over here to Buenos Aires and in light of my past month of indulging in pursuits of pleasure - alcohol and sex with women. But do I feel any more happy? Absolutely not. We obviously know this - but the ego of the mind loves to pull you back into this mind frame. I’m lucky I have some past experiences and reflection that I can draw on.

“What makes you happy?”

A question that I have given much self-reflection on. I love to live life passionately and consequently this has lead me to make plenty of mistakes in this "pursuit of happiness" or rather a lack of understanding to truly own what makes me happy.

If I am to be honest with you, I have in the past battled with these overwhelming feelings of depression as I questioned my own purpose of life. Life - the main prize - the most treasured and valued possession slowly to me developed into a sense of worthlessness. Whilst there were many causes that lead me to this situation, a significant contributing factor was this vicious cycle and draining fixation on the desire to chase pleasures that often lead me to feel unfulfilled and discontent.

For me I had to change the notion on how I view happiness or rather stop this never ending pursuit of pleasures. This is not to say that I don't enjoy the intimate feeling of being with someone or the elation when my sporting team wins. It is rather I appreciate the temporary nature of all things and understanding that happiness is a learnt skill of developing a deeper connection with oneself and others.

Happiness has been a learnt skill - a way of being to embrace the crazy adventure that is life. I believe happiness is a mindset that I can attempt to cultivate on a daily basis through the practice of love, compassion, appreciation and a genuine commitment to self-improvement to make a positive impact on the lives of others that I connect with. This is a challenge and I am no Buddhist Monk - however when I am disciplined in this practice it is when I feel the most happy.

When I met Tom at 20 years old he was like Geoff, myself and others enjoying our newfound adulthood gallivanting about Europe.  Footloose and fancy free is the general term I would use for our adventures through Greece, Italy, Spain and Morocco... From cross-dressing parties to sahara-crossing treks, Tom and I got to know each other very... intimately and neither of us would ever have predicted our own lives would take us, let alone where the others life would lead.

Tom is an adventurer, the quintessential travel buddy, and a huge advocate for Mental Health. Through periods of his life he struggled with feelings of anxiety, to the point he questioned his own purpose. From a place where he had unattainable ambition and drive to succeed and being completely sold on the hallmark life we are ingrained to live. He was stuck in a routine of mediocrity, sleep walking through life slogging through the week to arrive at the weekend where he would dive into alcohol to escape from the pressures of life and anxiety. While he still can’t explain why he had these feelings, after trying many different things he finally took the time to sit back and ask himself… "What exactly what do I want to get out of life?". Out of this an idea was born,  in 2016 he walked 900km across India following the Kaveri River in order to smash down the barriers and stigmas that surround mental health and to help you break free of your comfort zone.  Toms website, Walking the Walk, details his journey and has one of my favorite quotes  - I believe in the power of travel. Real travel. I believe travel is a tool that every person can use to take control of their mental health. I believe it gives you the perspective needed to find strength in your individuality and the confidence to realize anything is possible. Tom is realistic about where he is in life and while he (like most people) may slip and struggle from time to time while exploring his goals in life,  he is in a place that he will accept help and realize when this has happened. Like many people I've interviewed thus far, I'm really excited to see where Tom's life takes him and I really hope to be part of it as it moves forward.

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