I’m going to tell you what makes me happy. It might not work for you. In fact, it might even make you miserable.

In the last few years I’ve experienced a lifestyle that can only be described as “unusual”.

I would travel wherever I wanted, wake up whenever I wanted, work on whatever I wanted and I would still get a paycheck every month. I did this for about 3 years.

I made some choices that must have looked weird to my friends. They didn’t know the underlying reason: I didn’t care about stability. I wanted freedom. I wanted to experience as many different things as possible.

Being a digital nomad is fun. I ate live octopus in South Korea, swam with whale sharks in the Philippines and did the working-on-a-tropical-island shtick.

A Thai girl invited me to celebrate Songkran with her family. I lived with a Bulgarian in Sofia. Slept on a sofa in London for 7 months while working on my own startup. Met a Uruguayan girl and promptly left on a trip around Asia. Went on a date in Colombia and ended up in the hospital.

I wanted the Grim Reaper to look me in the eyes and tell me “Mate, that was a heck of a ride”.

In the search for happiness, this is a breadth-first approach: unsafe, superficial and focused on pleasure and freedom.

Compare this to depth-first: stable, safe, a little boring and focused on inner peace.

Depth-first means staying in one company for 10 years, having a cozy apartment and a wife and a dog and seeing the same friends every Friday.

I’m now in a place in my life where I want a combination of breadth-first and depth-first.

I’m not even sure that’s possible.

The following rules are my attempt at combining these approaches. They seem to make me happy:

  • Spend as much time as possible with friends and family
  • Laugh and make others laugh
  • Experience all that life has to offer (apart from obviously bad things)
  • Have a place you can call ‘home’
  • Avoid chasing materialistic stuff. The fancy car won’t make you happy.
  • Realize there’s no goal in life. You are here to exist and that’s fine. Don’t compare yourself to others.
  • Try to create value. Try to help people. Money is a side product of that.