"Make a list of things that make you happy.
Make a list of thing you do every day.
Compare the lists.
It's been eight months since my husband and I quit our jobs to start a project called The Soul Explorers. Since January, we've been to two continents, six countries and over 35 cities. Every day we publish a different story and we've spoken with over two hundred people so far. Two hundred amazing, extraordinarily generous people! They stopped what they were doing to talk to total strangers; they trusted us. So much so, they shared a bit of their lives with us.
After eight months on the road, we can confirm something we already knew: we might look different on the outside, but inside we are all very similar. No matter where we're from, what culture we have, what language we speak, all we want is to be surrounded by people we love, to have a purpose in life.
Happiness is a theme that is brought up often. That's all we want after all - just to be happy. We've selected a few stories that are about this relentless pursuit of ours. We felt inspired when we heard them for the first time. We feel honoured that so many people opened their hearts to us and talked about their struggles and battles and accomplishments. And we feel deeply happy to share some of our favourite stories with you now.
The Soul Explorers, Claudia and Sergio Lordao in New Zealand.
It was so good for the family that when we came home, we sold our house on the Gold Coast in five days, bought a 40-foot bus and in four weeks we were hitting the road. We travelled around Australia with our three boys for two years. The kids were two, three and a half and six and a half at that time."My husband and I always had our own businesses. At some point, we were so flat out that we decided to have a break and ended up taking a trip with a camper trailer for fourteen weeks.
I'm the spontaneous one, I never had a worry. My husband is the logical one. He calculated everything, he said we could do it because it wasn't gonna cost us all that much. But, it took him about six months to actually relax and not feel guilty about not going to work every day. We met other people on the road that just kept their work routine going while travelling, which we didn't want to do. We just casually worked a bit along the way, but mainly spent time with the family.
We lived cheap. In the whole two years, we've paid to stay in caravan parks for three or four nights. We had everything we needed in the bus. On the front, there was a lounge that we could make into a double bed. In the middle were the kitchen and a little study area. And at the back were the bunks for the kids. We had a shower. Our bus was pure magic!!
Sometimes we'd stay in a place for three months, other times we'd just stay for a few days. It was totally spontaneous, and that's probably why we had such a great time! It was completely carefree. We didn't know where we'd stay in the evening. I homeschooled the boys and school time was the only routine we had - from 8 to 11 in the morning. After that, the bus door was opened and the boys were free to explore. My children will never forget those years.
I think the message of all of that is: it doesn't matter how much in a gridlock you are, how hard it is to see outside a life, how difficult it is not to think about work all the time... we can all change. There are so many opportunities out there. There are so many different ways of living, many different stages of life. And we can make a choice. It's always our choice."
(Corinne - Sunshine Coast, Australia)
"We've tried to have children for a while after we came back from living overseas, it just didn't happen. So we went and had some tests done and found out we would need to do IVF to get them. I think it was about four years before we got Amelia, between trying naturally and then a couple of years via IVF and lots of operations and procedures. It was stressful, but it was worth it every single moment, I'd do it all again if I knew that was going to be the results, these two beautiful little people. They both came from the same IVF cycle, how cool is that? Amelia was the embryo we have transferred at the time of the cycle and Isaac was a frozen embryo that we transferred about a year and a half later. Father's Day is pretty special for us, we weren't sure if we'd get to experience parenthood... We are very lucky!"
(Rochelle & Donald - Brisbane, Australia)
Comfortable in my own skin
"I was about nineteen when I came out of the closet to my family, and everyone was ok. They accept me for who I am. My family, my friends, everyone knows, I don't hide anything from anyone; and let's be honest, there is no way I can hide it. I've never suffered any kind of discrimination from my family, which is the hardest for a person who is homosexual. Of course, sometimes I feel a certain prejudice from someone who doesn't know me, but I don't mind. Sometimes, when I'm in a public bathroom, a woman comes in and sees me and steps back, thinking she went into the wrong bathroom. But it's ok; I don't care. People sometimes feel uncomfortable, but as for me, I'm really comfortable in my own skin."
(Deise - Lake Tekapo, New Zealand)
Sense of Purpose
We were freezing when we came across Bill, at the Arthur's Seat Carpark in Edinburgh. He wasn't cold like us. In fact, he said it was a beautiful Summer's day in Scotland! We asked for some directions. He promptly helped us and went inside his cabin to grab a map of the area. Bill didn't have to do that. But he did. And we could tell how pleased he was in helping us. He clearly had a sense of purpose in his job. "I'm 65. I used to work in a call centre. It was not a job, it was a nightmare. I hated it. It's been 7 years that I look after this carpark and I love it! I meet new people every day and I love helping them. I love being close to Nature! Look at this incredible view! What else can I ask from life?"
(Edinburgh - Scotland)
The simple things in life
"Yesterday I had a wonderful day - I stayed all day at the beach. In Australia, I have a very different life from the one I had in Brazil. I'm from Brasilia, and the nearest beach is 1,200 Km away. I could only go to the beach on my holidays. I am so grateful. I could not have had a better day. You know what it's like to stay on the beach, take a nap, wake up, take a dip, come back, you know the simple things in life that we end up losing in our rushed working lives? This is as simple as it gets: we spent 10 dollars to buy cheese, fruit and crackers. I'm the kind of person who wakes up early to come and watch the sunrise on the beach. I'm the kind of person that gets nervous if I do not watch the sunset; I cannot imagine being away from the beach. Being here so close to nature brings me a lot of peace. I'm a very Catholic person, I always go to Church here, but when I cannot go, I come to the beach instead."
Lucky to be alive
"Three years ago, when I was 20, I had a massive motorbike accident and broke my neck. I was riding on a track, feeling pretty confident. I remember climbing that hill, getting to the top and thinking this is hard, this is unreal. And that's the last thing I remember. I fractured my occipital condyle which is where your head sits on. A few centimetres separated me from being paraplegic. I was told I was in shock, couldn't really move, I was having seizures, but I don't remember any of that. For my friends and family, it was probably scarier. I skipped all that. The recovery part was the hard one for me. I was in a neck's brace for three months and off work as well. That was really tough because you can't really do anything.
The whole thing was a life-changing experience. I just realised I won't be young forever and how lucky I am to be mobile. It's been an eye opener, definitely. It helped me to always be extremely positive. I'm so lucky to even be living, what's the point in being negative? In that sense, I think the accident has really helped me."
(Matthew - Wanaka, New Zealand)
As long as we are happy
"Now is the first time in my life I feel like I need more money - because I want to travel. For me money is money. Sometimes I work as a waitress just for the money, but I feel very sad because I work all day at the same place, doing the same work, with the same people. I started to make and sell jewellery because of my boyfriend and I feel relaxed and happier this way. If you are happy living a normal life, working all day, good for you! If you are happy, all is perfect! My mum always says that to me. She doesn't care if I'm a waitress or an artisan, as long as I'm happy. Because when you are happy, you make everyone around you happy as well."
(Granada - Spain)
We were at a Street Market the other day and we stopped to watch this amazing musician. The atmosphere was great, the crowd was happy, we were all having fun! When the performer started playing his last song, a guy came out of the blue and started to dance. It was so unexpected and yet so special, he managed to put a smile on everybody's face. He was enjoying himself in such a way that I'm sure a lot of people felt compelled to dance along with him. Once the show was over we talked about his passion for life. "I'm John Harris and I'm about 70. I like to dance to keep the body moving, keep it flexible, so I can live for quite a few more years. Otherwise, if you stop, you cease up, the blood stops flowing and this is it. We are what we eat, and drink and think. If you think you can't do something, you probably can't. And vice versa.
I think being out and about and talking to people keeps you happy. We got to pass a bit of happiness on, you know? It's been a phenomenal journey for me, all over the place. I've been to Vanuatu, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, I've done a bit of dancing everywhere. Whenever I see someone playing on the streets, I instantly dance like that. I feel free when I dance! The spirit floats off! Goes with the flow, bangs with the breeze! It's fantabulous! "
John, the dancing guy - you made our day!
(Sunshine Coast - Australia)
Don’t be afraid
"I am 28. I’ve been working my entire life, and I came to the conclusion that life cannot be just about work. So, I saved enough money, quit my job in London and decided to travel for two years in a row. I’ve been travelling for seven months now. I’ve been to Egypt, Abu-Dhabi, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and now back to Spain to do El Camino de Santiago for the next two months. It has been only me, my backpack and my camera. Whenever I can, I use Couch Surfing, so I don’t have to pay for accommodation. There was this time I was using Couch Surfing in India, and over there it’s normal to have entire families living all together in one room. So, this family offered me the only bed they had, the bed the whole family sleeps together. Can you imagine that? We were all sleeping in the same room. I was in their bed by myself and the father, the mother, two girls, a boy and two goats slept on the floor. They would not allow me to sleep on the floor; I felt really bad… my initial idea was to stay with them for one week, but I ended up staying only for two days. I travel. I explore. I live. I don’t mind if I have to sleep here on the street. I don’t need much. I think life is more than just work.
Don't be afraid to travel and do it without planning it too much. Go with the flow. Live the experiences. You will have a lot to tell your grandchildren."
(Madrid - Spain)
About Claudia & Sergio Lordao
Claudia and Sergio have been together for almost 30 years. In 2007, at the age of 37 and with a 9-year-old son, they left everything behind in Brazil - an established career, family, friends and comfort - to migrate to Australia and embark on a delightful adventure that changed their lives forever.
At the end of 2017, they decided yet again to seek another challenge. They quit their jobs to start The Soul Explorers project. In a world that is so polarised, they want to showcase what brings us, humans, together, regardless of culture, language, gender, age, creed or race.
While Claudia puts the stories together, Sergio is the one behind the camera. They've been to six countries and over 30 cities so far, and every day they publish a different story of people they come across in their journey.
To read The Soul Explorers daily stories, go to: www.thesoulexplorers.com
Or follow them on Facebook and Instagram: /thesoulexplorers