A group of travelers on a Green Tortoise adventure stand around a campfire

“When was the last time you felt truly happy?”

This is the question posed at the end of every episode of Arthur Brooks’ podcast, “How To Build A Happy Life”. Not only does this question send you traipsing down memory lane, but it may have you considering what or who it is that “truly” brings you happiness.

When I consider this question, my mind wanders back to our summer adventures on the Green Tortoise adventure bus. 

Memories of plunging into icy lakes and good conversations while soaking in hot springs come to mind. I smile at the thought of handstands at truck stops and waltzing in a parking lot. There was a moment when about six of us were making ramen a few years ago that flitted to the top of my head. Three of us were splitting a comical amount of sweet peas in a campground in Banff National Park.

I remembered learning how to make Brigadeiro (a decadent, chocolate Brazilian dessert, rolled into a ball and covered in sprinkles) in celebration of a teenage birthday. Later, the whole group sang to her at camp while we shared the special treat.

Considering happiness reminded me of hiking my favorite trail to Upper Dewey Lake in Skagway, Alaska. Not everyday can you convince a group of people that a strenuous, 3,000 ft. climb is more than worth it. This crew took the bait, though. Just like me, they relished in the rewards of accomplishment and the unparalleled beauty awaiting them at the top. 

Happiness is witnessing moments of awe that I know won’t ever be forgotten.

Two men pose atop a mountain with views overlooking the Lynn Canal near Haines, Alaska.

Watching the Tortoise experience weave together humanity to create a tapestry of curious, adventure-seekers never ceases to bring me joy. I’m lucky that my job allows me to witness connections happening on trails, during meal times, and on travel days in the big comfy bus. I see love affairs start, friendships grow, and groups transform into little families. 

A woman carrying a backpack looks into the distance on a bridge in the wilderness.

What makes you truly happy? And I’ll give you one more: How will you cultivate it in the year ahead? 

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