Being Happy Where You Are

Odessa Denby
4 min readDec 28, 2022

Cultivating the ultimate life skill…

Photo by Kawin Harasai on Unsplash

In 2020, I wanted nothing more than to escape. I had moved back to the US in 2017 with plans to move abroad again within a year or two. And then I was more stuck than ever, it seemed, with the pandemic cutting me off from even little weekend excursions. The was no end in sight and by January 2022 I was having what can only be described as a depressive episode.

For the uninitiated, that doesn’t mean I was feeling a bit sad or grumpy. It means I had reached a level of total numbness. Just being alive took so much energy. I sat on the couch most of the time, exhausted from even doing basic necessary tasks. I felt hopeless.

I’ve written a lot about travel on this site and a lot about my mental health. I’ve also read a good deal of work by other authors on similar subjects. Basically, since returning to America and getting sucked into having debt (yes, I know, some of you have never had a single cent of debt and you think it’s immoral that I do, but when you have no support from your family and need a car to even get a low-paying job, debt can easily happen), I had been feeling like my happiness was on hold.

From one bad apartment to another, from one underpaying job to another, paying the minimum on credit cards-- I felt like America had won. It had me trapped. And now, I would never have the opportunity to even short-term travel again, let alone reach my goal of making a permanent home abroad. Being happy was always going to be out of my grasp.

I’m not going to tell you that I just woke up one morning and “decided to be happy" and my life suddenly changed. I hate toxic positivity that blames and shames people like that because there are some things out of our control. But there are a few things that helped me slowly crawl out of this pit and made 2022 a surprisingly good year.

Outside Support

People are not meant to be lone wolves. Even wolves don’t live like that, it’s a common misconception. Humans do best with a sense of community, but not just anyone will do. You need empathetic individuals who will not make you feel ashamed for struggling and will be practical and encouraging.

Odessa Denby

Professional writer and editor, former expat. Conscientious lifestyle and relationships, mental health, and the arts.