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About Me

About Me

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Hi, I’m Elaina and I want to help you live life on your terms, find a career you love, and travel as often as you want. 

 

I’ve lived, worked, and traveled to more than 60 countries, including some pretty off-the-beaten path destinations like Mongolia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Paraguay. I’ve also lived out of a suitcase as a full-time nomad for the past 4.5 years, ever since leaving my management consulting gig in New York back in 2013 when I landed an international role at a media company that sent me all over the world to work. You can read my full story here

 

What makes my story unique is that I’ve traveled AND built a professional career, working for companies like IBM and Uber over the years. I’ve also spent long stretches of time freelancing and traveling adventurously through South America, Asia, and Africa. I’m currently freelance writing, coaching professionals through career transitions, and working on a few small business ideas while splitting my time between Berlin, the US, and India. 

 

I write about self-development, digital nomadism, charting unconventional life paths, finding REAL jobs overseas, pursuing long-term travel, and living more purposefully in a fast-paced, confusing world. There’s simply no one-size-fits-all model for creating a life you love. I’m not a full-time digital nomad and I’m not a full-time corporate professional: I’ve done things a bit differently and I think it’s feasible for more people to live “off the beaten path” this way. I hope my blog lets you see that it’s both possible and practical.  

 

I started this blog because I want to help you find an exciting career, travel the world, break the norms, and develop yourself both personally and professionally. Read on or get in touch to set up a 1:1 session with me: elaina@lifebefore30.com.

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So You’re Happy, Now What? Is Happiness the End Goal?

Posted on August 18th, 2016

happiness

 

A lot of things you only learn after you’ve made the mistake, sometimes again and again. And this is how I learned about the pitfalls of happiness.

 

Ever since being dumped out from my blissful university days into the bleak and disorienting labor force at age 21, I’ve been on a mission to design a lifestyle and career that would make me happy — and help my peers do the same. 

 

It sounds like a noble purpose, and I’ve managed to be reasonably successful at it by building a popular self-development blog, coaching dozens of my peers through major career and life transitions, and writing for a few mainstream media names. I also managed to land my dream job, travel to 50 countries, and live fully outside the 9 to 5 norm for several years. Living the dream, right?

 

Well, yes, in a way, but what I assumed was the end goal is definitely not the end goal. For anyone with the privilege to choose, the capacity to care, and the consciousness of a pervasive unity throughout the human race, we are called to more than a life that protects the right to feel good most of the time.

 

Like me, my generation tends to confuse our happiness with our purpose. We eat well, do ever-increasing amounts of yoga and meditation, travel widely, quit jobs we have the privilege to quit, start successful companies, question everything, and live 24-7 quests for our “passion” and purpose. Our click-bait media is awash with articles beckoning us to achieve our highest calling: happiness. 

 

But when happiness is an end in and of itself, what kind of society do we become? As Estragon says in the absurdist play Waiting for Godot, “What do we do now, now that we are happy?” 

 

What I’ve woken up to is the realization that this strive-for-happiness-above-all-else is a kind of societal plague that keeps us focused on ourselves as individuals, which in turn keeps us fragmented and isolated. We focus less on collective happiness and societal well-being because we’re caught up on a quest for making me happy.

 

Like The Wellness Syndrome by André Spicer und Carl Cederström argues, the endemic societal pressure to be happy, and to be happy all the time, leads us to think that if we’re not happy, then there’s something wrong with us. All it takes is a quick scroll through Facebook or Instagram to see a universal approbation of the blind narcissism that drives us toward happiness-as-our-highest-calling. We all look so happy, don’t we?

 

Yet the call of the human experience is something far deeper and richer than to just “be happy.” We’re born with the ability to help and to hate, to believe and to doubt, to build and to destroy, to feel hope and hopeless, to empathize and to condemn, to give and to receive, to feel joy and despair — and all of those abilities gives us much larger dimensions. 

 

We are also much more than our emotions, and we are better than just sitting around smugly and feeling happy with ourselves. I know this because we were born onto a planet that today has 7.4 billion people. If the best thing we can achieve is happiness for ourselves or our family, we would be born alone, or with our immediate kin and no one else. 

 

We take a huge risk as a culture when we overlook the greater collective well-being by propagandizing a singular focus on individual wellness. We take a huge risk when we teach our children competition, to live with a scarcity mentality, and to survive in a way that ultimately is not much different than how our hominid ancestors hunted and gathered to survive. We’ve been taught by everyone from new-age Indian gurus to positive psychologists that we are responsible for our own happiness, and while true to an extent, is also a convenient paradigm to keep us from tearing down the existing ways of structuring our society and economy that are anything but conducive to widespread happiness. 

 

If we weren’t so caught up in making ourselves happy, could we make the bigger picture happier for everyone? 

 

When happiness is your finish line, the race will never be over for you. Actually, the race never ends for anyone because life is the process, the journey. And if your journey and all your time and energy is devoted to mere self-glorification and happiness for you in your little corner of the world, you’ll never truly come alive. (This is some tough love right here.)

 

Within you, there’s a higher calling. The pursuit of happiness, that postmodern god we worship, is a trap. Sure, please take care of yourself, pay attention to wellness, enjoy the work you do, travel the world, meditate, get an education, fall in love, and live joyfully (dare I say happily), but do all of those things for a greater good. Everything you learn, experience, and achieve can — and must — be used for something beyond yourself. 

 

Because as human beings, the real currency of our existence is love, and love only happens when we transcend ourselves. 

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About Me

About Me

IMG_5937

Hi, I’m Elaina and I want to help you live life on your terms, find a career you love, and travel as often as you want. 

 

I’ve lived, worked, and traveled to more than 60 countries, including some pretty off-the-beaten path destinations like Mongolia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Paraguay. I’ve also lived out of a suitcase as a full-time nomad for the past 4.5 years, ever since leaving my management consulting gig in New York back in 2013 when I landed an international role at a media company that sent me all over the world to work. You can read my full story here

 

What makes my story unique is that I’ve traveled AND built a professional career, working for companies like IBM and Uber over the years. I’ve also spent long stretches of time freelancing and traveling adventurously through South America, Asia, and Africa. I’m currently freelance writing, coaching professionals through career transitions, and working on a few small business ideas while splitting my time between Berlin, the US, and India. 

 

I write about self-development, digital nomadism, charting unconventional life paths, finding REAL jobs overseas, pursuing long-term travel, and living more purposefully in a fast-paced, confusing world. There’s simply no one-size-fits-all model for creating a life you love. I’m not a full-time digital nomad and I’m not a full-time corporate professional: I’ve done things a bit differently and I think it’s feasible for more people to live “off the beaten path” this way. I hope my blog lets you see that it’s both possible and practical.  

 

I started this blog because I want to help you find an exciting career, travel the world, break the norms, and develop yourself both personally and professionally. Read on or get in touch to set up a 1:1 session with me: elaina@lifebefore30.com.

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Five years ago, I changed my whole life in 30 days. I scored the job of my dreams, quit my job in New York, sold everything I owned, moved to West Africa, and never looked back. Read about it here.

 

Now I use Office Hours to help my clients do the same.

 

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Do you wake up in the morning dreading what’s ahead?

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Currently in: Malawi

 

 

Previously in: Berlin

 

img_6015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Hot

Recent Posts

Coaching

Coaching

Step into my office!

 

Five years ago, I changed my whole life in 30 days. I scored the job of my dreams, quit my job in New York, sold everything I owned, moved to West Africa, and never looked back. Read about it here.

 

Now I use Office Hours to help my clients do the same.

 

Do you want to travel but are scared to quit your job?

Do you want to find a job overseas but don’t know where to start?

Do you wake up in the morning dreading what’s ahead?

Read more

Like Me on Facebook

Like Me On Facebook

Follow me on twitter

Follow me on twitter

Instagram

Elaina on Instagram