The dusty faced sun-bleached blond smiles with overwhelming enthusiasm. I just asked my kayak guide to describe her favorite part about living in Kauai, Hawaii. She slaps her calf to brush off the mud splats the way we swap away mosquitoes and glances at me.
"I'm so rich here. I mean, I don't have a lot of money but my quality of life is abundant. I get to do what I love every day and my heart is so full."
Her infectious spirit rubs off on all of the group participants, just as I sense it does with everyone this bubbly small-framed girl meets. Six of us are on an organized kayak tour with Wailua River Guides, a local outfitter in Kauai, Hawaii.
We've just kayaked two miles north up the Wailua River and hiked through thick mud into the Hawaiian jungle to a secret waterfall. As we climb through dirt, I see Annie, the kayak guide, scoot along with a little spring in her step. She is barefoot and her long locks resemble a wild horse's main. Sand, sun and the sea are caked into the strands. She has a natural glow to her skin, the kind only Mother Nature can give, yet luxury spas invest millions trying to replicate.
Annie represents what few people actually accomplish in life. Do what you love. Love what you do. This kayak girl knows how to make the most of every moment. Her go for it attitude has awarded her the luxury of a life many only dream of.
Annie reflects a pulse all humans feel a dedication to inner desires. But one so many of us ignore in lieu of playing it safe.
Five years ago, Annie came to Kauai on a family vacation in January. Guided by her heart, she came back in February and was living and working on the island by March.
"When it's right, it's right and things are easy," she says of her move to one of the hardest places to make a living.
Most of us would fall into fear and create excuses about how it won't work. After all, Forbes just ranked Hawaii the worst place to make a living in 2014. The cost of living stands at 157 percent of the U.S. national average, and the state received a poor work environment score.
Most people would read this statistic and settle for staying uncomfortable in dreams unmet. Following your heart takes courage, stamina, and what if we fail? What if it doesn't work out? Unmet expectations fester in our hearts as we glide through life secretly asking, "What if?"
"If only I..."
But not for people like Annie.
She permeates a philosophy and thirst for life that rubs of on all in her presence. This is the true secret to living a happy life. Doing what you love.
Let passion be your compass.
The more passionate you are about the experience, the more you owe it to yourself to follow though.
Release expectations about the future and be in the journey of following your heart. Your heart knows the way, always. Trust it.
"You know, in college, on career day, they never tell you you can work barefoot in Kauai doing kayak tours," Annie says.
We all laugh. She has a point that pierces the corporate climbers. No one shows us how to follow our heart or says we can actually do whatever we want to do, chuck the resume to the curb and go explore the world. No one tells us opportunities are behind the fluorescent lights and nine to five desk jobs.
Most interview processes leave out the number one success tool: passion.
If you are searching for happiness and struggling to find a job you love, these simple steps can help.
Trust Your Dreams
When you meet people like Annie, you are reminded dreams happen to us for a reason. When we are courageous and live from our heart, we become a beacon of hope and happiness for ourselves and others. Anything is possible when you let your heart lead the way.
Nourish the Nudge
The only difference between the happiest people in the world, like Annie, and those who settle is acting on inspiration with courage. And the only courage we need in life is the courage to be true to ourselves. Nourish the nudges by taking steps forward and acting on them.
Live Full Out in the Moment
This moment matters. You owe it to yourself to live your passion. When you love and respect yourself enough to know you deserve your desires, courage becomes the language of your soul. Allow that to be your compass to happiness.