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Creating an updated map for your own version of happiness

You’ve heard the cliche a million times – if you keep following the same path, you’ll end up in the same place. I’d add something more to that..repeatedly following a path that doesn’t allow you to grow and evolve over time can lead you to an even worse place at times.

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I think that in order to figure out a new path there are times when we all need to sit down and redraw our maps to happiness and fulfillment.

The brilliant people who draw maps that get us to our destinations every single time are called cartographers. We can all choose to be the cartographers of our own journeys.

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The cartographic process consists of a series of steps that can be used within the context of our lives as well. The three big picture steps in map making are:

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  • Data Collection – the map maker collects data about that particular geographic area while keeping in mind that the data needs to be converted into a visual representation that will be easy to look at and understand.
  • Visual Encoding of Data – the map maker then takes the data and uses it to precisely create a visual picture of that area with the help of symbols, labels and other identifiers.
  • Testing the Visual Representation – the final product is then tested by a map user who tries to get from point A to point B while following the map. If multiple users can do so easily, then the map is a success and can be used by the public at large until the initial data set changes.
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This might sound very dry and uninteresting until we think about our own life journeys and internal maps to happiness. As we get older and live through our own unique challenges, our data for where we are and where we want to be in life changes and yet, we may still be quantifying success or happiness and how we get there in the same way we were 5 years ago.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

As an example of data collection for a happiness map, let’s consider what old data for what our descriptors for success could have been pre-pandemic — perhaps awhile ago we may have wanted to achieve a whole slew of goals in order to feel successful and happy — and, if we ask ourselves what we need to be happy right in this moment, our goals may have shifted to include being healthy and energized, feeling connected with the people in our lives, being present and valuing time with others and just maybe being able to bake the best sourdough bread possible! These shifts may mean that we need to do more of some things and less of others to land at our new point B.

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If all the changes in the world over the past couple years have shifted your own thought processes, it may be time to sit down and write down all your internal epiphanies and visualize how you can get to the best version of your newer definition of success. Then, test out the process to see if you have it right.

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Has your definition of success has changed over the past couple of years?


15 thoughts on “Creating an updated map for your own version of happiness

  1. Interesting post. We were discussing cartography at the weekend as it was my husband’s first ever job after school, it has become a lost art. He left the job after a few months to pursue something more financial rewarding… I still think being a cartographer is cool though, especially as you describe in relation to life and goals!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love how you connected one unrelated topic to another, and this was a particularly unique confluence of ideas. Reminds me of the stoic saying ‘A life unexamined is not worth living’. I guess it all leads to self-awareness, to know what we’re doing in life, and if those actions are contributing to our goals as a whole. Thanks for this post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for stopping by and sharing that saying! Self awareness does definitely help with having a clearer idea of how to set goals that are meaningful – for me, it is meaningful to keep checking back in. Have a great week!


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