Adversity and the Art of Happiness

"Adversity and the Art of Happiness" is a documentary about people who have faced adversity and the lessons they have learned.

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Comments: 7
  • #7

    Des Townshend (Monday, 20 July 2015 15:56)
    Quest for Happiness

    My story started when I was running a small distribution business and enjoying the challenge. It paid the bills and helped my wife and I raise three boys. We were looking forward to retiring as I had hired a younger man and promised him first right of refusal to buy my business when I was ready to sell. The retirement options on the horizon looked appealing with fun travel plans in the making.

    Everything looked great with my wife as my business partner, until one day she announced she wanted a divorce. I was devastated and this triggered the sale of my business, together with a signed agreement with the buyer that I could not work in the industry I knew so well for eight years. We also sold the family home of some 30 years. With the proceeds from both sales I drove for seven days across Canada from my home in Mississauga Ontario to Vancouver, where I signed up for a 12-month course in photography.

    For 12 months I sat in a class and did photo projects with 20-something year olds. It was part therapy and part needing a hard skill that perhaps I could pursue in my new life. I felt I was reinventing myself for something, but not sure what or where it would lead me. All I knew was that I was taking a first step for the rest of my life at 60 years old.

    When sitting in the bar after a hard fought squash match in my new club in downtown Vancouver, one of the guys asked me about my story, and when I told him he said that most people find selling their home very stressful, but loosing your career, not just a job, a home and your wife in one swoop should land me in the physic ward of the local hospital. I laughed and said that photography and squash were my therapy.

    A strange turn of events happened when I received a letter from my home country of Ireland. It was dated three months earlier. No, the mail in Ireland is not that slow, but when I read the letter I realized what had happened. An old friend of some 44 years earlier wrote a polite condolence letter on the death of my mother, which happened the December before I split with my wife. The writer did not know my Canadian address causing the letter to bounce around for several months before I received it. It came as a surprise and caused me to ponder for a while as I processed class projects in Photoshop. I wrote and thanked the lady for her thoughtfulness and we exchanged email addresses.

    On graduation from the course I drove back to Ontario not sure what I was going to do with myself. I picked up a job that involved taking product shots for the new web site that I organized. The week after the web site was launched I quit as there was nothing more the job could offer me.

    During my annual holiday I visited Ireland and met the lady who sent the letter. We had dated as teenagers, and went our own ways after several years. Ireland was different than I remembered. It was enjoyable probably because I was not under any pressure to work, and the lady showed me around and the magic started again. Miriam showed me her hometown of Dublin in a way I had never seen before, even though I had visited my mother who lived there many times after immigrating to Canada.

    On my return to Ontario I bought a new house while Miriam has her home in Dublin. We now spend time in both countries, as I love to photograph in Ireland because it is easy to get around and the light changes frequently caused by the constant change in the weather. Actually my favorite type of photography is shooting artisans in Ireland and there are plenty of them. I have done photo essays at woolen mills, pottery making, glass-blowing and bog oak carving along with many others.

    Miriam and I are now partners and enjoying travel, playing tennis and cycling together and of course taking photographs. Life is great!

    With encouragement from AWAI, resulting in the first magazine story with photographs under my belt, it is time to look for other opportunities in this field. Happiness is having a dream and a plan to follow together with a combination of good attitude supported by friendships. Don’t forget to stay healthy in the process.

    If you don’t like where you are, be willing to change where you are.

    Des Townshend

  • #6

    Anna Pierzina Lucas (Monday, 29 June 2015 18:57)

    My Quest for Happiness

    The quest for happiness is exactly that. A quest! For practically my entire life, I've been told by friends, family and even strangers that I am one of the happiest people they've met. Some have even commented that I am too happy. Too happy?? In reflecting back on my life, I am certainly blessed in many ways and have intentionally chosen to live my life in such a way that allows me to follow some of my deepest passions including world travel, health & wellness education, and creativity.

    Nevertheless, last year in the beginning of 2014, I hit an all-time low. It was the dead of winter, and my hometown in Eau Claire, WI was experiencing some of the most frigid temperatures imaginable. The weather kept me huddled indoors and in my private, one bedroom apartment, I sunk into a dark, emotional fog. There were many contributing factors to this besides the weather – a recent heartbreak, a resurfaced eating disorder that I had struggled with since high school, and working a 9-5 job at a local bank which, despite the comfort of a bi-weekly paycheck, was quickly becoming mind-numbing and squashing my creative spirit.

    With summer came the sunshine, it's warmth, and a new found hope. By the fall, I had quit my drab job at the bank and started working as a youth mentor part-time and continued my work as a yoga instructor. I made a personal commitment to myself to begin writing again, to pursue my talents as a photographer and get back into theater. I sought spiritual guidance through therapy, reading, prayer, and meditation.

    This year, in 2015, I have published my first story in a nationally renowned publication Chicken Soup for the Soul “Time to Thrive” book, began a personal blog ( about finding your flow and creating freedom in your life, starred as the lead “Jo” in the community theater production of “Little Women,” taken a month long, solo, cross country road-trip to the national parks of southern Utah and northern Arizona, and I met the love of my life who, like me, seeks to journey towards happiness through serving others, spreading love & kindness, and is actively contributing to the world in a huge way.

    Guided by God and the divine spirit within me, I have worked through significant struggles and found deep happiness. And, I continue this quest each and every day.

    With joy, love, and gratitude,
    Anna Lucas

  • #5

    Shari Dunn (Monday, 29 June 2015 00:21)

    Hi Tom, as you know I am still very much on my quest for happiness. Though I understand intellectually that happiness is not a destination but rather a state in which we live, I am still striving to find that state. For me the quest began in earnest after the attacks of September 11th 2001. I was living in NYC at the time and saw the devastation first hand. Something in me change as a result of that trauma. But the change didn't happen over night, rather it was subtle and almost imperceptible, like when a boat is not properly moored and slowly the waves causes it to break free.

    I should say I LOVED NYC. It was and is still my spiritual home. I remember walking around the Upper West Side of Manhattan thinking, "I am never leaving here". That is until I moved to Fort Greene in Brooklyn and thought "I am never leaving here". But after the trauma and carnage of 9/11 something in me changed profoundly. I realized that all my life I had been fearful of failure, To the outside world that knew me that would have been a shock. From all outwards appearances I was fearless but I had harbored a a dream, since I was a kid, that I had been afraid to pursue, I wanted to be a journalist. After 9/11 I realized so clearly that life is very short and that we should try to live without regret so I decided after a decade as an attorney and non-profit executive, that I would become a journalist. The job I had, that allowed me to live a good life in NYC, I was coming to an end and I decided to pursue my dreams. After I made that decision things seemed to fall into place, more than i can write here. But needless to say I "jumped" and landed right into the career I had sought. Now, the question remains, did that bring me happiness? No. Because again happiness, to me, is a state of being and while I have achieved that state throughout my travels, it was and remains fleeting. I suppose if I ma honest with myself the truth is that I am in fact happy, to be alive, to have my health to have a new job to be me. But there are still key elements.

  • #4

    Tom (Friday, 26 June 2015 16:08)

    Thank you so much for your inspiring stories. Can you please send me a private message with your contact details so that I can get in touch with you. Thank you.

  • #3

    Karine Hovsepian (Friday, 26 June 2015 08:24)

    Hi Tom,
    I went through a major life event a year ago. My marriage of 22 yrs ended. I am middle aged and this could have been very difficult for me but instead, it turned into a life changing, positive thing. I was living a very stuck life up to that point. I was like a robot, just going through the motions of every day life. I was stressed out and had some health issues as well and was unfulfilled. I got enlightened. I woke up from a coma. I decided to transform my life and took my health into my own hands and went on a solo trip to Costa Rica.i wanted to step out of my comfort zone and face my fears. I knew the more I did, the more empowered I would feel. I went zip lining and white water rafting, met wonderful people and grew more. Since then, i have enrolled in the institute of Integrative Nutrition and will be a health/life coach soon. My goal is to help other people achieve happiness. I want to run adventure retreats and get involved in environmental causes. Through nutrition, i was able to heal some of my health issues. I also just came back from a solo trip to Mexico. I feel even more empowered and in charge of my life. I have never felt this happy and i am vibrating at a very high energy level attracting armazing people and events into my life. Once i learrned to let go of my fear., my life changed. I reached a level never experienced before. I also have been exploring my sexuality and will publish a book about my adventures next year. Also a way to empower women. There's a bit about my transformation on Read Just Like That. It explains it better. I hope to hear from you. I just love my life and would love to inspire other women to live their lives to the fullest.

  • #2

    Mike Hopkins (Friday, 26 June 2015 03:23)

    My name is Mike Hopkins. I received an email from Great Escape Publishing stating you were looking for stories for your upcoming “The Quest for Happiness” production.

    I’d like to share my story which isn’t as much about finding or funding my pursuit of happiness as it is supplementing the expenses and maintaining a comfortable lifestyle while living a life of happiness.

    But first, let me tell you what happiness is to me; a state of mind, an attitude. It comes from within each individual. While we’re all unhappy at times, it’s how we deal with it. I’m in ‘my happy place’ traveling, meeting new friends, learning about new/other cultures, and helping others.

    And so my story begins.

    After serving twenty years in the US Air Force, and spending ten years as an international logistics contractor, I traveled a lot, and like it. I get excited by the newness of experiencing different lifestyles, cultures, and seeing things many people only dream about.

    At the age of 55, I decided to retire and live life with minimal stress. I was told many times “you’re too young to retire”; but I was old enough to know what I wanted, and being told when I was hungry was not it.

    Stepping into a country I’ve never been before, living a different style of life, meeting someone I’ve only conversed with via email, and being able to help them experience happiness, that’s my happy place. Now living solely on a pension, how do I get and stay there as long as possible.

    My internet research led me to teaching English as a second language, starting a business in a country, or retiring outside my home country where my pension would adequate. All these options still wouldn’t allow travel flexibility; that’s when I found ‘house sitting’.

    Looking deeper into house sitting, I realized it was basically watching your neighbor’s home while they’re on vacation. Some of the differences include, you may not know the home owner, you stay in their home, and pick where you want to go. Having watched the homes of friends and family, I decided to give house sitting a try.

    Now, almost four years later, I’ve house sit for families in more than 10 cities in the US, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama.

    While I (and most other house sitters) don’t charge home owners, we also don’t pay for a bed to sleep in or utilities. We do pay our transportation costs, food and entertainment.

    In conjunction with house sitting, I joined American Writers and Artists Inc. (AWAI) and completed online courses covering travel writing, blogging, and most recently photography. With the knowledge obtained from their courses, I’ve sold house sitting and leisure travel articles to online and print publications and a few photos through stock agencies.

    Major life changes can be daunting, even scary, for me it was entering into retirement. Face these changes head-on, with a positive attitude, find what makes you happy, and get there. I did, and it’s a nice place to be with plenty of room.


  • #1

    Glen O Myers (Thursday, 25 June 2015 22:35)

    Tom, I will be joining you with the workshop in Paris. My passion is painting drawing and all different forms of art; along with photography and video. I encountered AWAI and the Great Escape in 2014 and have been going through several courses pertaining to these passions and writing; especially travel writing, blogs, photography and video. I have attended one travel writing workshop in San Diego; one photography workshop in Portland, Or.; and the AWAI Bootcamp in Florida. I served in the US military for many years traveling and working my passion in art and photography while this traveling. Then in 2010, my wife, Donna and I went to a workshop for her in Ireland. I went shooting my camera. I shot 1400+ photos in 5 days. We traveled most of Ireland. My happiness comes from what I call a God given talent in drawing, painting in other forms of art! My passion from this happiness is to pursue my talents and sharing these talents in providing services related to photography, videos and traveling! I do so enjoy this opportunity. Thanks for listening.

The Quest for Happiness Documentary

According to Deloitte’s Shift Index survey -- 80% of people are dissatisfied with their jobs. The consumption of anti-depressants is rising every year and the vast number of people taking antidepressants, live in the wealthiest countries in the world. It appears that although many who live in the Western World have access to material things they  have not found the recipe for happiness.

I am a travel videographer but I also help people to follow their passion of living abroad and traveling by teaching them how to make a living with travel videos. I teach people about videography through an online course as well as during workshops in the US and France.

The purpose of this campaign is to gather funds to create a documentary, called The Quest for Happiness examining the most important question in our lives:

What is happiness… and how do we attain it? 

Through this documentary, I want to explore the notion of happiness and inspire people to pursue their own version of happiness. Toward this purpose, I am going to interview people around the world about the concept of happiness, especially those who have made major changes as a result of trauma, spiritual quest or other epiphanies that caused them to radically change their lives in order to actively pursue their happiness in a new place or a new way.

If you would like to share your story then please submit your story as a video or letter below.

In addition to people like you I would like to interview experts with an academic background on the subject of happiness. But I will also attempt to do interviews with well-known personalities like The Dalai Lama or Simon Pegg (Hector and the Search for Happiness) or even Jon Stewart (he is leaving the Daily Show).

In this documentary I will entertain the following questions:

Happiness and the Individual
What choices in life lead to happiness?
Is Happiness simply an attitude or dependent on circumstances?
How do we make positive changes in our lives and overcome our fears?

Happiness on Location
Can certain places help make us happy?
What are the happiest countries in the world and why?
How do society and culture contribute to our happiness?

Happiness in Practice
How do we lead happy relationships?
Do certain activities make us happy?
How does money contribute to our happiness?
How do we find our passion and make a living with it?
Can certain spiritual pursuits make us happy?


Timeline and Funding


I will start filming in October over the course of 9 months and complete the editing in the following 3 months. The deadline for completing this project is therefore October 2016. I will continuously post updates during that time. Including photos, videos and blogs.


I will use my funds purely for travel arrangements, such as flights, hotels and food. The more funds I gather the more countries and people I can visit.


I projected that I need at least 10,000$ to cover three continents, Europe, Asia and North America. But if I can gather more than that then I would like to include South America and Africa as well, in order to get the perspective from people living in developing countries, but also to visit people in the Amazon and remote regions of Africa.


Please help me to fund this project to inspire people around to world to follow their passion and pursue their happiness. If I do not reach my goal of 10,000$ I will not be able to make this documentary, so I am really hoping for your support.


The Rewards


Anyone supporting The Quest for Happiness will be able to watch the documentary in full and free of charge on Vimeo. If you pledge 50$ you will receive a DVD in the post. Anyone pledging more than 50$ will also have their logo and company name shown in the credits as well as on the The Quest for Happiness website.