The Simplicity of Happiness

Carly Moree lives in Asheville, NC, where she spends a lot of time in the woods hiking and trail running. She's a contributor to and when she isn't thinking about writing or planning her next endurance hiking adventure, she's with the family shih-tzu. She's also left-handed.

I had been living in Chicago for about three years. I’d moved there after my college graduation and immediately began working with a financial services firm.

At first, working a 40+ hour week was a big adjustment for me. I would leave the office at the end of the day and be in a daze: who am I, where am I? My mind would be completely fried. And so I would tell family and friends about this, and everyone would say that I would get used to that feeling. And I did.

Then one day I had the terrifying thought, “This is my life. This will be the outline of my life.” Two and a half years later I quit my job to hike the Appalachian Trail, and 5 months later, in September 2013, I completed the journey.

Since the moment I quit to basically live in the woods, the most common question I got was “Why?” and I never really had an answer.

Here is my answer.

It was the hardest reality to ever have hit me – to realize this would be my life, this predictable schedule of monotony.

I would wake up early Monday through Friday. Perhaps go for a run. It would be a dark run, since I would have to be at work by 8am.

And when I arrived at work, I would sit at my desk, send emails, read emails, walk to the bathroom, walk back to my desk, take calls.

I would leave around 5, most likely. Once home I would wearily make dinner. Eat dinner.

Sure, there would be evenings where I went out for drinks. Good drinks with good friends. That would be really living. Really letting loose.

But most nights I would go to sleep at a responsible hour after clicking around online.

If it was a Monday, I would have four more splendid days of this to look forward to. However, should it be a Friday… now this, this would be my chance to live.

And so that reality did hit me; the reality that my life would be this way, the reality that everyone around me was screaming, “This is living! This is happiness!”

The realization that I was not happy was a hard hit. But if happiness was going to knock me to the ground and hope I stay there, flat on my back, eyes shut, ears closed, mouth covered, then it would be a happiness I would never know.

Choosing to quit my job and leave my friends in Chicago, a city I had come to love, to hike the A.T. with pretty much no backpacking experience, was one of the best choices I’ve ever made – as was moving to Chicago and taking that job. Today my happiness stems from these experiences, and it’s taught me a simple truth: what might seemingly make some people happy does not make me happy.

I chose to do something that made me happy – to leap out of my comfort zone with 29 pounds of gear on my back, and enter the woods on the Appalachian Trail.

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