Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about a career change, and whether or not, it is even necessary. In my attempt to live a more wholehearted and mindful life, I’ve been trying look at things a little more objectively in my life, and part of that process involves constantly reminding myself that extrinsic objects don’t lead to intrinsic happiness. I heard someone today on my favorite podcast, The Goodlife Project, say that in order to stay connected to his passion in his career, he keeps a sign posted above his desk that says: “If you’re not doing it with joy in your heart today, why not, not do it today.” There was something about this quote that really resonated with me because it speaks to my reflection on my career and suggests that maybe I’m not doing it with “joy in my heart”. The enlightening part of that logic is that I have the “choice” to “bring joy to my work” rather than expecting to get “joy out of my work”.
I believe that happiness is not a place one arrives at, but instead, it’s an internal peace found on a journey. It’s a lens that allows me to operate through an existence of gratitude and acceptance. This got me thinking about what happiness looks like for me. Without a doubt, the more I read about the subject, and the more I listen to people who appear to have an aura of happiness about them, the more I realize that the key to nurturing a happy life is enveloping myself in immense gratitude. I’m not talking about only being grateful for the good things in my life, but for everything in my life because even the most traumatic events are rare opportunities for growth.
A second key component of happiness for me involves being of service to others… finding ways to leave the place, situation, or person “better than the way I found it.” This is intricately tied to another aspect, honesty in my relationships. Lately, Mary-Anne and I have had some of the most beautiful discussions because we’ve been actively lifting that protective veil that so often gets in the way of vulnerable and authentic dialogue. The part that I struggle with the most in terms of what causes “white noise” in my brain and thus impedes “happiness”, is distancing myself from the belief that material possessions will somehow make me “feel better”. I know this is such a dangerous prospect because material possessions can always be taken from me, so attaching self-worth and happiness to them is a rogue’s game.
What I’m finding most helpful today can be nicely summed up in the words of inspirational author Rita Schiano: “Let your memories of the past serve you, not use or abuse you.” To me, this is the essence of why I feel so much more comfortable in my skin today, and as a result, am able to nurture more intrinsic happiness. For most of life, I allowed past trauma to define who I am and how I felt about myself. I looked at the trauma like a scar… something flawed, something that should be hidden. Now, I view this “scar” as tougher skin that allows me to be stronger in the face of anything that may come my way. Knowing that you can not only “survive”, but “thrive”, fills you with a deep sense of happiness that can never be taken away.