(this photo was taken in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range with my son, summer 2016)
As I’ve mentioned, numerous times, my life has been littered with projects, businesses, side-hustles, wickedly misguided goals, hopes, & dreams – all in search for what I would have considered success.
That is, up until now.
I can, with full faith, say that age does play the presiding role in wisdom attainment. Not the genius wisdom of MIT PhD candidates, but the wisdom that accompanies reflection. The kind of wisdom that is a by-product of life kicking you in the backside a few times more than you’d like to admit to.
I turned 37 nearly two months ago (hooray for not being 40 yet). This is definitely not something my 27 year old self would have even thought to say.
Getting older, wiser, and still making mistakes has a way of helping you force your priorities into submission.
Too many years of my life, I chased success – money – etc. Now, I finally submit to life itself. Finally, I realize what it means to actually and truly search for happiness. The kind of happiness that doesn’t rely on the attainment of anything.
Much the opposite, actually.
I’m slowly realizing that happiness is the shedding of any pursuit that doesn’t directly make me smile. You know those things that, when you think about them, before you do them, bring delight and joy. The exact opposite of dread is the joy I’m seeking.
I’m sure this moment has hit most at some point in their lives, even those that seem eternally satisfied with their lives. Which, after some deciding on my part, have concluded that those people who seem the most happy with their lives can also use a dose of the happy pill.
True happiness now, in my eyes, is contentment.
Life has a way of helping those who want to straighten things up for themselves. This seems cryptic I know. What is Brian saying here…
It’s exactly what it feels like when I write it. If you desire change, then act. Do things that make you happy more than you do things that make you unhappy. Not so hard right?
For instance, this little project. It’s about the idea that we all have two lives that we live. One that is our reality, and the other that we secretly wish we were actually living. I’m not ashamed when I say my entire life has been one in search for things that didn’t provide what I truly needed. This may be you as well, maybe not.
But, at one point, I said to myself – there’s got to be a better way to live life. Not that I have been unhappy or unsatisfied with all aspects of my life. My family is my greatest accomplishment now and after my death. I take immense pride in having designed a life wherein I can take my kids to school, pick them up after school, attend all sports functions and parent teacher conferences. I delight in the little things of dadhood. Learning from your kids. Admitting to them when, even you as a parent, are wrong. Helping with projects, homework. Teaching with your actions not always your words. Kids see more than they hear.
Much of this wouldn’t have been possible without the businesses and entrepreneurship that I built for myself years ago, and have continued to build on. But, and it’s a big but, this is where it gets hairy.
Many of the businesses I built were based on the entire premise of “making a lot of money” – hopefully.
Which, my mind would rationalize with, “yeah…it’s a business dummy.”
But, now as I begin seeing the rumbling of gray hair on my face and head, I notice the absolute connection between quality of life and accomplishment.
For example, being President of the Unites States is a huge accomplishment – but if the President’s true calling was to teach college algebra – he will be miserable.
Conversely, being a barista, when you actually want to hand-craft surfboards for a living will be the short road to a tall cliff.
I’ve just now – fully realized – success is the attainment of only the goal and true life that’s in your head, not others.
Money, status, fame, notoriety, fancy cars, etc – whatever perceived notions of success that society places on us, and then is agitated though social media are the worst places to start.
Start inside yourself. Move toward more smiles, and far away from dread. If your smiles don’t equal a hefty paycheck – so what.
Happiness isn’t bought…it’s actively sought.
Happiness is accepting that hand-crafting surfboards and selling two a month will not make you wealthy, but knowing that no amount of money will persuade you to not do it – that is happiness.
Happiness is believing that no life is better than yours when you get to teach kindergarten children each day – regardless of being under appreciated and severely under paid.
I think society has sabotaged society itself and all of humanity is paying the price for the first place trophy we assign to anything.
What’s the first place trophy in your eyes! Can you stop salivating over someone’s produced Instagram and Facebook life and then imagine – if I could truly be “happy” what would I do?
Ask me – I don’t know yet. But I promise, I’m done doing things that don’t make me happy.
This little project for instance – immense happiness in searching for happiness. Funny huh?
I also started a podcast for entrepreneurs. I love every minute of it. But, not at first. At first I thought I should put out a podcast and try to monetize it for affiliate income. I would use my current knowledge in design/web/tech to give good information and provide exceptional content that would help people with their websites. Then monetize it by making money off recommendations. I quit after the first episode. I hated it. I only truly found joy when I did the podcast I really wanted to do, caring about money last.
I intend to start a podcast for this project as well. To interview people who inspire me to be a better me. It’s not for anyone else…just me. If you or anyone else happen to enjoy it – cool!
I’ve also started writing a book. I’ve found the correlation with writing, concentration and intellect. I find solutions to problems when I write. I somehow see the world in a different light just by translating my thoughts into readable words.
It’s fair to note that none of these projects are providing any income whatsoever. That’s okay. I’d much rather be in satisfying pursuit making nothing than in forceful dread – making something. (Granted we still have to live and pay bills – don’t quit everything until you have a happy income replacement)
I’m not so into the self-help gurus out there. At one point in my life I was, maybe not so long ago. I’ve realized that happiness is within. Truly within you, and it must be searched for. It must be pursued. Happiness, actually must be fought for. You must fight against the resistance of your mediocrity and societal success to achieve true personal happiness. Self-help guru’s are like a drug. They will captivate and motivate but then the practical application side of their words are like heroine wearing off (I imagine).
Happiness comes from doing, from pursuing, from fighting the resistance to be complacent in your current status. It’s giving the middle finger to your past life and being determined to bury it. In a recent podcast I talked about how everything in my life is now governed by a 5-day challenge (self-imposed). If I want to do something and I don’t actively begin the pursuit within 5 days – I’ll never do it. This is the practical application of happiness. If it’s truly worth it to you, regardless of how hard, 5 days is enough time to sit on your butt and then begin on the final day (if you’re a procrastinator like me). Funny how our most protected dreams and goals and yearnings can be such a source of difficult beginnings.
Happiness should be in every day life of doing our favorite things. Not the two-week respites we call vacations each year – and have accepted as norms. You know what – screw that. If you want to move to the mountains and fish for trout each day that you cook over a campfire each night and write romance novels – Amen! If your happiness is slaving the 9-5 in busy downtown Manhattan – Amen! If being a stay at home mom is your entire life’s goal, and once you’ve achieved it you’re supremely happy – Amen!
We, collectively as a society, must stop accepting that our loves and desires come in short spurts – in between long bouts of self imposed hell. And this is supposed to be our lives?
I’m not sure about the law of attraction sometimes. I think the phrase is highly commercialized. I do, though, believe this with full faith and all of who I am – to attract attractive things, people, work – you must be in active pursuit of being attractive to them. I realize that may sound confusing at first…but think about it word by word…then it’s like an ahh-hah moment.
Being attractive to whatever it is you want to attract – is essential to happiness. It’s absolutely impossible to be happy if trying to attract the wrong thing in your life. If it’s not your destiny to be a millionaire, you’ll be insanely miserable trying to be one. If you’re forcing yourself to be a photographer, but you’re calling is cooking – there’s another short road to a tall cliff.
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