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The Messy, Wonderful Non-Linear Path to Happiness


I’ve been hermitting myself the past couple weeks as I spent some time evaluating the current state of affairs in my life, relationship, and business with the simple mantra “more of what I like, less of what I don’t” running through my mind.

I recently came upon an opportunity in my career, and it may mean changing my plan a little, or a lot. I don’t know where exactly it will lead just yet, but I’m excited for the possibility it creates.

Another part of me clearly objects and calls into question my commitment, my direction, and God forbid, what it might look like to others if I take a turn off course instead of showing up consistently on the path I’ve begun.

And therein lies the rub. The constant battle between how things look versus how they feel.

It’s got me thinking, how many times are we given the chance in our life to make choices that don’t necessarily fall in line with expectations, with a traditional path, with logic, and yet, our heart, our gut, our intuition, whatever you want to call it, tells us (as a yell, or maybe only a whisper) to go for it?

How many times do we get caught up in our heads and talk ourselves out of it instead?

I think what gets in the way of our happiness is this idea that we have to be a certain way, and what we do has to look right. The more endorsements we get for living in our prescribed box—the money, prestige, respect—the harder it is to just show up in whatever way feels real and trust that that’s enough.

I met with a woman this week who was such an inspiration. She talked about her kids, and how they teach her the lesson of being in the moment, trying things, and exploring.

Little kids just enjoy the process of being alive, rather than equating happiness with some end state. They don’t care how it looks, or if it makes sense with their body of work, or if it’s appropriate. If it’s fun, they want to do it. They connect with that on a visceral level.

As we get older, I think we lose touch with that felt sense of experiencing something for it’s own sake, or we try to tell ourselves there are more important things than enjoyment. I mean, work is hard, it’s not supposed to be fun, right?

Not necessarily.

I’d argue the whole reason we’re here is to learn how to connect with that place of what lights us up because when we do, we not only start effortlessly attracting opportunity, we also accomplish more.

When we’re not forcing ourselves to fit to a mold, we have more energy to focus our intention on what really matters and make more of an impact overall.

The problem, as I see it, is that we’re just so quick to look outside of ourselves for validation. Our egos project confidence, “fake it ‘til you make it” becomes a mantra, and we’re so used to actively trying to be successful, intelligent, and significant in this desperate search for legitimacy that we think we’re just being ourselves.

Until the effort gets the better of us and we’re exhausted, depressed, or feeling stuck.

Something that’s helped me start to break this cycle in the past year is recognizing those signals for what they are, messengers from myself meant to get me curious about what’s working and what’s not working.

So if you feel drained, if you don’t even know what would it would look like for work to feel fun, or if you have an itch to pursue a calling that doesn’t make logical sense, ask yourself…

Where are you enjoying your life, and where are you searching, forcing, or trying too hard for happiness?

What if you could just trust that everything has a purpose, even the random twists you take?

What if the stakes weren’t so high, you didn’t have to take it all so seriously, and it could just be a little more fun?

Reading this post back to myself I can see that it’s followed a more non-linear process of how my brain works. Deep breath, resisting the urge to edit. This is what’s real for me right now.

In that same spirit, I’m reminded of a quote I want to share from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button:

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it.

I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”



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