Happines Is: What I Am Not

Friday, March 14th, 2014

This post is part of a series of happiness interviews, which I use to showcase some of the many ways people can find happiness on their own terms.

Sheila is my muse.

When I sit down to write or prepare a talk, I picture her face. She’s not wealthy, or super into self-help books, or bored and looking for a project. She is a woman in whom I recognize myself and my own journey.

Sheila is a member of the Happiness Tribe, and I have been honored to witness her amazing transformation over the last few years.

She’s gone from working full time to being a stay-at-home mom – which took a lot of planning, sacrificing, and brave leaping to make happen. She’s weathered the loss of her mom, found the confidence to more fully live her values (including going all hippy and green when her friends thought she was crazy!), and recently moved with her husband and kids to Texas just because they thought it would be a better fit for them.

Sheila reminds me that it is possible for everyone to find their own voice and walk their own path.

I believe her thoughts on happiness will resonate with you.

Stolen from Sheila's Facebook page. She'll probably kill me when she sees this.

Stolen from Sheila’s Facebook page without permission.

How do you define happiness?

I don’t think happiness is something that I can actually define. I just know that, for the first time in my adult life, I am truly, 100% legitimately happy.

Happiness is not necessarily something that I am so much as something I am not.

I am not weighed down by:

  • Negative thoughts
  • Tumultuous relationships
  • Extreme drama
  • Ridiculous baggage

Obviously I have my bad days where I feel like the world is conspiring against me, but I am at peace and excited to live my life in whatever way I see fit.

What makes you happy?

Dr. Pepper makes me happy.  Fudge Rounds make me happy.

In all seriousness though, what makes me happy is finally knowing that it’s okay to have bad days.

Having a bad day no longer means that I have to ride some crazy emotional roller coaster and start over from scratch.  I can have a bad day and then, *BAM* the next day I’m right back to where I was two days ago.

Are there any “shoulds” you’ve had to let go of in order to pursue your happiness?

sheila-quoteOh Lord. EVERYTHING!  I took everything that I thought I knew and that I thought I wanted and threw it out the damned window.

I started from scratch so I could figure out what I wanted, what I thought, what I felt.  I’d spent so much time being the person that everyone else thought I should be that I didn’t have a freakin’ clue who the heck I was. (Editor’s note: I think I say this exact same sentence at least once a month!)

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received about happiness?

“Happiness is a journey, not a destination.”

This goes along with the whole “it’s okay to have bad days” thing, I guess.

Life is not always going to be easy.  There are days where you will feel absolutely defeated and that the entire world is conspiring against you. Happiness is something that needs to be consistently worked towards.

You don’t just get there, spray paint a sign that says “Sheila was here” and then turn around and go back.

TEDx Announcement, Scholarship Winner, and a Sale

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

If you’re my friend on Facebook, you may have already seen the announcement – the one I’ve been hinting at and dying to tell you about for a couple months now.

I’m giving a TEDx talk next month.

Watch the announcement video where I sound very wise and inspirational:

This is something I’ve been dreaming of doing for a very long time, and I am over the freaking moon excited about it. If you’re in the Pittsburgh area, I hope you’ll attend the event. Click here for tickets.

Today is also scholarship granting day!

I’m pleased to announce that Amanda aka BitingPanda on Twitter is the recipient of free tuition to the upcoming Pursuit of Happiness Course! Congrats, Amanda – I look forward to seeing you in class.

To Everyone Else Who Didn’t Win a Scholarship:

I have fantastic news.

Thanks to some behind-the-scene changes to the tools we’ll be using for the course, I’m able to offer three more seats than I expected. I’ve decided to offer these three extra seats at a deep discount.

The first three people who take advantage of this offer will get access to Session 1 for just $69.

That’s more than $100 off the full price.

That’s insane and my business coaches are going to ream me when I meet with them next week, but that’s OK.

I want these three extra seats to be an opportunity for people who can’t afford the full tuition but are just as desperate to get unstuck.

I want taking this class to feel less scary for the woman who isn’t used to spending very much money on herself.

My gut tells me this is the right thing to do.

As a reminder, here’s what you can expect from Session 1:

  • Tools to help you handle distractions and focus on what really matters to you.
  • Strategies for dealing with unhappy people (even the ones you’re related to).
  • Personalized daily habits that will make you happier now and after the class has ended.
  • A support system of people who are making similar changes in their own lives.

Fill out the form below to register for Session 1 at the special price of $69.

UPDATE: All of these seats have been sold. You can still go here to purchase a seat at the regular price.

Everything I Know About Love I Learned From My Separation

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Britt and JaredI’m writing this on the morning of my 14th wedding anniversary. Every year on this date I say a little prayer of thanks, because we almost didn’t make it here.

I’ve finally learned how to replace my guilt with gratitude. That makes this day sweeter and easier to celebrate. But it doesn’t mean that I’ve forgotten what it was like to almost lose this relationship.

I hope I never forget what I learned about love from almost getting divorced.

Love is a choice.

They say you can’t choose who you love, and maybe that’s true – but you can definitely choose to keep loving. And if you want to stay married, you have to. You can’t count on hormones or destiny or some mystical force that binds characters together in romance novels.

Love is a choice I get to make every single day.

I remember the moment I decided to keep loving Jared. It was as if the fog lifted and all my confusion and resistance just evaporated. I realized how much power I had to make things right, and to make things good.

Love is not universal.

We like to simplify love. We water it down into something you just feel, something everyone gets, something you can spot in a YouTube video.

But it’s not that simple.

Love that connects people comes in many languages and dialects. It’s shared through words, gifts, time, touch, and service.

You have to learn your own language and the language of your partner. You have to be both teacher and student. You have to keep practicing and always remembering that what you say may not be heard if you stick to your own language.

Love does not keep score.

This is one of the few things about love the movies get right. Love moves on; it’s part of that continual choice.

I used to think that Jared and I would only have to get past the big hurts, the big apologies. If we could forgive each other those, marriage would be simple.

But we keep screwing up. We are late, we forget to call, we snap and snarl and say things we shouldn’t.

And we let go. We wipe the slate clean again and again, because that’s the only way we can feel safe enough to really connect.

Love is terrifying.

I’ve been married for 14 years and I’ve known my husband for 22 years, and sometimes it still scares the crap out of me to let him see me.

It scares me when I have to admit that I’m feeling needy. It scares me when I have to tell him I’m hurt. It scares me when I have to tell him what I want from him, knowing he might say no.

It scares me when he doesn’t want to talk, because I can’t make him. And that reminds me that a big part of my life and my happiness depends on a person I can’t control.

Terrifying.

Some days I think loving is the bravest thing any person has ever done.

Love evolves.

Love is a connection between two people, and people change. That love has to keep changing if it’s going to stay tied up.

I’ve noticed people rarely grow at the same rate or in exactly the same direction. Our marriage seems to be a constant dance with us moving towards and away from each other. The distant times are painful, but they inspire me to move closer.

The cheek-to-cheek times make it worth it.

It helps me to remember this constant movement. It helps me to have faith, to keep wiping the slate, to keep showing up even when I fear he can’t see me anymore.

It reminds me to savor the really good times.

Love is worth it.

I learned to let go of my romanticized notions of what love looked like. I learned that Romeo and Juliet, who share an anniversary with us, were more tragic than admirable – and Scarlet O’Hara is no great role model either.

But with every pretty-on-the-surface thing I let go of, and with every hard lesson I took in, I also discovered that real, lasting, steadfast, day-in-day out love is so much better than what they show us in the movies.

To be seen and chosen on good days and bad, in sickness and in health, for better and for worse – that is worth all the work.

Happy Anniversary, Jared. I’m so glad I get to do the work with you. xo

Brendan’s Definition of Happiness: Work You Absolutely Love

Friday, March 7th, 2014

In Cate Blanchett’s Oscar speech last weekend, she reminded the world that a) people will pay to see women in movies and b) there is a lot of talent in Australia.

I agree with her on both accounts.

Brendan Baker isn’t making movies about women, but he does hail from the land down under – and his talent and drive propelled him to a successful career at a very young age. By 24, Brendan was making a 6 figure income as a human resources mucky muck (official title) – and then he quit.

He tells us why in today’s happiness interview.

brendan-baker

What makes you happy?

There are a lot of things that make me happy! :) Such as my fiance, my family and friends, food, sunshine, getting out in nature…

However, I feel the best thing for me that sustains my happiness is to be doing work that I absolutely love.

This is where I feel most people are let down in terms of their own happiness. When you’re spending 8 hours per day at work, it really needs to be something that you love doing. I believe this is the only true way of lasting happiness.

I also believe that the work that you do should have a positive impact on society or to someone else. It’s about having that sense of purpose and meaning and really adding value with your life.

For me personally, I love seeing people grow, witnessing beliefs change, being part of the experience of helping someone achieve success in their life.

What steps did you take to figure out what makes you happiest?

It has been a long, hard road and I actually feel there is a long way for me to go.

When I was seven years old I almost died. I hit my head on a moving train and fell in between the gap of the platform at a train station and the moving train itself. Somehow I survived.

Surprisingly, even at such a young age I still remember having these thoughts of “Wow! What if I just died? Has my life even mattered?”

From that day I’ve simply been exploring life as much as possible and trying out as many things as I can to see what I enjoy the most. I think on last count I’ve had about 20 different jobs :) Some were great, some I absolutely hated. I realized that the jobs that I really enjoyed were the ones that I felt I was making a difference in this world.

Although I feel as though now I have found my mission in terms of my line of work, I’m still very new to other areas of life that can lead to happiness, such as meditation – which is something I’m currently trying to learn and get the hang of!

Are there any “shoulds” you’ve had to let go of in order to pursue your happiness?

Ohhh YES! This one gets me so fired up! :)

I really feel that we live in a society that is FULL of “should’s” or “ought-to’s”.

Unfortunately, everyone is brought up knowing that they should get a great paying, secure job. A great paying, secure job can help you live your best life, right?

brendan-baker-too-much-of-one-thingWell it can, if you are purely materialistic, but I honestly believe that every human being desires more than just a fancy car and a fancy house!

That is the single biggest “should” I have had to let go of. I remember when I was first negotiating the thought of leaving my corporate career and pursuing something that I loved. Those doubts and fears were so prominent and it was reinforced by family, friends and society saying that it’s risky and that I “should” stay in a corporate career where I have great income.

However, after personally experiencing it, I found that the moment I walked out the door of my corporate career for the last time, those fears and doubts vanished and I just started waking up happier each day.

That was just 6 months ago. So, I’m still not earning the same income I was earning when I was in the corporate world, but you know what? I’m happier :) And I wouldn’t change it for the world.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received about happiness?

“Happiness is not a destination, it’s a journey.”

I don’t think it’s advice someone told me, but I’ve read about it a number of times and it absolutely holds true.

I believe focusing on reaching the state of happiness can actually lead to frustration. Instead, it’s about living in the moment and being conscious of your thoughts and your decisions. This can then enable you to take the right steps that will create a fun, fulfilling and happy journey for you in life.

The other best piece of advice I have received is that happiness is about balance. Too much of one thing is never a good thing. :) You always need to spend quality time in all areas of life.

Brendan Baker helps people who feel stuck doing work they don’t like start to make a difference and an income doing what they love. He writes over at The Start of Happiness and has created the Launch Your Life Academy to support people gain clarity of their goals in life and stay focused and motivated in achieving them.

Win a Scholarship for the Pursuit of Happiness eCourse

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

pursuit of happiness scholarship

The first session of the Pursuit of Happiness eCourse starts in just two weeks, and I can’t wait!

I’ve been looking forward to working directly with readers since before An Amateur’s Guide to the Pursuit of Happiness was published, and I know this is going to be a transformational experience for those who join me.

By the end of the 8 weeks, you will have:

  • A better understanding of what motivates and inspires you.
  • Your own mission statement.
  • Daily habits that keep you happier and grateful.
  • More self confidence.

This is your chance to join for free.

It’s important to me to build giving back into every aspect of my business. That’s why I have a reduced speaking fee for non-profit organizations, why I offered free downloads of my book for three days last fall, and why I saved space in this class for a scholarship winner.

One Scholarship Recipient Will Receive:

That’s a combined value of $430!

Like everyone who takes the Pursuit of Happiness eCourse, I’ll be working through An Amateur’s Guide to the Pursuit of Happiness with you. You’ll get a chance to apply the lessons to your own life and get direction as you create your personal recipe for happiness.

So, how do you apply for a scholarship?

Winning this scholarship is going to take more than a stroke of luck.

The good news is, you have no control over luck. What you can control is your effort and your willingness to open up.

To apply for a scholarship to the Pursuit of Happiness eCourse, please answer one of these two questions:

What would you do if you had more self confidence?

OR

What are you ready to let go of in order to be happier?

You can answer these questions using one of these formats:

All entries must be posted by 11:59 Eastern on March 12. The winner will be announced on March 13.

I’m looking forward to seeing your answers and welcoming one courageous applicant into the class.

Good luck!