I don't know about you, but I've spent a lifetime seeking answers.
I've sought answers to existential questions like, “Why am I here?” and “What is my purpose in life?” But I've also spent a lot of time trying to figure out answers to some very basic and personal questions.
How can I be happy?
How do I feel good about myself and improve my self-confidence?
How can I be successful?
How can I stop worrying so much and feeling stressed?
How can I find love?
All of us share some very basic desires, beginning with the longing for sustained happiness. If we can feel confident, successful, calm, and loved most of the time — I'd say that's the formula for a happy life. And if we can find the answer to that existential question, “What is my life purpose?” — then the experience of living becomes even richer and more profound.
In my search for happiness, success, peace of mind, and love, I've read hundreds of books and blogs, taken courses, and listened to gurus and mentors. I've struggled, felt hopeful, felt despondent, thought I had the answers, and learned many of the answers were all wrong.
There are so many aspects of life that are unpredictable and out of our control. And it's during these times we discover our “solutions” or answers often don't hold water. Tell someone who's out of work or dealing with a life-threatening illness to “attract” a job or perfect health, and you might get a black eye.
Suggest to someone who is deeply depressed that they should just meditate or stop eating gluten, and they'll likely pull the blanket over their head and cry.
Some parts of life are just hard. All we can do is manage them, live through them, and try to heal after they occur.
However, much of our potential for happiness IS in our control. It's taken me a long time and many life experiences to figure out how to control the controllable parts. But over time, I made three fearless decisions that have been critical to my own happiness. Maybe they will help you too.
Decision #1: Stop feeding my fears
It's nearly impossible to just stop being afraid. We meet our fears in some form every single day. We fear failure. We fear trying new things. We fear for our health or the health of our loved ones. We fear loss. We fear death. And mostly we fear those bad feelings that come with fear.
Fear drains our energy and joy for life. It's impossible to be happy when you are fearful.
Over the years, I've learned that most of my fears never come to pass. Or if they do occur, they are much more manageable than I feared they would be.
So with that knowledge and history around my fears, I made the decision to stop feeding my fears. I used to hang on to my fears for days and days, trying to figure out all possible outcomes and how to head things off at the pass.
But now I make myself stop thinking about the fearful thing. If there is something practical to be done to alleviate the problem, I do it. Then beyond that, I remind myself that my fears rarely come to pass, and that I can manage whatever comes my way. I distract myself with work or something else until the fear feelings dissipate.
This was hard to do at first, as I'd trained myself to latch on to my fears. But over time, it's become automatic to immediately disengage from my fears.
Decision #2: Love and embrace my true self
I spent a lot of years trying to be somebody. I crafted a very nice person who had all of the qualities of someone I thought I should be. I did this mostly because I didn't know who I was. I didn't know who I was because I'd never taken the time to investigate that, at least in any conscious way.
But once I made the decision that I was the only person who knew best what was right for me, and I defined what “best” was, then I had the freedom to make other decisions. I also began to love the person I am, the real person who has now become more authentic, compassionate, and self-confident.
When you embrace and love your true self, you will experience some difficulties. You may piss off a few people. You may feel afraid at first that some part of you is dying. But in time, you will feel like you are soaring. You will feel like you've stepped out into the sunshine after being in the shadows for years.
Once you define who you are and your own “personal operating system” for your life, you will feel peaceful, content, and free.
Decision #3: Chase down my life passion and pursue it daily
For me, being successful means doing work I love that is engaging and purposeful. For years, I didn't know what I was passionate about — mainly because I hadn't identified my true self. But I knew that something vital was missing in my experience of life.
My mission for several years was to find something that made me feel alive, my passion. I had no instruction manual on how to do this. I just started feeling my way, taking assessments, researching careers, reading, and testing various interests.
I was persistent and determined because some part of me knew that I had more to offer myself and the world than what I was doing. My persistence paid off. I went back to school to get my coaching certification, began a coaching practice, and started a blog to market my coaching.
Then I became passionate about blogging, writing, teaching, and serving people all around the world with personal growth techniques through my two blogs and my Path to Passion course. I am doing what I love every single day, and I feel happy and content in my work. My passion has evolved into a life purpose.
Just these three decisions have changed my life entirely. I have been proactive and creative in the way I choose to live my life and view the world. I have worked to overcome my fears so they don't poison all of the good I've created for myself. I have found what makes me feel engaged and passionate.
I hope you will make these decisions for your life as well.