Last updated on February 15th, 2023 at 02:12 pm
In American culture and society, we are so often taught that being happy depends upon external events like when your big dream comes true. When you get the dream job, marry the dream spouse, buy the dream house, or (fill in the blank), then you will finally be truly happy.
I am here to tell you that I have found another way to live. Being happy no matter what happens is my new way of being.
This means that when things go my way, I’m happy. And when they don’t, I still find reasons to celebrate life, be grateful, and live with joy.
Often, Things Go My Way
If I am honest, my track record of things “going my way” is reasonably high. I mean, most mornings I wake up feeling reasonably happy and healthy, do a nice morning meditation and have a healthy breakfast, and get started with my day without any major snags.
I have created a lifestyle for myself that I love, with lots of flexibility and plenty of travel. I haven’t worked a 9-to-5 job since the year 2000, by choice. I love living a flexible life as an entrepreneur. It has its ups and downs of course, but I don’t mind the roller coaster ride that it sometimes subjects me to, since working for oneself means higher levels of risk and greater adventures.
I basically live by this Paulo Coelho quote:
“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine. It’s lethal.”
I have amazing family and friends and live a life that is characterized by joy, connection, fun, laughter, and risk-taking. I love taking on new projects, expanding my business, shaking up my life, and expanding my horizons.
In general, day-to-day, life is pretty remarkably amazing. For the most part, I’d say, things “go my way.”
And Then Sometimes, They Don’t
Life is generally pretty wonderful. But I live on Planet Earth, and the last time I checked at least, it’s not a perfect planet, and I’m not a perfect person. Most of the time, most things go my way. Life flows, most of the time.
But I tackle new projects and take risks. I gamble on things. I try something new, often. Sometimes things go my way, and sometimes they don’t.
Last week, a few very big things in my life didn’t go the way I had hoped. One involved someone I love and a decision that was beyond my control. I am a true believer in the philosophy that we cannot make decisions for others, and that we can’t always know what is best for others. That said, there are times when we may be rooting for a friend to choose one course of action over another.
There are times when, from where we are standing, one course of action seems to be better than another. We may try to influence someone to move in a certain direction, not because it’s beneficial for us (which of course, is merely trying to direct someone else’s life path for our selfish purposes) but because we genuinely believe it will be for the best in the long run, for them.
Last week, I had hoped to guide someone to a path that they ultimately did not choose. Nothing you can do but release it, and hope for the best.
I also found out that things do not appear to be going my way with a real estate transaction that I have been pursuing. I wish I could share more details here, but I’m right in the thick of the situation, and I feel like it’s best to keep the details minimal. I just bought a big downtown commercial property recently, and all the news regarding that property is great news. There are areas of my life where things are going well.
And, some parts of my life don’t seem to be aligning right now, no matter how hard I work to try to make things align. There comes a time when you do have to surrender to the universe completely when you’ve done all that you can, and you have to throw up your hands – not in an “I’m defeated” kind of way, but in an “I’ve done all I can” sort of way.
I have done all that I can. At that point, I feel that we simply allow the universe to guide our course. If something is meant to be, it will be.
I don’t believe in passively waiting for your dreams to come to you–I actively go after them. But if I have done all that I can and things are not yet aligning, sometimes it is just time to release things back to the universe.
Leaving Room for Miracles
Sometimes, of course, that is precisely when the miracle comes. I cannot tell you how many times I have done all that I can, and released something, and it suddenly just clicked into place.
It mapped. The phone call came. The check arrived out of the blue which I wasn’t expecting. Somehow, everything clicked into place, in a way that I could not have possibly predicted. This has happened to me more times than I can count. It leaves me convinced that we live in a magical world, and that we simply have to give life our best and show up every day, and life will bring the magic.
When I wanted to stay in San Francisco, but my work contract was up, and my apartment sublet was ending, I just kept looking–for jobs, for apartments. A graduate school friend ended up offering to let me live with her, for free, since her family was abroad and she was living by herself in a big mansion.
Um, my answer was definitely YES!
I scoured the papers and sent out resumes, but ultimately landed work when I stopped for tea one day at a little shack near the ocean. There, two men dressed in business suits asked me if I had gone to Harvard (I was wearing my Harvard baseball hat, thankfully) and ended up hiring me almost on the spot to do strategic planning for them.
Magic happens. When we are working hard and moving in the direction of our dreams, sometimes the universe will just move things along a little more quickly. And when things aren’t aligning, maybe there is a reason that we can’t yet know or understand, but that ultimately will make our life better in the long run. I have to trust in this.
And I do choose to be happy, no matter what. The ups and downs and surprises of my life keep it a great adventure. I would not trade my life for something more routine, for a 9-to-5 job and the same-old, same-old day after day. I like living on the edge a bit. I like making new plans, challenging myself to grow, tackling new projects, and not knowing what’s going to happen next.
I have chosen to live this way. And I have chosen to be happy, no matter what happens.
That of course does not mean that every single second of my life will be ecstatic, although many moments will indeed be ultra-fabulous. It means that my happiness is not contingent upon any external circumstances, whatsoever.
That is a powerful, life-changing choice to make. Because when you decide that you will be happy, no matter what, nothing can shake your happiness.
A change in life circumstances cannot take away your joy, once you realize that your happy place arises from within you. And that is a powerful, and peaceful, place from which to find happiness in your dream life no matter what happens (or doesn’t).
Lisa P. Graham is an inspirational writer, life coach, TED motivational speaker, and globe-trotter whose passion is to help others to find happiness and meaning in their daily lives. A political activist at heart, Lisa would like to empower more women to run for political office as a way to create positive change in the world. You can find her on her website or watch her TEDx speech on YouTube.
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