There were many motivating factors that led me to writing Designing Your Ideal Life. In fact, the long journey I have taken could not have happened without my understanding that “Happiness” and “Success” are two entirely different matters. I want to give you a couple of illustrations but first, a little about my background.
My parents and stepparents were very good people but like a lot of people they instilled in me that the harder you worked, the more successful you would become. My parents believed that if you were successful in your employment and made money; if you had a decent marriage, a nice car, a big home and all of that, you would have a happy life. I took that message and ran with it. After all, that is also the image we see of success in the movies, on television and magazines.
I worked very hard and began to climb the ladder. The company I worked for was privately held and the culture was one that pushed me to work ever longer hours and on bigger and bigger projects. Outwardly it paid off. I had teams reporting to me and I made an impressive salary. Society had expected me to succeed and I did. I had the trappings of success – and I was completely, totally and utterly miserable. My life was falling apart.
In my awakening, I ultimately realized that to the owner of the company, I was viewed no differently than his maid. We worked there purely to serve his interests. My purpose in his company was to make him more money. There was no real vision in the company, no greater purpose to be served, and in the end my “happiness” or lack of happiness had nothing to do with it. I wanted and needed more. I needed to make a difference. To do that, I needed to do something different.
In the years in which I have worked with people and wrote Designing Your Ideal Life to help even more people, I heard my story played back to me a hundred times over. Based on what I’ve just said, it should surprise no one of the recent headlines of extremely successful comedians, actors, politicians, athletes and business people who have done harm to themselves. We have read of highly successful men and women descending into drugs, alcohol, sexual addictions, fraud, and for some, tragically to suicide.
Success does not guarantee happiness.
Here is where things get a little tricky. Classically, success can be measured by adoring crowds, huge salaries, mansions, and nice cars; a closet filled with designer clothes and hundreds of pairs of shoes and on and on. Success can be quantified. Happiness is a feeling.
Happiness is also relative.
What I mean by “relative” is that my definition of happiness can, and in fact, should be different than yours. Can you be rich and happy? Of course! You can also make a very modest income and be supremely happy.
I am not a “guru.” I have no idea of what happiness should be for you.
However, I do know this; a person who is happy has love in their life; good mental health; a sense of gratefulness; spirituality. It is a life with meaning and good relationships and being healthy enough to serve others. A happy person may be rich – or not, but they are honestly content.
Happiness is not an act to impress others. Happiness is not 500 Friends on Facebook (half of whom don’t even know you!).
Happiness is striving to be better as a person in all areas of your life. Happiness is felt deep down; a place no one except you can reach. Happiness is not “verbal.” No one needs to know you’re “Happy, happy, happy!” The important thing is that you know it.
Designing Your Ideal Life will help you make the journey to happiness and to enable you to reach a place that many “successful” people never find.