When I tell people I write books about happiness, they often ask how do you become and stay happy? As a life coach and author of the new book Adventures for Your Soul: 21 Ways to Transform Your Habits and Reach Your Full Potential, I make happiness a daily habit. I do this by following my heart.
But the truth is many of us don’t know what our heart wants. We spend years listening to others tell us what is best for us, only to find that when we get the corner office, the hefty bonus check, the perfect body or dream home, we still feel as if something is missing. On my own journey to happiness, I spent years cycling in an out of depression. At one point, I was addicted to drugs and suffering from eating disorders. I hit rock bottom and in my complete surrender, I could sense a shift. My inner voice said, “ Follow your heart.” So I picked myself up off of the cold bathroom floor and dedicated myself to my dreams.
Five years later, I am living my dream life and honestly the happiest person I know. I am not going to lie, finding your purpose and passion isn’t an overnight thing. But dedicating yourself to happiness is a choice, and when you commit to it, your entire life will transform.
For me, I knew I was happy when….
1. I let go of expectations
Life, relationships, your career are all full of ebbs and flows. The most brilliant moment of my life was the day I realized I could be and do anything I wanted. It is never too late to start again. I went to a master program for advertising and after a decade in the industry realized how unhappy I was. So I walked away without regret. It didn’t matter that I had student loan debt. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know what I wanted to do. All I knew was what I was doing wasn’t working. So I let go of expectations and decided to change course. That led me to my dream job: an author, life coach and travel writer. I released my expectations on how my life was suppose to go and that opened up new possibilities to live a life far more fulfilling than what I originally planned.
2. I stopped focusing on how I looked and instead focused on how I felt.
I’ve tried every diet. For decades, I was obsessed with how I looked. “Will they like me? Do I fit in? Is this outfit okay?” I spent years trying to be someone I am not, all in a desperate attempt to fit in and be accepted. I was vegan, vegetarian, dabbled in paleo, juice cleansed, attended week-long meditation retreats, met with spiritual gurus, hired my own life coach, worked with personal trainers and even did 30 days in a row of hot yoga — all because I was obsessed with how I looked. After all, these are the things you are supposed to do to be healthy, happy and to look good. But at the end of all of it, I was still miserable. It wasn’t until I stopped focusing on the outside goals and shifted to the inside that things changed for me. Today, I focus on how I feel and that becomes my guidance system for true inner peace.
3. I become great friends with my parents.
My parents are no longer just my parents. I’ve crossed over into the adulthood, where I sharing life triumphs and goals with them. Sure they still give advice, what I should be eating, or shouldn’t for that matter, who I should be dating or where I should live. But all of their little comments that can crossover into jabs are meant with love. Once I recognized my parents are just doing the best they can with what they know, I felt closer to them and accepted them as they are. But life gets a lot more fun when you can be friends with your folks.
4. I started doing what I love for a living.
When I first left advertising, I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer. But in my free time, I started to travel and write and fell in love with the process. I discovered my ultimate career by exploring and trying new things. It wasn’t easy to go from a secure high-paying salary in advertising to working for minimum wage. But in the transition, I was able to carve out time for my writing and eventually, after the all the tedious struggle, I was fulfilled and now make a fabulous living doing what I love. If you don’t start, you will never get to the fulfilling part. Follow your heart and go for it. Your dream job is waiting for you.
5. I started investing in myself.
The day I hired my own life coach, everything changed. I learned new things and adopted new behaviors. I started to attend courses in areas of interest, tried new hobbies and explored my heart’s true desires. We are always changing and growing. Investing in yourself, whether it’s a life coach, a new book or an online course, can transform your life in powerful ways. Don’t be afraid to invest in your dreams.
6. I stopped cheating on my future with my past.
The biggest shift for me was when I stopped looking at past mistakes as mistakes. Instead, I realized how much I had learned and grown from each blunder. I forgave myself and realized all is in right order.
These tips from the authors new book Adventures for Your Soul.
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