As a species, we seem to be obsessed with happiness.
A friend texted me over the weekend:
“How are you feeling right now, on the scale from 1 to 10? 10 being extremely happy and satisfied, 9 = very happy, 8 = happy, 7 = content, etc.”
After a long pause, I responded.
This weekend I stumbled into full detox mode, cleaning out the little bit of stuff I still have here. Bookshelves and desks, papers and mementoes, clothes and such. In the process, I’ve discovered a few old notebooks and some letters to myself. I thought it appropriate to share them here.
As always, I’m reluctant to share. Why? Because while they may show how far I’ve come, they also reveal how much I still have left to figure out.
For almost five years as a traveling consultant with IBM — it was all true. I found myself on high profile and challenging projects for some of the largest corporations in the world. I labored beside bright and driven individuals. I felt a flourishing career brewing. I felt important and I felt successful.
But over the course of those five years, slowly, reality set in: the work I was doing and the many, many hours I was spending felt empty, disconnected, and meaningless.
To make a long story short — a long story that involves Chris Guilleabeau’s new book The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life, an unconvincing tarot card reading at a yoga & surf retreat in southwestern Portugal, and experiencing the sensation of my heart being slowly broken apart over the past 9 months — I’m going to embark on a 100 day quest.
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“The things which hurt, instruct.”
When’s the last time you cried? I mean, really cried?
Or if you’re not the crying type, when’s the last time you woke up in a cold sweat? Couldn’t fall asleep? Loathed leaving the warmth of your bed?
Or how about the last time you struggled through a daunting task – final exams, an impossible conversation with a parent, scavenging around for funding so you and your employees could eat?
When’s the last time you saw a monster of an obstacle before you — scary, hairy, and grinning like a sonofabitch — and felt like cowering into the fetal position, cursing and intimidated?
If you’re a human being here on planet Earth, it probably hasn’t been too long. Could have been last week. Hell, it may have been this morning.
Here’s a thought: what if those monsters were, in fact, not monsters at all? What if those obstacles were actually your best friends, your wisest teachers, your greatest allies? And what if instead of hating your obstacles, you learned to love them?