I cried in front of six strangers a few weeks ago.
And not drops of tears, dignified kind of pretty crying. I full out bawled, ugly face, makeup streaked, snotty dripping kind of crying.
The last few weeks (months) have been really rough. I’m writing this now after I’ve overcome the worst of it, but it was tough going for a while. I was supposed to go away for the weekend, but through a fortunate (and many ways, unfortunate) turn of events, I had to cancel my trip and stay in Toronto for the weekend.
So, distraught and sad and unhappy and full of self-pity, I took on a Hail Mary of sorts. For years now, a good friend of mine had been badgering me to attend a class with the Art of Living Foundation and I always brushed it off.
“I’m not available that weekend,” I’d say. Or I would say it was too expensive. Or the class wasn’t that interesting. But when my friend, her Spidey senses tingling, messaged me out of the blue recently and told me to take this course, I took it as a sign.
“You’ll thank yourself for this,” she said. I was skeptical to be honest, but I was desperate enough and unhappy enough that I had to try something. So I signed up literally the night before for a three-day retreat with the Art of Happiness Program
I won’t go into details of the program (you should just check it out) but in spite of myself, I did genuinely thank myself for going. And I continue to say my thanks to this day.
The course is called The Happiness Program, so obviously we talked a lot about how to be happy. But my biggest takeaway wasn’t necessarily the tactics or strategies to find happiness. It was pointing out all the ways that I’ve intentionally, or unintentionally, chosen unhappiness. That for so much of my life, I’ve been postponing my own happiness, the same way a kid might postpone her homework.
Jerome constantly tells me, “it’s not about the destination. It’s the journey that’s important.” To which I would roll my eyes and say, “but if the road isn’t bringing you anywhere, WTF is the point?!”
As an entrepreneur, life is stressful af. You can set little goals for yourself like, “reach $1000 in sales this month” or “find 3 more freelance clients” and you can have a mini celebration when you reach it. But the folly of humans is that we’re always waiting for what’s next.
We hit the $1000, maybe treat ourselves to a little mani/pedi or a sushi dinner (for Jerome and I, it’s usually the latter 😉 . But once the party is over, then it’s like “okay, so where is the next goal? The next challenge? The next this and that and this.”
We think, “When X happens, then I’ll be happy.”
But the nature of entrepreneurship is that it’s never easy. And it’s never over.
When I make my first sale, then I’ll be happy.
When our business makes a profit, then I’ll be happy.
When we break $100K in revenues, then I’ll be happy.
When I can go on vacation, then I’ll be happy.
You see, once you reach “success” as a business, that’s not even the last step. How do you stay successful? How do you keep your place in line, continue finding the best clients, stay above the competition, stay up to date with technology, continue to grow?
Is there really a destination at the end of it all?
I learned a lot of things after my breakdown. But one of the best lessons that came to me was this:
Once you accept the beauty of the present, then life becomes more than the pursuit of happiness. Instead, it becomes the expression of it.
– Julia, my Art Of Living Instructor
Happiness is now. Not later. Not after a big sale, not after you land 5 clients, not after you book your dream vacation. Being happy is a conscious decision. And you have to make it every single day, every single moment.
I learned this amazing lesson.
And all I had to do was cry before a roomful of strangers.