Close your eyes and answer this simple question – are you happy?
Now imagine being asked this question every day by a loved one, over and over and over again.. what would be your answer?
For me, it was my boyfriend, and for 30 days, I had to answer that question quietly, and it felt so hard to say a word without feeling like an imposter.
Yes, That’s exactly how I felt, like an impostor to me, a fraud to my conscious voice, a different person rather than my true self.
It was six months into living an outwardly successful life that ticked all the boxes. – Including maximizing my income – when I fainted as I was riding the bus to work one day.
I woke up and found myself alone among strangers, wondering, “What’s going on? What’s my body trying to tell me? Why am I doing this?” But, at that time, I had already chosen to ignore the vomiting I experienced nearly every day after work and the purple spots that had reappeared on my body (A Clear signal of something bigger), chalking them both up to temporary stress and excessive fatigue.
My fainting, however, was different – my body had literally shut down and given out, if only for a brief few moments of time. Just a few seconds to breath and get away from the ungrateful idea of success surrounding my head every day.
It was a turning point that helped me realize how I was trading my own health and happiness to chase what I thought was a successful life.
How I was chasing the money I needed to check off a list of “must-have” and “must-do” things and experiences. Only, I was so focused on making the money I thought I needed, I hadn’t been paying attention to my own health.
Something had to change. And, that thing was me, my mindset, and the way I had understood success.
Lucky for me, I already knew the power of my mind and the importance of having a positive mindset. Diagnosed with an illness affecting my immune system as a child, the doctors weren’t optimistic I’d live to see my twenty-fifth birthday.
But I wanted to see all of them, I wanted to explore the world, I wanted to feel alive and be me!
Since I wasn’t about to give in or up, I started dreaming about how I wanted my life to be. I eventually learned that choosing to be happy on the inside was the first step. As I focused more and more on being happy and daydreaming, something unexpected happened – one by one, my dreams started coming true.
As I contemplated all the twists, turns, ups and downs of my life up until the day I fainted, I also realized that traveling on my own in Europe was one of the few times in my life I had ever felt completely satisfied. I arrived to Europe as a student – I won a scholarship to finish my finance degree at a university there – and left with a whole new understanding of success.
Yet when it was time to answer that three-word question – “Are you happy?” – Everything flipped. Because the truth is, most of what I had, I didn’t truly want. I had allowed myself to define my own measure of success according to someone else’s idea of what that meant.
I had always thought that success was a predetermined checklist of achievements applicable to every man, woman, and child on earth.
What I learned, however, is that just like there are a bunch of different ways to make a cake, there is an infinite number of ways to define success. The only one that matters, of course, is the definition you come up with yourself, for yourself. And it will change, by the way. How you define success will grow and evolve as you grow and evolve.
But no definition of the word “Success” implies you getting burnt out and little sick about it, scratch that and start living your happy self, because when you do, you will start living again.