How can you find happiness?
I wish I could give you an easy solution. I wish I could tell you that one day you will happen upon your path, your gifts will be exercised and appreciated, you will travel the world, you will have a beautiful family, you will buy the home, you will do the thing, you will win the game, and at last, you will be happy. I wish I could tell you that those milestones you’ve set, that baby you want to have, the number you want to see in your account, the number you want to see on the scale–I wish I could tell you that at the end of these great struggles, happiness awaits, arms open, ready to dazzle you forever.
What I can tell you is this: having everything you want still ain’t the answer.
Even the most gorgeous view becomes a bore.
Wake up to see the Eiffel Tower every morning, and it will become merely another part of your morning landscape, as mundane as the coffee cup by your bedside–if you allow it.
“I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer,” Jim Carrey once said.
Does the following sound familiar?
I got married. I had the baby. I made the career. I bought the house. Why the fuck am I waking up heart-pounding at 4:46 every morning, racked with anxiety I can’t name, stalked by sadness that does not correlate to the apparently successful conditions in my life?
First things first, finding happiness is–for me at least–a daily discipline that I train as seriously as I’ve trained any physical discipline.
Before you retreat to a place of defensiveness and argue for the permanence and correctness of your own sadness–“I personally am uniquely incapable of happiness because I’m uniquely depressed/sick/victimized/etc”–allow me to postulate that there are people on the earth living in the most inhumane conditions with unimaginable tragedy under their belts who still live joyously. For real.
Your life is hard? I bet it is. Life is fucking hard. Recently on Facebook, I asked my friends, “what are you going through right now,” and from dying loved ones to terrible illness to tragic accidents, the answers were humbling, to say the least. That’s the good news, and I guess the bad news, too–you’re not alone in this whole “life is hard” thing.
It’s true. Life is hard and the world is unstable. Other people are unstable. Relationships are unstable. Even our health–unstable. There is so much that we cannot control. We create a million hypothetical safeguards in our minds to protect against the instability of life–if we get married, we’ll always be together—if I get this degree, I’ll always have a job–only to discover, again and again, that the safeguards were always illusions. Life changes, and no promise in the world will change that.
Therefore, allow me to encourage you control what you can control, and that is where you direct your thoughts and your energy.
We spend a lot of time freaking out about what other people might think of us, taking great care to become seemly in the eyes of others. From the photos we choose to post, to the clothes we wear, to the way we word a text–caught the fuck up, worried about everyone else but yourself.
A surprising suggestion that can alleviate this obsessive self-flagellation?
Humble yourself. With all love and respect, you are not the center of the world’s attention. Not even Beyonce is the center of the world’s attention. You’re worried about what people think of you? My friend, they’re barely thinking of you. Those eyes you imagine are clocking your every move? They don’t exist. Even if you do have haters/enemies/underminers who spend real time contemplating how much you suck–well, whose problem is that? In whose mind, in whose world, do these destructive thoughts wreak havok? Remember this, my friend: what happens within the landscape of others’ minds is not your reality. You really, really don’t occupy that landscape.
Stop creating narratives to freak yourself out, and instead appreciate the reality you currently occupy. Taking a nice walk down the nature path, only to mentally race through every potential awful thing that might happen should x meet up with y at the intersection of z? Worried about what might happen if, if, if….? Stop. Look at the fucking leaves on the trees. Listen to the squirrels scamper. Smell the honeysuckle. Be present where you actually are, now. This moment–is your actual life. Everything else is only imagination. Do not waste your actual life, the here and now, the only life that exists, rehearsing for a future you can’t possibly control.
Direct your energy towards that which exercises your gifts for the benefit of everyone–
In the interest of focusing my energy on my greatest gifts…for the very first time, I will be hosting a writing retreat!
The retreat happens Spring 2019.
When’s the last time you’ve spent the day composing brilliance, and then sharing it with your friends around the fire after supper? When’s the last time you’ve laughed at yourself over a failure, a complete dud, a total blooper, learned to not take yourself so seriously, learned to try again? When’s the last time you even considered making art? When’s the last time you thought you had a story worth telling, wisdom worth sharing? Has it been too long?
Let’s fix that.
Drive through the clouds along the famous Cherohala Skyway to reach a hidden gem nestled in the green hills and mountains of North Carolina–a historic and secluded mountain lodge few know about, but those who do, return again and again…. As you are surrounded by ancient trees, the peaceful sounds of nature, and panoramic mountain views, the rocking chairs on the terrace are calling your name…. Why not grab a hot cup of tea–or a glass of wine–and take a deep breath, my friend. You are here. You’ve made it. No TVs. No cell phones. Just you, disconnected from the chatter, and reconnected to the voice within, luxuriating in the time and space to reflect, to create.
Join me and a dozen other friends as we spend three nights and days dreaming, writing, reading, responding, talking books and sharing stories, collaborating and inspiring one another, in a hidden lodge in the mountains of North Carolina in the spring of 2019.
For the first time ever, this retreat is open to all genders! Everyone will have their own bed in their own room.