If you ran into me today, my ear-to-ear smile may fool you into thinking that I’ve always had this joyful thing happening. If you met me a year ago, you’d probably run the other direction. I was just that unhappy. Now that I’m (sort of) getting the hang of this thriving thing, I've been thinking a lot about that rough time.
While I was a Chicago attorney, I felt like I was falling down a black hole. On the surface, I’d acquired all the trappings of success, but my discontent manifested in weekly illnesses and ailments, constant bitchiness, hating myself, loneliness, exhaustion, and craving other people’s lives. At times I thought that antidepressants and patience were the cure, but I knew there had to be another answer.
After quitting my job, starting my own business, and moving to Los Angeles, I can't say that everyday is a cakewalk, but I certainly can say that I love my life. More than anything I wish I could sit down with my single, unhappy self. This is what I'd say:
1. Things can and will change.
Even without actively changing the situation, everything evolves. All is temporary, so please take "stuck," "ruined," and "defeated" out of your vocabulary.
2. Believe in good people (aka not all men are jerks).
Imagine the greatest people you can: lots of fun, talented, generous, trustworthy, communicative, humorous, loyal, etc. These people will become your friends and your partner when you hold yourself to higher standards and look for the beauty in every person you meet. Believe that these gems are out there, and they will appear.
3. Invest in your happiness.
I'm well aware that you've spent many years and pennies on your education, but you're not done learning. I'm sorry that I'm not sorry. Now, you get to learn things that fuel your passion and self-growth. Don't skimp on this kind of learning. It will bring you more joy than anything else.
4. An abundant life comes from focusing on what you have.
Notice how you feel when you list the things you lack — your body contracts, you stop seeing the goodness you already have, you block abundance. Focusing on what you do have creates not only an attitude of gratitude, but also an openness that allows you to receive more.
5. Challenge is not meant to break you.
You won't fulfill some greater good in the future without this experience. Your current difficulties are serving a purpose that requires the strength you're building right now. The second you believe that your circumstances are preparing, rather than breaking you, you've opened yourself up to endless possibilities.
6. Trust your instincts — always!
Remember that time you were hired as an associate attorney, then within five minutes felt conflicted and got a stomachache? This was a lesson in ignoring your intuition. You proceeded to let sickness and negativity eat away at you without listening to signs that say, "PLEASE CHANGE SOMETHING!" Please listen.
7. When you feel lack, give.
I know you're feeling scared about love and money, not having enough, not creating more, and losing it. I challenge you to give in those times of scarcity and grasping. Give give give. In the action of giving you release the gripping, opening yourself up to receive more. Put simply, give to live until you live to give.
8. Rejection is protection.
It may be difficult to see, but the put-downs, losses, and disappoints are a blessing. You're being protected from putting your energy somewhere other than your purpose. If you meet Mr. Right before you’re ready, you won’t do all of the amazing things the universe has in store for you.
9. Your misery is affecting everyone.
You think that it's selfish to deeply love yourself and create a life that you're crazy about. Well, FYI, darling, your misery is aging your mother, depleting your father, annoying your brother, depressing your friends, scaring off new ones, and rippling through the lives of every person you mean mug. It is infinitely more selfish to remain miserable.
10. Be the hero of your own life.
True, things will change without you doing anything (read #1). However, once you take responsibility for your own happiness, instead of blaming your job, the weather, your friends and family, or the government — making yourself a victim — you can become the hero of your own life. When you actively seek truth, joy, and love, with the vulnerability and diligence you deserve, a fantastic transformation will not be withheld from you.