When his sister Alyssa graduated two years ago, I surprised myself by getting teary. But then I realized my emotion came from seeing the life ahead of her, a story still to be written, with so many possibilities.
As I watched the graduation ceremony that day, I thought about what I most wanted Alyssa to know as she went out into the world. (I wrote about my thoughts for her in Six Beliefs that Make Anything Possible)
This time around, I was prepared to be emotional. And I was.
Adam was thrilled to be graduating. High school was not an enjoyable experience for him, and he’s beyond happy that it’s now in his rear-view mirror.
I don’t have a shred of doubt that Adam will do amazing things in his life. He’s the kindest and most empathetic human being I know; he came into the world that way.
He also inherited the family worry gene.
I know that gene well. It took me a lot of years to learn how to let go of worry.
It took those years to understand that it’s actually riskier to play safe than it is to go for what you want. Ultimately, security comes from within you, not from external factors.
Adam, just like the rest of us, will learn what he needs to learn the way he needs to learn it. But to give him a running start, here are eight lessons I learned that helped me let go of worry so I could persevere in creating happiness and the life I want.
- You NEVER know how things will turn out … not when you’re careful and not when you take chances.
You’re not in control of the universe. (You knew that, right? :-))
You can have a plan, a safety net, and a back-up plan. You still don’t get guaranteed outcomes.
And that’s actually liberating, because it means you don’t have to waste your energy trying to wrestle your life into submission. Instead, you get to channel that energy towards your dreams and goals.
- Don’t get attached to the way you think things are supposed to play out.
Most of life is not a straight line.
In the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a group of British retirees are enticed by an ad for the “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful.” Each of them arrives with different expectations, and of course nothing is as any of them anticipated.
This exchange between two of the characters perfectly describes the unpredictable nature of life:
Evelyn: Nothing here has worked out quite as I expected.
Muriel: Most things don’t. But sometimes what happens instead is the good stuff.
It’s so true.
There are many paths to happiness and success, and there’s no one right way to get there.
- You must replenish yourself regularly to be the best version of you.
Find stillness. Reflect. Move your body. Get enough sleep. Fuel yourself with healthy, delicious food. Practice gratitude.
Learn what fills you up.
The more you pour into yourself, the more you’ll have to give. And the better you’ll be able to gracefully navigate the twists and turns in life.
- It’s ALWAYS worth investing the energy to pursue your passion.
Your job is to discover your passion and then live it.
That’s when you’ll be your happiest and have your greatest impact.
- No one else knows what is right for you.
People will reflect their own dreams, fears, hopes, wants, and needs onto you.
If you worry about what everyone else thinks or try to make everyone happy, you’ll never find your own path. (And it won’t change what they think OR make them happy.)
- Don’t settle for anything less than happiness. You deserve as much happiness as your heart can hold.
- Success follows happiness, not vice versa.
Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, is regarded as one of the world’s leading experts on the connection between happiness and success. He argues that happiness fuels success and he has the research to back it up.
His 12-minute TED talk on the topic is well worth watching.
To boost your success, boost your happiness.
- Wherever you go, there you are.
YOU will always be the common denominator in all of your experiences.
Be intentional in the choices you make about your attitude, actions, and reactions, how you spend your time and who you spend it with, and the way in which you show up in the world.
Most of all, make the choice to believe in yourself, to be courageous, and to trust that you’ll land exactly where you’re supposed to be.
“I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of a man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.” ~ Jack London