The secret of life is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.” – Paulo Coelho.
When I was 17 I had a plan. Get a college degree. Check. Have a 6 figure income career. Check. Use my creativity, so I renovated old homes and managed them along with my full time career. Check. Get married at 30. I was 29. Check. Have kids in my mid 30’s. Check. Be a good mother. Check. Have a nice home. Check.
One day I asked a daring question. Am I happy?
Silence. I was not happy. I was a workaholic. I was tired all the time. I was overweight. I was stressed out. I was angry often. I was depressed during down times, so I made sure to have manic activity around me as much as possible. With laser focus I had accomplished everything I wanted. I focused on results and results kept stacking up in my favor. The person I became was not happy. Was not present to enjoy the results. Was not a patient mother. Was not a loving and supportive wife. Was not a good friend; to herself.
“If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change you will get results.” – Jack Dixon
So I made a bold declaration. “No matter what I am going to be happy”.
I asked my husband to move out. I thought if we continued to stay under one roof we would hate each other. I hated the person I had become. I wanted to change, and having a break in our constant hostile interactions was the first step. He agreed to move out. We agreed we were married to each other, we were faithful and that we would work on ourselves. We agreed we still loved each other and that we were best friends. We were not sure if we were still in love.
So my husband had the idea to take a spiritual retreat, with a beloved healer, in a remote location in the mountains to figure it out. We gave each other permission to imagine what it would be like to divorce. After 10 days we realized our blind determination to focus on results had killed our love. So we made a commitment to stop following our flow charts and to start following our heart.
“I honestly think it is better to be a failure at something you love, than to be a success at something you hate.” – George Burns.
My declaration was alive “No matter what I am going to be happy”. Our daughter contracted West Nile Virus and went into a coma. We did not know if she would live or die. It took 8 days. I kept my declaration alive. “No matter what I am going to be happy.” So we slept with her and never left her side. We had wonderful parents to take care of our other 2 children. We kept a positive attitude. She woke up on day 8.
My thought was “No matter what happens, I will be happy. I’ve been given the greatest gift a mother could hope for and I will show my gratitude by being happy and being of service.”
I slowed down and stayed home with the children. They were never happier. These events inspired my husband to change the relationship in his business. Our decisions led to financial ruin. I ended up in the hospital fighting alongside my husband to keep things going. They got worse. The legal fees mounted. The realization we were going to fail, something we had not experienced, sunk in. We had moments of darkness. At times we were consumed with fear. There were nights we would lay in bed holding hands unable to really talk, to sleep or to communicate. The warriors within us could not process the concept of failure. We suffered.
“Let us not focus on what we lost but what remains. Let us not focus on the pain but how pain shaped us. Let us not focus on the failure but on the great lessons that failure taught us.” – Rishikajain
My declaration was alive “No matter what I am going to be happy”. More ‘bad’ news. I turned my attention to my children and being a present mom. I decided to be a positive foundation for our home while my husband dealt with business affairs. This gave me the opportunity to rebuild my health. The children knew the sketch of what was happening but were never happier. We took them out of private school, my husband’s salary was cut in half, which means the house and other things we could previously afford were now crippling us financially. So I sold my engagement ring and all of our jewelry, cashed out our 401k, sold a car, cashed out a life insurance policy, liquidated some real estate. It was not enough. My husband’s top priority was to make sure our family and all the employees who stuck with us through this stressful time would be taken care of. Thanks to the support of a few smart loyal supporters, at the expense of everything else, we were always able to make payroll.
Creditors lost faith. Finger pointing started. More legal issues. “No matter what I am going to be happy”.
We have given up the fight and accepted failure. As a result it has led to joy. Happiness is contingent upon outside results. Joy is simply a state regardless of outside events. I have joy in my heart much of the time. We will not be homeless, we have in our hearts the desire to pay everyone back….. In time. We have accepted defeat and we lived.
Contrary to public opinion there is no shame or humiliation in defeat. It’s a natural and important part of growing up.
I am more confident than I’ve ever been. Remember when I had it all? I was constantly insecure because I worried it could be taken away. It was all taken away. There are no more worries.
When we get it back, it will have a different meaning. Money is just a tool. It does not define a person. It does not bring the happiness we are taught it will. Hitting all those goals can be quite empty in fact. We must focus our goal on being joyful. When this is our focus then we will no longer suffer. We will accept the news and then we will go about our day doing what makes us joyful. We will recognize those who stay angry suffer. We will come to understand that those involved had their own lessons to learn. If they want to blame and attack you, then they will miss their own lesson and they will suffer. So we will learn to let go of guilt.
We will have the courage to stay the course. To focus on our state. That will give us the confidence to rebuild. A chance to rebuild means everyone has a chance of repayment. It is simple. If ‘attack’ continues, they may slow down the rebuild process, and that only means they slow down getting paid back. So the ‘attack’ is really upon themselves.
So be careful what you ask for. You may get it. It may not come in the form you expected. My declaration has changed; “I am joyful”. I live it in daily. Do I relapse into my humanism- YES. But I live in my joy.
“The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus,” Bruce Lee.
P.S. Have a sense of humor about it all! Steve Jobs did.