10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There) is a program to help us develop habits to grow a joyful spirit. Many of us sabotage our happiness by habits that we might not even be aware of. Identifying and changing these habits can build a reservoir of well-being to enhance our happy times and sustain us during challenging times.
Monday, May 20, 2013
when the risk
to remain tight
in a bud
was more painful
than the risk
I was intrigued by my friend Bob’s recent post at Satisfying Retirement about life before and after retirement. He described himself before retirement as angry, ambitious, and unfulfilled. Now retired, he describes himself as calm, content, and fulfilled.
Is retirement the secret to finding your happy place? Hmm, I don’t think so. There are plenty of people who live in joy while still working, and there are plenty of folks who are not happy in retirement. And even if retirement does improve our circumstances, studies show that our external circumstances account for only 10% of our happiness. Happiness, as the saying goes, is definitely an inside job.
Deep life transformation doesn’t just happen. Something has to motivate us to change. Something has to help us do it. And something has to help us sustain it.
For me, the motivation was a health crisis. I realized that I could not continue with my then current “norm” of chronic stress and anxiety and fear. So I set out to change.
I got help from a variety of sources. I got serious in therapy. I went to an energy healer. I consulted spiritual counselors. I had what I call the “year of the workbook.” I did workbooks on anger, fear, and more I can’t even remember. I began working out and eventually got involved with martial arts. I read inspirational wisdom teachings. I spent more time in nature. And I began a meditation practice.
The 10 Steps that I write about represent habits that I developed during that time. They helped me change, and now they help me sustain the change. They are woven into my daily life and permeate the way I see myself, and how I view the world and interact with it. They have become a way of life for me.
Bob’s post prompted me to ask him about his own transformation, and I look forward to his future post about it. And it made me realize that many of us have transformation stories. Others of us want to have them!
I would like to open a forum in the comments for sharing these stories. What has motivated you to change, what helped you change, and what helps you sustain the transformation? Perhaps you have already written this story on your blog, in which case, feel free to include a link in your comment to your blog post. Or perhaps this post will prompt you to write such a post, in which case your comment might be the “outline” of the post you write soon.
We can all learn from and inspire and encourage each other, so I hope you will join the discussion.
Posted by Galen Pearl at 9:30 AM
Labels: fear, habits, shine, Step 9-Gratitude
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I feel as if I have transformed but that's because I'm just back from a holiday, must be jet lag. So much to catch up. I wasn't ready to jump into the blog world today, but transformation or stepping over your own self to find your inner calling is the reason I picked up a pen and started writing. I think each of crosses that bridge at one time or another..ReplyDelete
brenda, A vacation can certainly be transforming, at least short term! Thanks for sharing your link. I look forward to reading your post. And thanks for commenting.Delete
brenda, I went to your link and read your story--wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing it.Delete
You have given me a real challenge, Galen: to dig more deeply into my behavior and motivations. I look forward to what I'm going to come up with, too.ReplyDelete
At the moment I am re-reading Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. His thoughts on the concept of our circle of influence and how we react to stimuli is giving me greater insight into the questions you posed to me last week.
Let's see where this goes. I hope you trigger a vigorous discussion and interchange on this blog.
Bob, I am looking forward to your post, too! See, you never know what will be triggered when you write something. Thanks for commenting.Delete
Thanks for the post.ReplyDelete
As I stared off into space overwhelmed by my emotions. I lay on my bed and my mom came in and sat down by me. She looked at me and burst into tears. I asked her, "Why?"
"I'm worried about you."
"I don't want anything to happen to you."
"I'm sorry Mom. I'm probably going to kill myself some day," I said smothered by my emotions. She cried to my response.
After that moment passed and I got in a clear head I realized that I don't want that to happen. I don't want to hurt the people in my life. I don't want to make my mom worry anymore. It was a sort of rock bottom. I decided to do everything I could to take control of my life and myself and do what I needed to do to live a life that was worth living. Starting my blog was one of those things to bring me fulfillment along with trying harder in my therapy and other things.
Sebastian, You have a powerful story of transformation to tell on your blog and you write so well. I know your story will help others. Thanks for commenting.Delete
I have been transformed through my writing and my deepening relationship with the Lord. Creatively and spiritually, I don't think we ever cease transforming, changing for the better, and finding the joy within.ReplyDelete
Very thought-provoking post, Galen. Really enjoyed it!
Martha, I've ordered your second book, and your blog is so inspiring, so I can easily believe that your faith expressed through your writing brings transformation in your life. Thanks for commenting.Delete
I feel like I've been on the edges of transformation for a long time. But lately I feel like I've utterly failed in making any lasting changes. I'm in a much better place mentally and emotionally, but I still feel dragged down by old habits and old ways of thinking. I can't seem to gather the energy or fortitude to make a plan and stick to it, to really get serious about changing my life so that I'm not constantly looking forward to retirement, which for me is a ways off. I still depend too much on external circumstances for my happiness.ReplyDelete
Tina, I hear your frustration, and yet, I also see the seeds of transformation. The beginning always starts with recognizing your own habits. When we always feel like a victim of life's ups and downs, we can't make any change. But you are acknowledging the effect of your thinking patterns. Change can begin with one simple habit that you develop as a substitute for the old ones. I think you are closer to deep changes than you realize. I wish you all the best and I hope you will let me know if there is any way I can support you. Thanks for your comment.Delete
Wow, that's quite a detailed formula for transformation, Galen. You did so much. And its amazing that you were able to codify the essence of it into these 10 steps, which help so many more of us.ReplyDelete
Sandra, Thank you for the kind words. As I've said before, there is nothing new about the steps. I'm not the first person, for example, to think that forgiveness is a good idea! And there's nothing magic about the number. All the steps are really in different facets of one step--opening our hearts and spirits. But thinking of them in terms of the 10 Steps helps me call on the habit that is most helpful in any particular situation.Delete
I am glad that they are helpful. And Bob's post made me realize that there are so many approaches to basically the same thing -- releasing fear and allowing joy to flow freely. That's why his post caught my attention and made me wonder how others have made similar changes in their lives.
I hope you'll share some of your story, too, or link to a post. You are a wonderful model for all of us. Thanks for commenting.
Galen: I never transformed. I decided many, many years ago that I would never say I can't." From as early as my late teens, I focused on how I could accomplish things, rather than why I could not. I did not want to spend my life dreaming about Canoeing the Snake River or seeing the Grand Canyon. Regardless of how I was earning a living, I set those goals and found a way. Here is how I did it:ReplyDelete
I Set My Priorities!
Painting the living room never prevented me from visiting the Grand Canyon. The living room could wait another week. In the early years when I had very little money, I camped outside of Salt Lake City or Disney World, instead of waiting to save the money for the luxury hotels. Watching my kids play baseball or run track was always more important than buying new clothes for a wedding reception the following week. I simply did everything in priority. When I could not afford to visit Europe, I applied to the local University's overseas program and got to visit almost every country in Europe on their dime.
Now, I never use the word "retirement." I don't want to retire from my life, but just continue enjoying it day by day. I still write, because I love it. I still teach, only part time, because I love it. My wife and I are enjoying the same things we did when we met 46 years ago!
Nature will decide how long I live. That is beyond my control. Therefore, I am still doing my part - I live.
JJ, You were transformed from birth! One of the things I appreciate about all the comments is how we come at this from different perspectives. For you, it is a question of priorities. I love your specific examples, which show what your priorities are, and also how resourcefully you pursued them. Thanks for your comment.Delete
Oh my it seems my entire life has brought so many changes for me, and what my life is like today, will in the not so distant future change again on behalf of other changes that will take place in my growing family. In short it seems my entire life is outlined by my children and grandchildren as they have always been and always will be my most important direction in my life. Thankfully I have been gifted throughout my life for employment to meet the family goals. So far!ReplyDelete
Karen, Kids are certainly agents of life transformation! As you say our lives are in constant movement of transformation. Even though I can identify a distinct period of deep inner transformation, I can see that my life continues to evolve. Thanks for commenting.Delete
That was a wonderful post Galen. It's great to know about your transformation. Writing has helped me in transforming myself. I got to interact with different kinds of people and learn so much about life. writing has opened doors for me and helped me perceive the world differently.ReplyDelete
diana, Writing has come up in several comments as an agent of change. Thanks for sharing how writing has been the vehicle of transformation in your own life. It sounds like it has influenced your life at many levels. Thanks for commenting.Delete
I'm inspired by all the stories!! Of all the points you've shared I find the hardest to manage is "sustaining." Ken and I are making retirement plans but he is faltering with the details, worrying, and still over- working and so,I worry.ReplyDelete
Instead of worrying, this week,I've decided to work on my own transformation more.. just pray more,meditate more, focus on good activities,staying physically fit, cooking healthy meals for us.I can only hope we GET to our transformation (retirement) eventually..and that we can sustain our ability to feel calm and secure about it. It's a much more difficult journey than we thought!
I am grateful for blogs like yours and Bob L's and a few others we read, to keep us moving forward (some days with baby steps) on this journey!
Madeline, Yes, the sustaining is the hard part. That's why when I started writing this blog and my book, part of the title is "and Staying There." Your comment highlights that there are levels of transformation. There are inner transformations, like the one I experienced. And there are outer ones, major life changes like retirement or having kids. Thanks so much for commenting.Delete
I really seem to be driven by change - analyzing it and then moving forward. I think life gets better everyday.ReplyDelete
I will say as an intense person, I was more relaxed and calm in my life until I lost my last work position. I kind of forced retirement when we were trying to regroup from 2008. Now I get so tense about not bringing in enough money for my health insurance (catastrophic coverage) I feel as though my healing is often blocked and I often can not move to the change I need to make.
I need to work on this because I may not be eligible for Medicare in 2 years with all the proposed changes the politicians are suggesting. And yet that maybe easier, because I will be totally on my own and not wanting to bankrupt my family. Having cancer so many times (born with it) has really made for lots and lots of transformations.
Will I be strong enough to choose my own death?
Might as well work on enjoying the change now and let the worry recede.
Patricia, Your life sounds like an extended story of transformation. Sometimes our deep changes are brought about by a sudden health crisis, as it was for me, or a change in circumstances, like it was for Bob, or a chronic or repeated situation, as it is for you. I appreciate your sharing your story. And your thought about living and dying. Thanks for your comment.Delete
Terrific post, Galen! I applaud you -- and anyone -- who can work their way to happiness, but for me the key back into my happy place after I've been away for a while is not making it happen, but LETTING it happen.ReplyDelete
For many people, that distinction is deceptively hard to make. I write about it now and then -- here's one post, "Happy For No Reason," that might add to the dialog:
Jeffrey, Your focus on letting it happen sounds more like Bob's path. For me, I had to consciously break some habits that were not serving me and instead nurture habits that did. I guess the rest did happy naturally. I like the title of your post and will be over to read it soon! Thanks for commenting.Delete
Jeffrey, I read your article--that is a great perspective on happiness! Thanks for sharing the link.Delete
Change is a constant process for me, Galen - I have the type of personality that is always looking to improve every single aspect of my life on a daily basis.ReplyDelete
"Does it WORK??" is the motto I live by. Sometimes it takes a while to figure out what does work, but it's always worth the mindfulness and the effort. Living an unexamined life is probably my greatest fear, although not much of one anymore.
Recently I've been on quite an accelerated self-improvement tear, though, and that is going to be my next blog topic, coincidentally. I hope you signed up at my new site - I can't recall whether you did or not. :)
Jennifer, That is a great motto and it certainly helped me see that I needed to make changes in my life. I can't imagine that you have much fear around unawareness. You seem very tuned in to me!Delete
I have been to your new and wonderful site--congratulations! And I look forward to your next post. Thanks for commenting.
I agree that retirement doesn't equate happiness for everyone. I stopped teaching because my husband had retired. I took up some hobbies for about five years and then started writing and I now realize, I'm much happier when I working on a project. I like the challenge and the variety. I have changed quite a bit in the past few years as well. I love my yoga practice and mediation and would like to branch out with some retreats in the near future, because I enjoy learning and growing. Great post and love hearing about your transformation. Take care.ReplyDelete
Cathy, I think the moral of this story is that we bring ourselves into retirement with us! That's why I was so interested in Bob's link between his retirement and his deep life transformation. Thanks for sharing your own experience, and thanks for commenting.Delete
What a great topic and post! I could not agree more with what you wrote. Most people take for granted that they will live until retirement or even to next year! I think one of the saddest things is when someone lives each day sacrificing for the dream of retirement or some other future happiness but dies or is disabled before they can pursue this. Sorry to be so dark but I see this quite often as a hospice social worker.ReplyDelete
My "personal transformation" came when I realized ten years of seeking, dramatic life changes and achievement (the job, the education, the family, the partner etc...) had not brought me any inner peace. I had achieved everything I thought would make me happy but it still avoided me... I eventually brought myself to a more peaceful and happy place through a combination of good therapy, silence, feeling all my past and then present feelings, a daily gratitude practice, re-engaging my passions, mindfulness, meditation, nonattachment and yoga. It was a really scary process but I learned to trust my instincts and to be resilient, which is all you really need. Be well!
Your path of transformation sounds very much like mine. Like you, I kept looking "out there" for what I really needed to change "in here." And like you, I finally figured out that I wouldn't find it that way. And yes, it was scary. But by that point, I was more scared to stay the same. Maybe you felt the same way. Thank you so much for sharing your story. And thanks for commenting.Delete
I have been in constant transition, and still am in one, my lesson now is how not to wait for them to be over for peace. To find peace within them. There will always be chaos and witin we can always find peace. I go in and out of this, but I am working on it!ReplyDelete
Jodi, There are transitions and transformations. Life is always changing and transitions are a natural part of that. The transformation is what happens on the inside. So, for example, I wonder if at an earlier point, you were not peaceful during your times of transitions. Now you are, at least some of the time! What helped you change how you deal with transitions? Thanks for your comment, and I hope you might add a bit more.Delete
Change is good. Somehow this always works for me. Transformation follows, thoughts of change then change the circumscribed reality.ReplyDelete
Its beautiful how people can inspire in us such changes. It adds to the happiness.
Change is inevitable, so it's good to make friends with it. Transformation may or may not happen, I think. I guess it depends on what you mean by that concept. For me, I continued to deal with change in the same way for a long time until I figured out that it wasn't working for me. That led to transformation. And yes, we can find wonderful inspiration from each other. Thanks for your comment.Delete
I would say for the past 12 years I've been undergoing transformation. I had suffered for so long because of low self-confidence and low self-esteem caused through stuttering, I just had to change. It was either improve my situation or spend the next 10-20 years living like I had, which was in a very dark place. I had to face my deepest fears right in the face and would put myself into as many speaking situations as I could. Like you, I got into therapy, spirituality and meditation. I began to change my thoughts and my core beliefs about myself and the world, in order to create a healthier and empowered self-image. It was a long struggle and the journey continues.
Thank you for the opportunity to let us share our stories on your blog.
Hiten, Thanks for sharing your own story of transformation. It does require dealing with our fears, doesn't it? And it does continue if we allow it. I'm so pleased to offer this forum for sharing our stories. I'm learning so much from everyone. Thanks for your comment.Delete
The Six Words follow up post has been written and will be posted on Friday (5/24). Your asking me to go a bit deeper was eye-opening for both of us. Thank you for prompting me to analyze more thoroughly what has been responsible for my own transformation.ReplyDelete
In my case retirement gave me the time to change what was destroying the quality of my life, and facilitated the removal of some external factors that I had accepted as OK.
I will also add that my deepening faith and spiritual growth was an important part of allowing me to see how much I was off target and how much better life could be if I stopped kicking over my own water dish.
Bob, I so appreciate your willingness to go a little further with this topic you brought up. I look forward to your follow up post! Thanks for giving us a preview here.Delete
It's been a lifelong process of change spurred by learning for me. I don't learn very quickly, so I tend to pick up a career path and follow it doggedly to either a fork in the road or a dead end.ReplyDelete
First I followed the most ordinary and obvious one, married my high school girlfriend and worked in retail, supplemented by service-oriented volunteering. That road forked to "More of the Same" or "Go West and Start Over".
Went West, pursued arts and entertainment work for 20 years, got remarried. That marriage, my current one, lead to another fork, "More of Same" or "Service Professions".
The current career in health care lead to "Move North" (more job openings, less life stress). Now that Mrs. is retired and enjoying volunteer service and creative activities, I decided to work less, write more and transition gradually into retirement in March 2016 with a similar balance to hers. We live simply, so there's enough money, and there always will be unless we have multiple, unanticipated catastrophes - possible, but unlikely.
What I learned from each of my 3 career phases was how to plan for desired futures while practicing to increase skills during present activities. I don't anticipate missing having regular paid work shifts at all. I plan to write, practice music, and volunteer following a regular schedule, but if a different door appears and feels right, I'll open it and go through.
I enjoy Bob's attitude toward this process very much. No matter how much bad programming we get, or unhappy work experiences, it's never too late to change direction as long as you are still alive. For all I know, maybe you can make more changes even AFTER you die!
Mikey, I love your description of a series of forks in the road, and the choices you made. Thanks for sharing your story. Your next transition into retirement will be a smooth one, I can tell. And what an interesting thought--continued transformation after we die! Bob will be continuing this discussion on his blog post tomorrow. Thanks for commenting.Delete
Hi Galen - I think you know about my bouts with change and transformation. I have been going through a lot of transformation as of late due to change. Probably the biggest 'change' has been to be embrace it rather than run away from - change has been my biggest teacher. I chronicled the journey here: http://tinybuddha.com/blog/6-life-lessons-on-embracing-change-and-impermanence/ReplyDelete
Enjoyed reading the other comments and stories shared by others about personal transformations. I learned that letting go of control of circumstances, events and demands of what I wanted and allowing the universe, God, lead the way to be a better way to live life:)
Vishnu, Yes, you are the master of transformation! Your lesson are wise and helpful to all. That is a wonderful article at Tiny Buddha. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I always appreciate your comments.Delete
You know, I encountered something that surprised me a few days ago. I posted what I meant as an encouraging note on a widow's blog (about the possibility to transform the emotional roller-coaster of widowhood into inner peace and joy). To my surprise, it triggered some resistance and questioning.
I realized then that since my entire life and work has been about transformation, I kind of take it for granted that others feel/think along similar lines. How silly of me... :-)
Anyhow, this morning I thought: I want to start gathering grief to growth stories - stories of transformation from widows, stories than can inspire and show how a transformation can look like, and, most importantly show that it's possible.
And now, while re-visiting your blog I find your article above, asking for stories of transformation from your readers.
It feels like a wave, in more than one corner of the world... beautiful!
Thank you for your inspiration and your contribution, Galen and everyone participating here!
Halina, What a wonderful gift your collection of stories will be. I think one of the scariest and most difficult things about grief is thinking that you are alone. Your gathered stories will assure all who read them that grief, while in some ways unique to each person, is universally experienced. There is a chapter in my book about a mother's grief titled "Mary was a Real Mother." I also wrote a blog post about it http://10stepstofindingyourhappyplace.blogspot.com/2011/07/mary-was-real-mother.htmlDelete
Thanks for your comment and I hope you will keep me posted about the progress of your project.
Transformation, yes I think we all need to go through it in order to become happy if we are not. It takes time and I think only when our backs are up against the wall and we realize we can no longer continue without it destroying us, do we then seek a change. Or if we are slapped with a life changing experience, then we have to make a change. That is why I started my site Necessity of Change. It was a way of coping, but now it is of the who I am. Purpose has become a transformation of doing and also seeking knowledge. It will constantly be a metamorphosis for as long as I continue with it.ReplyDelete
Our work on earth is never really done until we take our last breath. It took many years to see that.
Mary, Transformation is the essence of your message, I think. And you are right that we are very resistant to it! At least I was. Once on the other side, we sometimes wonder what we were so afraid of--our lives are so much better! Thank you for sharing your perspective.Delete