Many people are told that if they get good grades in school they will get into a good university or college. Then they need to get good grades to get a good job. After all, no one wants to go to the dentist, doctor or engineer that graduated at the bottom of the class or failed. Then, when they have the degree they will be set for life, good to go, happy. What if you did all that but are not happy? Did you become a dentist, doctor, engineer or something or someone else because your parents wanted you to, or society said that was what was best for you? You may feel trapped and unfulfilled. If you are unhappy and know in your gut that there is something else you are meant to do, you owe it to yourself and the world to explore what happiness means to you.
When I started my career in the insurance industry, just as in the previous generation, people were encouraged to be loyal, to strive for service awards, the silver tea set, the gold watch, the golden handshake, which turned out be golden handcuffs. I found myself in the trap of trying harder and harder and getting diminishing returns. You can only ‘hold your nose to the grindstone’ for so long before, well, you guessed it. After 39 years I started to question what I really wanted and why I wasn’t happy with the position, the title, the accolades.
Society instructs us to play by the rules. No one told us that ‘they’ changed the game, whoever ‘they’ are. The rules that our parents and grandparents abided by no longer apply. Yes, we still must be law-abiding citizens or there would be anarchy. Rules for being human will always include caring for others. What about caring for our own well-being? I believe that most people try their best to be kind, loving, helpful, generous and cooperative. Sometimes we give so much of ourselves to others, to our bosses, our families, our society, that we run on empty.
We live on autopilot much of the time; which is necessary and time-saving. It has been estimated that 96-98% of what we do is automatic. We get dressed, brush our teeth, make coffee, drive to work, all by habit. When we forget to put the coffee pot on the burner or don’t notice a red light during our daily commute, we can experience consequences that range from annoyance to tragic.
Our brains are biased by necessity. We take in information that confirms our beliefs. That is why we like when people agree with us. We enjoy finding evidence that proves we are right. What if our opinion is wrong? Will I defend my position no matter how ridiculous it appears once new evidence favors a different idea? How did we get so wrapped up in being right or in conforming?!
It is the habitual, unconscious, automatic behaviors and beliefs that we learned that are holding us back.
What would the world look like today if Thomas Edison or the Wright brothers listened to people who told them they were crazy and gave up after a few attempts? When you want something different, want something better to show up in your life, your attempts will require practice and persistence.
Choose to be happy and grateful with where you are and what you have now and you will begin to see opportunities to create more happiness.
Break free of the limiting beliefs that society has imposed on you. You owe it to yourself to pay attention to your inner voice. It knows what you want.
Susan A McDonald