As a child, I was told that I could “do anything I set my mind to.” It usually wasn’t far behind “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
So, in my kid brain, “setting your mind to something” translated to a big picture idea. Like, if I wanted to be a doctor or lawyer, and worked really hard, it would happen.
Whatever the “thing,” it was always somewhere far in the future, promising eventual graspability. Regardless, I took it to mean that anything was possible.
It took me years—decades—to realize that “anything” had actually been within my reach all along…
It didn’t always have to be about some distant BHAG (AKA big, hairy, audacious goal. Thanks, college business class.). I could invoke this power on any given day and see results materialize almost immediately.
I still remember the exact moment that it finally hit me.
I was driving by myself one evening, heading down Culver in Irvine—lost in thought, contemplating situations and relationships in my life. I was conflicted and unsure of what my next move would be.
And then suddenly, the answer revealed itself…
I’m just going to choose to be happy.
For years, I had fought myself on whether or not I deserved to be happy.
I would engage in self-sabotaging behavior. And the destructive consequences would perpetuate my belief that I did not deserve happiness.
I was stuck on that hamster wheel for a long time, with the underlying reasons changing from situation to situation and relationship to relationship.
It was the cause of so much pain for not only myself, but everyone in my orbit.
Oftentimes, I couldn’t climb out of my dark hole fast enough to prevent any lasting damage. This also opened me up to absorbing (welcoming) the negative influence of others. It felt like a never-ending loop.
(Even just thinking back on it is mentally and physically exhausting. And sad.)
And it’s not like I didn’t know better… that I didn’t realize there was an alternative state of being. I just couldn’t bring myself to accept it.
But on this one evening… inside my car… I set my mind to happiness.
I made an intentional choice.
And in that moment, the invisible wall came down.
I felt lighter and the sky looked brighter.
The weight of my self-deprivation had finally lifted.
To be continued…