I recently had a revelation while pondering what I want to do with the rest of my life. I’ve spent countless hours pondering that question when in fact I believe the answer has been staring me in the face.
Do you have places in the world that you would describe as your happy places? I do. And I don’t mean a metaphorical happy place wherein you imagine yourself surrounded by bluebirds as a warm light washes over you. No. I mean a real, tangible, physical, happy place. Places you go where, no matter what, you feel instant glee. Not just cool places. Not just places you enjoy or find fun or pleasant. Places that have something special. Places with a magical power to transplant you from the dullest of dolddrums to the utmost place of hope and contentment. I have some.
Sports supplies stores (especially running stores)
Craft and art supplies stores (Michael’s, Utrecht, even Home Depot fits into this category. Places where you can get stuff to build other stuff)
Office supplies stores
On my couch with my fiance and my cats
I would say that pretty much covers my happy places. I could get more specific (The Griffith Observatory, The American Museum of Natural History, Northern California redwoods, etc.), but these are the main categories. Kind of a weird hodge-podge wouldn’t you say? I’m kind of weird.
As I’ve been mulling over what I should do with the rest of my life, I can’t believe it took me so long to realize that my happy places might be providing me with an answer.
How did I come to this realization? I thought about the things I’m currently doing that I don’t make a living off of, but that I love doing, and I realized there is potential to make a living off of them if I put my mind to it. I own and operate Whimsy Do. I write this blog. I run. I go to Disneyland (ok so maybe there’s not potential to make a living off of going to Disneyland but I have a point, which I’ll get to shortly). A light bulb went off as I realized that these things directly correlated to my top happy places.
- I own and operate Whimsy Do. I’m instantly happy in art and/or craft supplies stores a la Utrecht or Michael’s.
- I write. I write this blog and I write stories. I’m instantly happy in a book store or library.
- I run. I’m instantly happy in a running store and on the running trail. My blog is also a running blog so 2 and 3 tie in together.
I’m creating, writing, running; but I’m not currently making a living off of any of these things. I could though. I could invest more time and energy into Whimsy Do. I could actually get my stories published. I could turn this blog into a source of income with the right strategy and determination. And here is how Disneyland ties in. Disneyland Half Marathon weekend is one of my ultimate happy places (and training starts this week!). I could work for runDisney. Running and Disneyland, two happy places combined. If runDisney ever starts up a California office, I’m there. I could, and I should, and I would. Somehow.
I know what you’re thinking. If you make what you love your job, you run the risk of not loving it as much. You might ruin it. What a sad thought. Think about what that means for a moment. That means we are not only willing to, but deliberately choose to do things we dislike for the majority of our waking lives (8+ hrs of every day!) because we’ve somehow bought into the notion that work = something to be tolerated. I say we change that presumption. I say it’s time for a paradigm shift. It’s time we spend the majority of our lives doing things that feel right in our bones. That feel meaningful and make us, yes, happy. And will we feel happy all of the time? Of course not. Will it sometimes feel like work, even though we supposedly love it? Of course. Anything worth doing is hard. Marriage, parenthood, career aspirations. All challenging. All worth it. Because there is meaning in the challenge. You think it’s easy to climb Mt. Everest? I guarantee you the people who do it aren’t doing it for the paycheck. Passion is hard, but there is a payoff that directly feeds into our core, our selfness, our most precious part of ourselves that generates love and spirit and hope and life. It’s the right kind of hard work. Most of us spend our lives doing the wrong kind of work. The kind that makes us stare at the clock until 5:00. The kind that makes us steal as many Facebook minutes as possible throughout the day. Anything to distract us from that paperwork, right? The kind that makes us live for the weekend. As if two days make up for the other lost 5.
So idealistic right? I know. It’s easy to talk about. It’s hard to do. There are bills. There are mortgages. There are children to send to college. There are debts to pay off. I hear ya. I’m in a version of that boat myself. But it doesn’t stop me from believing that it’s possible. It must be possible to honor our fiscal responsibilities while the work we do gives our life meaning. We just spend too much of our lives at work for that not to be possible. 33.33% of my life is spent sleeping, 33.33% of my life is spent working, and 33.33% of my life is mine to do with as I please. That tiny third also has to include laundry, cooking, cleaning, bill pay, errands, etc. It’s not enough. Life is too precious. I want more than a third of it with which to make a difference. I want more than a third of it with which to accomplish something magical and more importantly something meaningful. I want to love and not to regret more than a third of my life. I know it’s possible. Because I feel it happening. 4 years ago I left an office job I didn’t like and I turned my back on the restaurant business because they were sucking my soul. I took a leap of faith, and a week later I got a call to work for a non-profit that is changing lives. I have a great job. I don’t love it every day, and I don’t believe it’s where I’m meant to end up, but my days aren’t wasted. I’m grateful for that. And because I took that leap, the next stepping stones are becoming clearer and clearer.
If you’re lost, floating, drifting, unsure of what move to make next, first of all you’re not alone. Maybe think about a happy place. They really are quite neat. As if the universe gave them to us, as to whisper in our ear “This. Do more of this. You were born to do this.”
I’m genuinely curious. What are your happy places? Universities? Science labs? Boardrooms? Churches? Kitchens? Let Tahiti readers know by leaving your happy place in the comments below. Maybe you’ll inspire someone else!