I was talking to my mother last week. Through the course of the conversation, she remembered that while she was out and about she ran into my old Math teacher. They talked about my older brother, whom he’d also taught, and then talked about me. (Isn’t it fun to hear these conversations and learn what people from your past remember about you?) “Amy was so quiet.” True. I spent most of my high school years trying NOT to attract attention to myself. He asked, “What’s she doing now?” And then, “Is she happy?”
Wow. What a simple question, but yet it struck me as Mom told me this story. It struck me because it’s not a surface level question. “Is she happy?” is a thoughtful question that shows interest and concern. My mom answered, “Yes, she has three boys, stays busy, and she’s happy.”
Two things: First, I love that someone else, in this case my mother, knows and understands me well enough that she can answer that question for me. Second, I love that my Math teacher asked the question and I think it’s a question we all need to ask of ourselves more frequently than we do. Yes! I am happy! Despite all of the pressure and busyness and challenges and obligations that I subject myself to, I AM happy. I am happy because, unlike my high school self who just wanted to blend in and not take risks that could lead to (gasp!) failing at something, I am LIVING my life. I am happy because I’ve grown to a place where I realize the fear of regret from not trying something is way worse than the fear of trying something and failing.
So how would you answer that question? Are you happy? If yes, that’s amazing…congratulations! If no, why? And what are you going to do about it? If you are unhappy, keep asking “why?” as many times as necessary to get down to the real reason. (I’m unhappy because I hate my job. Why? Because I have no time to do the things I love. Why? Because I come home and sit on the couch too tired to do anything else. Why? And on and on until you get to some answers, and then take those answers and start making changes to get yourself to happy.)
One last thing. If your answer is “No, I’m not happy,” that answer is not bad. It’s just feedback. As long as there is life in your body, you can make changes. If your answer is “No” but you don’t know where to start, then ask for help. Talk to trusted friends, family, co-workers, etc. and start collecting ideas. If you are still stuck, reach out to a coach (like me!) to help guide you.