“whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. boldness has genius and power and magic in it.” johann wolfgang von goethe

last year was a rough year for me for many reasons. a break-up. my dog died. health issues. financial woes. etc.. the end of the year came as a relief. i took the opportunity to review my year, my life, the cause and effect of things, and i decided that i was going to make some significant life changes. i said to myself and to my friends, “i’m going to be happier. i’m going to have more joyful experiences. i’m going to live more fully. and i’m going to be more financially stable” i didn’t know exactly what that meant at the time or how it was going to happen, but i knew that i wasn’t going to have another year like last year. i made a commitment to myself do more things that bring me joy and less of the things that don’t bring me joy. it was a simple decision. i had no idea how difficult and rewarding making this decision would be.

i realized that in order for me to be happy i had to do the work to create the life that i wanted, which meant that i had to take a good look at myself. i had to stop distracting myself with the outside world. i had to start to understand why i do the things i do. what i discovered is that many things that i thought gave me joy didn’t really give me joy. and many of the things i thought were work or things that i avoided were things actually brought me more joy. i realized that in order for me to have more joyful experiences i had to radically simplify my life. i had to take care of myself in more positive ways– in ways that i never have before.

for example, i’ve never really liked to sleep. late to bed, early to rise. i’ll sleep when i’m dead i would tell myself. what i didn’t realize is that my lack of sleep deprived me of the vital life force energy that keeps me thriving, upbeat and happy. i realized that drinking coffee was robbing me of that same energy. and alcohol, too. so i gave up alcohol. and then coffee. and then i started sleeping 8 hrs a night. i was ready for change because i was no longer satisfied with the status quo of my life. i knew that i couldn’t do it alone. to make these changes i relied heavily on my friends and my community to help me stay strong in my decisions. i asked one of my friends to become my sleep sponsor. i told all of my friends that i am no longer drinking alcohol or coffee so that when i had moments of feeling vulnerable i had a community around me to lean on.

howard thurman said, “ask not what the world needs. ask what makes you come alive and then do it because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” this quote became my mantra along with joseph campbell’s simple expression, “follow your bliss.” i started repeating these quotes daily. i spoke them out loud often. i wrote them at the top of my journal entries. i instructed myself over and over again in joy. and i realized what goethe meant when he said, “begin it.” he didn’t say, “begin it tomorrow” or “begin when…” he simply said that whatever it is you want to do start it right now. i started asking myself, “is what i’m doing right now bringing me joy or setting me up for more joy?” if the answer was no then i changed my plans, i changed directions, i excused myself from the situation. it’s a non-negotiable truth for living a happy life.

the result of all this work– and being happy is work, let me tell you– is that i’m happy. i’m traveling on the road for 3 months, i’m meeting good people, i’m spending time in my tent, i’m dancing, and i’m making money. i’m relocating to a place that feels like home. i landed a great job teaching yoga at an amazing studio run by two awesome guys. and i’m surrounded by a community a of fun, loving, kind and happy people who share a similar way of being.

do the work. make the necessary changes. commit to yourself. ask for help. strive daily for happiness. listen to what you tell yourself. listen and listen and listen. then accentuate the good thoughts and encourage the deeper creative voice. eliminate negative and self-limiting beliefs. you are a good person and you deserve to be happy. and don’t think for one second that this doesn’t apply to you. today, right now, i ____________ commit to being happy, to having more joyful experiences, and to living life fully.

print out this last paragraph. write your name on the line. modify it as you wish. put it in places where you will see it daily. there is nothing greater or more important than your happiness.