Finding True Happiness (Even If Life Doesn’t Go As Planned)

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“You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.”  ~Joseph Campbell

We often think we are in control of our own destiny. We have heard that if we plan, identify  goals, visualize, pray, think positively, set intentions, work hard, etc. we will get what we really want. But sometimes when we finally get what we thought we desired, we realize that it isn’t what we wanted at all.

I have talked to many professionals who have worked hard in their job, climbing up the career ladder, only to realize that their work didn’t give them the fulfillment they wanted. Singles who thought that finding a boyfriend or girlfriend would finally make them happy, only to realize that they still weren’t. People who finally got the dream house and sports car, but were still missing something.

It’s important to identify why we want to achieve a certain goal and dream, because oftentimes it’s not the goal and dream that is the key, but what we really want to experience and feel. If you want to find out what is really behind your dream, check out Making Your Dreams Come True.

But life also has a strange way of throwing things into our path that we didn’t plan or wish for. There are unexpected hardships, illnesses, the loss of a loved one, accidents, a failing business, the betrayal of a friend etc. What then? We didn’t ask for any of these things to happen. They don’t fit the dream we had for our life. What do we do with them?

A natural reaction is often to resist those unwanted situations. “I didn’t ask for this to happen.” “I can’t believe this is happening.” “I wish this didn’t happen.” Maybe we start blaming someone else. But none of these reactions actually help us deal with the situation effectively.

We may not be able to change the situation, but we can accept it and then choose who we want to be in this circumstance and how we want to act. We can ask ourselves: “What are my values?” Maybe it’s honesty or compassion, integrity or connection, courage or generosity, humor or peace? What is a way to deal with the situation in accordance to your values?

There is no perfect life. Nobody’s life ever goes completely according to plan. Everyone experiences unexpected turns at some point. It’s useless to wish it were otherwise. But that doesn’t mean that life can’t be joyful, peaceful and fulfilling. All we got to do is shift our focus from what is “happening to us” to how we want to be and how we want to act as a result. The one part we can take responsibility for is ourselves, gain some sense of control, and empower ourselves in the process.


Manuela is helping smart and creative women be happier with themselves, their careers, and their lives! Visit Manuela’s Website for Professional Life Coaching.

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