This is perhaps the most important advice I can give in this book. All the following strategies and techniques hinge upon this: know what makes you happy. An entire set of books can be written about exploring this topic, but let’s attempt to answer one key question. Does your current definition of a ‘good life’ depend on 1) expectations from a loved one/one or 2) expectations from your social/ peer group?
Here’s why I think this question is vital: I grew up in a close-knit community, and my parents are a big influence in my life. Growing up, there was a very specific definition of success. There were always carefully constructed criteria that I had to follow in order to be considered successful, and for me to consider myself ‘happy’.As I grew up, I realized that these criteria played a significant role in my choice of what education to pursue, what career to have, and what I needed or loved ones and our peers shape our expectations from life. When I reached a point where I could step back, and really explore what made me happy, I realized that my values and my happiness came from a place that didn’t align with the expectations of my loved ones or of societal expectations.
I had a unique set of criteria that made me happy, and a lot of that didn’t align with what I’d been socialized by while growing up. Society had different ideas about my happiness than I did myself. Take the time to really understand what makes you happy, and analyze whether any of it was shaped or influenced by other people. When I took the time to do this, I realized how much of my fulfillment was tied to other people, and I made a conscious decision to decouple other people’s expectations and societal norms from my state of individual happiness. I urge you to do the same and explore yourself.