Happiness And Success

13 Jul

IMG_4202

Oprah recently had a podcast with the author Sarah Ban Breathnach.

Sarah is known for the bestselling self-help book in the 1990s called Simple Abundance where she talked about how gratitude can transform your life.

The book transformed Sarah’s.

It sold over 7 million copies and soon Sarah was buying Manolo Blahnik shoes, employing nine assistants, and renovating the home in the English Countryside that Isaac Newton once owned.

She had it all. Money. Adoring fans. A wildly successful career.

(Newton’s Chapel.)

Years later, Sarah showed up at her sister’s house with only a suitcase. She had no money. Nowhere to live. A deeply broken heart.

Sarah’s story is the age-old story that I know, I KNOW I know, and yet it’s a reminder.

Sarah lost her money through a series of bad investments, a costly (and awful) divorce, and being ill-prepared for fame, wealth and all that comes along with it. She learned the very hard way the thing that we all learn the very hard way. No amount of

money

followers

books sold

can make your husband kind.

No amount of

success

awards

designer shoes

lead to inner peace. Good decisions. Love.

It just doesn’t.

We all know about Princeton’s study on money and happiness by now.

I don’t need to recap it fully, but I do think about it a lot.

Basically, the study found that after a certain point ($75K), no matter how much more money you make, you aren’t any happier.

Of course, money makes a difference when you can’t pay the bills. When you desperately need it.When the lights don’t turn on.

It’s a privilege of mine to not be speaking from that place.

But I never forget about that 75K.

It’s baffling!

Give me a few million dollars and I’ll SHOW YOU how much happier I am!

Gimme the house in Santa Barbara and free me of the student loan anxiety and I’ll TELL YOU in no uncertain terms your study is wrong!

Except.

Big sigh.

Big breath.

I know that it’s right.

Lauren Graham, in her graduation-speech-turned-book In Conclusion Don’t Worry About It said this:

The fun of doing the daily crossword puzzle with my TV children between shots on the set of Parenthood rivaled any awards show I’ve ever attended. The “success” parts of life look good to others, but the best parts are actually the simple, daily experiences. This is true whether you’re an actor or a teacher or a waitress. I know this because I’ve been all three.

It’s always about the looking good to others part isn’t it?

It comes back to wanting to be seen. Wanting to know you’re worthwhile.

The Fault in Our Stars tackles this beautifully.

Augustus is worried about death because he hasn’t done anything “big” in his life. He’s only 16. The world doesn’t know him.

His girlfriend tells him

I don’t care if the New York Times writes an obituary for me. I just want you to write one. You say you’re not special because the world doesn’t know about you, but that’s an insult to me. I know about you.

That’s it, isn’t it?

I know about you.

I do the crossword with you.

I’ll take you in when you have nowhere to go.

It’s the reminder I need fairly often. The reminder when I’m wishing I had more

money

acclaim

books sold (any books sold!)

That that won’t be the answer.

One of my favorite bloggers wrote about living in small-town Idaho while her husband went to grad school. She hated her job, her pet was sick, they had very little money, and she was trying and failing to get pregnant.

She was miserable.

Eventually they left Idaho for New York where she finally had that baby she had so long desired. Her life changed. She was out of it!

And then.

Her husband took a job back at that same University back in that same small-town.

This time she had the baby. They had money to buy groceries. They had no sick pets.

And yet.

She puts it this way

I am here again, mis-er-able, with none of those ingredients in my kitchen, and yet I am STILL baking that miserable cake!? AND YET!???!!

And yet.

I am quite the gourmet baker of miserable cakes with none of the same ingredients.

Open me a bakery, I’ve got this on lock!

I’m so very good at picking something in my life that will finally make me happy and pinning all my hopes and dreams on it!

When my parents moved after I gradudated high school it was their return that would do it.

(They moved back. I’m so glad they did. It didn’t do it.)

For a long time it was about a romantic relationship that was fairly awful. If that was fixed, then I’d be OK!

I now have a kind, wonderful husband. (I’m so glad I do. And it didn’t do it.)

If I quit this job, or move to this place, or or or.

It’s never done it.

I think I’ve learned this lesson and then I realize that I’m doing it all over again.

That I’m doing it now.

Today, on some level, I believe if my writing career were where I want it to be, if I was publishing bestselling, acclaimed novels, if I was known and regarded and loved for my writing…

That would do it!

(It won’t.)

(It never will.)

Interestingly, Sarah Ban Breathnach wrote a follow up book about her experiences post Simple Abundance success.

She called it Peace and Plenty: Finding your path to financial serenity.

On the podcast, Oprah said something like, “Well, it’s not about the money.”

And Sarah kept insisting it was about the money.

They went back and forth a little and I thought wow.

After all this.

Wow.

I think, perhaps, the answer lies in Lauren Graham’s original quote. She says

The “success” parts of life look good to others, but the best parts are actually the simple, daily experiences.

I am conflating success with best. Best with success.

Anyone can have simple, daily experiences. I should be different and special and successful!

Success = best, hello!

 

Except.

Big sigh.

Big breath.

I know that she’s right.

 

Bookmark and Share

One Response to “Happiness And Success”

  1. Camila @ Adventitious Violet July 15, 2018 at 11:28 am #

    Great post! I needed that today, very well written and thoughtful.

Leave a Reply