My mentor Stephanie shared with me an old quote that I long forgotten. I’ve taken the liberty to copy and paste it for you:
“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”
– John Lennon
Stephanie didn’t realize it, but by showing me this quote, it lit the spark to inspire change on my part. For me, it’s been a long five years. But what a busy and progressive five years it’s been! There have been a myriad of ups and downs over the last couple of years, but definitively more ups. After nearly transferring three times and stumbling into the Maritime business, I decided to stick to my strengths. Looking back, with nearly one month left in academia that spanned all the way back to preschool at Antilles on St. Thomas over 20 years ago, I can confidently say I made the right choices along the way. Because of those choices, May 13th will highlight a remarkable milestone in my life: A college graduate.
Five years, two degrees, and endless opportunities right? It can be. I did some searching these last couple of months because isn’t that what soon-to-be college graduates do? The big questions became: What’s next? Where should I go? What should I do with my life? As I contemplated these questions I noticed that below my exterior calm there was some internal strife going on.
It turns out, I knew what I wanted all this time. I wanted happiness to be my guide in life — the driver in my decisions. And what truly makes me happy? Livin’ as close to the equator as possible and doing work that I find to be meaningful and fulfilling every single day.
It amazes me what time and perception can do to individuals. After leaving St. John behind at the ripe age of 17, I constantly found myself wanting the Caribbean back in my life.
At least a bit of it.
After nearly two decades between St. Thomas and St. John, it is simply the only life I know. And, after five years away from the moonlit skinny dips, the football games played on the beach, and the bon fires besides old slave plantations — I knew I simply must get it back! Why? Because all those things represent what I consider to be happiness. So what did I do? I decided to work hard towards that goal.
And for anyone that is a believer in The Secret – if you want it, it will happen:
This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people have had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.
It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.
What a beautiful statement, beautiful in its simplicity. But also because it makes sense.
How many people do you know work — and work very hard — just to end up merely working so they can consume material, superficial things that they think makes them happy. Or how about those who work all their lives, just to enjoy the last 20 years of it? This isn’t living, it’s surviving — merely existing. I am not advocating laziness, nor that we should suddenly become underachievers. Rather, I am suggesting a new way of thinking:
Make sure happiness is at the core of every decision you make in life. You’ll be rewarded all the more because of it. I’ll end this with a quote from a man that spent his life chasing his happiness:
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
– Steve Jobs