Finding what makes you happy isn’t a skill taught in school.
Memorizing terms and concepts, researching for a project, or studying for an exam. These apparent skills were useful at school and later on a daily work basis. But for life, there was one lesson missing.
I will begin by making a confession: I was the typical medium-class student who was responsible, applied and had good, consecutive grades. I was proud, and it made me feel empowered. Nothing could block my pathway to success.
Supposing that grades were the most important thing in life, I dedicated my life to keep an order and an agenda for delivering the most in any of my classes and projects. And for a time, it was fruitful. But there was something deep inside me; something which was calling to be awoken. There was a part of me asking for relaxation, finding enjoyment and happiness in everything I did.
I noticed it. I sensed this feeling of emptiness after finishing something with outstanding results. I sensed this harmful feeling. This mix of anxiety with concern.
By observation, I started to comprehend what I was needing: an understanding, the ability to share my experiences with others, and to nurte from others’ experiences to satisfy my curiosity of the world. And as far as I kept thinking about it, it felt right, because it sounded reasonable than someone so focused in his life and goals would need to reach out to his peers for feeling accompanied on his travel to success. But if you kept thinking about it, the answer was far to be found. After all, what can be inferred about life when you are in high school?
University taught me how local my point-of-view was. How because we surround ourselves with those on our same capabilities and horizons we forget to enrich our experience with those who come from different backgrounds. By having the chance to meet different people on my life, I was glad I could understand better the world surrounding me and the world itself. I met people who had all the money in the world to travel around it, and people who were wishing to build a better future for themselves sacrificing their daily pleasures and moments like hanging out on a bar or getting to lunch because they couldn’t afford it.
This showed me how ungrateful I was for having the chance to deliver beyond my capabilities thanks that I had most –and not all- of the basics as not to worry about them, as well how ambitious I was for wishing a life in which I shouldn’t worry about those needs in the future. I was on a gray area between those who have them all and those who need to constantly fight for it, and I was doing the right thing in the past, by following a defined path of what someone else defined as “success”. I didn’t want to be right; I wanted to be happy.
My search for happiness could fall into the typologies described for Positive Psychology, according to Dr. Christopher Peterson. I was focused on a path for accomplishing goals, applying the critical thinking and repeating a social model taught by schools. I wasn’t taught how to care for myself, how to discover the best of me and how to share that with the world. On following this automate path, I became dependent of others: I needed approval, I needed recognition. I was missing my real connection to others, the one where I share my feelings, my experience and they share theirs as well.
If school and University taught me something, it was to apply critical and systemic thinking on processes. If I would have to go back and rethink this process for rationalizing what I was feeling, for applying what I was told into what I was living, I would say I began for noticing what I felt on the moment I accomplished something. That instance when all your efforts and time consumption seem to be over and you feel relieved it’s ideal to identify what you went through, now that the results are over the table and the pressure has released your body.
In case there was any uncomforting feeling during that analysis, I would just think the times when I felt complete. In my case, it was when sharing with others, helping and caring for them. I realized I was happy when my whole being was at the service of those who need it the most.
By contrasting good moments against bad ones where I was feeling realized against those when I was feeling incomplete showed me my true essence: my social profile, my will to help others, my inclination toward showing my sensitivity instead of my ambition. I found myself after deciding I would follow the path to achieve happiness. Not money, not prestige and not fame, as these will come one way or another. I decided to pursuit happiness.
After performing this analysis, I would evaluate my latest actions and my everyday behavior. At first, evaluations would show I lost my path for finishing daily tasks and weekly goals. At last, I would correct all of these deviations by reconnecting with the people on my team and projects. Suddenly, work was not a duty, but something I was beginning to feel passionate about. It was fulfilling me.
Most of the things I have learned through life are different from the ones formal education, of any kind, proved to be. My education was designed to accomplish a job. My whole being looks like it was designed to fulfill something bigger. I didn’t understand that. I just needed to question what I knew, and have the courage to start looking what I was needing.
Funny thing: school never told me how to do that either.
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