Be careful what you wish for, you may get it
I learned a valuable lesson from the life of a friend of mine, this story takes place about twelve years ago but I use his life as an example to me every day. At the time, he was in his early thirties, married, and extremely successful, at least by most people’s standards. But he wasn’t just married, he was married to an incredibly beautiful woman, an attorney who was top of her class at one of the country’s most prestigious law schools, she was brilliant. And it wasn’t that he was just successful, he was in a high profile business, dealing with celebrities and captains of industry, the people you read about in People magazine. He bought a big house, two Mercedes, and traveled the world. He was the envy of most everyone he knew, had set out with goals when he left college and for all intensive purposes met every single one of them by the time he was thirty three years old. And despite all he had achieved, he was an extremely unhappy person, the more this couple had the more they wanted, the more he made the more his wife spent to “keep up with the Jones’.” He felt on a daily basis that he was, for lack of a better term, emotionally out of breath, he was constantly chasing and never catching. It would be easy at this point to take you right to a cliffhanger, to say this person couldn’t take it anymore, that there is a tragic end, that he abused alcohol or drugs, that he hit rock bottom and turned his life around. But he was really no different than most people, and most people who are unhappy with their lot in life don’t commit suicide, and they don’t abuse alcohol or drugs, most people just continue on the path they are on, never make changes and remain unhappy.
One day my friend decided he didn’t want to be unhappy anymore. He didn’t just walk out on his business, but he knew he didn’t want to be in that business anymore, the pressure was to great, the stress was no longer worth it, so over the next two years he closed it down in an orderly fashion. He knew he was unhappy in his marriage but he just didn’t walk out. He talked to his wife about what didn’t work for him, she didn’t understand how he no longer liked their life, they tried therapy, and although he probably knew it was over from the beginning, he tried until he couldn’t try anymore.
At age thirty five he had given up life as he knew it, his work, his marriage, and set off on a new path, but this isn’t a fairytale. He was not instantly happy, he had spent thirteen years working and achieving everything he hoped for, achieved it all and was miserable, now he faced the hard part, he had to figure out why? Why he was so unhappy. Why his dream job and fairytale marriage did not make him a happy person. And how to move forward with his life.
It took years, but ten years later, he was remarried, still successful in an entirely new business and happy. It took him years to figure out what went wrong and how to try and put his life on the right path.He learned that his mistakes were the same that most people make, chasing things that don’t matter, going after material objects, being concerned what others think of you. He learned material objects are great, success is wonderful and an admirable goal, the respect and admiration and even envy of your peers is a wonderful thing to have, but if it defines who you are, if it is your life’s sole ambition, then unhappiness is sure to follow. Life is a constant journey of understanding who you are and what you need, and it constantly changes. If you are unhappy in your life or simply content, strive for more. Not all change needs to be radical like my friends, most often it is just simple adjustments in life, focusing on the things that are most important like family health, and knowing you are the best person you can be. Its about trying to live as stress free life as possible, and that the things are most important come from the inside.