Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it.Elizabeth Gilbert
During Elizabeth Gilbert’s recent appearance on Good Morning America to celebrate the tenth anniversary of her book, “Eat, Pray, Love,” she was asked why her book resonated so deeply for her readers. Her answer was that the book encouraged people to realize that “my life doesn’t have to look like this anymore.”
If you did read the book, or even heard about the premise, you most likely thought:
- “Sure, that’s cool for her, but I can’t just go off to Italy or India or Bali. I have responsibilities and commitments.”
But to put words into Elizabeth’s mouth, the key point of her book wasn’t about the travel or even falling in love in an exotic tropical paradise, but about making choices for our lives because we want something more than in the life we see around us.
Her book tells us that:
- We can dream again.
- We can make choices in our lives that allow us to soar, ...
... and that is what hit home for so many readers of her book.
If not now, when?
For so many of us, we have allowed the outside trappings of our lives – the house, the car, the job, the PTA, the schools, the kids, the vacations to the beach, to become the sole extent of our lives. But what about:
- The dreams that we left behind?
- The dreams that we possibly no longer even remember?
- Our dream of writing a book? Or ...
- Taking a painting class? Or ...
- A wine tour of Italy?
These don’t have to be huge dreams – they don’t have to mean summiting Everest or spending a year in Brazil – but what is it that you have always wanted to do, but haven’t quite done?
We might think that it’s our responsibilities (to our family, to our jobs, etc.) that hold us back, but at the end of the day, we are the only ones holding ourselves back.
- No other person can create the life you want except for you.
- No one else will go out and create that life for you.
- Even our spouses can’t decide what we most need in our lives on a fundamental level.
And so when you look around and see someone else doing something amazing, know:
- That you are allowed to take that part that you love and incorporate it into your own life.
- We can build small pieces of amazingness into our lives, right now.
- We can follow the path to our dream jobs and dream lives and dream relationships.
If your dream is to write a novel, or to paint a mural, or to learn Spanish, start with small steps towards that goal or dream.
Sign up for a class, hire a tutor, check out books from the library, find meet-up groups that are already doing these things.
The internet has allowed us to find virtual friends in any area of interest, and people are always happy and willing to share how they started on their path.
And even if your dream is to summit Everest, start with some smaller steps that allow you to gain a foothold, like joining a local hiking group or reading books about Nepal.
My wish for you today is to take one step towards that dream!
Kathleen Dwyer Blair, LCSW, BCD, Director, Nassau Guidance and Counseling.