How to Be Messy AND Happy — Tip #1
There’s a movement happening. A messy movement.
We’re tired of…
Comparing ourselves to others.
Being so hard on ourselves.
Social media-ing our brains out.
Desperately Googling everything (even though we still do it.)
Delaying happiness until we’ve achieved x, y and z.
We crave genuine connection with others — and with ourselves. We want to have everything we want in life without sacrificing who we really are. And we might even wear sweatpants (and no bra) to the grocery store sometimes, and we’re going to do it with pride.
Please join me for this 3-Part series on How to Be Messy AND Happy. A new tip will be posted each week.
You can be messy — real, human, imperfect — AND happy. And you can start right now.
Stop defining who you are by your successes or failures.
When we label events in our lives as successes or failures, we’re oversimplifying the experience and passing judgment on ourselves. Anything important that we do in life is far more complex than “successful” or “failed.”
When we tie our own identity or self-worth into our perceived successes and failures, we’re guaranteed unhappiness no matter the outcome.
Well, failure is the obvious one: when we believe that we’ve failed at something, and we identify with that failure, now WE are the failure. That delivers an enormous blow to our self-esteem and negatively affects our thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
What about identifying with our successes? Can that really be so bad?
Yep. I’m here to tell you that it is. Because when your sense of identity comes from your wins, your subconscious learns that you don’t really have intrinsic value. Your value is coming from perceived external successes. That’s the opposite of self-love.
Now you’re on a mission to succeed at any cost, rather than enjoying and appreciating the person you already are and the things you already have.
And that’s not all…
Because you have a human brain, which comes pre-programmed with a scientifically proven “negativity bias,” you’re guaranteed to notice your successes far less than you notice your failures.
The good news is, there’s a better way!
Remember earlier when I said that anything important that we do in life is far more complex than “successful” or “failed”?
The next time you succeed at something big or small, by all means, celebrate the crap out of it! But do NOT wait for that moment to appreciate and celebrate yourself exactly as you are now. Even if your current life circumstances are in a seriously tough place, don’t delay your gratitude or happiness. (Trust me — there’s always something we’ll find to be unhappy about.)
Instead, find small things to notice and appreciate everyday. Even pausing for a few seconds just to take in a thoughtful gesture or kind word from someone else can change your whole perspective.
Happiness is a choice. And it’s available to you 100% of the time.
Now, onto those juicy failures that we all know and dread…
Think back to a time when something didn’t turn out the way you’d hoped, but in hindsight you’re grateful for the overall impact it had in your life.
It probably felt miserable at the time. And if you’re prone to anxious thoughts, you may have been riddled with embarrassment or self-blame. But now that some time has passed, you’re able to look at it more clearly. What do you see now?
What’s the gem that you took away from that experience?
What life lesson did you not deeply understand until you lived through that?
When I think back, I often remember the first workshop that I ever held. It was based on a templatized workshop program that had come highly recommended to me from other coaches, so I figured it must be a slam-dunk.
The program’s template was very clear that you should follow it closely and include all of its highlights. I spent hours memorizing its instructions and rehearsing every word. I put a ton of pressure on myself to do it flawlessly, even though I’d never done it before.
Deep down, I equated my performance in this workshop with my value as a professional. I was identifying with its success or failure. If the workshop was great, then I was great. If the workshop sucked, that meant I really didn’t deserve my role at all. Lots of perfectionism going on here, guys. (Always a recipe for success, by the way.)
To my surprise and embarrassment, on the first night of the workshop, my words fell flat.
Instead, what I found the group loved most were my own favorite tools and exercises that I’d already been practicing for years. And all that memorization and rehearsing? What a waste! The group thrived when I finally shut up and empowered them to lead their own discussions.
To this day, I continue to draw from this experience when I do any kind of program or public speaking. I trust myself and the knowledge and experience that I bring. And most importantly, I trust my clients to be their own greatest resource. It was one of the most valuable lessons of my career.
This is the gift of messy.
Now, ask yourself:
Where in your life are you being run by the success/failure game?
What does that pressure for perfection feel like? Call it out. Get specific. Where do you feel it in your body?
When you’re attached to success, or avoiding failure, what bigger picture happiness are you missing out on?
The next time you fall into this pattern, what’s one specific action you can take in the moment to break the cycle and love on yourself?
Write your answers down, or leave them in a comment below. Sharing the real, honest truth of our unique messiness is empowering and helps others feel less alone.
I’ll be back next week with Tip #2!