Updated: Dec 21, 2019
Why and How "Doing it all for you" is the best and only approach we need in order to be both happy and successful.
Inspired by the novel, The Happiness Equation, by Neil Pasricha.
“Stay true to yourself, yet always be open to learn. Work hard, and never give up on your dreams, even when nobody else believes they can come true but you. These are not cliches but real tools you need no matter what you do in life to stay focused on your path.” - Phillip Sweet
In high school, everyone knows everything about everybody, and you would be surprised at just how easy it is to get sucked into that mentality. That’s what happened to me, and at first, I didn’t even realize it. My motives unconsciously shifted to favor how others would view me. It took me WAY too long to even identify the problem. I had everything: a good social life, a job, a healthy relationship, amazing grades, a loving family, but I wasn’t happy. Why in the world wasn’t I happy with all the things I had to be grateful for? My motives shifted, plain and simple.
Freshman year I did everything for myself. I worked hard in school to fulfill my potential and benefit my future. I smiled after every report card, because I knew my hard work had paid off. But then something changed, obviously, because all of a sudden it was junior year and I was looking my 104 weighted GPA with indifference.
It clicked then.
It was almost as if I got shocked by the paper I was holding. I realized that I wasn’t happy with my report card, not because I didn’t try my best and do amazing, but because I didn’t get those grades for myself. I didn’t work my butt off studying so I could go to sleep at night knowing I did my best. I worked my but off for the kids in class that glanced at my test scores. I did it for the kids who complained about 99s. I slowly started to define my self worth by a number as insignificant as my GPA. I craved perfection, because that is what I thought others expected of me.
Once I let go of that attachment, I became happier, and I actually did better in my classes. The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha has a whole section dedicated to this topic. He stated that, “Studies show that when we begin to value the rewards we get for doing a task, we lose our inherent interest in doing the task” (p.40). Once you do it for other people, your performance drops. I witnessed his lesson first hand. Once I refocused my intentions and eliminated the opinions of others, I saw positive results almost immediately. All year I struggled in AP Physics. I worked harder than I ever had in my life to get grades that I found to be disappointing. When it came to studying for the final, I told myself that I owed it to myself, nobody else, to finish the course with a bang. I got a 100 on the final. I thought my teacher was joking when he told me my grade. It wasn’t a joke. It was positive intentions, hard work, and determination. I did it for me, and I was rewarded for it.
Positive energy breeds positive results.
That has been said multiple times by millions of people, but it’s true. So true, that I am including that cliché in my very own blog. Doing anything for anyone but yourself stems from negative energy: competition, self-doubt, pride, etc. Whereas doing work for only yourself is filled with both positive energy and passion, and those two motivators mixed together is an impenetrable force.
It took nothing short of a miracle for me to get a 100 on my physics final, and yet it happened.
Making yourself your number one fan does more than just improve the content of your work; it also makes you happier. It makes you feel real, genuine, down to your core, happiness. With no one else to impress, it is easier to feel inspired, motivated, and productive. Think about it; it takes literally no effort at all to prove to yourself that you are doing your best, because you already know you are doing it. With nothing to prove, you thrive under zero outward pressures.
This also has to do with every single aspect of your life, not just academics. You could be acting a certain way or doing certain things you aren’t proud of in front of a group of friends. You could be sacrificing your happiness at home because of expectations you think your family has of you. You could be on a sports team or club that you don’t actually enjoy because of the influence of others. The possibilities are endless, but one thing is for sure, when you do it for others, your quality of work decreases along with your happiness.
Which leads me to the how: how to renovate your life to make sure that you have only one fan to please – yourself.
This is the fun part, the part in which you renovate your mental apartment by knocking down the walls you put up when you thought other people’s opinions mattered.
Start with reevaluating the problem. Go through every aspect of your life (social, academic, athletic, home) with a fine toothcomb, and find all the spots where your motives aren’t purely “you” based. Make a list, either mental or physical, and let out all your feelings.
Now take the time to unravel the knots. Focus on one bullet at a time, and solve the problem. This can be tough, because each person must deal with their unique experiences in a way that works well for them, but you will figure it out. Don’t quit until every aspect of your life is rid of the expectations of others. Don’t stop until you feel happy in situations where you previously felt turmoil. It takes time, and you may relapse (I did), but all good things are worth the wait. Be patient with yourself. You are relearning how to live life.
Once you get there, that place in which your intentions are pure and the opinions of others become background noise, find the glue that is strong enough to keep you there. You’ll see, it feels a lot like freedom, the open space and wall to floor window. It’s a lot more peaceful without all that clutter, a lot more quiet without all of the white noise gossip. You’re going to want to stay there.
Now, take a shower, crack a window, and take a nap between your clean crisp sheets. Revel in the feeling of comfort that comes from self-love. Be grateful for all of your infinite capabilities that have led you to this moment. I’m proud of you, but that doesn’t really matter, now does it.
Be proud of yourself.
With love and light,