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the search for happiness

Updated: Jun 1

Happiness is not found by hitting your next significant achievement.

I say this as someone whose adult life has been spent chasing the next big thing. #HyperAchiever


If you are a hyper-achiever, you may be offended at the moment. Please stick with me. If you aren't a hyper-achiever, a) I'm jealous, and b) there is still lots to glean below, so I hope you also stick with me.


During high school (yes, I remember that long ago), I always chased better grades, more activities to be involved in, and any praise I could get my hands on. I was a very happy kid. I loved school, loved my friends, and loved playing all sports.


I got into all the colleges where I applied -- I didn't apply to any Ivy League schools, but some pretty good ones. I was on the Dean's List every semester, was President of the Business Association club, and enjoyed partying with my friends. I was a very happy college student.


I decided to go back to school to become a sign language interpreter. I applied, got in, and moved to Minnesota. I spent over three years learning a language I love, meeting some of the most incredible people I'll ever know, and was named Student of the Year by our faculty. I was a very happy non-traditional college student.


I could continue outlining my external happiness factors, but you get the point.

At the age of 39, I realized continuing to chase the next big thing is not the true meaning of happiness. Please hear me when I say that I am not negating accomplishments. They are invigorating and exciting and can add to our happiness picture. But they are not the whole picture. And sometimes, they just lead to a happiness high, but it's fleeting.


Can you relate to immediately wanting the next achievement and wanting it to be even grander? I found myself saying a lot of these phrases, "I'll be happy when ____________."

I lose 20 pounds

I hit my first $10k month

I get on the 30 under 30 list -- okay, okay, the 40 under 40 list


What would your fill-in-the-blank be?

What is it that you're chasing?

It's brutal to be tethered to always accomplishing something.


The lesson I've been learning is how to love myself, with or without achievements. This lesson has been slow to soak in (you've read my CV... it's all I've ever known.) I have done two things thus far on this journey. I follow my soul, not my ego. I practice the Positive Intelligence (PQ)™ principles daily.


I am not saying our ego is bad; I'm saying it needs to be in harmony with our soul instead of at battle with it. Here's how to tell when the two are working together: you're in alignment, and you're moving with ease & flow. One of my favorite mentors, Terri Maxwell, says that we can tell when the ego has taken the reins because we feel like we're constantly taking action that requires a lot of effort. The soul's path is that of the least resistance like a pretty little creek bending and curving around the obstacles mother nature put in her way.

As for PQ™, it's all about strengthing our mental fitness. The creator of Positive Intelligence is Shirzad Chamine, and he gives an example that resonates; I'd love to know what you think of this: When our mental fitness is weak, it's like realizing our hand is on a burning hot stove and keeping it there. When our mental fitness is strong, we immediately recognize the danger, remove ourselves from it, and start caring for our hand. That image alone intrigued me about how to strengthen my mental muscles.


To live a life free of "should haves, would haves, could haves"... can you imagine it? If not, here's how that life can look. You can wake up and smile for no reason. You can wake up, look at yourself in the mirror, and be impressed. You can have some shit hit the fan during the day but not stew in it for hours on end. You deserve that kind of happiness. As Glennon Doyle once said, "...we want to live from the inside out, not the outside in."


Melissa Mittelstaedt

Money & PQ™ Coach

hello@melissamitt.com

See you on the gram, @_melissamitt

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