Is This The Secret to Happiness? It Was For Me

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7 min read

Intervention”: the act of being radically honest with yourself so as to alter the course of your life.

The first time I placed my world into a colander under a running tap, I was 27 and quite unprepared. I’d been gifted a life coaching series by my employer (a business in the business of developing Life & Executive Coaches) so I did what any smug Marketing Manager would do: I chose the most highly sought-after Coach on the books (she was—and still is—one of the most remarkable women I’ve ever known and a vivid lesson in sheer, unadulterated life force). It was love at first session and I very quickly found myself laid bare in her presence (metaphorically speaking).

After just twelve meetings I made the decision to resign from my job (a twist of irony for my generous employer!?), end my long-term relationship, pack up my life in Sydney and buy a one-way ticket to Kathmandu. As you do.

Why, exactly? Because my Coach had done what I myself was not willing or able to do alone: excavate the truth out from my hidden depths and hold it to the light so I could be thoroughly inspired by it.

Now, to say the truth at that particular time of my life was inconvenient is to say the very least, but I know that with fifteen years’ worth of retrospect it was entirely worth it. In fact, what appeared to the outside world to be the most ludicrous waste of a great relationship, a well-paid job and a fun-filled life, was actually the only time I can recall feeling truly happy and completely aligned.

what appeared to the outside world to be the most ludicrous waste of a great relationship, a well-paid job and a fun-filled life, was actually the only time I can recall feeling truly happy and completely aligned.

What do I mean by that?

It was the only time in my life that I felt my outer world was an accurate reflection of my inner one.

Not in a showy, Instagrammable type of way (it didn’t exist!) but in a silent, profound kind of way.

Everything felt invigoratingly right. I was running from no one, yearning for nothing in particular, just doing the things I had always wanted to do. I had no agenda other than the thrill of experience itself. And life loved me for it. I was rewarded from moment to moment with extraordinary happenings that seemed to bellow, “YES! I FREAKING LOVE WORKING WITH PEOPLE LIKE YOU! THIS IS FUN!”

It felt like magic.

The Secret to Happiness

Back to normal life

And then, several months later, I went back to ‘normal’ life and eventually forgot all about alignment and serendipity and invigoration. I forgot to ask myself again what I truly wanted. Instead, I took my cues from the world around me and veered further and further away from the source of me.

Until recently.

At 40, I didn’t have access to a kick-ass Coach but I did have ample amounts of grief and stress. Which is apparently just what I needed to kick-start a life-intervention all of my own. I went searching for the truth I quietly knew had been nudged under a particularly plush carpet and became surprisingly ruthless in my quest.

This time around it took far more than twelve one-hour sessions — try eighteen months of 24/7 consultation. I eventually admitted to the one single truth: I loved the father of my children as a person and as a parent; but not as my partner.

Making that discovery felt a bit like zooming out of a map app and finding you’ve inadvertently strayed a very long way from home. It’s frightening. It’s disorientating. Immediately, you yearn to find your way back to where you’ve always belonged—despite knowing there is no one waiting for you there but you—yet the journey seems needlessly reckless and near-on impossible.

I couldn’t stop thinking about what I’d be leaving behind.

Still, I had seen something I couldn’t un-see. I had come to know something I simply couldn’t un-know. There was nowhere for this truth to hide now. Especially now. My grief for a lost loved one was raw and real. Loss had taught me that my life is precious and precarious and already in full swing.

The Secret to My Happiness

So, what to do…

I understood the sentiment I kept hearing from myself and others: there’s no such thing as a perfect relationship (especially with kids!); just lower your expectations and be thankful for what you have. I still do.

Gradually though, life itself began to meddle; as though it was peering into my mind and waving its wand in response. I noticed; and then I decided to rise to the challenges lining up for me (when so much of me wanted to shrink away and forget anything I ever knew about truth).

I put my big girl pants on and nailed every single one of my deepest fears like Beyoncé in a leather leotard.

Which sounds fierce and fabulous but, actually, I’ve never felt so terrified in my life. There was so much at stake. I had to physically force myself to do and say things I never dreamed I would. It’s one thing to run off to Nepal in your twenties and another thing altogether to separate the fibres of a family in your forties. And for no better reason than to honour life with more love; more reverence and more respect for its sheer existence.

Trusting my unconventional truth feels so shockingly decadent and scandalous against all the pretty, pale expectations around me—but it’s the way I’m rolling.

I know from experience it’s worth leaping with faith.

So, that’s how I find myself staring at an enormous blank canvas, save two precious children—and the vital friendship with their father—at its centre. There are no open-ended intrepid travels this time round. This time, I have to stay within certain lines, to be sure—but that doesn’t douse my determination to make conscious choices that aim to suck out whatever is left of life’s creamy centre. And no, that’s not some disgusting double entendre—I’m not the least bit interested in replacing one relationship with another.

My truth is speaking only of returning home to myself. So that’s where I’m heading and it is enough.

When was the last time you conducted an intervention? Do you regularly check-in with your inner/deeper self to make sure you’re not living an elaborate lie? Or not. Either way, I get it. There are trials and tribulations either way.

Still, if a part of you feels compelled to dig; if you think you might be brave enough to peek through your fists at what lies beneath, I urge you to follow your curiosity. What if life is ready to surprise you? What if it is simply waiting to support you in the most extraordinary of ways the moment you find the courage to speak your secrets out loud?

What if you live the rest of your life without ever touching the one thing you really needed to feel?

For anyone brave enough, here are my top tips for mining the gems of truth from your forgotten cave walls. Hint: you’ll need a head torch and a hanky.

1. Seek insight

In order to see anything clearly within, you first need to be still and quiet for a while. Turn that noisy mind off—or at least down—so you can find out what’s beyond it. You will eventually feel quite at ease with the real you (the one that has been with you all along) which is when you can start to ask the personal questions, and answer them with brave abandon. You could try kicking off with classics like;

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

What really lights you up?

What are you too scared to admit to out loud?

What would your 8-year-old self say to you right now?

What would your 80-year-old self say to you right now?

2. Trust your intuition

And after asking the questions comes listening for the answers. You will know when you have hit upon a truth by the feelings it generates in your body (and the way it tends to haunt you relentlessly thereafter). You might initially experience terror, tears or tidal waves of relief, but eventually, a genuine truth will always leave you inspired.

3. Inspire yourself

How would you describe the feeling of inspiration? When someone or something leaves you inspired, what sensations do you experience? Is it similar to a rush of love? Is it enthusiasm? Is it unity? Is it always uplifting?

Never underestimate inspiration. It is a signal that something lines up with the real you. It is a clue.

And don’t assume you must look outward for it.

When you tap into an idea that gives you a flash of inspiration, pay very close attention. Because despite what you might think, nobody can motivate your inspired action better than your very own self.

you have to get hard-core courageous to do this work. It is not for the faint-hearted. You have to be willing to get so far out of your comfort zone, you won’t be able to see it anymore.

4. Check your integrity

An authentic truth coming to life does not leave a trail of destruction in its wake. Quite the contrary, acting on your deepest truth will always present opportunities to expand, liberate and stay (rather than contract, cling and avoid). For example, when I ended my relationship after that life coaching series at 27, I expected disaster to reign—all the ingredients for chaos and madness were there. But when I spoke my truth openly and honestly, it lacked any of the lava that destroys whatever lies in its path. It resonated with my boyfriend somehow and he lined up with it. We spent several weeks tenderly kissing our relationship goodbye; we relished meals at our favourite restaurants, danced in our living room to our favourite songs, we threw a farewell party for all our favourite people. Ultimately, we paid homage to everything we’d gained together and gave real thanks.

Any doubts I may have harboured about the sanity of my decision beforehand were dissolved by the nature of our parting. And I am experiencing the same lack of resistance in my current reality now, too—when logic had been preparing me for battle, I acted upon and spoke my truth to stumble upon a strange kind of peace.

5. Be intrepid

Make no mistake, you have to get hard-core courageous to do this work. It is not for the faint-hearted. You have to be willing to get so far out of your comfort zone, you won’t be able to see it anymore. Plenty of hidden truths never get to see the light of day. Some burn for a lifetime without ever being mined and savoured.

The question is, will yours?

Tell us about your own life interventions—or your thorough avoidance of them—in the comments below.

You might also like to read How To Reduce Your Social Media Addiction and I Have A Confession To Make, Please Don’t Judge Me

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