What’s Really Stopping You?

Jun 17, 2015 by

          On Saturday night, I visited a couple of my foodie friends in Hamilton. Recapping the night in order of priority: chocolate cheese. Yes, chocolate cheese! It’s a thing! Bless the friends that introduced me to it. They got their hugs after chocolate cheese got its photo shoot.

          “I’m a foodie,” I explained to the new face at the patio table, a friend of my friends, whose story – chocolate cheese aside – was the highlight of my night.

          He’s a radio newscaster, but what I found more interesting was his path to becoming one: He went to school for and began his career in radio. At the time, he looked at it as a job, intended to build savings for a house, marriage, and kids. The passion he once had for radio lost its vigor when his first child was born. Add that he was repeatedly up for jobs he didn’t get, and he was frustrated.

          It wasn’t until 2007, a few years after he left radio, that he realized it was what made him happy. He had a job as a child and youth worker that he hated because, although it was fulfilling, it was draining. He discussed the situation with his wife, but had already made the decision that he wasn’t going to continue. It was then that he participated in a contest called Talk Show Idol, hosted by the broadcaster he worked for years before. He described the topic he was reporting on as “boring as shit,” but he hadn’t felt that alive in three years. During the commercial break, his old boss asked him to consider applying for a part-time position that was available at a station in Hamilton. He began working there every other weekend, and liked it far more than his day job. In fact, he liked it so much that it was becoming increasingly harder for him to do his day job.

          Acknowledging that this probably wasn’t a smart move, without consulting his wife, he decided to switch to part-time hours at his job as a child and youth worker so he could pick up more part-time hours in radio. He was out of benefits and making less money, but he had more airtime. Given that he and his wife had two kids by this point, ages 5 and 2, his wife was concerned about his lack of benefits and unguaranteed pay. More so, she was concerned about their relationship. He was working 60 hours per week, and he loved what he was doing.

          “I worked nights, so I was off during the day to be with the kids. It was working, but I didn’t see my wife,” he said.

          Because western Canada is the proving ground of radio, he and his wife decided it would be a good idea for him to go there for six months to a year to gain some experience before returning to southern Ontario to build his career.

          “It was probably the worst idea for us as a couple,” he noted, “because she wasn’t coming with me.”

          His wife had a fear of leaving home, whereas he didn’t have that.

          “I think that’s when we really started to see how we were different,” he said.

          “Do you think you would have stayed together if she went?” our mutual friend asked.

          “No,” he answered without having to think about it.

          By 2008, he was in BC. It was very quick. He got the radio job in Hamilton that led to a job in St. Catharines that led to the opportunity in BC.

          “I didn’t realize how good it would feel to start over,” he told me. “I was out there, on my own, with nobody else, and that’s when I realized how happy change and flux make me. Some people just don’t do well with change. I thrive in it. I love it when things change. People are like, ‘Oh, I hate that.’ Why? Change is constant.”

          “I think it’s exciting,” I chimed in.

          “Yeah, absolutely.”

          “I used to not like it though,” I admitted, “but now I have a really different perspective. Even the concept of being lost – okay, obviously being lost is a very big theme in your twenties; everyone thinks they’re lost. But I think people can be lost at any age, because every age is a new set of something,” I interrupted my own thought before continuing it with, “I used to think being lost – well, it feels lost. Now, I think being lost is one of the best positions you can be in because it forces you to want to make a change, and that change can be amazing.”

          “Yeah, totally. Absolutely!” he agreed. “And I think it’s kind of freeing in the sense that you can sit there and go: What do I want to do? The world is in front of me. What can I do?”

          “Yes!” I shrieked, excited to meet someone who had made it to the same point I was at during the beginning of The Happiness Experiment: the point where you finally realize that you can ask yourself what you want to do and just decide to do it. “That’s like when I started The Happiness Experiment,” I told him. “One of my big things was that, everything I did, I had to want to do it. I got into the habit of – I don’t have to do this now; now I do it subconsciously – but I got into the habit of asking myself: Do I want to do this or do I feel like I have to do this? If the answer was that I didn’t want to do it, I wasn’t doing it; and if I wanted to do it, I was doing it.”

          It sounds simple, but not everyone acts like it’s simple.

          “When I was still in Hamilton,” he said, “when I was still with my ex and working as a child and youth worker, I had the opportunity to work with a guy who – I can’t remember what he does exactly, but he’s a holistic counselor, basically. He introduced me to the law of attraction. You’ve heard of it?”

          “Mm-hmm,” I nodded.

          The law of attraction states that what you put out, you attract (ex. positivity attracts positive things).

          “Okay, well he introduced me specifically to The Secret. So I started looking into that, and ‘follow your bliss’ was the key phrase I took from it.”

          “Oh, I like that! That has happiness-tip potential,” I laughed.

          “It’s very much the same thing you were saying,” he continued. “Does that make me feel good? I’m going to do that. Does that not make me feel good? I’m going to stop doing that. When I went out to BC, I already had this idea engrained in my head, and I was just like, why am I doing anything else?”

          “You have an excellent story,” I told him. “I love it.”

          “Thank you,” he laughed.

          “I especially love it because you were married and have kids. I think people think it’s something that’s hard to do in general, but especially once they’re married. As soon as people get that paper, they feel like that is it. I’m very pro-divorce.

          He laughed. “So am I, apparently. Even with my last girlfriend, we got to a point that we were arguing all the time, and it was just like, why am I doing this? It’s hard when you’re in the middle of it, because you want to fight for it. You’ve developed this bond with somebody, and you want to continue that going forward. There’s a comfort level there. There are all of these things that you’re fighting for.”

          “It was good at first, so you want to get that back,” I added.

          “Yeah, absolutely. But there’s no going back. There’s no going back to the infatuation stage. Love just changes as it goes on. It goes from that infatuation stage to being best friends and doing anything for each other and wanting to be there for each other for everything. But you have to step back and apply these rules: Are you still happy? No? Is it something that is situational? Is it something that is short term? Is it something that is going to change in the near future? Yes? Great! Then maybe you can keep it going until that point, and see where it goes from there. It’s not about giving up when it’s hard. It’s not about that, because every relationship has that. It’s being able to sit there and go, okay, well, is this unhappiness long term? Is it systemic? Is it something that has nothing to do with the situation and has everything to do with the overall relationship?”

          “How long did it last with your wife?” I wondered aloud.

          “We were married for 8 years and we were in a relationship for 13. We met each other really young.”

          “Like, high school? University?” I guessed.

          “We met when I was 12.”

          “Wow.”

          “Actually, we dated when I was 12 for 2 weeks. She lived in Dundas and I lived in Hamilton,” he explained. “I couldn’t do the long distance.”

          “That’s so cute!” I giggled.

          They started dating for real when he was 19, soon after he broke up with his high school girlfriend, and they were married by the time he was 23.

          What I love about his story is that it illustrates how simple it is to do what you want to do once you decide that what you want is important. It’s the excuses people make that complicate things, and society has given us those excuses pre-scripted: work hard now for later, stay married for the kids, stay still for the mortgage. What too many people forget to do is ask themselves if they’re happy.

          “Living with intention, doing what you want to be doing, following your bliss –” he began another thought.

          “I am, like, 90 percent sure this is going to be a happiness tip within the next week,” I interrupted in awe, making him laugh.

Happiness Tip: Follow your bliss.

 
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