There are books and courses and podcasts that tell us that the key to happiness is something. In my life, I have found that self-development is the key to happiness—when it comes to job satisfaction, marital happiness and overall contentment. Sure, I believe having a nice education or home or career can make you happy, but only if you are already happy with yourself. So, how do we get happy with self? For me, it has been a great number of things from achieving good relations to gaining self-confidence to following my heart and to investing time in things I enjoy.
“Without self-improvement, I would not be who I am today.”
Through the years, I have read many books on developing self, improving who I am and want to be, and learning ways to rid myself of pesky bad habits. Without the practice of self-improvement, I would not be who I am today, and I would also certainly not be happy if I was still that person I was so long ago. The person who was meek and shy, who had no self-confidence to speak of, who became frightened at the thought of being called on in class, or who might have to lead anyone anywhere. When I learned how to drive, I was petrified of getting caught at the stop light for fear I wouldn’t go in time after the light turned green, and the person behind me would be forced to honk at me. It’s funny to me now, but it was a real fear back then.
“I was looking for something more.”
As I got older, left my teens and lived my 20s and 30s, I knew that I wanted be less fearful, less mousy, and less of that under-confident person I seemed to have been from the time that I could remember. I wanted to be more self-confident, more assertive or outspoken, and that leader which being the oldest in my family kept seeming to push me toward. So, I took to reading all of the books that I could find on self-development, building self-esteem, and becoming a better person in general. Eventually, I got to a point where these type of books did not offer what I was looking for. I was looking for something more. I was looking for happiness.
“What will be will always change with every step we take.”
I finally realized that happiness has to come from within. How do you find it, you ask. For me, it was self-development and learning to put all of the things that I had read about improving oneself into action. Finally, I had to embrace the new me and let go of the fearful person I was. To have happiness, I had to learn not to live in the past or think too much about the future. What once was will never be again and what will be will always change with every step we take today.
“Wherever you go there you are.”
A book that finally made an impression on me in my early 30s was, “Wherever You Go, There You Are,” by Jon Kabat-Zinn. I never finished it as each day I simply grew more into the realization that happiness is about being happy every day right where you are. Searching for happiness someplace else, in one’s mind’s eye, will only lead to unhappiness. The years I read and read and read searching for a better me led me to the key I needed all along. The key that says if you are not happy right where you are, then you need to figure out what it is you are not happy about and do what you can to fix it.
“Ask the tough questions….Set yourself down.”
Ask the tough questions. Face the idea that you might need more schooling to reach that dream of being a doctor, lawyer or teacher. Find a mentor in the field you want to be in – whether the arts, sciences, or humanities. Set yourself down and decide if you need a plan to start that new business. Then, write it out from beginning to end. As you go along, tweak it as needed and realize that every dream requires diligence to reach completeness. Most of all, if you find that you are not happy with you and want to improve who you are, seek to read books or take courses in whatever subject you can to achieve your desired goal.
“Start today and you will be ahead of yourself…”
Becoming happy with self means growing into a better self even if you need to do some extra reading and further learning to do so. There shouldn’t be any embarrassment in wanting to be a better person. Part of self-development is learning more about life, about your passions, how to develop better skills for your current or dream job. Part of developing self is also learning how to overcome your fears, insecurities, or anxieties. Read. Take courses. Find a mentor. Start today and you will be ahead of yourself when you look back in 20 or 30 years from now. Trust me. I am so grateful today for the time I took years ago to develop myself into the person I dreamed of being when I grew up. I have a long way to go yet, but I am closer today than I was yesterday. And you can be, too.
The book I wrote over the past year and published in July of this year is a good reference if you are on a journey to self-discovery and development. Check out, “HONOR ONE ANOTHER: The ABCs of Embracing Our Spirit Within,” at amazon.com/author/virginia.alice.crawford. Just click on ‘All Formats’ for both soft cover and e-book formats.