I have so many mixed feelings about “the holidays,” and for me, that means Christmas in particular. Feelings about the commercialism, forced gaiety at office parties, over-the-top house decorations, as well as good old fashioned downtime with family, an opportunity to rest and take stock before the New Year. Expectations that this is the one time of year that people should be kind and generous because it’s the “Christmas spirit.” The hype. The giving and the getting. Joy. Obligation. Peace to all.
It’s a mixed bag, but I believe that, at the heart of what motivates all of this holiday stuff is the innate human desire to be happy, to be free, and to give and receive love. Everything we do is with this desire in mind: all the decorating, shopping, wrapping, singing, giving, receiving, etc. is for the purpose of creating happiness and showing love.
The problem of course is that we can’t “make” another person happy. We may give things that create moments of happiness or memories that are treasured. But no one can “make” another person happy. Not really.
People really do have to find their own path to happiness. It can be excruciating to watch someone you love struggle to find their path, with the inevitable pitfalls and potholes, the confusion, “bad” decisions and emotional, if not physical, pain. Growth is painful. Creation is painful. (Hello! Birth.)
All of which is super inconvenient for promoting the holiday spirit.
But it’s part of the deal of being human. People have to find their own way, and because it’s their path, how can we possibly tell them what will work for them? It’s why advice so often falls on deaf ears.
In a nutshell this conundrum of finding one’s path is why I became a life and career coach.
I had no path, except for the one prescribed by society: do your homework, get good grades, go to a good college, get a job, get married. When that path didn’t work to create happiness, I was, to put it crassly, f*cked.
I had no idea how to find my path or create a new one. I wallowed in the muck for a long, long time. Some of that wallowing was necessary for growth. But not all of it. I wanted to know, at my core, that I was doing the right thing, for me. I just wanted someone to help me hear and feel the answer to the questions: Why am I here? Why bother?
I had a hard time describing what it looked like, but I knew it when, finally, I felt it. When the pieces clicked into place that said: Life coaching is your path.
So I’m now on this path to help others find their path that will lead to happiness, even though I know I can’t “make” people happy. But I can be a guide.
I can walk the path with people and help them see alternative routes to help them find their version of career bliss and life happiness, but I am powerless over making someone else happy. They have to be willing to explore and be open to looking at their world from a different vantage point. The harder I try to “make” someone happy, the more likely it is that I’m creating a mess.
This path to happiness (as if there’s only one path and one way to get there!) is bumpy and it’s easy to get stuck in the mud. In my opinion, we all reach a point at which we need a new way to look at things. The old rules, tools and tactics just don’t work anymore, but we don’t know what to do instead.
In the early 90s I was trying SO HARD to be a good person. I was trying SO HARD to be a good wife and teacher and a good citizen. I tried to do everything right so that nothing bad would ever happen. And I got mad when life didn’t turn out the way I wanted. So I worked harder or blamed someone else for my discontent.
But all that external effort didn’t matter. That wasn’t at the heart of my discontent. The life rules I’d been following just didn’t work for me. The mold I was trying to fit into was not me, and try as I might, I couldn’t make it work.
One Christmas my mother gave me a copy of the Artist’s Way for Christmas. My mom wanted me to be happy, but she couldn’t do it for me. Instead, she gave me a guidebook in the form of the Artist’s Way.
I thought it was weird. I didn’t understand the title. I wasn’t an artist, nor did I want to be. Creativity wasn’t my problem. My husband was. My in-laws were. The misbehaving students in my class were. My dog dying in a freak accident… that was the problem.
The book sat on a shelf for two years until I got even more unhappy, and therefore, more willing to try something drastically different. Once I finally opened the book and began reading, it spoke to me. I found my feelings and beliefs, never vocalized to anyone, within the introductory pages. The Artist’s Way gave me a process for finding a new outlook on life, a new path.
This is one reason I’m so passionate about taking people through the process outlined in the book: 1) It works and 2) It gave me insight and tools for creating a new life, a way to create my own happiness.
If you or someone you know is ready for a new path, please check out the upcoming Artist's Way groups
OR set up a 1:1 complimentary coaching session so we can talk about what’s possible for you.