Late last year after I gave birth to our second daughter, I was having a conversation with my doula that turned philosophical (big life changes have a way of bringing out my inner Socrates). She said that here in the West, we have gotten so accustomed to easy lives of comfort that we feel entitled to happiness and chase it obsessively. We hide from pain, avoid discomfort, rush through difficulty, try to wish away anything that feels awkward.
But what if we let go of the pursuit of happiness, and chased something deeper instead? What if we traded happiness for aliveness?
Because we all know happiness can be elusive. And the world doesn't owe us anything. Reality takes liberties with our dreams. Life doesn't conform to our plans. And over and over, because that is just how it is, we face set backs and challenges, and choppy waters and all manner of things that don't go our way.
But truly feeling the feels, letting it be okay when things are not okay, accepting the downs with the ups, that is being alive. And by choosing to embrace aliveness, we can find meaning in the "stuff" that makes us unhappy and infuse even the hardest times in our lives with purpose and energy. And we can let ourselves experience the toughness - learn from it, grow from it, become more resilient from it - instead of always rushing to escape from it.
By embracing aliveness - and all the good, bad, and ugly that comes with it - we can find power and strength in ourselves that we may not have known was there if we had only ever forced the happiness agenda.
On the Entreprenora Boardroom, a small group of founders come together twice a month and grapple with the many big and small issues we all face as founders and leaders. And one of the themes that comes up again and again is around owning our worth, and not literally or figuratively selling ourselves short.
I know the past 12 months have been a sucker punch to us all. Many of us have had to pivot like crazy and are spinning endless plates under increased personal, emotional, and practical pressure. In many ways, it has been relentless.
BUT, I also know that the way we treat ourselves and our businesses communicates something powerful to the world about how it can treat us back. While customers and growth are important, we also need to remind ourselves that it's okay to leave money on the table if those customers or that growth devalues who we are and what we have to offer.
It's not black or white, of course, but some money is simply not worth bringing into our businesses, and some of our assets are simply not for sale. We can say no to investors who think they "own" us (yes, there investors who use those words). We can respectfully push back against customers who demand and demand but never appreciate when we provide and provide (80% of the "trouble" usually accounts for only 20% of the revenue). Or we can tactfully "fire" clients whose values simply don't align with ours.
When we say no to things, when we create boundaries around what we will and won't accept, when we create spaces in our businesses, it is often painful. But nature abhors a void, and by leaving some things behind, we make room for better things ahead.