My mid-life crisis started with a little restless sensation, a slight internal stir. I successfully avoided this restless feeling, but it kept nagging at me. Overtime, the little sensation transformed from restlessness to the loud, uncomfortable sensation we call anxiety. I was forced to listen because the discomfort was no longer avoidable.Each morning I would wake up to the same routine: have a coffee with my partner; drive to work and listen to NPR; focus on developing something new and cool for our company; drive home and try to decompress from the chaos of meetings, calls, employee conversations; eat dinner; chill and maybe work more.I was happyish. I remember saying, “I am totally fine. I like my job; I have enough money; I am in a relationship. What else could I need?” These justifications worked when I was distracted during the day. But, without the distractions of daily life, they failed. My morning coffee and my late night relaxation time were slowly hijacked by this constant sense. Why was that little nagging sensation getting the best of me?No, I did not investigate this sensation. In fact, I avoided it like a plague. Month after month the sensation kept emerging and I kept ignoring it. And, with each attempt to overlook its viewpoint, I got increasingly more anxious.Then the anxiety took on a life force of its own: irritability, a sense that things were not right in my life, even nighttime panic attacks.Maybe you don’t feel anxious. Maybe you feel down or suffer from endless worry. However it manifests, the feeling you experience comes from the same root cause: the soul’s voice cannot be ignored.I have been re-reading Aristotle lately and he says the soul’s activity towards excellence is the path to happiness.The soul wants to steer you towards happiness. It is up to you if you listen. The little stir is the soul’s voice attempting to guide you, trying to be heard.My mistake was that I did not listen. Not because I do not value my voice, but because I had no idea that my voice originated in a tiny stirring sensation. And, that if I do not honor that voice, my happiness decreases, even creating anxiety and depression.I wanted to feel better, less stressed, and more alive. I looked everywhere for the answer to this desire. I never thought the answer originates from within.
Happiness Requires Action
After I learned to value my internal stir as my guiding light, I had to do the next part: take action.
The stirring will not rest until you take action. Happiness is attained by taking action from the soul. The is the hardest part about living authentically, removing the emotional weight, and finding a lighter, freer you.
Why is it hard to take action? The soul does not discriminate between cultural values, goals of others, and your desires. The soul has one goal: it sets the compass for your desires. This unilateral intention can force decisions that your ego, friends, family, mentors do not appreciate. The relationship you know you need to leave. The job you hate. The destructive friendship that lingers on. The financial challenges that you avoid. The soul insists on excellent action. Often, a stance we do not feel up for. The soul does not negotiate. It does not accept justifications. It does not fear change. It does not sell out for fame, fortune, or recognition.
Aristotle says we must take action from the soul’s activity. The action must be towards excellence to find happiness.
What that means to me:
Happiness is living without that sensation that something is off, the internal stir.
Happiness is not about everything being perfect according to others.
Happiness comes from honoring that internal sense within as your guide.
Happiness is about living your truth.
Happiness is found within.
Happiness is more than a smile, laugh, a night of fun. It is a state of being.
Happiness is action in motion towards your version of excellence.