When I was 30 I started waking up in the middle of the night with panic attacks. I was seriously stressed out. I was working in the financial industry and working 60 hours a week. I was earning a good living, but it wasn’t a field I was very passionate about. I just sort of ended up there, and it was an incredibly high stakes job.
Have you ever been a position where you were 100 percent responsible for the outcome but had almost no control over the process? Yeah, that was my job. Day in and day out. And then I started waking up in the middle of the night with panic attacks.
This is not a fun experience. I’d wake up, and I couldn’t catch my breath, my heart was racing, and I’d put my hand on the bedroom wall behind me to reassure myself, that the world was still real. I lived with that for about a year, before I heard myself say, “If I have to do this for the rest of my life, I’d rather kill myself.” All of a sudden, warning bells started going off in my head and I realized I needed to make a change.
I was not happy, and I wanted to be happy. I left my work in the financial field and spent the next year and a half discovering myself. I went on spiritual retreats and meditation retreats. I read, I listened, and I wrote.
I rented a house on the coast of Oregon for a month to contemplate my discoveries and come up with a new way to live. How was I going to be happy? As I sat there looking out at the tumultuous Atlantic Ocean, I admitted that I didn’t give very much. I was a hard worker and I was honest and kind to people, but all in all, I wasn’t giving very much TO myself and I wasn’t giving very much OF myself.
Happiness wasn’t going to come around by me sitting back and waiting for it. No, happiness requires that I engage in life with all of who I am and with all of what I have to give.
Since then, I dove deep into giving. Giving to myself, giving to my friends and family, and giving to the world. I can now report that I have a lasting happiness that I never had before. I’m not happy all of the time, I think that’s impossible. But most of the time I feel pretty darn good, and I couldn’t be happier about the changes I made in my life.