Is Every “Happiness Guide” Worthless? My Biggest Personal Struggle
Is it just me or has the act of motivating and inspiring people suddenly taken over the internet?
I’m struggling with this and can’t get it out of my head. Maybe you can help.
Every time I check Twitter, motivational quotes pour into my feed like rainwater. On Facebook, beautifully designed images with inspirational quotes fill my Newsfeed to the brim. My email inbox gets restocked each morning with tips and tricks to “increase happiness” or to learn a new skill that will lead there.
I’ve fallen prey to this phenomenon, haven’t I? I’ve sent you plenty of motivation and inspiration. Am I making a mistake?
Improving the Guide to “Happiness”
My grandmother and I have always shared an interest in literature. When I was five, she gave me a journal and a long book for Christmas — I’ve been writing ever since. Over the years, though, I never understood her interest in self-help books. She read dozens of them and never seemed to get tired of them. I asked myself:
Wasn’t it boring to always read the same type of book?
Why does the “self” need any improvement, anyways?
How could reading about that be so interesting?
I was way too young to truly get it — but, now, I do. I get it very deeply, but I also get that it takes something more than just reading to inspire a real change.
My grandmother may or may not be the same after reading all those books, but she feels the same to me. Every time I bump up against an article or book that teaches happiness, I know I don’t want to be the same afterward. But am I?
If we don’t change for the better, then I wonder:
What is all this inspiration for?
From my years writing online and getting to know some amazing people, I believe we enjoy learning about personal development because:
- Life is short — we want to live it well.
- Our families are #1 — we need more time together.
- Money is a means to an end — we prefer great experiences.
- Our identity is not our career — we’ll take impact over a title.
- Legacy is more important than work — we want to make a difference.
And the list goes on…
When I share quotes and beautifully inspiring images with all of you, what am I trying to help you accomplish? The most I can hope for is that my words will inspire you to rethink your actions — but I’d be lucky if I’ve achieved that.
This is my biggest personal struggle right now, wondering:
Instead of just inspiring you, how can I give practical help to get you closer to freedom?
Putting the Puzzle Pieces Together
From what I can tell, there are two parts of me at play here:
- I’m a writer. I have been since the day my grandmother gifted me a journal at the age of five. I wrote consistently, albeit privately, for many years. After college, though, I started sharing my writing online — what we now consider “blogging.”
- Some say I’m wise beyond my years. People say that about me, and it feels strange because I’m pretty regular, but it explains some things. My friends tend to rely heavily on my advice. Even new people “open up to me” after meeting me for the first time.
- Failure doesn’t phase me. I went through some things early on in my life that definitely set me up to: 1) not give a crap what people think about me or what I do, and 2) go against the grain to live my life the way I desire.
I haven’t lived too long, and I’m absolutely clueless about so many things. For some crazy reason, So far, that formula has been working for me — to inspire people. My written ramblings seem to help people.
But that formula is going to have to change if I want to start truly helping.
Each Phase Has Its Place
I can’t say that inspirational and motivational content doesn’t have its place. It was exactly this that pushed me to start this quest. Before I read any of that stuff, I didn’t know that this other, better way of living even existed.
But once I started my quest to share my stuff with the world, I needed practical tips to help me make a bigger splash.
Almost three years later, I see that a mix of inspiration and practical tips has created the biggest impact in my life. But I’m not everyone. I’m not you. And I’d like to be able to create something that actually helps.
I ask myself: How am I, as one person, actually helping someone move their idea from their brain to the real world? How am I helping someone move toward freedom?
Most people are on one of the following five phases:
- STUCK — Life should be lived by specific rules set by others.
- PERMISSION — A better life is possible for me.
- ASPIRATION — I will go after that better life, even if it’s tough.
- RECIPE — I have a project that will make me happy and will grant me freedom.
- KNOW — Practical advice will level up my projects and get me closer to happiness.
(Yes, it’s an acronym that reads as SPARK. I like the word, do you?)
When I look at those phases, I find myself at Phase 5, needing to KNOW more about how to implement my projects with more success.
What I need to know is this: where are you?
Where you stand makes all the difference —and determines exactly how I can help.
Is personal development all crap? Probably not — but it’s so concentrated on people who are STUCK. Are the majority of us really wavering between being STUCK and giving ourselves PERMISSION to jump?
I hope not.
For the world’s sake, I hope we already believe a better life is possible. For the world’s sake, I hope we’re ready to create a RECIPE for freedom and to KNOW how to launch it.