Answer this question: I’ll be happy when….

It’s easy isn’t it? We’re programmed to put happiness somewhere in the future. If you’re a writer, maybe it’s: I’ll be happy when I have an agent. I’ll be happy when I’m published. For writers that already have those things the bar is raised even higher. I’ll be happy when I make the bestseller list or I’ll be happy when I earn more money than J.K. Rowling. Okay maybe not that high…

When I first became a teacher I was motivated, happy, excited. I spent a fortune on classroom supplies, decorations, and educational games. I worked all the time creating my own bulletin boards and lesson plans. When the PTA didn’t want to bring in an author to speak with my students I paid for it myself because I knew how excited my students would be to meet her. At one point, I had 27 students with varying abilities and learning styles and I did my best to make sure every one of them felt good about themselves and their performance. I was happy. I worked extremely long hours. As a result, I became a pretty decent teacher.

Then as the years went by the emphasis on test scores grew. Every year higher scores were expected of me and my team. Less time could be devoted to my creative lessons because I had to teach to the test. If I didn’t, I risked my students missing a question and getting a lower score.  The emphasis changed from being the best teacher I could be in the present to believing I would be the best teacher when my scores revealed my class performed higher than the year before. I set my sights on a future date of happiness. When I searched inward for what happened to my enthusiasm for teaching I discovered two things. I was happiest when teaching kids about books and writing and happiest when I was free to create my own lessons—not having to present my students with FCAT lessons. I left teaching and began my writing journey because I knew my happiness mattered. I had to reevaluate my definition of success. Success was not having the highest test scores at the price of a child’s educational experience. Success was not having a paycheck for a job I didn’t believe in. Success is living a daily life happy now, doing work I love.

I think many of us are programmed to think that if we work hard eventually we will have the house, car, lifestyle that we want and then we’ll be happy. We think of happiness as some kind of reward instead of a way of life. The truth is we work harder and achieve more success when we’re happy. Watch the video and then go and do what makes you happy now. 🙂

And if you’re a writer my message is to absolutely find happiness in the story you’re creating. Enjoy the process. Enjoy your work.

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