Finding the Happiness That Lies Beyond “Good Enough”

What if you could quit your job? Forget the annoyances, leave the frustrations behind and proudly announce to your boss: “I quit.”

What if you could escape that relationship you’re so unhappy with?

Or move out of that lousy living situation?

What if you had the strength and the courage to get rid of everything that makes you unhappy and to shamelessly pursue your true happiness?

Not long ago, I had the kind of life that many people dream about. I was married, had a good job where I was steadily moving up the ranks, lived in a nice home and had plenty of money to do the things I wanted to do. In some ways, I had it all… except happiness. Happiness was something I’d lost along the way; something I’d forgotten about as I pursued the life I was supposed to live instead of the life I wanted to live.

But what could I do? After all, things weren’t so bad, right?

Hiding from Change

The easiest thing would’ve been to stay; to keep going down that same path and to make do with what I had, even if it wasn’t what I truly wanted. And indeed, that’s what my family wanted me to do. Nobody wanted to watch me go through a messy divorce or to be left penniless or without a home. Nobody wanted me to get hurt – but what they didn’t realize is that I already was hurting.

We’re so willing to put off change because we’re afraid of being hurt that we often forget how much we already are hurting. After all, making big changes in your life is hard, and who wants unnecessary complications? But what would the world be like if we were always willing to settle for “good enough” when, with a bit of effort, “absolutely perfect” could be right around the corner? I’d made my decision: something had to change.

Taking the Leap

I did it, once – that thing so many of us dream of doing. There my boss was, yelling at me for something that wasn’t even my fault, when I mustered up all of my courage and before I even knew what I was doing I’d already uttered the words: “I quit.” Unfortunately, I did this without having any sort of backup or savings. But it’s funny the things you notice once you start taking control of your life because, less than two weeks later, my marriage came to an abrupt ending when it suddenly dawned on me just how miserable we’d both become in it.

Unexpectedly finding myself jobless and single and in need of a place to move, something else occurred to me: I owned too much stuff. It was now holding me back, keeping me from moving out, and I realized I no longer wanted it anyways. So I got rid of it. All of it. And when I looked into my closets, I realized I didn’t like my clothing either, that I’d been wearing it because I thought that’s what people like me were supposed to wear. So I changed it. All of it. And when I looked in the mirror and realized I wasn’t happy with my hair, that I’d worn it that way only because my husband had liked it, I decided to cut it off. All of it.

Once you’re ready to truly take control of your life, you’re no longer willing to settle for “good enough.” That day when I quit my job, I had no idea that it was just the beginning of a total personal transformation. All I knew then was that “good enough” no longer was. I was ready to go for “perfect.”

The Rough Spots Are Worth It

My life was anything but easy in the months that followed. I was broke, yet I was no longer willing to take just any job – not when I’d fought so hard to win my freedom. My living situation was far from ideal. I rented small rooms in lousy neighborhoods and learned how to live without a husband. And yet despite all of the difficulties – and despite the fact that my whole family was out there telling me I was nuts – I’d regained something that I hadn’t had in years: my happiness.

Whatever I had to go through was inconsequential in the face of that happiness. Nobody ever said changing your life is easy, but the rewards you reap are more than worth the effort. My material belongings may have been gone but my happiness was back and, with it, I had no doubt that I could regain everything I’d left behind. Only this time, I would do it the right way and never – not for one second – forget about my own happiness.

Life doesn’t always go the way we expect it to. It doesn’t always give us what we truly want, and sometimes what it does give us isn’t what we wanted at all. But the beautiful truth is that life is flexible. The truly happy people out there aren’t the ones who got everything handed to them on a silver platter. They are the ones who refused to settle, even when that was the easiest thing in the world. They are the ones who were willing to take the leap; the ones who looked at life straight-on and said, “I am willing to change.” They are the ones who never stopped trying, no matter how hard things got. The truly happy people in this world are the ones who stood proudly and said: “I will not settle for good enough.”

Sophy Bot

Sophy Bot is the author of the new book, “The Hipster Effect: How the Rising Tide of Individuality is Changing Everything We Know about Life, Work and the Pursuit of Happiness” and recently gave a TEDx Talk about identity, personal transformation and the hipster effect. Bot firmly believes that each person has the right and the freedom to live life on their own terms and in the way that makes them happiest.

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25 Comments

  1. So the question is are you single now? :)

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    • Yes, I am after abandoning the question: ” Why has this good marriage gone so bad after 34 years?’. And substituting the question – ” How can I reconnect with my true spiirt?”.

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      • Very true Toni! You develop a very different set of standards after going through something like that. And Sue, at the moment I am, but I assure you it’s by choice. :-)

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  2. So amazing that you had the courage to wrench yourself form such unhappiness! And that when we are so unhappy in a life circumstance that we are already hurting so why not choose the hurt that comes with change and the possibility of true happiness at the end of the tunnel? Thank-you!

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  3. Great escape story! . I also “took the leap” four years ago at age 60 . Found a remarkable, wonderful path to happiness awaiting me to take me to what was really important in my life.

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  4. Sooooo true!! So many people settle for a good enough life when their best life could be right around the corner.
    I think a lot of people let fear keep them in an unhappy position. Fear of failure. Fear of what others will think of them, etc. We also live in an image driven society that’s pretty good at telling us what we need to be “happy.” Husband…check! Big house…check! Nice car…check! It can be unsettling for people when they acquire all of the should haves, yet the very thing their seeking eludes them.

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  5. I couldn’t agree with you more on this. I think the biggest… and the hardest, thing for us to do sometimes is be honest with ourselves. Whenever we do become able to tell ourselves the “truths” we believe, and not the ones we’ve adopted from others along the way; we access a freedom like none other. It’s a gruesomely lonely process, but within those moments of solace, lies a life anyone could have ever imagined. This was a beautiful and liberating post. Thank you for sharing your personal experience through change with us. Very inspiring.

    Cheers.

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  6. Great post Sophy and excellent reminders for us all. Being willing to sacrifice the good or merely adequate for the better always seems like it will be too difficult. But your post reminds us that the only way to live a life full out is to give up what isn’t working. Good for you! I think it is also important for us all to keep focusing on (and being honest about) what elements REALLY make us happy (and we’re all different of course.) That’s why I wrote a similar post called “When is Enough Enough” on my blog. For anyone who might be interested: http://smartliving365.com/?p=789

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  7. I’m at that place right now were a debate is always happening in my head. Should I stay or should I go. Am I scared of what the future holds for me or am I just unwilling to let go of all I’ve accomplish to get here? Should I settle or have the courage to walk willingly into the unknown to find happiness? The unknown is very scary and exiting at the same time… So scary that everyday I tell myself that my life is ok and I just need to work on a lot of little things that would make it better. And so exciting that I’m willing to let go of all I know and take a lead. Look it in the face or walk away from it all.

    I worked hard to get here and even though I feel unhappy right now, this is were life and I took me and I should learn to live it and appreciate it again (not settle) even if it doesn’t fit me any more. Take the time to realize what would make me happy here and now and work with it to achieve the happiness I so crave and deserve. Change my life or change my way of dealing with my unhappiness in this life I have?

    This is not an easy decision. When we don’t like the landscape anymore should we had some flowers the brighten it up a bit at the time or should we destroy it and star all over again?

    What is amazing is that we can choose to do it either way…. We can even choose to start from were we are, and if it does not work as we would expect, we move on to the next step. Clean break or small steady on our way to happy changes…

    Reply
  8. Hi Sophy – Do you have an email so I can contact you? Thanks

    Reply
    • Sure, it’s sophybot [at] thehipstereffect [dot] com

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  9. I saw your link on the twitter. Loved the story. People love to read the successful happy life changes like yours. some like me, leap to change, then go back to repeat the circle.

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  10. Fantastic post. I am glad you mustered up the courage to make the change. Many people don’t. You sound liberated and happy despite overcoming the bloodsuckers who told you that you were crazy. Good for you!

    I am on the way to doing what you have done. It all starts with a change of mindset, and noticing the effect when you finally take action. It is a remarkable feeling.

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  11. i like the idea of taking the leap and escaping to the better
    original post

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  12. Hello Sophy,

    I have been called the “fool” for jumping off that cliff – I love your picture illustration because that is ME!

    I evaluate things that are going on in my surroundings and if that happiness meter doesn’t meet my standards then there will be no settling – I am in the process of writing a book entitlted, “DO NOT SETTLE” so if I am going to write the story I better live the story!

    I don’t believe in settling and like you – I travel light these days – the things that mean something to me are in storage and I pick myself up and move, move where I wish when I wish. In the last 3 years I have been spreading fairy dust all over the United States – living in Sausalito, CA, Chicago, Asheville, Charleston, Folly Beach, SC and back to California – what an adventure I have lived and the beautiful thing is that it’s all because of my husband having an affair – I released the negativity and made something positive out of the circumstances that were presented to me.

    When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change is what my mentor Dr. Wayne Dyer states. So true, isn’t it?

    So to you I lift up my hat for it takes courage to change and you demonstrated that courage by quitting your job first and then everything else followed.

    You know about the clothes thing you mentioned, guess what – I did the same thing – in fact I was in living in California and I asked my husband at the time since we were not yet divorced to go into my closet and get rid of every piece of clothing – everything in there wasn’t me – who the hell was I dressing for? I now embrace the sensual woman that I am and buy clothes that enhance my essence of being a woman. And I was living in the Bay Area – the fashion mecca – so I went shopping and I rebooted (shoes) my life!

    Thanks for sharing this powerful testimony of yours because a story will change lives!

    In love and light,
    Nancy

    Reply
  13. This post is really really powerful. Thank you for sharing your story of courage the good and the “bad” with us. LOVE this line:

    “We’re so willing to put off change because we’re afraid of being hurt that we often forget how much we already are hurting”

    Reply
  14. I see there are the usual assortment of people posting on here. It takes all sorts I suppose. I’m British so I’m not one for overexagerating happiness. If I count my blessings that I have food and shelter, I have had a difficult life thanks to lack of interest from the authorities who didn’t have any involvement with me. There’s no turning back
    so if people don’t accept me for my faults and mistakes I make in trying to make changes, then so be it.

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  15. I took the leap 6 years ago…got divorced and moved south..men an awesome friend I already knew but got to know better..found he was my soul mate and. Moved out West. Its 5 yrs later & couldn’t be happier! :0)

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  16. i think that u r so courage—-unfortunately i cant be like u , though am dying to :(, i tried so many times and i keep reading things about change and so on , but i guess its not working with me …..wish u the best

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  17. Wow! I was just driving around town and I drove behind a car with the license plate “LPOFaith” (Leap of Faith). And I’m reading this article and it says in bold “Take The Leap”. The universe is clearly sending me a message. Being a 21 year old college kid, I’ve always been so dependent on my mother for all my needs. Succeeding with my blog and making money online to become financially independent and live on my own is scaring the living crap outta me. But taking the leap is the only way to change our lives for the better. After all, what you’ve been doing in the past hasn’t been working. Doing the same thing over and over will only get you the same results. Stepping out of the 9-5 lifestyle and succeeding with my blog is my ultimate leap of faith.

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  18. Thanks for the wonderful stories and comments everyone! It’s truly refreshing to see so many people taking control of their lives and having the courage to “take the leap.”

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  19. I would have done this before I had kids… but now, with two kids, leaving a marriage gets a whole lot more complicated. I look at the reality of what it would be like to have to share the kids, and it seems like it would be even worse that way. What to do when you are unhappy but have kids and don’t trust your spouse to care for them properly when you’re not around? Kind of stuck I guess.

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  20. A very good article. Really inspiring. Being brought up in an Indian background and culture, sometimes we are bound to be with what makes others happy. Its easier said than done, to break up everything and go in search of happiness of our mind. Married, with 2 kids its not an easier decision to make always. But yes i do agree, not to settle for less..

    I liked your lines ” if we were always willing to settle for “good enough” when, with a bit of effort, “absolutely perfect” could be right around the corner? I’d made my decision: something had to change.”

    And i think i can always incorporate that in life, give it my best to make it absolute perfect.
    A very motivating article. Looking forward for more such articles from you. Thanks.

    Reply
  21. Thanks for a great post Sophy. So many people struggle with the courage to change. You are right, the first step is often realizing that you are risking being unhappy for the rest of your life if you settle. Getting support to make the shifts gracefully can be a real help.

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  22. I was going though a particuarly rough patch for over a year. I’ll spare you the details, but I want you to know that one day I stumbled onto your story and was inspired. I quit my job after I read it; took a huge risk. But it’s paying off. I’m following my dreams, applying for government jobs and continuing my education by going to law school in the coming months. I regret nothing, and thank you. I wish you the best going forward!

    Reply

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