What does 'Living the Dream' mean to you?
Before I began my dedication to assisting women on their journey to living well, I was a hairdresser. I worked for over decade in that industry. As a hairdresser I helped make women feel beautiful, and I was also their confidant. (There's a level of trust that comes to those whom you allow to touch your scalp and comb your hair.) Over the years I heard it all; I heard about affairs, miscarriages, bankruptcies, you name it! Most the stories I've long forgotten about, however there are some that have remained engraved in my mind, like this one....
When I was 22, one of my clients was a very well-off woman who lived a life that most dream of living. She was married to a well known, very successful businessman. They lived in an expensive neighborhood, owned multiple high-end vehicles, employed a live-in nanny for their 2 children, and were always vacationing in exciting places. On the surface this woman, 'had it all'.
Although she never seemed very happy to me, she was always pleasant enough. One particular salon visit she was especially quiet. I honored her mood by not trying too hard to make conversation with her. At one point, while I was applying her highlights, she confessed that she was feeling down. I asked her why and she replied that she didn't know. At that moment I looked up from what the work I was doing on her hair and our eyes met in the mirror. She then asked, "How can I feel happy?"
She elaborated with, "How can I have all that I do and not feel happy? I don't know what's wrong with me. How do you find happiness in your life?"
Twenty years later, that moment is etched in my memory.
There are 2 things I vividly remember. First of all, I distinctly remember the deadness in her eyes. It was like there was no life behind them or in them. There was no spark. No light. Not a glimmer of anything. Secondly, I remember thinking, this woman is twice my age and appears to have it all. I can barely pay my rent yet she's asking me, how can I feel happy?
At the time I didn't know what I know now. What I now know is that what she was expressing to me that day is what SO many women feel. They may not have as grand a life as she did, yet the feeling is the same.
I'm living the dream. The life that I thought would bring me happiness, yet I don't feel happy.
The truth is that she wasn't happy because she didn't know who she was. Her identity was attached to her image. She was the wife of a very successful businessman. She lived in a beautiful neighborhood. Drove nice vehicles. Went on exciting vacations. Wore expensive clothes. Attended fancy galas and events. Her children went to the best school and were cared for by a nanny.
She had created a life that she thought would bring her happiness. Up until that point she had always been working to attain the "next thing" that she believed she needed to feel happy. In that moment, while sitting in my chair having her highlights done, she had everything she'd wanted and still felt empty inside. This is the trap that we easily fall into in our culture. Our culture values stuff and defines success by big homes and a fancy life. How often have you heard or used the saying, 'Living the dream'?
Of course, there's absolutely nothing wrong with having big dreams and goals for your life. The trap is when you allow the outside things; the job title, the house, the car, the fancy stuff that you may or may not even use, etc. to define you. If you don't know who you are without all the outside things, you'll inevitably find yourself asking the same question that she did.
Today I define living the dream very differently.
One of the reasons that I do is because of that moment many years ago that's etched in my memory bank. My new definition has also come from my own journey of learning to shed my attachments to outside things and others' perceptions. It's come from my own journey of learning that happiness is an inside job and doesn't have anything to do with what's on the outside. (Click here to learn 5 practices that I use to help boost my happiness.)
For me living the dream includes so many things, none of which can be bought. It's a life where my health and wellness (in every area) are valued. A life that involves lots of love, from self and from those around me. It incudes quiet moments just for myself. Lots of fun, play, and laughter. It's a life where I'm thriving and living authentically.
I'm always grateful for that conversation with that client. I'm sure I'll never forget it as long as I live. It's one of those moments that happened in my life to help shape who I am today.
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