Four Steps to a Happy Life

For most of my life, when I heard phrases like “self-love” and “body love,” I shuddered and rolled my eyes.

Right after I started my business, I traveled to an entrepreneurial workshop in Portland, Oregon. The leader announced she would begin an afternoon session with a twenty-minute meditation. “Meditation” was pretty fringe-ey, back then. I didn’t know a single person in New York who meditated.

This meditation, the woman explained, involved listening to love songs.

She instructed us to close our eyes, and imagine that these love songs were from us, to our businesses.

My reaction = vomit.

Let me get this straight: I’m “meditating” – whatever that is – while I send love songs to my business?? 

My eye-roll echoed around the world. I almost permanently lost my eyeballs into the back of my head.

But, I decided to give it a go, anyway. Why?


Because, there were things I wanted in my life, that she had, but that I didn’t have (yet).

(Also: Portland.

I was already in this foreign land were my “hotel” was an abandoned elementary school. My room? An old classroom, complete with blackboard.

Cool, and weird. I dig it. I’m game.)

The woman teaching this workshop ran a very enviable business. She worked with kind, self-aware creative-types, taught work she felt passionately about, and made good money doing it. And had done this for years.

Surely, she must know a thing or two.

So, I closed my eyes. I thought about my business, and imagined that the words of the song were from me, to it.

But when the lyrics said, whenever I’m alone with you, you make me feel like I am home again, I couldn’t take it anymore.

If I didn’t leave, I was going to bust out laughing, or publicly throw up my vegan waffles from lunch.

As stealthily as possible, I ducked my head and crept out past all of the other participants who seemed to be in raptures over this gush-fest.

When I safely shut the door behind me, I shivered. I shuddered. I may have gagged.

Fast-forward to today, and “Body Love” will probably be the name of a book I write next year. I would totally gush about my business and would love to play it love songs.

And, my life looks quite different: I’m a mom now, in a marriage where we love each other, and running my own very enviable business.

So, what changed? And, do you need to sing love songs to your business, or yourself, to have a happy life, too?

(No. You really don’t.)

But a lot has changed. How I treat myself, other people and my business has all transformed.

Here’s how.

1. Start telling the truth.

In order to tell the truth, we have to know what our truth is. I see this in clients over and over and over, again. They know what to do to keep their families happy and have no idea what they deeply want. Their truth? No clue.

When I was on my business trip to Portland, I knew I wanted a strong, healthy business – and that’s about it. I was doing my best to not think about things like what I wanted in a partner and my personal finances. When we name what we want, we take a giant, necessary step to getting it.

2. Pick a side.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I believed a successful life was one where everyone liked me (or at least, I believed that they liked me). ‘Everyone’ included people whose approval was very difficult to get (think: a carrot that’s always just out in front of you, that you never quite catch). People-pleasing is a losing strategy for so many reasons. But the worst part about it is how much of a business-killer people-pleasing truly is. If you’re an entrepreneur or a writer or a human with a voice box interested in real community, you have to pick a side, take a stand, and have an opinion. Which is really difficult to do if you’re hustling for approval.

When you avoid this, you leave a TON of money on the table (and meaningful relationships).

Remember that truth we’re learning? We say it out loud.

3. Get sober.

We all have a thing we use to tune out from reality: over-working, over-drinking, over-eating, under-eating, over-exercising. If you’re not sure what you’re thing is, just consider what your mind spins on, constantly. Yeah, that is your thing.

Honestly, it’s usually several things we do, like obsessing over food, plus overworking. Or hitting the sugar pretty hard as well as the gym. Or drinking most nights and shopping online, most days.

Getting sober from food changed my life. We get sober from the habits that have become self-destructive: alcohol, sugar, staying up late. We lean in to this as a way of life. It makes our lives awesome. It’s hard as hell. But if success were easy, everyone would be doing it.

4. Grab your people and hold them fast.

There’s no way to get ahead without putting in the work. There’s also no way to get ahead, in a way that feels worth it, without people you love, and love you back.

We have to have people that we can be vulnerable in front of. It’s basic, this need. To have our fundamental needs met, of being seen and heard as well as our personal growth, and more, we need a witness. We need people who want good for us.

I have always been rich in the friend department. I make very good choices in friendships, and I keep these people. Forever.

The secret is to make friends with people that you genuinely like and enjoy being around (see: #1), and who also care about you and want to see you happy.

The key to a happy life is seeing that we have to do it on purpose. And what we have to do in this world includes feeling the love.

The really simple, short version of this whole blog post is simply that when we open our hearts, anything becomes possible. We open our hearts, feel the love and the call of our destiny. Truly.

Here’s the bad news: opening our hearts means we feel the pain and the heartbreak.

The good news: when we open our hearts though the four practices above, we feel the love and reconnect to ourselves. We find what’s been waiting for us, all along (really big hint: it’s our destiny).

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About Laurie Beard

just another person doing something she loves

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