How I Found Happiness On My Own Terms
Words: Alex Elle
Visual: Ryan Spearman
Creating a space of “personal abundance and indulgence” is key, writes our wellness columnist Alex Elle.
It took years to figure out what fills me. What makes me gush with joy and feelings of accomplishment and pride.
On the road to overflowing, I realized one major thing: When pouring into others, I could not be empty or depleted. And most times I was bone dry. Being full is necessary for blooming in happiness and productivity. It's necessary for building and repairing relationships, too. Knowing what I know now, I cannot offer my best self to anyone if I am running on empty. I've tried and failed each time miserably. Finding my fullness 101: Feeling satisfied enables me to pour my best self into those around me without feelings of guilt for giving more than I can handle. Gone are the days of pouring into others when I have nothing left to give. Like I said, I tried it. It doesn't work.
So, what fills me?
Being full is necessary for blooming in happiness and productivity.
Doing what I love for a living makes me spill over with satisfaction. It brings me a peace of mind that I never once experienced in the 9-5 workplace. I work harder now; my mind is constantly conceiving and birthing new ideas. Breathing easy is awesome, and not having someone breath down your neck about it is even more so. Being stress-free while working can totally be a thing. Pushing myself to be the best I can be (without having to do so for something that my heart lacks passion for) is epic. Being my own boss fills me and encourages me to find delight in creating with a purpose.
I used to feel guilty about becoming full. Negative thoughts often crossed my mind that everyone—with the exception of myself—deserved every ounce of what I had to offer. I felt drained and not entitled to feeling fulfilled. As long as everyone else was good, I reasoned, I would eventually be ok. But that wasn't true. I was not fine, or fulfilled, or ok. I was emotionally spent and consumed with making sure others felt complete.
Being an entrepreneur has taught me so much about myself and my limits. The venture alone has assisted me in creating boundaries that protect me from feelings of unworthiness for not topping off someone's cup with my last drop. Living in a space of personal abundance and indulgence makes room for better work ethic, healthier relationships (both professionally and personally), and overall peace of mind.
I gave myself permission to be free in my decision making when I quit my job over three years ago and never looked back. Not feeling guilty about leaving people behind for lack of reciprocity or compatibility has given me a sense of freedom that I didn't intend on achieving. The changes had to start with me. I had to find my fullness and my joy and my happiness on my own terms.
And that's what I did.
This article is part of our fulfilled series. Read more from women discussing what it means to them to feel fulfilled.