My dad has 3 lessons for a more fulfilled life and happiness
It’s not always easy to see the glass as half full, but my dad is one of those people who can focus on the small rays of sunshine in even the darkest of times.
Perhaps his bright outlook on life stems from his love of art, which is a passion that he’s embraced since he was a little kid — he inherited it from my grandma.
My dad always reminds me that in art, every mistake is just an opportunity to make something even better; no mistakes are permanent, which is something I’ve applied to my life.
This April, my dad will officially be 50 years old. And there are three things that he’s learned in life that have helped him experience more happiness and fulfillment for half a century:
- Trust your intuition
- Steer clear of unnecessarily stressful situations
- Do what you love
The lifelong lessons that guide my dad’s decisions align with the common advice we hear from successful CEOs and happiness experts.
Here’s a closer look at each one and how you can apply them to your own life for more joy and satisfaction.
1. Trust your intuition
“Number one is to trust my intuition. A lot of times, it usually steers you in a better direction,” my dad says. “I feel like it opened up doors for me.”
There were times when my dad’s first instinct would be to not attend certain art events, but then he’d feel a little nudge to show up. He’d hear “something saying, ‘Hey, go ahead.’ And then you get there, and you wind up meeting some bigger connections or wind up having a better time.”
This ideology can lead to more success, and coincides with advice from the CEO of LinkedIn, Ryan Roslansky who considers trusting your intuition as the No. 1 tip for career moves.
“Be able to balance a lot of different people’s opinions, but at the end of the day, you have to have your own conviction deep down and make decisions for yourself,” Roslansky said to LinkedIn editor-in-chief Dan Roth during a podcast episode of “The Path.”
Steer clear of unnecessary stress
While some stress is good stress, chronic stress has been linked to a higher risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and a suppression of the immune system which can slow down recovery from certain illnesses, according to the American Psychological Association.
For this reason, my dad believes that some stressful situations can, and should, be avoided for your mental and physical health.
“Stress messes up all types of stuff within you, and why put yourself in situations that’s going to cause you more pain or anguish?” my dad says. “We have to stay healthy.”
Managing your levels of stress is a key daily practice for living a longer life, according to the Adventists Health Study, which is why it’s important to have stress-relieving outlets. My dad’s way of mitigating his symptoms of stress during tumultuous times is through creating. “I lean on my art for therapy. I draw, even for myself, like every day, whether it’s a sketch or painting, or a part of a painting, or whether I’m editing a video,” he says. He’s also started his own mini-series where he interviews other creatives about their passions on camera.
Do what you love
In 2021, my dad made a decision to quit his security job of 20 plus years to pursue art full time, which he says that he wouldn’t have been able to do without my mom’s support. Though it was risky, my dad has been able to sustain a booming business as an artist with more than 30 murals throughout our hometown of Newark, N.J.
“Do what you love. Fight to get to what is going to make you feel better on a daily basis,” my dad says.
And even when he worked as a security guard, my dad found things to love about his job while also creating art in his spare time. “Because if you have a job and you don’t like it, you have to find something in there that you love, that’s going to help you deal with those things that you are doing,” until you get to where you want to be, he says.
Prioritizing work that makes you feel fulfilled correlates with Harvard happiness expert Arthur C. Brooks’ investment portfolio for happiness.
Family, friends and faith — the other three areas Brooks says we should focus on — are also huge priorities for my dad. He relied on faith that pursuing his passion full time would work out for him, always checks in on how his family is doing and collaborates with his friends on art pieces.
“Don’t short change yourself. Because when are you going to make that time for yourself? We only have one life to live, right?” my dad says.
“And [in] anything you do, collaboration is not about ego, it’s about how far we go, together. And that mindset is important.”