By Michael Anderson, an EO San Diego member and president and CEO of Executive Joy!
I didn’t understand it. I did everything I was “supposed to do.” I was a successful entrepreneur. I married the pretty girl. I was well-educated. I’d lived all over the world. I even played pro basketball and partied in the Playboy Mansion. But I wasn’t happy. Not even close.
Then I joined the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO). One of the first things I learned is that I wasn’t alone in feeling unhappy. Before many of us join EO, we think that everyone is happy and rich except for us. Then after our first Forum meeting, we start to feel better knowing that everyone’s either going through the same thing or have been in a similar situation.
I used to be so hard on myself. I had a little voice in the back of my mind (I call it my “inner critic”) that was constantly reminding me about how I didn’t measure up, about all the things I didn’t do perfectly. And the older I got, the louder that voice became. I found myself being so critical of others – and myself – that I all I could see in my life were problems. I would constantly be either dwelling on what I did wrong in the past, or be worrying about what might (though probably wouldn’t) happen in the future.
It seemed as if no matter what I did, what I achieved, what I accomplished, I would never be happy about it. It got to the point where I used drugs and alcohol to escape. A lot. Then the turning point happened. I got divorced, and on top of that, my business partner assaulted me, which resulted in restraining orders, lawsuits and a whole lot of hatred and negativity.
However, those turned out to be the two best things to ever happen to me. I hit rock bottom. I became so depressed that a Forum mate had to call me every morning just to make sure I got out of bed. Finally, I told myself I would do whatever it took to become happy. I knew it was possible. I’d seen other people be happy! I just didn’t know how to get there.
So I found the best places on the planet to learn how to be happy. The next six years, I learned more about myself and how we as humans think, feel and love, then I could have ever imagined. I delved into my conscious and subconscious, and explored places inside myself I never knew existed. During that time, I worked on myself in the most profound ways. I cried. I forgave. I learned. I grew.
My life had certainly changed, big time.
It’s like a fog had been cleared from my life. I was connected to people – everyone I met – in such a greater way. My relationships flourished. My stress levels dropped. I was so much more productive! I quit the drinking and drugs, and I no longer had the high highs and depressive lows I once did. I was happy; truly happy, maybe for the first time ever.
In fact, one of my Forum mates posted about the transformation he saw in me. He referred to me as going “from a robot to monk.” I took it as a huge compliment. Now I share this journey with others as a professional speaker and facilitator, including many EO chapters and Forums.
EOers often ask me what “the secret” to being happy is. Well, I’ll boil it down for you. It’s CHOICE. We have the choice regarding what attitude to have … the choice to think positive or negative thoughts. It’s about taking ownership for how we CREATE our life. It’s truly a joy, an honor, to help people realize this. It can be so simple, if we just make the choice.
What choices are you making in your life? I’m choosing Happiness.
Michael Anderson has left his three international software businesses behind in order to help other entrepreneurs and executives go through the same transformation that he went through via his new company, Executive Joy!