Desiree arrived for her first session, impeccably dressed as if for a magazine spread. Tall and blonde, with a fierce scowl of impatience, she rapidly regaled me with her success story. She had created a business that had made her a multimillionaire before the age of 35. Her beach home had just been featured in a leading decorating magazine. She and her husband traveled and entertained extensively. They frequently appeared in the society pages of the local newspaper. Desiree had achieved everything she had hoped for, and yet she felt frazzled and unhappy.
“What is wrong with me? I have everything I ever wanted. I look at my best friend from college. She is so happy working for a non-profit agency. My other friend is a schoolteacher. They both seem so happy, and they make a fraction of what I make. I want to find something that makes me happy!” she said.
After ruling out health, relationship, and depression issues, I asked her, “What do you truly care about besides being happy and successful?” Desiree was stumped.
“How does your business, talent, and effort help other people?” I asked.
“I don’t know. I am constantly on my employees, so not sure how that helps them. My husband likes me,” she chuckled.
“So, your business provides jobs for people. Isn’t that helping them?” I asked.
“Well, I guess the job helps them support themselves,” she agreed. “Isn’t there something else I should be doing with my life that would make me happier?” she asked.
“It appears that achieving great success has not made you happy. Perhaps you will feel happier focusing on something else,” I said. I sent her home with an assignment. Instead of thinking about her own happiness, she was to examine precisely how her talents and efforts contributed to the greater good.
In the next session, Desiree shared her list of ways that her business and other activities helped others. “I had to ask my husband for help on this assignment,” she said. “I’m usually just focused on results.”
I asked her what it felt like to think of herself as connected in an essential way to others in the community.
“It feels better,” she said. “It makes me want to do more. I thought it might be fun to coordinate a charity fundraising gala this year.” she said.
After a few more sessions, Desiree learned the secret to happiness and wellbeing. Kindness toward others provides far more happiness dividends than self-focused achievement. Simply thinking differently about our connection to the greater community can generate a sense of purpose and wellbeing.
Take a moment to think about how you currently influence others. How does your work intersect with the broader community around you? What kind of influence would you like to have on others? The following frazzle hack can help you explore your connection to the larger community around you. Take some time to think about your goals and record your answers in your frazzle hack journal:
Frazzle Hack: Greater Good Goals
How do your unique personality traits, talents, skills, background, or interests contribute to your family, friends, and the larger community? (Humor, technical skills, friendliness, communication skills, creativity, reliability, sensitivity, health, safety, technical knowledge, etc.)
How do you make a positive contribution to the lives of others? (Provide services, products, order, companionship, transportation, friendship, information, etc.)
Who benefits the most from your contributions? (Customers, family, city, country, etc.)
What kind of impact do you want to have on the people in your sphere of influence? (Better service, kindness, education, safety, entertainment, support, love, security, etc.)
What one change would you like to help create in the world? (Happier customers, healthy children, better service, more efficient products/services, safety, healthy environment, help the poor, humane treatment of animals, etc.)
Who could you join with to help you affect that change? (Church groups, friends, co-workers, environmental groups, philanthropic organizations, service clubs, community organizations, online communities, etc.)
In what way can you develop or grow to make more of a positive difference? (Education, communication, coaching, reading, better self-care, get more rest, join with others, volunteer, etc.)
Notice how you feel when you think about yourself in the larger context of your family and community. Greater Good Goals can provide that spark of motivation to help you persist when things seem overwhelming.
Excerpted from Frazzlebrain: Break Free from Anxiety, Anger, and Stress Using Advanced Discoveries in Neuropsychology (c) 2022 Gina Simmon Schneider. Reprinted with permission from Central Recovery Press.