Thank you so much for your interest in my writing work and my 2010 book, Live a Life You Love: 7 Steps to a Healthier, Happier, More Passionate You. I was so passionate about the messages in the book when I wrote it (“experience more happiness”, “live your dreams” etc.), and time and experience have shaped me since.
I have heard from many people over the years, that this book made a significant difference to their lives. Some of the stories have been incredible! This brings me so much joy.
Living with joy and achieving your dreams are good things, of course. As someone with a history of depression, I am still very passionate about teaching people how to make wise day-to-day choices that support and create optimal mental health.
That said, I no longer believe that “happiness” and “living your dreams” are the most important, primary ingredients for a meaningful, well-lived life. Great wisdom, meaning and depth of experience tend to come out of suffering and failure, for example. How we live during the most difficult times says more about us than how we live when all is going well. And life is always going to be a series of ups and downs.
We should make the best choices we can, but life often seems to have other plans for us. Plans for growth, for difficulties we would have preferred to avoid. We can always hope and dream for a better future, of course. And it is still very important to live with purpose. Do be careful, though, about letting society’s trends dictate your life’s purpose and meaning.
I am Christian and as I grow in faith and experience over the years, I am so grateful for what I continue to learn about life. A truly meaningful life that matters isn’t one that is focused primarily on the self (and my book was pretty self-focused, to be honest). I’m no longer such a fan of ambitious, relentless self-actualization, though I still believe in developing one’s talents and abilities and working/living with excellence.
Even though our culture might tell us otherwise, life’s not really about being the biggest or the best. Big isn’t necessarily better, and a focus on striving for more (particularly as a lifelong attitude) can be a grievous error. Of course we need our leaders, innovators and champions who dream big. The average person though, might be made to feel that their life isn’t of great worth, because they’re not doing something special or “big”. This is a great deception, and a potential source of needless despair.
Dreaming “your” dreams for your life isn’t necessarily wrong. It depends on the type of dream, really, and the true motivations behind it. Dreams do come true…that can be a good thing, or perhaps as often it might be a “be careful what you wish for” experience. I’ve experienced both! Regardless, I’ve come to appreciate that one’s dreams shouldn’t necessarily be the focus of life, especially to the exclusion of other more important things such as loving the people in our lives.
As a “selfie” culture, we need to stop focusing so much on advancing and fulfilling our individual agendas, and refocus instead on serving and helping others. When I wrote the book, I wasn’t aware that I was contributing to this cultural mindset. I regret that very much now.
It’s important to understand which lifestyle choices and habits promote well-being and health. Focusing myopically on our individual happiness, however, is not the point.
There is a lot of content in the book that I still agree with, but because I no longer enthusiastically endorse some of the key messages, I am no longer promoting this book on this website or in my work in general. If I have the opportunity to update it and incorporate these new perspectives, you may see it back in this space.
If you do decide to read the book, I encourage you to do so from this perspective: take in what’s good, but please question anything that seems to be blindly aligned with popular cultural themes. Consider, instead, the alternative (and even counter-cultural) approaches to a well-lived life, that come from a place of deep wisdom and true purpose. I find the life and teachings of Jesus to be a perfect example of that.