Hearing the news of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade's apparent suicides hit me hard. I've been thinking about it all weekend. I have a couple Kate Spade handbags, a wallet and a T-shirt. One of my friends collected her handbags and probably has every single one ever made. My husband and I are fans of Anthony Bourdain's CNN show, "Parts Unknown" and his former show, "No Reservations" on Travel Channel. As the weekend went on, my husband said that what really bothered him about Bourdain's suicide was, if someone like him couldn't figure it out, what's the hope for the rest of us? I instinctively said, "Well, success doesn't lead to happiness." However, as the weekend went on, I wasn't satisfied with just that answer for something that was so tragic and seemingly more complicated.
"...the momentary high we get from accomplishments or 'successes' crashes the moment doubts start to creep back in our heads..."
Saturday morning, I listened and watched a Gabby Bernstein video and meditation whose core theme was that "Success is an inside job." Happiness is too. We all know it, but do we practice it? I talked to friends and family members about how we all mask our unhappiness with drinking, drugs, shopping, working out or overworking. Feeling under the weather and a bit blue, my husband and I skipped our usual weekend workouts of Orange Theory and hip hop class (for me), and instead, we laid on our couches, watching movies. One was a depressing old movie, "The Sheltering Sky," which mirrored our thoughts about life and death and some of its monotony and meaninglessness. By Saturday night, my initial thought that "success doesn't lead to happiness" morphed into the thought that the momentary high we get from accomplishments or "successes" crashes the moment doubts start to creep back in our heads.... thoughts about how we're not good enough, who are we to do this or that, what did so-and-so mean when he or she said such and such, and all of those thoughts that Eckhardt Tolle tells us that we must "observe" rather than take as facts about ourselves.
Waking up Sunday morning, we were still not feeling well, both physically and mentally, but we had plans that were made weeks ago. We were going to the 40th anniversary Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl, something we had been anticipating with excitement. My husband made a guacamole from avocados we picked from our backyard. He packed fruit, cheese, a bottle of wine we had bought on a Napa trip in January and another from one of our favorite vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley. We stopped at Whole Foods on the way to the Bowl and picked up more delicious goodies and bumped into my brother and his wife. We chatted for a bit, and just in that moment of connection, felt our mood get somewhat lighter.
At the Bowl, we were ushered to our box seats in the Pool section, right up next to the stage! Wow! I almost couldn't believe what great seats these were, so I texted my friend and her mom (who got us the tickets), "are we in the right section?" They both said YES. With the sun, a slight breeze, the mostly uptempo music, and the food we had prepared in front of us, we started to relax.
When our friends finally arrived, we spent the evening laughing, eating, drinking, and dancing to the amazing music. Once in awhile, I looked in the opposite direction of the stage, where during the afternoon, people tossed around colorful beach balls and at night, hundreds, maybe thousands of people lit up the darkness with bunny ears and other light sources that glowed in the dark. What I felt was humanity, at its best, and an overwhelming feeling of love...love from and for our friends who invited us...love for my husband who planned and prepared our food and drinks...and love for total strangers who were all enjoying this experience together.
In that moment, I felt that love is the answer to fear and doubt. My mom told me a story last week about when I was born. My dad was in the military. He tried everything he could to get permission or to sneak out to see my mom and me. He sent flowers to my mom and showered her with love. It was the first time I realized that my dad really wanted me and loved me, and I didn't have to do anything to "earn" his love. I just had to be born. That story, combined with getting out and connecting with people and feeling the love around me from family, friends and strangers replaced my fears and doubts.
If you are feeling fear, think about moments of love, whether it's from God, your parents, your siblings, your spouse, your boyfriend/girlfriend, your friends, your pets, or even a moment from a stranger. It will quiet those fears in your mind. If you also see anyone you know struggling today, reach out to that person with love. Serving others with love will lead you to your purpose, and as the Dalai Lama says in the video below (around 3:30), our life's purpose is happiness. Yet, success doesn't lead to happiness because success is fleeting and always changing. Happiness, on its own, is also fleeting and ever-changing. Love, however, is everlasting, sustainable and in its truest form, unconditional.
What are some of your ideas on happiness and success? Comment below!
With so much gratitude and love,