We all want to be happy right? Seems like a rhetorical question, yet the more important query is how do we get to a place where we are happy.
Growing up gay in the South didn't make for many happy memories of my childhood. I was often made fun of, even taunted, as I made my way through challenging formative years. The truth is, I was far from happy. I had few friends, only 2 real friends in high school that talked to me outside of school hours and I was often seen as a gay leper that others didn't want to associate with for fear of social suicide. I often thought... if I just make it to this particular life step, then I'll be happy. If I just graduate high school and begin my independent journey. If I just find career success and have financial security... I will be happy.
Certainly I felt that once I made it to adulthood, was financially independent, had built a comfortable life with the trappings of success then, of course, I would be happy. If I only had a better body, a more beautiful face, that Mercedes I've had my eye on or that great looking guy that I could have my eyes on all day and night. ;) Alas, I've had every one of those things and, unfortunately, happiness has alluded me for much of my life. Venturing a guess, I would say true happiness is just as elusive to many of you reading these words.
But what is happiness? Clearly, I've strived for, thought I had the clear conception of happiness, but I was believing I would find it in all the wrong places. What I realized as a teenager was that I had to create my own happiness because it wasn't going to happen inherently. I knew I couldn't depend on others because few others were willing to build friendships with me even as a teenager. So, the answer was within me right? Partly.
My perspective is my reality. It's true for all of us. I longed for love, acceptance and support from others, yet most weren't willing to give it to me. We're told to love ourselves and so I learned to love, appreciate and respect all those things about me that made me different and unique. That's what developed the Blair business brand that you see reflected in the Blair doll. A tall, blond, fashionable, pretty enough to be a female runway model looking guy. But I still wasn't happy.
At this point I had career success, financial security, others in business that looked up to me and found my journey inspiring and influential. So, I found acceptance from others and should be happy, right? Not really.
In the end, it does all come back to me. As my favorite quote goes: All you need is within you. But what was it that I needed from myself? I found the answer.
Vulnerability. What I'm most fearful of in my life. Completely opening up to someone and fearing rejection. But you can only go so far on your own. I've learned that in my business. The last year I worked all on my own, I closed 155 homes. All by myself. Looking back, I don't even know how I did it. But to achieve my full vision for growing a business that would make an impact and leave a lasting legacy both within and outside the real estate industry couldn't be just me working all on my own. I needed others.
Another key: Gratitude. For the little things. And, even though this needed to occur within me, it was someone that came into my life that helped me realize I must open my mind in order to notice the little things that can make me happy. They weren't what I pictured, what I thought I should be with, the relationship I saw myself in and I met him through my business which is the last place I thought I would find someone that made me a better, and most importantly, a happy person. However, I found myself being completely vulnerable and saying: look, I adore you, the kindness in your eyes, the true joy you express in your uncontrolled laugh, the delight you exhibit when something touches your heart. Vulnerability takes courage. So does happiness.
If you follow me on social media you know that I take in rescue animals, sponsor foster kids and contribute to causes that I identify with like the Mathew Shepard Foundation. Although each person I come across is grateful to me, what I'm grateful for is the opportunity that I have to give. I recently offered to pay for the wedding of one of my team members, to which they are grateful. But, to me, I'm thankful for the blessing that I'm financially able to do it and that I can enjoy seeing two people who are so much in love share their union and experience of such an incredible relationship with those they love and care for. I am so thankful for that.
And that brings me to another one of my quotes, that in ways, is a paradox to my first. It's our relationships with people in this world that matter most in the end. So, that means happiness is two parts. My own responsibility is that I must make myself open, be vulnerable and share all of me, then appreciate and show gratitude to those that I share myself with and the little things that make them, just that, them. Being grateful for the opportunities I am provided to help others, reflecting on how I am able to enjoy and impact in small to large ways.
What I've come to realize is that happiness isn't the "when" that I've looked for my entire life, it's the "now." It's the purr of the rescue kittens I took in and it's the smell of that special person in my life. It's the body I have now because if I lost a limb I bet I wouldn't mind that spider vein or big toe. It's not what I'm looking at "next." It's this very moment.
Saying goodbye to "when," "what if" and "what's next" isn't easy at first, but stop yourself a few times a day and reflect on all those little things to appreciate. Open yourself up to people around you and be vulnerable. They may just feel a connection and open up to you. This makes us all stronger as individuals and together in all that we do professionally and personally.