Anna Akbari, PhD, is a sociologist, writer, and entrepreneur. She holds a PhD in sociology and has taught at NYU and Parsons. She is the founder of Sociology of Style, an image and life coaching company, and a partner in HVCK, a Silicon Valley innovation consultancy.
She is a frequent public speaker and media personality, and has written for and been featured by Forbes, CNN, The Atlantic, The Economist, TIME, The Financial Times, TED, Bulletproof Executive, New York Observer, DailyWorth, The Huffington Post, and dozens more.
Favorite Success Quote “Happiness is not a goal, it is a byproduct” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
Key Points 1. True Happiness is Never the Goal
All too often in our modern Western culture, people chase happiness.
Happiness is something that they try to attain, it is a goal that they pursue, and in the end, it is this pursuit of happiness that ultimately leads to its demise.
True happiness doesn’t come from simply meditating, chanting a mantra, or looking at yourself in the mirror and saying “I am happy, I am happy, I am happy”.
True happiness is a multifaceted feeling that is derived from creating a multifaceted and fulfilling life.
I want you to imagine two men on their personal growth journey.
Man #1 spends his mornings meditating, screaming incantations about happiness, and journaling about how he wants to feel happy.
He is constantly chasing happiness, but finds that every time he experiences unhappiness, he spirals into a downward plunge thinking to himself “Why am I not happy? What am I doing wrong? Life sucks!”
Man #2 on the other hand, is not concerned with feeling happiness, but rather with creating an optimal life where happiness is the byproduct.
He meditates in the morning, says his affirmations in the mirror, and writes in his journal, sure.
But he is focused on something bigger.
He is building a business, growing a family, taking care of his body, and putting himself into flow every day.
And as a result of these actions, he experiences true and recurring happiness.
Stop chasing happiness and let it come to you.
2. Develop Your Personal Rulebook
There is an old saying that “Life doesn’t come with an owners manual”.
Life is unpredictable and we are often left confused and clueless about what we should do.
However, the only way that we can truly experience any level of consistency in this crazy thing called life is to hold ourselves (the only thing that we are truly in control of) accountable to our own set or rules and values.
In other words, to create our own personal rule book for what we will allow in our lives and what we won’t, how we will act and how we will not, what we will and will not tolerate, and most importantly, who we will show up as every single day of the week.
Life may not come with an owners manual, but whenver you create rules for your life, you don’t need one.
You don’t have to look outside of yourself for the answer to problems that you face.
Instead, you approach each and every hour, minute, and second of your life through a set of lenses that you have created and determined.
If you have created a rule for yourself that you will prioritize family over finances, then you don’t have to worry about whether you should take the higher paying job or continue working at a lower pay grade so that you can continue spending time with your children.
If you have a personal rule that you do not drink, smoke, or snort cocaine, then you aren’t going to have to wonder whether you should try it “just this once” when you are out with your friends, because you have a set of rules that you abide by.
The thing is, outside of the basic moral fibers that constitute and uphold our society, there are no “wrong” rules.
For some of you, finances might be the biggest priority in your life, for others it might be your health or your spirituality.
Some of you are totally ok having an occasional cigarette and drinking a glass of wine eac