I wasn't supposed to walk away from the NFL, but I did. I wasn't supposed to be writing television, but I am. I'm supposed to be lost after football. I'm not. I've reinvented myself. This is my first transformation. I'm supposed to be broke right now, or maybe the statistics say five years from now. Either way, I'm not even close. I'm not supposed to be anything but a football player. But really, I'm just a guy who used to play football. There's a reason I'm doing this.
The last few months of my life are a true example of the fact that everything "they" say can be wrong. I believe it usually is.
It's largely assumed that there is only one way to happiness/success. Most often it's some variation of going to college, finishing school, landing a good job, getting married, having a family, putting your personal desires aside and after many years of this you leave whatever you can for your children, retire and wait till it's your turn to go. Now, I'm sure this structure works for a lot of people, but can this exact model be right for everyone?
Any person I've known, met or studied that has done something great and found their joy has done it by following a passion or an idea that felt right to them. Even if they were alone in it, they chased that desire without fear and trusted that things would turn out. They believed so deeply in their truth, that it was manifested and actually became their reality.
A question I like to ask people I'm meeting, or even people who I know, is 'If you could be anything in the world, without any restriction or it even being realistic, what would you be?'
It always sparks an interesting conversation. One guy even told me he'd want to be an assassin. I backed away slowly... However, beyond the fun and imaginings it's surprising to me how often the things that people say they truly want to do are actually very possible. They literally can be done. The strongest hesitation is the fear of stepping off course and doing something uncertain. Though certainty provides a strong level of comfort, the question is, will it please your soul?
"If you want guarantees in life, then you don't want life." -- The Creator
A few months ago I moved to Santa Monica and became a member of the Writers Guild of America, West. I'm on the writing team of a new show that will air on HBO next summer. A year ago, a writing career was just a tiny seed of thought as I prepared for my sixth NFL season. And as I write this now, it has already begun to sprout. Through this experience I've learned that you can will your dreams into existence.
If only I wouldn't have taken that step...
Also on The Huffington Post:
You not only have the right to pursue happiness, you also have a responsibility to pursue it. Learn to be happy with who you are and what you have right now, and in this state of mind: It gets easier to do the right things that bring even more happiness to you.
A first step to being happy is to stop worrying about all of those things that you can do nothing about. Start focusing on making changes that will bring more happiness to you.
Inspirational Dissatisfaction is a fabulous state of being that enhances the experience of happiness. It’s a condition of mind in which you always have something more to wish for. This gives you that feeling of aliveness that feels so delightful.
Happiness is the ultimate reward you get from achieving a goal that is important to you. It’s not breaking a world record or amassing material wealth; it’s the experience of successful completion.
Happiness comes with quality of action, which is about being effective. It does not come with quantity of action that includes purposeless motion.
When what you are is what you yearn to be -- you are happy.
Follow Rashard Mendenhall on Twitter: www.twitter.com/R_Mendenhall