Seriously? 33%? You gotta be kidding me…

Well, according to the Harris Poll® Happiness index, only 33% American are very happy.

How does that number feel? A little low for my taste. Let’s look at other statistics…

The American Psychological Association states that in western cultures 90% of people is married by 50, 40 to 50% will divorce. Do you want to go for a second chance? the rate is even higher!
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 68.3% of students who graduated high school in 2011 were enrolled in college and, 43% did it in a community college
The SAT Report on College & Career Readiness reported that only 43% of SAT® takers in the class of 2012 graduated from high school with the level of academic preparedness associated with a high likelihood of college success
According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, the top 1% of Americans control 43% of the financial wealth while the bottom 80% control only 7% of the wealth
The U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Census says the failure rate of Small business is 85% in the first year, 70% in the second year and, even if you’re past the 4 year mark, your chances of failing are still more than half
You have time for one more? The percentage of college Basketball players that make it to the NBA is around 1%

Yes, it actually feels like the probabilities make you the underdog in your own life…

Are we playing against all odds?

Mr. Jefferson couldn’t be more on the money with this famous phrase in the United States Declaration of Independence:

“Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness

The phrase could’ve been “Life, Liberty and Happiness”. But it’s not. Almost as if Life and Liberty were already included in the package by default but happiness, you only get access to chase it.

Then go ahead and chase it, all your life. Here is the only problem, said with a little more reality by social philosopher Eric Hoffer:

The search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness

“The search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness.” << Tweet This

The single action of searching can be the reason why it’s not found. Or we mistakenly believe we never find it.

But this post is not a protest. It’s actually an invitation to observe, reconsider, and… well, let me explain…

What if…

What if you were an alien that lands on planet Earth today. You like it, decide to stay, and are willing to become a member of society.

First, you look at the options, you probably want to be a doctor, a basketball player or an artist. There is someone you like and there are a few few things you’ve seen and experienced since you got here that you enjoy

Then you make a plan to achieve your goals. You research a bit and come across statistics like the ones above. Your chances of being happy are 33% and your business will most likely fail, just like your marriage. I mean it’s 50/50 at this point.

Here is the single one thing you would do that you’re not doing now:

You would question the hell out of everything…

Why are most people getting divorced?
What are small business owners doing in the first 5 years that so many are failing?
Why most people don’t have a higher education?
What are 99% of college basketball doing wrong? And what is the other 1% doing different?
3 Types of Questions

1) What are others expecting from you?

Even though times have changed and moves so fast, we still buy into the notion of reaching common goals. Expectations that are not yours:

The corner office and the suit
The happy couple and kids
2) What are you expecting of yourself?

You set up expectations for yourself that are somebody else’s, or they’re unrealistic. Can you be killing your own chances by expecting something that is no longer aligned with who you are?

3) Is this system broken?

The road to happiness and success looks pretty steep with those statistics we listed above. Is it possible that we are walking on paths that no longer take us there? Is it possible that those systems used to work for previous generations but since we’ve changed, they should change too?

The single most successful segment in economy is technology but our school curriculum still doesn’t include coding
The music industry is clearly broken. Several bands and solo artists have explored new ways and some have successfully found new paths
The auto industry, the city of Detroit, banking, newspapers…

How does it start?

Step one is a question, followed by tens if not hundreds of other questions!

This is the part where the traditional blog post gives you the 10 steps to… But since this isn’t a “How To” post, I will instead share my experience over the past few months that can maybe serve a better purpose.

The kids’ education has always been one of the main priorities for my husband and I. The kids also know this. But this year, we decided to turn everything around. Do something crazy, something we wouldn’t normally do: take a chance with our kids education.

Andres (14) was supposed to start high-school at a near-by private school where many of his already friends are going. Instead, we listen to his passion and went through a tough process to get accepted at a performing arts school with a Culinary Conservatory, which by the way is about an hour drive from our home and he stays until 5pm instead of 3pm.

His math class is mostly conversations among classmates trying to solve a problem. Today he had “Food Theory”. Tomorrow, he’s presenting a 30-sec commercial about his personality. They play music in giant speakers in the cafeteria during lunch and, if you have your own iPod at hand, they’ll let you hook it up and play your own tunes for the rest of the school to hear.

He can’t stop talking about it! He’s taken a whole different approach to studying, he takes the initiative to do homework, and he said he’s very happy he made the decision to not go to a traditional school. Yes, you read that right… we put the option on the table and he made the decision.

Sebastian (11), playing the drums in the top image of this post, has always been an A student, even though he says he hates school. He doesn’t hate it, but there is something behind those words.

On the other hand, he’s demonstrated incredible creativity. He’s been in musical theater, he plays the drums (last year he played a drum solo in front of the entire school), and enjoys other creative pursuits like making movies and songs on the computer. He’s also great at photography. But his entire day goes toward fighting against school and homework.

We gave him the option to try home-school this year. He took it. He’s also attending Colburn, one of the most prestigious performing arts schools in Los Angeles, for private acting and drum classes. He’s now allowed to take as many breaks as he wants and manage his work schedule.

When one of his friends asked him a few weeks ago if he was coming back to school, Sebastian responded “No dude, I’m escaping the system.”

Did I mention my kids are allowed to play video games? Oh yes.

What’s the goal here?

There are 3 goals:

To start by changing our own system (we’re not gonna wait for “the” system to change)
To teach the kids that established paths are not mandatory, they’re only an option
To play a game that has higher chances of happiness
This is not about creating a new system, it’s simply about questioning in order to motivate reflection about your own goals, and how to get there.

This isn’t a motivational post either but just for fun, I’ll leave you with Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty:

Happy. Happy. Happy.

How about you?

How about you? Are you willing to play the game as an underdog? or are you questioning the system to achieve your goals? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Happy questioning!

Author's Bio: 

Andrea has over 4 years of experience working and studying in the field of personal development. Her work is in helping people identify their limitations, fears, and thinking patterns keeping them from achieving positive results in all aspects of their life.

Her missionl as a professional personal transformation coach is to collaborate with institutions and colleagues offering a holistic approach to personal transformation and leadership.

Specialties: Personal Transformation Coaching, Entrepreneurship. Leadership. Creative workshops. Public Speaking. Bilingual (English-Spanish).