In Stumbling on Happiness Daniel Gilbert writes, “For most of recorded history, people lived where they were born, did what their parents had done, and associated with those who were doing the same.  Millers milled, Smiths smithed, and little Smiths and little Millers married whom and when they were told.  Social structures (such as religions and castes) and physical structures (such as mountains and oceans) were the great dictators that determined how, where, and with whom people would spend their lives, which left most folks with little to decide for themselves.  But the agricultural, industrial, and technological revolutions changed all that, and the resulting explosion of personal liberty has created a bewildering array of options, alternatives, choices, and decisions that our ancestors never faced.  For the very first time, our happiness is in our hands.”

It’s in our hands.  And it can be overwhelming.  Because with all the choices come all the responsibilities.  We decide what to wear, what to eat, where to live, who to befriend, who to marry, where to travel, what to study, what to do for a living.  And when things go wrong we second guess.  We regret.  We judge.  We wonder about the grass on the other side.  Even though the journey is a lesson.  As life coach Tony Robbins said, “Life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you.”

And since we have to make so many choices, sometimes we hesitate because there is so much to consider.  In Jeff Goins book Real Artists Don’t Starve, he writes, “Many of us take the safe route in life.  We become lawyers instead of actresses, bankers instead of poets, and doctors instead of painters.  We hedge our bets and hide from our true calling, choosing less risky careers, because it seems easier.  Nobody wants to struggle, after all, so we keep our passion a hobby and follow a predictable path toward mediocrity.”

What parent hasn’t advised their child to take the route where you have something to fall back on?  

Many people can find happiness on their chosen path.  But what if they aren’t happy?  What if they dread Sunday nights and start thinking about Friday on Tuesday?  You don’t have to quit your day job but you could start dipping your toe into a world that inspires you.  Run a marathon, join a book club, start painting, attend a conference, try hot yoga.  You never know where you might find your tribe.  And a new beginning.

Our happiness is in our hands.  We don’t have to stay where we are.  It’s time to fly.


  • Siobhan Kelleher Kukolic

    Mother-of-three. Freelance writer. Author. #HuffPost blogger. Believer in dreams.

    Siobhan Kukolic is a storyteller at heart. She writes to inspire the belief that we have all we need to be the change we wish to see. She recently published her first book, available on Amazon and Indigo. The Treasure You Seek is about following your heart, believing in yourself beyond reason, embracing failure and knowing that you are enough. It includes inspirational stories about famous failures, cultural icons, world leaders and regular folks like you and me. The goal is to remind us that we have all we need to be the change we wish to see. A perfect read for graduates from elementary school through university, people starting their career, changing jobs or retiring, friends going through a medical crisis, new parents, empty nesters and anyone who wants to be inspired. She started her career as a copywriter working on campaigns for organizations including Esso, Mead Johnson Nutrition, Grand & Toy, Labatt, and SC Johnson. While raising her kids, she volunteered as co-chair of her school council for seven years, helped get eight 20-foot maples donated for an eco-classroom and co-ordinated the building of a school peace garden with 115 donated trees and shrubs for Earth Day. She co-founded a not-for-profit movement called Blueberry Shark, named after a healthy fruit and the only animal that doesn't get cancer, with a mission to create the healthiest kids in the world. By providing a voice for those who didn't have one, she rallied enough media attention to help crowd-fund $105,000 in two weeks to pay for an unfunded drug for a mother of two dying of stage-four brain cancer. She also used media attention to nudge the government to change drug coverage policy right before an election and get a $360,000 a year drug covered for a 12-year-old cystic fibrosis patient. Her letters to the editor are frequently published in the National Post and she has represented her neighbourhood by making deputations at city council and the school board. She spends her time blogging, speaking to students and corporations about grit, and juggling the schedules of her three kids as they follow their dreams in competitive Irish dance and ice hockey.