I still remember the first time I watched the iconic movie ‘The Pursuit of Happyness”. The struggle, grit, determination and personal struggles of the hero Chris leading up to his hiring were heart-wrenching and inspiring for someone like me who was about to complete graduation and still figuring out what to do in life and what to expect of the world. The hope in the movie had a clear message to me – work hard and one day you shall be happy. Here is the final scene from the movie – watch it!
Fast forward 17 years, two days ago marked my 16th Googleversary, my first day of joining the Google India team in Hyderabad as a fresher from campus recruitment. It is a day that passes by every year bringing a smile and joyous reflections. This year, as I went about my Sunday staying with fond memories of the earliest days of my career, learning, growing, and most importantly creating friendships that have stood the test of time, I also had a very interesting coaching conversation which opened up something significant for me.
One of the points which came up in the coaching session was what happens to us when we wish for clarity for the path ahead but do not know in the moment how something will pan out. How does one deal with this fear of uncertainty and the unknown?
As we explored this question together, I got in touch with my own journey. From taking up a Science group in my high school, to English Literature in graduation, to Sociology in Masters, while building a career in digital marketing working with Google, Accenture and Amazon, and then pivoting to being an entrepreneur in the space of leadership development, coaching and yoga therapy, life has been anything but predictable. When I reminisce my journey I always recall the story Steve Jobs shared in his now famous Stanford Commencement Address on connecting the dots. “You cannot connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect the dots looking backwards.” Following my curiosity and intuition did prove to be priceless to me. Believing that the dots will connect down the road did give me the confidence to follow a path with a heart.
One critical shift that I experience is the shift in perspective from working towards an idea of happiness in the future, to anchoring in and acting from an inner space of inspiration, joy, and beauty. As with most things in life, it is a work in progress. Nevertheless, this shift helps me return to the here and now when I feel scattered and check in with myself with some fundamental questions of life.
In many ways, I see that today I find more meaning and joy in a pursuit in happiness.
I leave you with this beautiful poem by Wendell Berry which speaks to me about the freedom that comes with a faith in the grace of the world.
“When despair for the world grows in me
And I wake in the night at the least sound
In fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
Rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
Who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.
I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me day-blind stars
Waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and I am free.”
– The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry
If you resonate with this idea, I would love to hear about your journey, path, and learnings along the way in the comments or just write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are interested to read more of my reflections on this theme, feel free to subscribe to my ‘Pursuit in Happiness’ newsletter here.