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Synchronicity on World Happiness Day

Maura Sweeney travels by bike on island in Uganda, Africa

Totally happy on the back of a bike on an island deep in Africa

One year ago on March 20, 2013, the first ever United Nations International Happiness Day launched an initiative to reflect on what a good human life looks like.

International Happiness Day marked an opportunity for people to consider new markers in life. In simplest terms, it meant valuing happiness and well-being over money and stuff. 

The same day the world was celebrating the pursuit of happiness, I learned that my newly-introduced series of ebooks was also globally recognized. Maura4u: The Art of Happiness was chosen a Top 12 Spring Equinox read by Spirited Woman, a popular women’s global empowerment community.    

As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon applauded governments seeking to design policies around “comprehensive well-being indicators” and the nation of Bhutan was touted for employing the Gross National Happiness Index to evaluate progress, things felt especially synchronous for me.

Spade Tree Art

I was in my mid-fifties, a first time author speaking out on my own behalf. I was also the woman who left law school three decades earlier in a desperate attempt to escape an unhappy future.

Nearly all my life, I was groomed for a pursuit that might have led to money and stuff. Back then, perhaps a bit of social clout too. Instead, I felt like the walking dead. While pursuing a goal that appeared successful, my insides were slowly drowning.

A 1982 photo taken of me outside Mama Leone’s famous NYC restaurant on New Year’s Day revealed a front I could no longer maintain. With vacuous eyes, downward cast smile and rail-thin frame, I could have doubled for a cadaver standing on its feet.

Did I have the inner strength to serve an occupation I never wanted? Could I pretend to be interested until old enough to retire?

It would have been a coward’s way.

The decision to betray expectations for another New Jersey lawyer in our family meant making a choice to find my own way in life. I needed to discover what would make me happy, not waiting till I qualified to retire.

Much lay behind my decision to exit the veneer.

Even before kindergarten, I was forming private thoughts

Even before kindergarten, I was forming private thoughts

As a child, I played witness to the ending of the human life cycle. Quietly, I watched as family and friends passed away. These people were young and old. Some were close and familiar, and others less so. Some died in common fashion while others met death by tragedy.

The impressions were indelible. They altered my focus and my values. So while peers grew up pursuing external goals, I resolved to enjoy peace and happiness from the heart.

Choices I’ve made have caused some to wonder and conjecture about me over the years. But my underlying objective remained simple, if not esoteric or downright odd at times.

For example, I refused corporate promotions because relocating to cities like Chicago and New York would have undermined my desire to live in a warm climate.

Later, despite having an income that could have accommodated a family of four, I left my career. After nearly a decade of infertility, I wanted to play full-time mom. I also knew I needed to experience first-hand that personal value that had nothing to do with working for a paycheck.

I also left a position with the nation’s largest women’s advocacy organization. Despite receiving their National Award for Media Effectiveness and being asked to manage their Florida office, I resigned.

Unwittingly, I learned that those leading the non-profit were working in contravention to officially professed values.  Discovering that people who knew better were behaving in a false manner made me sick, unable to speak for weeks. I was also saddened to learn that a few hundred thousand women didn’t realize they were minions.

Equally compromising were the increased hours I was spending pursuing family-related initiatives while neglecting time with my own child. A defining moment arrived when preparing for a radio interview as a set of 3-year-old eyes peered over my desk. My daughter was quietly waiting for me to finish work so we could play together at the park.

One of six little ebooks, this one about Influence

One of six little ebooks, this one about Influence

Today, a lifetime of personal stories, business experience and global travel is woven into The Art of Happiness. I share introspective, funny and sometimes challenging tales on everything from Competition to Values, Judgment to Nonsense and Comfort Zones to Influence.

Incorporating a spectrum of impressions ranging from the historic to the highly personal, I  love what I do. Having spent years in my own pursuit of happiness and well-being, I can invite others to discover and pursue their own.

If my little books could get selected by a spirited global women’s group on the same day the UN hosted its first International Day of Happiness, perhaps this life pursuit has been well timed.

For me, every day is World Happiness Day. 

Wishing the very same for you, too!

Rearview Mirror Delightfully Happy.jpg

Maura is an International Speaker on Influence, Leadership and Emotional Intelligence

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Paolo Paolo Says:
Tuesday, May 6, 2014 3:37 AM
Senator Sweeney's proposal is much friaer than Governor Christie's proposal. It is not fair to make state workers who ear $20,000 pay $7,000 more a year in health insurance.
Joanne Weiland Says:
Friday, March 21, 2014 8:51 AM
WOW! So true. Thank you for sharing your heart felt story to remind us to find our happiness.It is our choice each and every moment. The more I look for Synchroniciity the more I find it everywhere. Sometimes I make a list called "Caught you God" and list all the synchronicities.

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