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What Advice Would You Give Your Younger Self to Ensure a Lifetime of Happiness?

When I'm interviewing people to gain perspective on predominant thoughts that cross gender, color-lines, and social classes, this is always one of my FAVORITE questions.

I was watching Super Soul Sunday this morning and when my GURU, the one and only OPRAH, asked this question to each her guests, I had to hug myself because surely this proved we are like-minded women and she was meant to become my mentor, right? (Just go with it...)

Well, if the 19-year-old Jeanette in the picture knew what I know now, I would have constantly told myself that story to create a reality that included being in Oprah's inner circle. Back then, I had no idea that my destiny was actually in my hands. I understood the concept of setting goals and striving to meet them, but I was completely unaware of the POWER I had to achieve whatever my mind was capable of creating.

At 19, I was single, with no children, one year of college under my belt, and a deep desire to change the world for the better, but not a clue as to where I would start. Back then, I thought that meant being a psychotherapist, but as life often goes, my journey took quite a few unexpected turns on the way to my purpose. However now at 47, I completely understand that every experience, loss, heartache, joy, pain, interaction and season had to happen so that I could become who I was BORN to be.

This is true for each and every one of us in the world, but it's often something we don't quite grasp until we've lived long enough to appreciate it. But if I could go back to 1989 and talk to 19 year old Jeanette, here are a few things I'd be sure she knew:

  1. LOVE YOURSELF FIRST, UNCONDITIONALLY: Do not tie your worth to people, things, or your outward appearance. (Yeah...about're body will do some "changing" in the next 20 years, so it's important to fall madly in love with it right NOW.) Developing a strong sense of self-worth will be your shield of protection in life that will ALWAYS serve you well. It will prevent you from ever accepting mistreatment on ANY level, and will serve as a constant reminder that you ARE worthy of everything you believe you deserve.

  2. Focus on the desires of your heart, find your passion, and live it NOW: If you can find what it is at 19, you will never have to work a day in your life because you will build a career doing exactly what you love to do EVERYDAY. You have actually already found it, you just don't know how it will take shape, so just go with the strongest feelings you have about why you feel you are in this world and you will be guided to it. Do NOT make the pursuit of a dollar bill your purpose...that is a fruitless and unfulfilling journey. Money can NEVER buy you happiness, and you will find that joy and peace of mind are what is priceless in life.

  3. Your relationship status does not define who you are: Don't rush into marriage simply because society has determined this to be the next step in life. Spend time developing who YOU are, find your place and your peace, and the man who is meant to share your life will be naturally drawn to you. The period of time when you are single will actually be the most beneficial years of your LIFE. It will teach you independence, self-reliance, tenacity, resourcefulness, how to look fear in the eye and not flinch, and that you are much stronger than you think you are. (Not to mention it will give you some of the greatest writing material for those best-selling self-help books that are in your future....wink)

  4. Understand the power you ALREADY possess to do, be or have ANYTHING you want in life: Don't EVER put limits on yourself. Any thought you create in your mind can be turned into a workable plan that will always become your REALITY, without exception. Study the power of energy, the law of attraction, and incorporate this belief into your life TODAY.

  5. Your love of writing will not lead to you be novelist, but instead it will lead you to empower and inspire: Don't get discouraged when the stories won't come and you don't understand why. And when you feel like you are ready to toss in the towel and never write again, DON'T! Listen to that inner voice that has been calling you since you were little to be an agent of change and peace in the world, and that will lead you to the type of books you were meant to be writing...and you'll be surprised at how easy it will be to do, and how much joy you will find in the process.

And now it's YOUR turn.

What would YOU tell your younger self to make sure you found your path to happiness?

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