My dear friends. I receive so many emails from you, telling me how trapped you are, how stuck you are, how hopeless you are. How you wish you had the courage I had. How you wish you knew what to do. How you wish you knew how to escape from the judgment and pressure that is now crushing you. How you feel you’ve done everything possible to find happiness in your current situation, and you just can’t.

I believe you.

With all of my heart I understand you.

Even if the rest of the people in your world don’t.

I don’t believe the notion that you must find happiness in the life you now have. Some people’s lives aren’t lives they can be happy in.

You, your loved ones, and your situations have changed so drastically over the years.

And guess what. You may not have been born into the right belief system for you. You may not have chosen the right spouse at such a young age (or even later in life). You may not have known what you wanted to do professionally and for the rest of your life when you were playing beer pong at frat parties.

You are human and so are the people who surround you, so don’t delude yourself that change hasn’t happened in your life, whether you’re happy or not.

Instead, accept that change is part of life, and if you’re unhappy with your life, ask yourself two very important questions.

First, “could I possibly be happy if I give more?” and second, “how bad do I want to be happy?”

If the answer to the first question is yes, then stop seeking happiness in an environment where you’re not giving your best and give your best. Try it out. See if happiness can exist where you are and with the people you’re with. Love more. Give more. Judge less. Offer yourself in places where you haven’t.

If the answer to the first question is no, and you know you have depleted yourself of all energy and skill, and you have sought help and education, and you have done everything you could and you just can’t be happy…

Then do what you have to do to get there before you do something drastic to escape.

Happiness may mean leaving your marriage.

It may mean leaving your religion.

It may mean leaving your job.

It may mean leaving behind the unhealthy people in your life.

It may mean leaving behind the unhealthy and unrealistic expectations that you have placed on yourself.

Happiness also might mean staying. Working. Loving. Giving.

But you already intrinsically know where happiness lies for you. You know whether you’ve literally given everything you have or not. You know whether you’ve made a big mistake earlier in life or not. You know whether you will ever truly believe certain things or not. Deep down, you already know all of that.

What scares you is not knowing where you’ll land when you do make those big choices. You don’t know what other people will say. How they’ll react. How they’ll treat you. You don’t know if they’ll abandon you.

And so that brings us to the second question. How bad do you want to be happy?

Very few unhappy people want it bad enough to do something ballsy enough to make it happen. Very few people ever do what they know will make them happy because they’re so afraid of losing the love and support of others.

And instead they live their entire lives jammed up under the armpits of others; crutches for those who know how to use and abuse them.

And while I told you how difficult life was for me leading up to those big decisions; and while I told you how problematic life was for me in the year and a half after making those decisions; I still haven’t told you just how beautiful life is for me now.

I haven’t told you how happy I am right now.

For the first time, I live my life for me. I judge myself for what I think is right or wrong. Not others. I understand love. I am able to spread love. And I am finally able to receive it. I see beauty in others. I see horridness where it actually exists and not where I’m told to look. I have learned to love myself. I have an incredible network of friends (so many of which are new) that strengthen me, encourage me, push me to be better, and never judge me. Even when I do really stupid things. Even when, for some reason, I want to do stupid things.

And amazingly, I am a better parent. A better confidant for my son. A better buddy. A better playmate. A better person. I’m almost never irritable. I am not quick to say harsh things, yell, or force my opinions and ways of doing things onto my child. I appreciate his uniqueness more. I love his quirks. I’m more patient. I feel his pain in ways that I couldn’t have before.

I’ve become detached from money.

I’ve developed my own beautiful spiritual beliefs.

And, perhaps most importantly, for the first time I actually know who I am enough to be who I actually am. And that means that the next girl to fall in love with me will fall in love with the person that I am and not with some ever-changing version of something I am only pretending to be for everyone else’s sake.

And that excites me.

I have lots of friends who feel the same way. I am surrounded by people who have made similar leaps of faith, taken similar risks, and landed in the most beautiful places. It was scary as hell for all of them, but the word “regret” is one I’ve never heard escape any of their lips. Ever.

“Hard,” always.

“Regret,” never.

So please, whoever you are, wherever you are, and no matter how buried you are in it all, ask yourself the tough questions. And if happiness means doing something big or risky, cinch up your pants and go for it. Don’t worry about how your life will fall apart or who will be there for you when the dust settles.

The people who love you will still be there.

And your life falling apart is precisely what you need to be able to pick up the pieces and stack them differently this time around.

And instead of fearing the hell that you’ll surely have to walk through, embrace it. Laugh at it. Because it’ll be a lot easier to get through that way.

It will be hard. But let’s be honest. It’s not going to kill you.

Happiness is so often a leap of faith into everything that the world around you thinks is the wrong direction.

And there’s only one way to shut them up.

Whose life is it anyway?

Ten years from now, twenty years from now, fifty years from now… do you want to look back and always wish you would have, or do you want to look back at a life that was actually yours?

I’ll see you on the other side.

Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing

PS. I would love your comments today. I know this post will cause some debate. Please be courteous to each other.

If you have found happiness in finally living life for yourself, please tell your story here. Give courage to those who are desperate for it. Help them know that it gets better.

If you currently are desperate to find that happiness, if you feel trapped, and if you have secrets that those closest to you don’t know, please tell your story here. Even if you do it anonymously. I think it would be good for people to see just how alone they aren’t.

If you think I’m wrong, feel free to leave your comments today as well.

And, as always, thanks for sharing this with others. (Please use the share button to the right so that it shares the first page.)

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Dan Pearce is an American-born author, app developer, photographer, and artist. This blog, Single Dad Laughing, is what he's most known for, with more than 2 million daily subscribers as of 2017. Pearce writes mostly humorous and introspective works, as well as his musings which span from fatherhood, to dating, to life, to the people and dynamics of society. Single Dad Laughing is much more than a blog. It's an incredible community of people just being real and awesome together!