The Secret To My Happiness

In Spanish, there are two different words that I think are often misused: “contento” and “feliz”. In this post, I’d like to set a difference between them. The problem is that in English the translation is the same: “happy”. I will try to differentiate them using the verbs “feel” and “be”.

Let’s start with the easy one. “To feel happy” or “estar contento” is something temporal. It’s an emotion. It has to do with the satisfaction of some needs: you ate a very tasty dish, you met someone, you’re going out with your friends, you were accepted at Harvard,… I’m not going to say all of this is unnecessary, but I do think it is different from “being happy” or “ser feliz”.

This second pair of words is a mindset. It is a way to understand life that arrives when you find a purpose. When you get there, you find some peace within you, you feel thankful for breathing, you celebrate and love life, you don’t let yourself feel angry or worried about things that don’t deserve it.

In my opinion, people know what it’s like to feel happy, but they rarely experiment true and deep happiness. The reason for that is that you need to experiment, discover, let yourself free from social chains, reflect, and get to know you as a human being. You need to find what is it that fuels your soul, and makes you wake every morning with the determination to enjoy one day more. That doesn’t mean carpe diem. That means learning about your purpose and going towards it: volunteering, being an artist, starting-up a business, saving lives… (little tip: purposes usually have a social component, meaning that they try to impact on others to create a better world).

This approach I have is based on a subjacent theory. In my opinion, there’s no point in sacrificing years and decades of your life for anything. Don’t get me wrong: this doesn’t mean you don’t have to fight, work and strive for improvement. This simply means that these efforts cannot be understood as a sacrifice. On the contrary, they should be what give you a meaningful life. The reason why you matter.

In a way, objectives or challenges need to be set so that we move forward, but they cannot be the reason why we keep on fighting. The reason has to be our everyday work. Otherwise, we can suffer from big deceptions, depression, feel empty, …

All in all: explore and discover yourself to find your purpose. Go for it and enjoy your way. This is the secret to happiness.

When Do You Want To Retire?

Yes, you can. Anything is possible. Dream. Two years ago, I would’ve been skeptical about these phrases. I used to think there are things we can do and things we won’t ever be good at so we better change focus and try other things or simply do what we’re good at. I’m not like that anymore.

Passion is the strongest fuel that exists on Earth, and it’s the first component that I think is needed to pursue an objective. In our case, when you’re following a dream that comes with the pack, so you don’t have to look for it. If you don’t feel passionate about what you’re doing… start reflecting. Sometimes, my classmates have been asked at what age they want to retire… their response? “the sooner the better” or “at my forties/thirties”. What the hell? So, you’re saying you will spend decades working in something you already know you will dislike? Cause let me tell you something: I don’t think I’ll ever want to retire.

The second element is effort. And this is where people start to fail. Cause everybody has passion, but not everybody’s willing to work 25 hours a day so that they achieve what they want to. This is the clue.

Let’s set an example. Imagine you’re 20 and you’re at uni. There’s an acting club you try, and you discover your purpose: moving people through your performance as an actress. You can either think “It’s too late for me, I should’ve started learning and practicing many years ago, and I will never make it.” OR say to yourself “It’s never too late. If I don’t make it in my twenties, I will make it in my thirties or even fifties. But during this time, I will be joyful, happier than anybody else, and I will enjoy the moment. Cause even when I practice, when I don’t get things right, I love keeping on working to improve.”

If you choose the first option, let me predict your future: you’ll regret not having tried it for the rest of your life. Every time you see a film or a play, you’ll wish you were in the actress’ place, but you won’t, and you’ll feel somehow empty. It’s possible that you’ll never find anything else that compares to the feelings you had when you acted. All in all, you’ll have a mediocre life. And you could think… well, why not as a hobby? My answer is… so why not doing it full time and getting paid and recognized for it? I would hate to be your boss knowing you count the hours to leave the office and get into that small rehearsing room in which you practice for that 1 night only play you do every year.

If you choose the second mindset, you’ll have to work hard. Even harder than the ones who did it at the pace that the system sets. But you will achieve it. Cause, to me, failure is nothing but desertion. You can only fail if you stop fighting. Let me tell you something… you’re only free when you follow your dreams.

How I Found My Way

There I was: ranked first of my class in the fourth semester of a bachelor’s degree in business administration at the sixth best business school in Europe. For somebody like me, it is usually expected that they will work in a consultancy firm or in the banking industry, win loads of money and have a “successful career”, whichever that means. However, I had no clue what to do with my life. I knew I didn’t want to lose it working 15 hours a day in the financial world and although marketing seemed interesting and I loved managing teams, I felt lost.

January 2017 things began to change: I watched LaLaLand and it made me realize how lost I was. “What’s my dream?”. That question found an answer three months after, during Ed Sheeran’s concert. My dream was to be a musician, a singer-songwriter, to do what Ed was doing. Of course, that did not come from nothing: I had been an amateur musician for a long time, and I was able to feel that purpose because I knew what rehearsing means, how it feels to play in front of crowds, to write songs, to work with other musicians, to record, produce…

That was the first time in my whole life that I believed in myself enough to say, “I want to be a professional musician”. However, after more than one year of reflection I’ve found a lot of “signals” lived through my whole life that make me think I had always borne this dream in my heart. It’s incredible how I had forgotten about the times I used to pretend I was a singer at my grandma’s house with a plastic microphone. Or how motivated I was when I would see a guitarist play and how I would pretend I was one in my room. Or how I wanted to be in Nick Jonas’ shoes when I saw him in Disney Channel.

To be honest, half of the guilt is mine, but the other half belongs to society. My half has to do with my low self-esteem. I thought I could never be like famous superstars, I even didn’t consider it as an option. I believed there are things you simply can’t pursue, cause you’re not good enough. FALSE.

And why society? Well, society doesn’t especially encourage you to be an artist. It is thought to be an impossible career, that will make you homeless or unhappy, that you won’t be able to make a living out of it and every time I was asked what I would do with music, the same person who asked the question responded, “as a hobby, right?” Which eliminated any possibility of letting me wonder if I truly wanted it as a hobby or I wanted to be a professional musician and devote my life to it.

The truth is my self-esteem with regard to my music facet didn’t get high overnight. What I did was to look for the biography of every artist that I liked. This way, I could find how they had achieved what they had achieved. That helped me sympathize with them and realize I had the same opportunities as most of them. So… why not me?

I told everyone I wanted to be a musician, even at college. And you know what? Something incredible happened. I started to find out that my college hosted TOO MANY students who wanted to be painters, drawers, musicians, teachers, actors… but didn’t believe enough in themselves or their families had pushed them to study BA as a way to be “successful” and win a lot of money. So sad.

I got two responses from people: the one saying “I admire you man, you’re so brave. Being ranked first, being able to do whatever you would like to do, and you still chose to follow your dream, against all odds.” I don’t think anybody told me the second response directly, but I knew about it through friends. It was “Jay’s wrong. He’s lost his mind and he’s wasting his aptitudes and capacity.” It felt so damn right to listen to this… It meant I was doing the right thing.

In my opinion, people should be able to choose their way, to get rid of this social misconceptions with regard to the artist world and to follow their dreams.

And this is how a Business Administration student decided to be a musician.