Finding Happiness Post-Harvard

By Grace UengSavvy Growth

After literally going downhill at age 40 in a life changing cycling accident, Grace under PressureInc. Magazine: CEO Passions, I came to realize that everyone has had their own “cycling accident”.

In the last decade, I’ve come to experience how it’s climbing the mountains of life that makes us stronger. In anticipation of becoming an empty nester and understanding my genetic predisposition, I embarked on my Happiness Journey. My first teacher was Tal Ben-Shahar, the creator of Harvard’s famed Happiness course, the most popular Harvard course of all time. Many students think their life is set when they receive admittance to Harvard. Grown-ups think the same when they receive that big promotion.

Harvard Club of Research Triangle asked me to share the talk I gave at my 25th Harvard Business School reunion, “Happiness Post-Harvard.” I presented that mini-TED talk along with highlights from my positive psychology work, and 7 themes of my upcoming book, Project Peak.

At the end of my remarks, we opened up the floor to the audience ranging in age from 19 to 83 to share what mountains they were climbing. I was touched how openly men and women shared their fears, failures, and what they were doing to take action.

One young person bravely shared his struggles and then wrote me a note about what he took away from Project Peak:

1. Never be afraid of failureFailure is not only a reality, but it may also be a learning tool. Everyone fails, but not everyone can learn from failure. Learning from failure is the only realistic way of achieving success, because it humbles the mind, which helps one to avoid making simple mistakes out of ego. 

2. Some fear is okayWhile it is not advisable to fear failure, the fear of not using the resources around you is limiting. During your recovery from your cycling accident, you accepted help from professionals, friends, and family. All of these were crucial in order to have physical and mental success. 

3. Climbing the right mountains is meaningfulThere are so many Americans who are unhappy with their lives, and it may be because they are climbing the wrong mountains. Yes, so much that we want takes effort, and it is a tough reality. But if we are fighting for something we truly care about, we find fulfillment and dignity in our labor. I thought about this when you mentioned that you are going back to writing a lot more, which is an interest that you truly enjoy. 

4. The future is comingThere is almost no time to focus on yesterday. The only thing we can do is continue to learn from our experiences, but the past cannot be altered. Instead, we carry its lessons as weapons and armor for our next battles. 

5. People care. This was definitely something I took away from the moment people started sharing their stories, and then came up to me at the end. Everyone is going through something, and anyone can help everyone in unique and heartfelt ways. 

Thanks Ben for bravely sharing your story and sending me what you learned from mine.

About the Author, Grace Ueng

Harvard Business School graduate and business leader, Grace has written on how Happiness Can Help Your Company Flourish. She is now writing her first book, Project Peak, focusing on Climbing the Mountains of Life – not just Business, but Beyond.

She founded Savvy Marketing Group in 2003 and rebranded to Savvy Growth last year to reflect management consulting and executive coaching, in addition to long standing marketing services.

Click here for information on Executive Coaching.

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A speaker and author, Savvy Growth leads Project Peak workshops – inspiring team members to climb their mountains. Savvy’s passion is working closely with clients as long term partners to help reach your goals. Keynote: Happiness Post-Harvard: Project PeakAudience Reaction

Nothing makes use happier that having you come back and say “thank you” – that we made a significant impact on your individually and your business.

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