What Is the Secret to Living a Happy Life?
It's easier than you think. Go up to a full-length mirror, look at your reflection, give yourself a hug and say, "I love myself." And mean it.
It's that last part that's the tricky part.
At 17, I had my heart broken by being dumped by my first girlfriend. I didn’t know what I had done wrong, and having grown up in a twice-divorced family, I had no concept of what made a healthy and lasting relationship. I only knew that I was hurt and angry. One morning before school, I stared at myself in the mirror and wondered: Would I grow up to be like my father?
I grew up in a dysfunctional family with an abusive father who struggled with substance abuse. As a kid, I survived two divorces, and grew up in three different homes—all of which were dysfunctional. I struggled for a long time in not understanding why I was different than other people. When I discovered the secret to overcome my dysfunctional family upbringing, I almost ignored it because the path was so contrary to what I thought I needed to survive.
People might wonder why I decided to become a writer and I have a simple answer: If it weren't for reading and writing, I don't believe I would have survived. My story is similar to many others: My father beat my mother and abused drugs and alcohol. Anger, fear and uncertainty litter my childhood memories. My most vivid memory of my father's violence is of being at the kitchen table trying to eat dinner and him coming home from work in an angry mood. He saw what my mother had made him for dinner and said, "I work all day outside in the sun and this is what you make for dinner?"