I was standing at the People's Choice Awards recently, looking out at the crowd and thinking, My God, what an amazing life! I get to do work that leaves me stimulated, fulfilled, and happy. And I get applauded and rewarded for it. How wonderful is that? Pretty wonderful, let me tell you.
And the wonder of it is that I get to be the "people's choice" because I first chose myself. I recall the very moment I did—what I was wearing (a blue turtleneck sweater and black Anne Klein slacks), where I was sitting (in my boss's office), what the chair looked and felt like (brown paisley, too deep and overstuffed)—when my boss, the general manager, said to me, "There's no way you can make it in Chicago up against Donahue. It's his home base. You're walking into a land mine and you can't even see it. You're committing career suicide."
He used every tactic he could muster to entice me to stay—more money, a company car, a new apartment, and finally, intimidation: "You're going to fail."
I didn't know if he was right. I didn't have the confidence at 29 to believe I could succeed against such an auspicious competitor. I did have the faith to know I could succeed in life. And if it wasn't in television, then I would be led to something else.
I gathered the nerve to say to him before standing up to walk out, "You're right, I may not make it and I may be walking into unforeseen land mines. But if they don't kill me, at least I'll keep growing. I've grown all I can here. I have to move on."
In that moment, I chose happiness. Not just the temporary satisfaction I felt from standing up for myself but the lasting happiness that abides with me every day because I decided not to be afraid and to move forward.
I know for sure that I created this happiness by choice. And I know it's really not just one choice that matters—it's all the baby choices that will lead you to the ultimate moment, when you can make the strongest stand and commitment to yourself and the life that's calling your name.
The way to choose happiness is to follow what is right and real and the truth for you. You can never be happy living someone else's dream. Live your own. And you will for sure know the meaning of happiness.