Chasing

UNHAPPINESS

While lazing around on a Sunday afternoon, my mind, like most entrepreneurs, was working. In doing so, I asked myself one question — The day you reach the heights of success you’ve always envisioned for your company (my BHAG — Big Hairy Audacious Goal), how will you feel that day?

The answer surprised me — Emptiness. 

 .  .  .

The Glory

While I would feel a strong sense of accomplishment, proud of our team and what we built together, I also became acutely aware that it would be a shallow experience; I would feel a deep sense of emptiness.

With no credentials in the field, I started and ran a successful technology company with my business partner. We worked with incredible clients like Samsonite, Taylor Swift, Pokémon, Viacom, Red Bull … the list was endlessly impressive and worthy of giving anyone a hard-on for days.

The journey was not easy. Against all odds, we had accomplished something pretty cool. There was so much to be proud of. So why would anyone feel empty?

Working hard and with passion is part of my DNA. That will never change. But why was I driven to work so hard?

The Big Why

After digging deep and cutting through layers, I discovered that I wanted my Dad to be proud of me. This came as yet another surprise since my Dad has always been proud and supportive of me. It’s amazing what you can find in the subliminal recesses of your being!

In business, we quickly learn that everything needs to be measured. So the only way I knew how to measure “success” in a quantifiable way, and hence, have my Dad be proud of me, was by how much money was in my bank account. While this was the primary driving factor, with all honesty, there were other reasons that were more self-absorbing – ego, status and desire to leave a legacy.

I was chasing unhappiness.

And with that big aha and punchy insight, I took a revolutionary step the next day – I went back to work like every other day! And the next day, and the next, until I was able to drown out that insight by the noise of the daily grind.

Sound familiar?

We find comfort in familiarity, stability and routine. It’s predictable. No matter how miserable we may be in our careers or personal relationships, we go back to what we know. Such choices have striking similarities to how domestic violence victims keep going back to their abusers.

Our decisions are driven by two things – our desire to seek pleasure and avoid pain. So we choose the seemingly “easy way” out. The alternative is hard and even sadistic. It requires us to dig deep and be brutally honest with ourselves, and others. And during this soul-searching journey, we could be lost for months. Even years. That’s uncomfortable and painful.

Like everyone else, I engaged in that behavior for a while. When we accept mediocrity or fail to have the courage to discover and live our purpose, it’s the fastest way to sentence our soul to a slow death. This is the moment when we cease to live and choose to exist. We become the judge, jury and executioner for ourselves.

SUCCESS

But what is success anyway?

Society teaches us that “success” is money, power, status, notoriety, fame, fancy titles, an office with a big window on the 18th floor, climbing the corporate ladder, hobnobbing with the big wigs, owning expensive things, having a custom home in an exclusive location, making it on the cover of a magazine, having thousands of followers on social media …

If any of this were true, then why would I feel emptiness the day I would reach the pinnacle of my “success?”

Success is none of the things that society has taught us since childhood. Knowingly or unknowingly, we chose to buy into society’s definition and system, without questioning it. So we dedicate our entire lives to chasing the wrong things and then wonder why we are unfulfilled or miserable.

 .  .  .

None of what I’ve shared so far are earth-shatteringly new revelations. It’s fairly common knowledge that success is none of those things. The key, however, lies in what we choose to do with the knowledge and awareness.

Do we choose to do something or nothing? Do we choose to think or do we choose to convert those thoughts into action? Where most of us get stuck is in the implementation and execution phase. That requires courage, perseverance and enduring some painful times on roads less traveled.    

The realization of emptiness, coupled with the throes of depression from life events, allowed me to question my definition of “success” through the right lenses. Ironically, in such trying times, clarity emerges, and you truly understand what matters in life. The moment I changed my definition of success, my entire life twisted around!

After several iterations, I redefined what success means to me – “Success is sharing love and happiness in abundance.”

What does happiness mean to you?

And once you figure it out, what are you going to do about it? 

RESOURCES

Look up — The Mexican Fisherman Story
Film Matrix — Agent Smith Interrogation
Film Gully Boy, song by Ranveer Singh —  Ek Hee Raasta
Song by Oh Wonder — All We Do
Alan Watts Speech — We See It Too Late
Alan Watts Speech — The Simpler Your Pleasure, The Richer You’ll Be

Published: August 20, 2016

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From Global Roots to Unearthed Truths

Asha was born in India, raised in Oman, and lived in London before settling in the U.S. Her multi-continent, multi-cultural, global experience was a clear predecessor that fed her insatiable curiosity – and the inspiration for her defining Twizted voice.

As a rare breed, she’s truly mastered the art of metamorphosis in body, mind and soul. In her first adult incarnation she graduated Magna Cum Laude from ASU and pursued a vibrant career in the hospitality industry. Then, she grew new wings. Ever intrepid and intrigued by the unknown, she launched and helped grow a thriving e-Commerce technology company with her business partner, proving herself as an entrepreneur and demonstrating both the skills and resolve required of a woman intent on succeeding in a male-dominated industry.

In 2014, she boldly stepped into uncharted territories again, starting a new venture, Twizted Myrtle, in pursuit of her undeniable thirst to confront and create consequential social change. Few understood why she would leave behind a burgeoning e-Commerce business that served marquee clients like Amazon, Samsonite, Viacom, Pokémon, Red Bull, Taylor Swift and other household names – all during the pinnacle of a successful career.

The impetus for leaving the traditional business world for a less conventional path was intensely personal; a deafening voice and inimitable force inside her told Asha that she needed to contribute to the world in a very personal and life-changing way. Asha found herself in the throes of depression and new depths of loneliness. She was acutely aware her “success” was empty. Like many, she had lost her soul in the daily grind of chasing unhappiness.

Ironically, during this time, her depression revealed spiritual clarity; it connected her to the struggles of others who face the same suffocating walls of relenting darkness. Photography became a sacred respite that unleashed a strident voice; like a caged tiger set free, she could never again return to the confined existence dictated by society.

Twizted Myrtle became the multi-pronged platform to confront social issues that we’ve been plagued with for centuries. To break free from these vicious circles, she challenges what we accept, without question, as “wisdom,” and our conventional way of thinking through artistic means – provocative writings, thought-jarring podcasts and captivating photography.

Bringing a refreshing curiosity with the unique empathy of a true global citizen, she speaks with an open mind and unfiltered honesty on a host of issues where most would fear to tread. Her work compels us to see and think differently to help unlock our mindsets from self-imposed limitations. In doing so, she seeks to help people break free from the invisible chains that enslave us as oblivious prisoners.