We all want to know the keys to success and happiness – amiright?! Success is defined in many different ways, but I know many of us root our definitions in wanting to be happy. So how do you foster happiness? How do you guarantee some form of success? And what does learning have to do with any of it?! Below I share some insights I’ve gathered along my own journey and hopefully they spark some motivation in you too!

What’s the key to success?

A while ago, I watched a really inspiring TED Talk that made so much sense to me and, if you haven’t watched it yet, I’m here to share it with you. Angela Dee Duckworth, a psychologist, explains the common misconception that IQ is a sure indicator of “success.” But in studying successful students as compared to those who struggled, she formed her theory of “grit” as a true predictor of success.

So what is “Grit”? Angela defines it as the passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. She says Grit is about having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

There is no such thing as an “overnight success.” Sometimes it just looks that way from the outside because we aren’t always privy to the struggles, late nights, and feelings of giving up that so many people go through – especially when you’re starting your own business. But if you have a passion for what you’re doing and you can persevere, then ideally success is that little pot of gold at the other end of the rainbow. And you’ll be sure as hell glad you didn’t give up.

What’s the key to happiness?

I watched a documentary on Netflix years ago called Happy. Maybe you’ve seen it while scrolling through titles. It has an image of a happy face way up in the clouds. How could it not already make you feel happy??

It was fascinating to watch the journey as they went through discovering what makes happy people… happy. We live in an era where happiness is what most of us want to either keep or get to. I know for me personally, it’s my main measurement of if I am where I want to be. If I’m happy. And while we’re not always happy 100% of the time, if you have more genuinely good days than bad, consider yourself one of the lucky ones! 🙂

There’s so much research out there that links feelings of gratitude with happiness. And even doing things for others brings out happiness. But in this documentary, one of the things I took away was the breakdown of where happiness comes from for people. What it showed was a pie chart comprised of three sections.

First was that 50% of your happiness is genetic – it’s ingrained in who you are. You know those people who are just innately happy? The type you want to be around when you’re having a bad day? Those people.

The next was that 10% of your happiness is based on circumstances – income, social status, where you live, age, etc. It’s probably hard for so many of us to really grasp this concept. Since we tend to think that, “I’ll be happy when…insert some goal like promotion or making more money, etc here.” But the truth is, this is only a temporary feeling of accomplishment and happiness – typically the curse of ambition is that it’s never enough. We just reset the bar.

So lastly, the third part was that the remaining 40% of our happiness is what they call Intentional Activity – the activities you choose to do. And a big part of that was learning something new. Are you surprised by this?? You know that feeling you get when score the winning goal?! Yea, it’s that feeling!

Why you should never stop learning

It’s amazing to me how privileged we are to even have access to education. Yet so many squander this privilege. One of the best books I’ve read in the past couple years is, I am Malala. It’s an autobiographical book by Malala Yousafzai (co-written with Christina Lamb) about her story as the little girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban. Her desire to learn in spite of the threat that it exposed her to was moving. I was so captivated by her experience and how vastly different it was from my own upbringing in the US. She fought for female rights to education and I am in awe of this young woman and all that she represents.

We forget how privileged we are. We live in a world where there are still over 20 nations that preventing women from being educated. That inability to seek an education not only stifles female development but also their self-worth.

With both of these above concepts, I bet you can see where I’m going with this. I’m advocating for why you should never stop learning. Never forget that it is a privilege. This could be anything! Learn to cook a new cuisine, learn a new language, learn a new skill, or learn how you can start your own business! You can learn all of this without even ever having to step foot in a classroom.

If success requires grit and happiness requires intentional activity and the environment will teach you anything you want to learn – then why do we make excuses? Why do we hold ourselves back. We owe it to ourselves, to the little girl inside of us and the little girls who can’t do it for themselves to set an example.

The point is – never stop growing, evolving and learning! And when you have embarked on that journey, DO NOT GIVE UP ON YOURSELF.

You can do it, girl! We know it!

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lisa val verde



During her 10+ years marketing everything from concept to commercialization on a global landscape, Lisa has found that her greatest opportunity is to empower and encourage any woman with a burning passion and a desire for change to pursue whatever lights her spirit on fire. With Wildernest, Lisa is able to help other women break down their own walls to achieve their full potential, and enable a community of passionate women to create thriving businesses and become catalysts for change.

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