This was me back in 2009, the owner of a successful restaurant in Lisbon, Portugal.
At the age of 29, I had created all the conditions I thought I needed in order to have a happy and fulfilled life but instead, I felt deeply insecure, stressed out and lonely.
It didn't matter that...
I was passionate about my work (I felt overwhelmed by trying to please everyone)
I had a fantastic, loving girlfriend who was also my business partner (but as the business grew, I became more and more stressed out, and my relationship started to feel like hard work to maintain)
I lived in a beautiful home with a spectacular city view (But inside, I felt lonely and frustrated trying to survive the busyness of life)
STRESS WAS MY DEFAULT SETTING
I remember standing in the bathroom of my restaurant at the end of a busy dinner shift. I looked at myself in the mirror and saw how tired and worn out I looked. At that moment, I heard a gentle voice saying "slow down". I knew I had to, but my head just couldn't figure out how. I kept pushing through and would tell myself "this is just a phase", "things will slow down soon".
It turned out I was right, but not in the way I expected.
THE FATAL DAY THAT CHANGED MY LIFE
Standing in my restaurant at the end of a regular long and exhausting day, little did I know that I would end up in the hospital emergency room.
One minute, I'm saying goodbye to a customer, the next minute I fall over on the floor while my whole body goes into spasms. Everything around me started to go into slow motion. I could hear the voices of people next to me as some distant sounds in the background. My mind was gradually drifting from being mildly awake and fast asleep when all of a sudden as if time stopped, I was in complete silence. There was nothing for my mind to grab hold of. Just emptiness and a beautiful feeling of peace and stillness in the midst of chaos and fear. There was a complete separation between what was happening in the outside world and what I was experiencing in my world. My left shoulder was dislocated by the fall, yet I felt zero pain, nothing. I was in an empty state of nothingness where "Philippe" didn't even exist.
And then, as if someone suddenly threw an ice bucket over my head, I came back. I woke up in a hospital bed, open my eyes and see a man in a white coat who tells me I just had a grand mal seizure.
And then, seemingly out of nowhere an unbearable pain took over all my body, I felt terrified, my heart was racing, my head was spinning and I just wanted to go back to where I had come from. All I could hear were the loud voices in my head screaming:
How can I stop feeling this pain?
When will I be able to go back to work?
What is happening to me?
Then something surreal happened. For a series of split seconds, I drifted back into a place with no pain. Just absolute silence and peace. It was like two completely opposing worlds. Heaven and hell. Two states of consciousness just split seconds away from one another. At that moment I realised that happiness is not a place, it is a state of mind.
Something profound changed within me. I decided to close the restaurant, end my relationship and start a new life. I felt scared, lost and full of uncertainty about my future. At the same time, I felt a sense of relief, freedom and new possibilities.
From that day on, I started seeking greater meaning and purpose in my life.
THE SELF IMPROVEMENT JUNKIE
The next eight years of my life was a mixture of an existential crisis and a long journey seeking for the answers to the question that just kept coming up for me over and over again...
Who am I?
What do I really want to do with my life?
Why do I feel so stuck?
I had no answers to any of those questions…
So I decided to start travelling. I spent 18 months combining a part-time job as an event manager in Zurich, Switzerland and travelling across 3 continents, 12 countries and constantly new meeting people. I was seeking inspiration, new contacts, new experiences and opportunities. In actual fact what I was really seeking was my true self.
When I discovered the world of coaching and personal development I immediately knew that I wanted to become a coach. I completely immersed myself in this new world and trained with The Coach Training Institute in Zurich. I spent most of my time practising coaching as well as attending live workshops, webinars, listening to podcasts and reading books.
The more I coached, the more I noticed that there were lots of people who felt that they were missing a sense of purpose in their lives and so I decided to help them. I became "The Purpose Coach". With the use of powerful visualisation exercises, identifying core values and clear actions steps, I helped my clients discover their "why".
With a clear purpose, I would help them close the gap from their current situation to their desired situation.
I always felt like SOMETHING WAS MISSING...
I really enjoyed helping my clients learn the latest tools and techniques to control their negative thinking, create new habits and push them to take more action despite the fear they were feeling. The best thing I knew how to do was to help them change their mindset, give them an interventional approach to help them take action and hustle to create the results they want in order to be successful in order to be happy.
SUCCESS = POSITIVE MINDSET + TOOLS + ACTION + DISCIPLINE
The problem was that in some way this formula really worked. Their business would grow, they would find a new life partner, they would quit their corporate jobs and finally start their own businesses. Many times, they would even exceed their goals and feel really happy and accomplished.
HERE'S THE PROBLEM:
As they achieved greater levels of outer success, they took with them more things to worry about:
Will I be able to sustain my level of business growth?
What if the one I love leaves me for somebody else?
How can I keep this momentum, motivation and discipline?
Despite the success they had achieved on the outside, most of them weren’t actually able to really enjoy it and live the happy, peaceful and stress-free life they had hoped for.
This got me curious
So if achieving our goals, controlling our thoughts and being more positive and disciplined won’t help us get the inner peace and happiness we are looking for, what will?
Can we thrive and be successful without the stress, constant hustle, self-discipline and hard work? How can we embrace uncertainty and create the life and results we want in a fun, playful and joyful manner regardless of circumstance?
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