“I had to face the possibility of death in order to wake up to life.” 

Written by Happiness U founder Alice Inoue

Although what I’m going to share with you happened 18 months ago, it continues to have an impact on me, and governs how I make decisions today. It helped me to further understand that we are here to live life to the fullest of our potential, and make our dreams come alive in our life. We can spend our lives running away from things or running towards them, being safe and living from fear, or trusting our hearts and living in love. How we frame things, and how we see things can make all the difference. Sometimes we just need a wake-up call.

Feeling Stuck

In early 2013, I was stuck, and had been for months trying to get going on my sixth book. I had the mindset that because I had made a commitment six years prior to write a book a year, that I “had” to do it. Well, apparently I had outgrown that vision, without consciously realizing it.

Well, as I always say, “Life is not meant to be easy, it is meant for us to grow from…” and well, I guess things were too easy, and it was time for me to grow and move in a different direction.

The Surrender

The morning of March 25, 2013, I finally surrendered to the possibility that writing a book was not the path I was meant to take any more. So I seriously asked myself, “What do you really want to do?” The answer came to me instantaneously, “I want to teach people to be happy.”

This came straight from my heart, and rang true for me to the core of my being. I was filled with a greater sense of purpose than I had felt since I started on this path 15 years ago, and in this divine connection I was experiencing, the complete vision of having a school that helped people find meaning in their lives came to me in a flash. I spent the next few hours engrossed in detailing my vision. It was one of the most inspiring days in recent years that I can remember. I felt that I had found the next level of my purpose. I could hardly sleep that night.

Flowing with the Vision

Every moment of free time I had was filled with detailing how to make this vision a reality. I pondered the curriculum, the mission, I looked at office space, played around with possible names, and did everything I could to see how I could make this inspiring vision a reality. Once the “fun” stuff was pretty much done, I began focusing on building the business plan and designing the revenue model. I looked at funding sources, bank loans, SBA loans, and the financial aspect of things. I met with the bank and business development centers once my business plan was complete.

Hitting a Wall

That is where I hit a wall.   I needed more money than I could borrow to do what I wanted to do with the school. In addition, I had to give up my high-revenue generating wedding officiant business in order to have the time to run the school and be congruent with my vision. In looking at my business plan, the financial lending institutions did not see my idea as a financially viable business on many levels, and needed me to put in at least the same amount that I wanted to borrow in order to get approval. This meant that I would have to take a majority of the money that I had saved over the entire course of my life and put it into the business.

With the Forbes Magazine statistics showing that 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months, and Inc. Magazine stating that the majority of startups fail in their first year, that was enough for me to let fear take over. I moved in a direction of self- doubt and embraced the need to be safe.

Be Safe Self Talk

After all, I thought, I’m doing great as I am, saving money for my future, and helping people daily. I really had an amazingly satisfying life – the school idea can wait! I was sad about having to give up my dream, but knew that I had to protect my assets and minimize my risk. After all, life is tough and uncertain, and it really doesn’t make sense to change my life when it’s all going so well.

Wake Up Call

April 12, 2013 the Universe decided to show me a new perspective. I was driving on H-1 W on a misty rainy day in the early afternoon on my way to Ihilani for a wedding rehearsal. Things were flowing, there weren’t too many cars on the road, and I was content.

All of a sudden, from the left, I saw a car hydroplaning towards me at a weird angle. Instinctively I slammed on my brakes which then caused me to fishtail and spin uncontrollably. What felt like a lifetime, yet in reality was likely only a few seconds, I heard myself screaming (as if I was out of body ), and I literally saw my life flash before me.

It occurred to me that this could be “it”…that my life could potentially be over IN THIS INSTANT. It was all so clear to me, and in slow motion I saw my car move towards full impact with the car that was also swerving. In some ways I felt ready to leave this planet, yet in other ways I knew I had more life to live.

Alive to tell the story

Well, obviously I’m still here to tell the story. I “came back” to my body just as my car stopped a few inches before impacting the other car. The angle was such that the nose of my car was perpendicular to the other car’s driver door. The other driver was only a few feet away, and we looked at each other in shock. Our eyes locked for just a moment, and I know we both felt the same thing. “Oh My God. We are still alive.” It was a miracle no other cars hit us.

I started out driving again and it was weird, it was as if nothing had happened. And yet something big had happened. I now had no doubt in my mind that I had to follow my inspired vision of opening a school. It became such a tangible reality to me that life is a gift, and it really can end in an instant, if it is meant to.

My message to you

What is more important than playing it safe, is playing it by heart. What is it that you really want to do? What are you basing your life choices on? What direction are you moving in? If you are feeling stuck and uninspired, ask yourself why, and what is it you really want…and start moving in that direction.

We really do only have only one life to live —- and it can end at any time, in any moment.   Do not take your life for granted. You have a purpose for being alive, and part of your purpose is to find intrinsic meaning in your own life and express your own potential fully. As you do so, you make a difference in the lives of others. Do not let your fear and insecurities hold you back from your dreams. Do not compare yourself to others. Just start with what you know to be true for you, and let what you know grow.

My wish for you is that when it is time for you to take your last breath on this amazing planet, that you can look back on your life, and know that you not only lived fully, but found meaning and purpose in this divine journey called life. The choices you make today will make a difference.


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