Change the World by Pursuing Your Happiness by Shawndra Russell

Hillary asks on her blog, “If I can’t change the world, what do I do now?” I thought I’d tackle this question by talking about what drives me to write fiction like my new novel, Couple Friends, with the hope that my stories inspire readers to pursue their versions of happiness.


I’ve always been independent. I was a tomboy as a little girl, hoping to make my Dad proud. I didn’t care if people thought that I was a brownnoser or geek for getting good grades. And I tended to get crushes not on the most popular boy, but the guy I saw as a diamond in the rough who liked to hold my hand and didn’t care if his friends thought he was “whipped.”


But after graduating from college, I stopped blazing my own path. I fell into pursuing the American Dream complete with a husband, house on a cul-de-sac, and fenced in backyard for our dog. My girlfriends and I started talking about baby names and nursery themes even though we were only in our mid-twenties.


As my husband and I were continually pulled into groupthink, my old rebellious nature started to resurface. What if I didn’t want a baby yet? What if I was bored living in the suburbs? What if I didn’t want to already be counting down to retirement, worry about having a steady job, or let go of my youth just yet?


So we changed everything. Moved away. Quit our jobs. Changed our lifestyle completely, even though we were (gasp!) 30 years old, and now it really was time to “grow up.” We chucked it all for our version of happiness, and we still aren’t there yet.


But we are a heck of a lot closer than we were.


One of the added perks? I’ve had friends and family tell me that we inspired them to pursue some of their neglected passions and interests. I was hooked. I wanted to encourage even more people to buck the status quo and live lives that make them happy instead of worry about what others will think. So, I started writing fiction that captured some of the challenges we all face in our relationships and highlight our seemingly innate compulsion to put too much stock into what others may think of our choices.


Maybe you can’t change the world. But you sure can affect your sphere of influence in a positive way by living a life that you love and refusing to be satisfied following some unattainable “dream life.” As Bradley Trevor Greive’s book, The Meaning of Life, states:


“If you follow your dreams, at least you will exhaust yourself doing what you love most…when you get the most out of your life, savoring every last drop, it will transform everything about you from ordinary to extraordinary. When you do what you love, you can pull back the bed sheets every morning feeling excited about beginning another day, and you’ll be filled with a heartfelt joy that is highly contagious.”


How have you bucked the status quo? How do you want to? Are there toxic behaviors or people you need to let go of in order to be happier?


Shawndra Russell is a freelance writer, social media manager, and marketer. You can pre-order her novel and support her dream of self-publishing by visiting Kickstarter at You can also follow her on Twitter at @ShawndraRusselland read her published work at


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