The 3 P’s of Happiness

By Stephenie Rodriguez Paralympian and Entrepreneur.

It is said that when we make plans, God laughs.

I believe that plans are the foundation upon which dreams are manifested, however, just because you have a plan does not ensure life will align as we design it. There are three P’s in the happiness equation, and as we learned during the Pandemic, plans were no longer bankable currency when it came to personal joy. In my experience, the three P’s of happiness are Purpose, Passion, and the ability to Pivot.

In 2019, I was a startup CEO, and had raised angel investment, launched an award-winning retail product and smartphone application and like many women hitting their stride at fifty, had clarity of purpose. I knew my goal was to impact a billion lives by 2025 and democratize safety in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. I was at a place in my life and career that was about execution, and I was hell-bent on my Purpose. Knowing what you want to achieve gives you the clarity to get up every day and get things done. Time truly is our most precious resource. 

I wanted to make the world better and safer and empower women, girls, and vulnerable people with tools to help them reach their full potential using technology. I knew that the people who needed these tools the most were in countries far less advanced than Australia. I travelled to Africa, and to India to launch my free application, WanderSafe Beacon, to the millions who would experience the threat of domestic and sexual violence each year.

In September 2019, my plans came to a screeching halt when I collapsed in a Boston airport lounge and survived a two-week coma, a near-death bout with Cerebral Malaria compounded by severe septic shock contracted via a mosquito bite on my ankle. The odds of surviving this ordeal were 2%. Miraculously, I cheated death, but my purpose and passion had to take a back seat to my four-year recovery that included 445 nights in the hospital and forty-five operations, bilateral loss of my feet, and parts of my right hand.

The transition from being fully able-bodied to permanently disabled is neither easy nor straightforward. It is in this part of my journey that I learned when we lean into change, and pivot – whether that be in our business, personal relationships, or even our physical bodies during menopause, we should seek to find grace and acceptance. Like a butterfly, there is beauty in transformations, however, we must learn patience.

My pivots included a divorce, a reassessment of what serves me, and a reconfiguration of how I reach my impact goal and deliver on my purpose.

In 2022, para-fencing found me, through an NDIS newsletter mention. Taking up a sport, developing a new passion, and being able to impact lives through inspiration as the first woman to Para-fence for Australia competitively on the world stage since 1960 was a reshuffle of my plans. Wheelchair fencing gives me a sense of satisfaction and personal achievement I had not experienced in my well-established professional career.   

Representing Australia in the Paris Paralympics 2024 is a new addition to my purpose and passion. Although we had very humble beginnings, my action to start parafencing had a domino effect. With a dedicated coach, I have become a cornerstone of a new parafencing program with five fierce disabled women, a talented young man, and two children in the under-11s category who will have the chance to compete for Australia in the 2032 Paralympic Games in Brisbane. Parafencing was never part of my ‘five-year plan’ however this has become something I can do for fitness, socialization, and to support my life’s impact goal. To learn more about getting involved in parafencing as a participant or sponsor click here: 

Having clarity of purpose, doing what you love, and developing resilience while embracing change is in itself a requisite to inner peace, and I implore you to find the courage to deploy the 3P strategy when life ruins your plans.