Todd Patkin grew up in Needham, Massachusetts. After graduating from Tufts University, he joined the family business and spent the next eighteen years helping to grow it to new heights. After it was purchased by Advance Auto Parts in 2005, he was free to focus on his main passions: philanthropy and giving back to the community, spending time with family and friends, and helping more people learn how to be happy. Todd lives with his wife and love of his life, Yadira, their amazing son, Josh, and two great dogs, Tucker and Hunter.
Message from Todd:
Hi, my name is Todd Patkin. I’m forty-seven years young, and I’m incredibly excited because I have so much more I want to learn and do with my life. Most importantly, I hope to help as many people as possible to live much happier and much less burdened lives. My book, Finding Happiness, will tell you my life story and so much more…but I wanted to give you the proverbial “nickel tour” of my life right here.
I was born into a family who loved me very much and gave me many opportunities. And yet, these privileges didn’t translate to happiness. Throughout my growing-up years—and even in high school and college—I struggled with low self-esteem, being bullied, separation anxiety, and debilitating perfectionism.
And just as my “perfect” childhood didn’t bring me happiness, neither did my “perfect” job. After graduating from Tufts University, I joined the family business. I shouldered a lot of responsibility early on, and my first few years at Foreign Autopart (later Autopart International) were marked by even more anxiety and a driving desire to achieve. I was deeply stressed.
The first turning point in my journey to happiness came in my early twenties when a colleague introduced me to motivational speaker Tony Robbins. His teachings showed me I could control my thoughts and my reactions to the things that happened in my life. His books and tapes gave me the tools to begin managing my overwhelming anxiety and insecurities.
Around this time I also met my beautiful, wonderful wife, Yadira. She has been my mainstay and one of my greatest teachers in how to live a truly happy life.
For the next decade, I grew Foreign Autopart, motivated its employees, and welcomed my son, Josh, into the world. I thought I was living the good life…and then everything came crashing down.
After a “perfect storm” of mental and physical blows, I suffered a crippling breakdown at the age of thirty-six. I couldn’t work, exercise, laugh, or even reason. I thought that, for all intents and purposes, life as I knew it was over. I didn’t think I’d ever be “normal” again.
To make a long story short, though, my breakdown was actually my breakthrough. I had finally had enough! I was no longer willing to ruin my own life, as I now realized I had been doing for the last three and a half decades. And yes, today I can honestly say that I am a truly happy and fairly relaxed person. Here’s what my breakdown taught me:
Before anything else, I had to learn to control my own brain, and, most importantly, I had to learn to simply accept and love myself for who I am. I needed to understand that even if I wasn’t scoring goals, receiving accolades, or achieving every minute of the day, I was still a good and worthy person.
And what about those times when we make mistakes and do really dumb things? Well, I have come to realize that once you accept that you are simply a human being and that human beings are fallible, it only makes sense to cut yourself some slack and maybe even have a good laugh at your own humanity.
I also realize that my past bouts of depression, anxiety, and even my breakdown itself are not reasons for shame. Instead, they are the very common results, in my opinion, of living lives today based on our culture’s messed-up definition of success—an achievement that comes at the expense of balance, family, and, thus, happiness. That’s why it is my greatest pleasure to share my story with the hope of helping others in this struggle.
Ultimately, I believe that I was put on this earth and made to go through so much unhappiness and anxiety so that I would be able to help others learn to become much happier themselves. And if Finding Happiness improves your life in any way, then my greatest ambition will have been fulfilled.