In my hometown there is a small shopping center off of a main road that houses a few different shops – a bagel store, a pizza place, a barber shop – but the main hub of activity lies at the very end of the building in a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gym. This is where you’ll find home town hero Tom DeBlass – Brazilian Jiu Jitsu National Champion, Black Belt, father, and an all around inspiring individual. He doesn’t just train at this gym for his next big competition – he is also a professor to an incredible amount of individuals who seek his guidance in the art of BJJ.
What draws people to Tom isn’t just his prowess on the mats or his long list of achievements, it’s his unparalleled levels of positivity and kindness. He is an individual that radiates hope for humanity – all while having the ability to inflict unbelievable pain.
I know next to nothing about the art of BJJ other than the fact that I wouldn’t last a minute against someone with the slightest bit of training, however, I don’t need any knowledge of the art to recognize the dedication and hard work that comes with mastering it. Tom is a shining example of this hard work and commitment. Achieving numerous levels of success within the realm of BJJ, Tom is somewhat of an unstoppable freight train – however, he doesn’t let this success and fame get to his head, which is something often seen in people who achieve success. Tom treats all his students, as well as his competition, with the dignity and respect they deserve – no matter their level of success.
I was lucky enough to get a chance to talk with Tom and ask him my “10 Questions About Happiness” to which he was willing to take the time out to answer with zero hesitation:
10 Questions About Happiness
1.What does happiness mean to you?
TD: Happiness is success – if you’re happy you’re successful in life, that is what I truly believe because everyone is looking money, materialistic things, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, but ultimately all those things do is lead to happiness, right? So happiness is success.
2.How does your idea of happiness now differ from 5 years ago? 10 years ago?
TD: My idea of happiness hasn’t really changed. I had a pretty strong mind 10 years ago at the age of 25 – I already had my own business opened, I had my own home bought, I had two cars. I knew what I wanted in life and I attacked it, you know? I’ve always looked at happiness as success.
3.What has been your happiest moment in life so far?
TD: The happiest moment in my life so far, has been the birth of my children. There’s no comparison.
4.What has been your lowest point in life so far, in terms of happiness?
TD: When I was around 20 years old I fell into a pretty deep depression. I talked to my mother and told her that I needed help and I got the help I needed. I was back and feeling better within 6 months.
5.You’re apparently very good at what you do – multiple titles, awards, and accomplishments – do you think your success in your career has brought you happiness?
TD: Yeah, I do believe that success in my career has brought me happiness – because I’ve worked so hard for it. It’s not necessarily the end result that has brought me happiness, but the preparation that has led to that end result that has made me so happy because I’ve worked so hard for the things I have.
6.Does your career foster happiness within yourself? Why or why not?
TD: Yeah, my career brings me happiness. It’s my social hour. It’s my job. It’s my pastime. It’s my hobby. It brings me happiness. I absolutely love what I do.
7.You’re a very positive and humble individual, as can be seen on your social media accounts and your interaction with fellow competitors – how do you stay so positive and humble even in a career that thrives on competition?
TD: I always just try to look at the glass half-full rather than half-empty. I always try to look at the positive in things, I remember what life was like clearly before who I am now – we all start somewhere and I’m just so thankful for everything that I have.
In regards to competition, it’s fickle. I’ve been very lucky to be so successful – I don’t want to say lucky because I’ve prepared for it, but everyone competing prepares for it and at the end of the day you never know what can happen, you just hope that all your preparation is going to work out for you in your favor.
I always stay humble just because you never know what is going to happen.
8.What do you think is one thing that brings the most happiness in life? What about unhappiness?
TD: What brings me the most happiness? Helping other people. To see them happy and achieving their goals.
What brings me the most unhappiness? When people don’t appreciate things, and when people don’t work on their own goals – when they say they want something yet they aren’t willing to work for it.
9.What advice would you give your children in order for them to find happiness in life?
TD: I’ll tell them to not care what other people think. To work really, really hard. To enjoy every small victory and each small goal – while you can’t stay complacent and you can’t ride off on one victory, you have to appreciate every single thing you do. Life flies by and it’s the little moments that really make life great.
10. Are you happy?
TD: Yes, I’m happy. Of course I have days where I’m not happy, but happiness is a choice, it’s habitual, you must practice to be happy. On days I’m feeling down I don’t allow myself just to keep thinking of the things that make me upset, I try to focus on the positive.
So yes, I’m a happy man. I’m blessed and I’m thankful.
“10 Questions About Happiness” are posts that explore what happiness means to different people. These people come from all walks of life – some are successful in their respective careers while others are struggling to stay afloat, some live exciting lives while others live day-to-day. Happiness to one person may be completely different to another – the goal is to find what happiness means to different people and how we can apply it to our own lives.