There is nothing to fear but fear itself.
A bird in the bush is worth two in the hand.
A family that plays together stays together.
These are all things I have heard. They make sense. But, I’ve never paid much attention to their meaning.
But, what if one is genuinely the key to a fulfilling life?
On closer review, it is not a surprise that Franklin D. Roosevelt’s statement “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” from his 1932 inaugural address has more value than a proverb based on medieval falconry and a rock band album cover.
But, my point still stands.
Perhaps knowing the only thing we should be fearing is fear itself – is the key to living a rewarding, worthwhile and happy life?
Let me explain.
Life lessons about fear stopping you
Recently, I quickly came up with 40 life lessons that changed my life. As I dug a little deeper I found a common theme. Fear.
- Fear that stops you from being the best version you can be.
- Fear that programs our ancient brains to live with the status quo.
- Fear that keeps us from getting over our anxieties.
- Fear that stands between us and new and exciting opportunities.
- Fear that can ruin your life because it forces you to play it safe.
- Fear that stops you from being vulnerable and making meaningful connections.
- Fear of judgment that stops you from being you.
I found that almost 20% of my most important life lessons were routed in my discoveries about fear.
Signs that fear is stopping you
So, the fact is for the longest time (probably 39 years) – I didn’t realise fear was invading, shaping and ruining my life.
If you are anything like me – you may like some signs that fear might be stopping you:
- You strive for (impossible) perfection
- You settle for less than you really want
- You find yourself saying “yes” or “no” when you don’t want to
- You find ways to numb yourself from reality (eg. Netflix, food, alcohol)
- You have mastered the skill of procrastination
- You struggle to make decisions
- You need to control everything
- You shy away from things that are important to you
- You are often feeling under the weather
The fear that is stopping you
But, what are we afraid of? What are these invisible forces/fears that are stopping us from going after our goals?
- Loss of freedom
- Being judged
- Getting hurt
To just name a few…
What to do when fear is stopping you
If this is resonating with you – you might be wondering what the next step is. If so, try giving this a go:
- Think about where these fears are coming from: Listen to the negative thoughts that are coming from a place of fear. What are they saying to you?
- Think about the validity of these thoughts: Should these fears really be a concern? Should they stop you from living a life you love and being who you’ve always wanted to be?
- Understand where you want to be: Take the time to explore what you really want your life to look like – if fear and negative thoughts weren’t an issue.
- Take your fears head on (or just dip your toe in): Prove to yourself that you can face your fears. Start working towards your dream life – focusing on what is important to you and not your fears. You will no doubt surprise yourself about what you can achieve when your focus is pointed away from your fears.
Don’t let fear stop you from living a life you love
…let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.
If you feel like the changes you want in your life are impossible – then it might be fear that is holding you back from what you deserve.
Don’t settle for a bird in the hand if you want more. Don’t be afraid to go for it!
On the other side of fear, there may be two birds or maybe ten. For certain – there will be valuable life lessons, new opportunities and forward momentum. And these are all the things you need if you want more from your life.
If you need a hand building a picture of what your dream life might look like – check out this free 5-day email course.
Have you consumed a lot of content about how to be a happier person but still seem to be in the same ol’ mood?
You are not alone. And there are good reasons for this.
In this post, I am going to share my top tips on happiness from not only consuming a mountain of research, articles, podcasts and videos – but also from my personal experience.
Happiness Set points
Let’s start by talking about set points.
We all have a happiness set point. This is a level of happiness that we always return to. Unless we put in some hard work.
For example, if right now if I gave you a large cash prize or a reward you have always dreamed of. Initially, you would be exceedingly happy. But eventually, you would return to your happiness set point.
It also works the other way too. If you were unfortunate enough to experience something devastating. Things would be definitely tough for a while but you would slowly rise back up to that set point again.
Now, although it is relatively easy to boost happiness immediately in your life. (Think of eating your favourite food or buying yourself that special something.) It is tough to make yourself a generally happier person on a consistent basis.
Said another way, in order to raise your happiness set point, you are going to need some dedication and effort.
When it comes to your happiness set point – a lot is beyond our control.
About 50% of your general happiness is contributed to genetics. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, how important you are, whatever you do, you are stuck at this level thanks to your DNA.
The next component that contributes to your happiness is circumstances. You have some control over this – but not really. It is estimated that circumstances could account for as little as 10% to as much as 40% of your level of happiness.
This means that we can only influence around 25% of our happiness.
How do we maximise our 25%?
There is a lot of information out in the world to help you increase your happiness with thousands of recommended exercises and activities. So much, that it could make you feel overwhelmed and unhappy…
So, below are my top tips to help you select what works for you so you can boost your happiness permanently.
Some happy things will make you unhappy
It will be no surprise to you that different things make different people happy. So, remember this when selecting your exercises to boost your happiness.
It is most likely you will have a gut reaction to the activities that don’t resonate with you.
For example, research shows that writing and sharing forgiveness letters can give you a lasting boost to your mood. But for me, a historically unforgiving soul, just the thought of writing a forgiveness letter makes my neck tense up and my brow furrow.
Some happiness won’t fit
The right activities for you will need to fit into your daily routine.
As much as you might want to take up a regular mediation or exercise program, in reality, it may be a challenge for you to carve out the time on a regular basis.
In these circumstances, you may be better off committing to gratitude exercises or random acts of kindness that you can benefit from doing just once a week.
Some things will make you happier than others
It is obvious that some activities will make you feel happier than others.
Research can give us important feedback on what works on a significant amount of people, but that does not mean it will work for you. The only way you will know is by trying them.
Being a happier person takes trial and error
The more activities you try, the more you will discover about what resonates, works and fits into your life.
You can also tweak recommended exercises and frequencies to find what suits you best. The more activities you can find that boost your happiness – the more options you have to utilise.
Many options are good because variety is also an important component of any happiness program you build into your life.
Habits are key to being a happier person
The key to increasing your happiness set point is to adopt the activities that work for you into your everyday life. They need to become habits.
This will take a while, but once you put in the hard and consistent work, your life will have a permanent happiness boost. And isn’t that worth putting on your hard hat and gloves for?
Purpose at work is non-negotiable.
Given how important purpose in life is and the fact we spend most of our lives working – finding purpose at work is key to our well-being.
For some of us, this may feel like an uphill battle. But there is good news. The research shows that you only need to spend about 20% of your work efforts on purposeful activities to reap the benefits.
That is spending only one day in a five day work week on meaningful activities and you can avoid the associated negative effects like burnout and a life that feels… blah.
What this means for you?
If you don’t find purpose in your current role right now – you don’t need to quit your job. You don’t need to take a big leap and follow your passions and dreams (unless you want to).
Finding more purpose in your day could just be a matter of making a few small tweaks to your current role.
Signs you need need to dial up purpose at work
You may be asking yourself – do I need more purpose at work?
Here are some signs that you do:
- You are bored at/with work
- You feel like you work just to pay the bills
- You don’t like your job
- You don’t feel challenged at work
- You don’t feel like your work is worthwhile or making a difference to anyone
If any (or all) of these resonate with you. Then now is a good time to look at improving how purpose shows up for you at work.
What you need to know about your purpose
Working out how to add more purpose into your day might not be straight forward. You need to understand yourself.
Understanding what brings you a sense of purpose is about understanding your “why”. You want to understand why activities feel fulfilling and worthwhile to you.
To understand your why – you need to start with a bunch of “whats”.
- What are your interests?
- What are your strengths?
- What engages and excites you?
- What motivates you?
- What do you enjoy doing that benefits others?
- What do you want to spend your time on?
- What do you avoid doing?
- What are your core values?
Looking at these answers holistically will allow you to connect with the things that are meaningful to you. And help you understand what you can tap into in your life and workplace.
The key to finding activities that bring you purpose is to think about the things that can encompass lots of your “whats” at once.
Ways we can find purpose at work
Now that you understand the sort of activities may feel meaningful to you. You can think of ways to apply them at work.
The list below provides different examples of how you can shape your experience in any role to try to dial up feelings of purpose.
Crafting is the art of making your current role feel purposeful (which you are aiming to do 20% of the time). Once you have identified the activities that bring you meaning – work with the people around you to make them happen.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. If your manager can’t change your duties – are there other activities you can create yourself? Like mentoring or starting an educational lunchtime program?
How you frame your role will go a long way to how purposeful it feels to you. Research that surveyed janitors working at a hospital found those who considered themselves as part of the healing process for patients had a purposeful connection to their work. In contrast, those who just saw themselves as cleaners did not.
Do you have activities that immerse you – make you lose track of time – give you the feeling you are in your element. This is described by positive psychologists as Flow. Finding flow in your work will help it feel purposeful.
Cultivating good relationships will improve your time at work and can open the doors to future purpose-driven opportunities.
Building relationships that allow you to educate and foster the talents of others will feel purposeful. Seize these opportunities when you can.
Purpose is fluid. New experiences and learning can help to shape your purpose journey and how it shows up for you at work.
Lean into things that interest and excite you and see where it takes you.
Research has shown being aligned with your organisation’s mission and purpose is a large factor in being happy at work.
If you can’t align yourself with the organisational goals – try to do it on a smaller scale. Does your purpose align with a personal client mission? Or, maybe to a project’s outcome?
If you can’t align your goals at work with your purpose – try to look outside of work.
Volunteering your time – using meaningful skills and strengths – is a great way to get purpose into your world. You may also tick the boxes in your home and family life to hit your 20% weekly threshold that feels good.
If you have tried to do all these things above – but havent got results that work for you – it might be time to consider a change. However, you can now create a checklist to use when approaching new opportunities.
The endless search for purpose at work
It is important to remember that purpose is fluid not set. So, you need to approach your journey with an open heart and mind. Be prepared to experiment and make sure you look to balance purpose and practicality.
There will be many opportunities lying in wait for you – so have fun with it. And remember – you only need to do it 20% of your week!
Choose your own adventure
If you are trying to be happier you may be looking for a simple formula – a happiness formula.
We live in world of systems, formulas and programs that promise to help us achieve our goals. And when it comes to dialing up feelings of happiness in our life – aligning our efforts to a proven equation seems attractive.
There are lots of formulas to choose from. But, how do you know which will work for you?
If you want to improve your happiness – it is good to treat your journey like a “choose your own adventure” story.
Everyone is different. What makes you happy – might not make me happy. So, the key is to find what works for you.
Finding a happiness formula (or just part of one) that resonates with you will allow you to start thinking differently. It will help you choose a direction towards a happier you.
So, if you are ready to get started – you are in the right place. Below are some of the basic principles and popular happiness formulas you need for your journey.
Happiness formula rule #1: Explore at will
Before you set off on your happiness journey – it is a good idea to explore your options.
When you do – you will see that there are many different routes you can take. But, this is no reason for concern.
Happiness formulas are like any equations. If, for the sake of demonstration we assume that happiness equals 4. We know there are many options to get us there.
2+2=4, 3+1=4, 8-4=4, 2 squared equals 4.
I think we can “happily” agree that all these equations get us to the answers. It’s just a matter of using the one that works for us – when we need it.
But, which one is the happiness formula you need?
I would argue that it is unlikely that a happiness formula is going to solve all your happiness-related problems. But, I would also argue that you can learn some fundamental points from many of them that can help you on your journey.
So, given all the options, the more you explore, the more likely you are to find things that works for you.
Happiness formula rule #2: Take what you like – leave what you don’t
Another problem we face on our journey is, unlike math, the science of happiness is subjective.
So, not being experts ourselves. How do we really know that an author’s X + Y = 4 and not 5 or 6? Well, we don’t.
The formulas we see are from authors who have years of research, experience, prestige and other important things that add weight to their arguments. So we can use these as one measuring stick for their validity. But all these things might not help you on your happiness journey.
The real key is to find what works for you. So, I invite you to judge the options as you like and see what resonates.
Take from them what you want and leave what you don’t want.
Start your happiness formula adventure here
Below are some noteworthy and popular happiness formulas (in a nutshell) to get you started on your exploration.
Happiness formula best sellers
The businessman and entrepreneur, in his popular book, Solve for Happy: Engineer Your Path to Joy (2017), states that:
Happiness (is greater or equal to) Your perception of events – Your expectations
So, lower those expectations.
The New York Times best-selling author, in his book The Happiness Equation (2016), provides many “secrets” and tips with the following happiness formula:
Want nothing + Do anything = Have everything
So, along with your expectations, keep your desires low.
A happiness formula from a happiness founding father
Martin Seligman was a founding father of Positive Psychology. A branch of psychology that moved research away from studying the issues towards the positive elements that make as flourish.
Seligman’s formula is as follows:
H = S + C + V
Happiness (H) is your enduring level of happiness
Set range (S) is your genetically set level of happiness
Circumstances (C) are the present circumstances in your life
Voluntary variables (V) this is the part of the equation you can have influence over. This is approximately 40% of the equation and is divided into three buckets. The past, future and present. The more positive emotion you have about these three buckets the happier you will be.
This formula shows us that we are stuck with a certain level of happiness due to our genes and our circumstances, but the portion we can change involves the way we approach the past, future and present. The more positivity we have with our relationship with these buckets, the happier we will be.
So, think fondly about your past, positively about the future and keep trying to dial up your happy vibes in your day.
A three-part happiness formula from a modern-day happiness guru
Arthur C. Brookes is a Harvard Business School Professor, author and podcaster. Brookes gives the following equations to consider.
Equation 1: Subjective Well-being (Happiness) = Genes + Circumstances + Habits
Equation 2: Habits = Faith + Family + Friends + Work
Equation 3: Satisfaction = What you have ÷ What want
Brookes’ equations echo learnings from the formulas above. For example, we want to curb our desires and we only have so much happiness we can influence. But, Brookes tells us that the key for dialing up our happiness can be found within our faith, relationships and work.
Chapter 2 of your adventure
What resonated for you here? Did you find something that you want to work on and investigate further?
These formulas tell us that you can make yourself happier. And whether you want to work on your expectations, your relationships, your happiness habits or more – what you need to do is find the right path for you.
But, the most important step – is the next one. So, keep up the good work, and keep forging forward with your happiness adventure.
Where does your happiness adventure take you from here? Let us know in the comments!
Photo by Dariusz Sankowski on Unsplash
I don’t have a problem dealing with imposter syndrome. People are just constantly mistaken about how good my achievements are…
If you are dealing with imposter syndrome you may feel that you do not deserve your success, you don’t have enough experience, or you are deceiving people about your abilities. You may feel like a fraud that may be “found out”, or have complicated feelings about achievements and perceived skill levels.
Research (which admits there are holes in the current data) says that the occurrence of imposter syndrome is up to 82% of the population.
However, I was recently at a conference with almost 200 coaches and 100% of the group reported experiencing some form of imposter syndrome. The group also expected to see manifestations in all of their high-achieving coaching clients. So anecdotally, I think this is something we all struggle with.
Originally, imposter syndrome came to light in a study of high-performing women in the 1980s. So, some consider the effects to be associated with gender. But, recent studies have shown that everyone can experience its effects.
There are a number of things that can contribute to imposter syndrome. Factors such as internal beliefs (“I am not good enough”), emotions or personality can be relevant. Symptoms may be influenced by past experiences, relationships and perceived skills. Or, elements in the external environment such as culture, hierarchies and societal stereotypes (eg. the feelings from being a minority in a room) can contribute.
5 Types of imposters
Valarie Young in her book The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It (Crown Business, 2011) proposed there are 5 types of imposter syndrome.
- The Perfectionist: Who strives for perfection and is never satisfied with their work. Feels negative about perceived flaws.
- The Superhero: Who pushes themselves hard and tries to do it all. Feels negative emotions if they feel they are not handling things perfectly and easily.
- The Expert: Who is never satisfied with their level of understanding. Often highly skilled. Feels negative emotions if there is a lack of knowledge.
- The Natural genius: Who sets big goals then feels negative if they don’t succeed the first try.
- The Soloist: Whose self-worth comes from productivity. Sees asking for help as a sign of weakness which creates negative emotions.
Chances are you identify with one major type. But, it is common to identify with other types to a lesser degree as well.
The effects of imposter syndrome can be felt throughout all areas of your life. Including:
- Your emotional and psychological health
- The trajectory of your career
- Your relationships
- Your performance in tasks and work
- Your physical health and wellbeing (stemming from emotional issues)
Given these far-reaching effects – it is important to deal with imposter syndrome if you feel it is a problem for you. Luckily, there are a number of things you can do.
10 tips to help you deal with imposter sydrome
Identify your thoughts & beliefs
The first step is to understand how the negative emotions associated with your imposter syndrome come into play. Chances are if you are reading this you already have some idea. Do you know what triggers these emotions? Do you know what effect they are having in your life?
A great place to start is to self-reflect on which of the 5 types of imposters show up for you.
If you have identified that imposter syndrome affects your life – reach out to someone.
Discuss it with your friends and family or reach out to a mentor. Finding support will remind you that you are not alone and help to take action.
Imposter syndrome or phenomenon is not a psychological diagnosis. But it is recognised as a contributing factor to anxiety and depression, which can be addressed with professional interventions.
So, if you are struggling, seek professional psychological support.
Remember your health
There are a number of ways that the emotional stress of imposter syndrome can impact your physical health. So, looking after yourself and having healthy routines is important.
Understand your purpose
Knowing why you do what you do is important. If your actions and achievements are grounded in a sense of purpose it can give you the strength to push through negative emotions.
Deal with your thoughts
There are a number of ways to deal with the unhelpful thoughts that accompany imposter syndrome. Search for evidence to support your feelings (often you will find there is none there), acknowledge thoughts and accept them for what they are (thoughts not facts to ruminate on) and reframe thoughts more positively (see things for the opportunities that they are).
Seek resources to move forward
Reach out to a coach or find other material to help you move forward. There are lots of great resources that are a few clicks away to help you on your journey.
Measure your successes
It is important to understand what success means to you and how you can measure it. This will allow you to track your progress against meaningful benchmarks rather than relying on external feedback that may trigger complicated emotions.
Fake it ‘til you make it
Confidence will always catch up with you. So, don’t shy away from new opportunities. Take risks and leaps forward when you can and your (well deserved) confidence will follow.
Accentuate the positive
Along with the negatives of dealing with imposter syndrome, there are positives that you can harness. For most of us, imposter syndrome drives us to work hard to overcome our perceived issues.
Embrace this work ethic and use it to your advantage (while reframing those negative thoughts).
Are you actually a genius?
There is one last thing I want to say about dealing with imposter syndrome. And for me – it is the most important.
When you are feeling like a fraud, or people are overplaying your achievements, which of these options are more likely?
a) That 100% of the people around you aren’t smart enough to realise you don’t deserve to be there or they are lying to you about your achievements. Or,
b) 100% of the people around you are correct and you have some imposter syndrome to work on?
If you have fooled 100% of the people around you to believe you are something you are not – you aren’t a fraud – you are a genius!
Which type of imposter are you? Let us know in the comments!
Photo by Belinda Fewings on Unsplash