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
Finding life balance is an ongoing task that we should all pay attention to.
The right balance can transform your life from feeling average to joyous – whether your life is a three-ring circus, a high-wire act or you are in charge of cleaning elephant dung.
Life has to be a balance between our preferences and our necessities. But the balance needs to align with who we are and where we want to be. It should be a more holistic (and deeper) consideration than just work and life.
Balance in life should be between your fundamental priorities. This will give you a life that feels personally successful.
To achieve this balance, you will need to start by reflecting on the life you are living now and what you want from it. This should be done in the context of your life’s key ingredients so you can discover guidelines to live your version of a personally successful life.
These key ingredients to consider include:
- Core values
- Meaning & purpose
- Personally aligned goals
Finding the right balance between these could be the difference between a life that feels… blah and a life that feels fulfilled.
A balanced life is a successful life
A life with the right balance will feel personally successful. But, do you know what your personal definition of success looks like?
Do you know what you need for your life to feel happy, meaningful and perfect to you?
It is not unusual to be confused about what is truly important in our lives. We can easily create a life with missing ingredients when we are focused on work, family, etc.
So, it is important to take the time to check in with ourselves to make sure we are on the right path (a successful one that we feel proud of.)
Finding life balance involves happiness
Happiness is hard to define. But, you know what it means to you and you know if you have enough.
In your busy life, this can be an easily overlooked ingredient. But when you make sure you have the balance right, happiness can make a huge difference in your life.
Take the time to think about what makes you happy. Consider how often these things happen in your day-to-day. Are you happy with this balance?
Values are at the core of finding life balance
Another important part of life’s balancing act is your core values.
Core values are the fundamentals of how you understand yourself and approach the world.
Living a life aligned to your values can help you feel content with your day-to-day. For example, if you value creativity – days spent being creative may feel ideal.
It is important to understand what your core values are and how they show up in the way you live your life.
Purpose is needed for life balance
A sense of purpose is a key ingredient in a life that feels fulfilled and meaningful.
Purpose in your life can take many forms. They are activities that give you a “worthwhile” feeling. They can be the opportunity to engage your skills and your passions. They can fully absorb you and make you lose track of time. They are the things that give meaning to your life.
We are creatures that seek meaning in our lives. Without this – we can feel lost.
It is important to understand the role of purpose in your life and ensure that it is part of your life’s balancing act.
Your goal to find life balance
Goals are an essential component of a life that feels good. They give your life essential structure, direction and a sense of achievement that helps you thrive.
However, all goals are not created equally. The key to goals that enrich your life is that they:
- Are manageable and practicle in your busy life
- Fit in with your personality and the way you live your life
- Are built the right way and set you up for success
The key to finding life balance
It is easy to get caught up with your roles and responsibilities. As a result, you can easily end up in a balancing act that doesn’t actually align with who you are and what is important to you.
If you self-reflect and look at your life as a whole you can make sure you are tending to the key ingredients of your life. And if you are not you can set your goals accordingly.
You might find that your life is not the juggling act you want – maybe you would prefer to be shot out of a cannon?
Start your balance journey for free
Finding life balance is something I am passionate about. Because, I have lived an unbalanced life that felt… blah.
If you are looking for help to find balance in your life, check out this free course that will support you to explore all the areas in your life and take a step towards a life you love.
This is not about finding more time in your busy life. It is about making sure your busy life is constructed from the right ingredients – the ingredients you need to fire the perfect cannonball.
Photo by Becky Phan 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
100% ready for a scary change in your life but freaking out 100%? I’ve been there.
Big changes in your life that you want, are ready for, and are excited about – can still be super scary.
There are a number of reasons for this and there are a number of things you can do to ease the transition.
In this post, I have gathered my top 4 tips that have helped me take big scary leaps into the unknown.
1. Accept change is scary
A change in one area in your life can send ripples (or even tidal wives) through the foundations of how you understand yourself in the world.
To illustrate this point, let’s consider the six logical levels of change – used by neuro-linguistic programming practitioners. This proposes the following hierarchy of personal change.
- Purpose and spirituality
- Beliefs and values
- Capabilities and skills
These elements are intertwined and a change in one level may result in an adjustment in others.
So, if you are embarking on a change in your behavior – like quitting your job, you may feel ripples through how you perceive your purpose, values, beliefs, identity, competency and environment.
This change just could rock (your perception) of the world. This is scary by anyone’s standards. But that’s okay. Accept this is part of the journey and look forward to the positive changes that will no doubt come.
2. Understand that scary changes stress your brain out
Your brain is not into change. Scary or otherwise.
Cognitive dissonance is the theory that describes your brain’s quest to maintain the status quo of your attitudes and behaviors (cognitive consistency). A disruption to this state causes brain chaos (cognitive dissonance). This can result in anxiety and stress.
According to a Harvard professor of psychiatry, change, even when positive, creates cognitive dissonance. The main reason for this is uncertainty. This can drive you to retreat to old habits. And, due to your biological impulses, defaults your brain into negative bias. (Glass half empty anyone?)
So, if that voice in your head is telling you to abort your new life mission, ignore. That grey little guy is not excited to co-pilot on this one.
3. Have a scary life change plan
Having a plan in place for your scary changes is your greatest defense against uncertainty (and your stressed-out brain).
The more of your journey you can plan the smoother the transition may be. Make sure you consider planning for the following areas.
- Plan of action: Plan the steps you are going to take on this journey. The more detailed the better. If you are having trouble, visualise your end goal and work backward to break down the steps to get there.
- Contingency plan: Scrutinise the road ahead for any potential bumps. And then create a plan for them too.
- Plan for your assets and resources: Make sure you understand what resources are needed to bring your plan to fruition and get them ready. This could include $$, skills, knowledge, contacts, etc.
- Plan for your definition of success: To ensure this journey is personally fulfilling – make sure your plan strives for your personal definition of success. This should align with your ideals of value, meaning, and purpose.
4. Think less “scary changes” and more “awesome changes”
Make sure you don’t let the scariness turn into doubt and negatively.
Embracing a positive mindset can help deal with your scary thoughts. Below are a few tips.
- Remember the glass is half full: It is important to notice when you are slipping into negative thoughts and emotions. Use this self-awareness to reframe these thoughts positively. (eg. don’t think of the unknown as scary – think of it as an exciting opportunity!) If you need a hand stopping your negatively check out this post.
- Visualise the outcome: Research has shown that visualising your goals can support you to achieve them. So, take the time to visualise your dream goal journey to improve your chances and your mindset.
- Build a pros and cons list: A solid pros and cons list will help you prepare for change, as well as, creating an inspiration tool to refer to later.
- Know the “why”: The key to great goals is for them to be grounded in the understanding of “why” they are important to you. Referring back to this, when things are tough, will remind you why it is worth it.
Now you are ready to rock some scary changes
So – go forth and good luck!
I can think of a bunch of cliches that I could write here to send you on your way…
But, I think the one thing that you really need to know is: You can do it.
Have you tried any of these tips? Drop a comment below with your thoughts!
Photo by John Baker on Unsplash
This is a story about how to live an intentional life.
How to live an intentional life – and why, undisputedly, it is important.
Towards the end of my relationship, I had a consistent building urge to leave everything I had behind, get in the car and drive with nothing else but the clothes I was wearing. This eventually dipped into more severe suicidal thoughts, but I was lucky enough to dig my way back out of those moments and I put that mostly down to being a parent. Turning my thoughts to the children in those times was honestly what held me back from doing something so stupid.
I tried to mask everything from the kids as best I could but my situation and mental state utterly changed who I was and how I was as a parent. I didn’t function well and was prone to sudden outbursts of rage which I couldn’t control and were over the top for any of the situations. The distinct moment it hit me that things needed to change, was when my daughter who was 3 at the time stood there in tears in front of me – as I was having a moment – and said “don’t ever leave me”.
I have no idea how she picked up that that was going on inside my head and it still rattles me to this day that she was that in tune with who I was and what I was feeling.
I think the best way of thinking that I came across during my breakup was actually from a motivational speech that the actor Matthew McConaughey made. It was mostly about trying to simplify everything (I can’t quote it verbatim):
“If you eliminate everything negative from your life, naturally you’re only left with what is good.”
From this message, came the realisation that I don’t have to engage with what I don’t want to. If I don’t want to do something, that’s my choice to make. I have found that one line to be very helpful in simplifying everything.
I think I have almost pulled a complete 180 on where I had been. I no longer take any forms of medication, I don’t need to see the psychologist, I’ve picked up on my hobbies again and just generally enjoy life more.
Living an intentional life, minimalist living and decluttering have been in fashion a while now. For years, Marie Kondo has been asking whether our possessions spark joy.
Perhaps to oversimplify it. These movements ask you to look at your material possessions, life, and lifestyle and strip right back to a bare minimum, the core essentials, or a level that brings you peace and calm.
There is a myriad of methods and checklists out there to help you declutter your closest or fully audit your life. The industry is going strong.
The reported benefits include increased gratitude, reduced stress of living in the moment, greater clarity on goals and a more positive approach to life. All of which is great.
Intentional living can come in all shapes and sizes
When it comes to how to live an intentional life – I think it is important to step back from the noise, methods and devotees. Find the space to self-reflect and tune into your life.
Be aware of what you are doing and why. Take a moment from the neverending rabbit hole that our lives can be – and check in with reality. Make sure it’s one that works for you.
The story above is not by an expert. The story above is not someone that knows anything about the intentional, minimalist or decluttering movements. It is someone that heard a speech about minimalising the negative in their lives.
On the face of it – this doesn’t seem like a revelational message. Yet, it helped them to examine their lives from another angle. It supported them to turn their lives around from the depths of human sadness and presented a practical way forward.
I think the moral of the story is – if we are carried with life’s busy routines. Or, trying to achieve goals and success. Maybe trying to be the best version of ourselves. Or, just trying to survive. We need to be able to take a step back and observe for a moment.
What is sparking joy in your life at the moment?
If you take a moment to self-reflect and realise you need to let go of some negative things in your life – to make room for the good stuff – that sounds like a win-win situation.
But, now a tricky balance presents itself. Are you sacrificing what feels good now – for what might be good for you in the future?
If my personal growth journey to live with more purpose isn’t bringing me joy (sometimes change and purposeful activities aren’t fun) – there is an argument to drop it. Instead of putting in the hard and uncomfortable work now – I might choose to spend my time eating ice cream sundaes and taking trips to the beach.
But, research reports that a purposeful life brings overall feelings of fulfillment and wellbeing to our lives in the long run. So, this suggests that Future Me will be better off with a little more negative now. This seems to be a win-lose situation.
On the other hand, if I ditch the pursuit of purpose to focus on fun times and friends. The research suggests that relationships and friendships are what will bring enduring happiness in later years. So – this one feels like a win-win.
I could go on… (but luckily for you I won’t).
So, intentional living can save lives. But, maybe it could ruin your future?
How do we know whether what makes us happy (or unhappy) now is actually good for our future? I have a suggestion.
If you understand what you want your life to look like… you can intentionally work towards that.
The key here is to understand what your personal definition of success looks like, so you can align your activities and goals.
If you don’t know what a successful life looks like to you – I believe it is a balance between:
- What makes you happy
- Living in line with your core values &
- Pursuing what brings you meaning and purpose.
(I have a free course to help you find your personal definition of success if you are interested)
Therefore, in this case:
Intentional living can be defined as intentionally moving towards your definition of success.
As a result, maybe you need to only focus on only the positive right now. Or maybe, you do need to let go of 100 pairs of shoes. Or maybe, you do need to suffer through your body weight in dirty nappies.
Remember that you are unique – so is your definition of success – and so is your version of living intentionally.
So – my number tip on how to live and intentional life
Just do you. And do it intentionally.
Have you got the balance right in your life?
Pop a comment below & let me know your thoughts.
(Photo by Bench Accounting on Unsplash)