Tag Archives: Happiness


In Defence of the Imperfect Life (2 min read)

BDH_Imperfect Life

Why does January feel like a punishment?

Every year, overnight 31 December to 1 January, we expect a magic transformation. OUT with the cluttered, disorganised, unhealthy ways of the last year; IN with the logical, squeaky clean, orderly ways of the New Year. Stand back Mary Poppins.

Tick all applicable boxes: go to gym 3 times a week, eat less and better, be more decisive, get that promotion, tidy the garage, find the dream home (with a shed), change career, establish a ‘personal brand’, save money, start own business, apply for MBA, ensure that the kids play their musical instruments every night, be ‘nice’ to the mother-in-law, bake bread, vaccinate the dog…

Everywhere you look there are clean eating recipes, highly sophisticated de-cluttering strategies, state-of-art gym memberships, successful entrepreneurs aged 19 and images of beautiful and happy people living the perfect life. Everyone else is on the life-revamp train. It’s just not right to be content with last year’s state of affairs. Change must happen now and all at once.

So does this strive for ‘perfection’ make us happy? I am not sure.

End of January is when I see more overwhelmed, dissatisfied, unhappy clients with failure written across their furrowed brows than in rest of the months put together. “If I cannot commit to going to gym 3 times a week, how can I even hope to proactively manage my career…”

Don’t get me wrong – I am all up for making positive changes – when these are well thought out, clearly defined, achievable and planned into a realistic timeframe.

Apart from the overwhelm from spreading yourself too thinly (and possibly from cutting out 3 major food groups), the chief issue with expecting wholesale life changes overnight – even on the most magic night – is the inevitable disappointment when they don’t occur. This leads to demotivation and sense of failure. Often at this stage we give up on our goals completely: “I cannot go to gym 3 times a week, so I won’t go at all”.

This January, how about taking time to count your chickens:

  1. What 2015 achievements and successes are you proud of?
  1. What challenges have you overcome?
  1. What talents, skills and strengths do these demonstrate?
  1. What’s going well right now?
  1. What or who are you grateful for?

Pat yourself on the back. You are rather amazing and successful.

If you must make resolutions, then try this:

  1. What 3 things make you happy? How can you do more of them?
  1. What one activity or obligation can you give up this year?
  1. What one small change will make a huge difference to your day?

Change is much easier and more fun when it is crossing a stream via stepping-stones than jumping blindfolded across a bottomless chasm.

Happy New Year!

If you would like more information on change coaching please contact Natalia for a free consultation.

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Happiness Club – Authentic Relationships

IMG_6020Connecting with others is a basic human need. Yet it comes with a risk of getting hurt.

So what’s the answer? How can we relate better to ourselves and others?

Have you heard of the Porcupine’s Dilemma? It goes like this:

One cold Winter’s day a company of porcupines crowded themselves very close together so as to profit from one another’s warmth and save themselves from freezing to death. But as they got closer, they felt each other’s sharp spines, which forced them to separate and get cold again. The porcupines were driven backwards and forwards from one trouble to the other until they found a distance at which they could most tolerably coexist – far enough from each other to avoid the sharp spines and close enough to maintain mutual warmth (German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, 1851).

And so it is with human relationships – we long for close and intimate relationships with others, yet we also fear getting hurt so we tend to build a protective wall around ourselves. Sounds familiar? Is there a better way?

Relationships matter. Studies have shown that positive relationships improve both physical and psychological wellbeing. Connecting with others improves our mood, provides support, increases feelings of self-worth, and gives a sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves. Positive relationships help to lower stress, boost immunity, reduce heart disease and increase longevity.

There is a strong correlation between positive relationships and happiness – people in positive relationships tend to be happier, and happier people find it easier to connect with others. Happiness is contagious across social networks – it spreads to people we know and in turn to people they know, creating happier communities.

Quantity is important but the key to happier relationships is their quality. Consider with how many of your “friends” or “followers” on social media you have real relationships?

Keys to building positive, strong and authentic relationships:

1 – Be authentic in your relationships – you can play a “role” only for so long. Set personal boundaries that you are comfortable with – based on your experience and gut instinct.

2 – Discover and share common activities and experiences.

3 – Communicate openly and honestly – to establish trust and respect. It is often better to say a “wholehearted no” then a “begrudging yes”.

4 – Maintain a giving/receiving balance – oversharing or being overly demanding can put a strain on a relationship.

5 – You cannot be everything to everyone – leave space for “you”, prioritise and manage expectations ahead of time.

6 – Put yourself out there – you will not make real friends by wishful thinking. In words of Nathaniel Branden “No one is coming” (The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem). Take responsibility and be proactive in building old and new positive relationships.

7 – Embrace differences, do not judge too quickly, forgive. You know the old adage “walk a mile in their shoes…”? The truth is you cannot, as their shoes might not fit and you might not choose the same path. So be kind to yourself and others.

8 – Keep your promises and say a timely “sorry” when it is warranted.

9 – Listen wholeheartedly and be curious.

10 – And if you get hurt? Try again. They are just not ready for you this time.

Above all – be brave and do not give up!

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Happiness Club – Giving

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give – Winston Churchill

How does it make you feel when you help others?
Have you ever felt resentful when giving? Why was that?
What can you do to give easily every day?

We had an interesting, uplifting and lively discussion on what makes giving so important to our happiness – and the happiness of others.

Helping others boosts our happiness by improving our mood and psychological wellbeing, increasing life satisfaction, giving us a feeling of competence, reducing stress and making us feel part of something bigger – providing a sense of meaning and connectedness with others – thus satisfying a basic human need.

Here is the science bit:
Have you heard of the “Helper’s High”? Scientists have shown that helping others activates reward centres in our brains producing a state of happiness, contentment and calm. Interestingly, those effects are greater in helpers than in those being helped. The good news is that happiness is “contagious” – when we are on the receiving end of kindness or spend time with kind and thoughtful people, we are more likely to be kinder ourselves. Thus creating a virtuous cycle of kindness. Which in turns helps to build supportive, more trusting and happier communities.

However, giving must not be forced or overly burdensome or purely for selfish reasons (such as expecting something in return).

Giving to others need not be a huge commitment – a simple smile can have a transformative effect on another. Our attitude and physiology (how we carry ourselves) also have a big impact.

Take one minute now – stand up, spread your shoulders back opening your chest, breathe in deep and breathe out three times, remember last time you helped someone and they appreciated your help, take yourself back to what that was like – what did you see, hear and feel? How do you feel now?

So to conclude, make giving a habit – focus on what you enjoy doing, drawing on your strengths and talents; often small things can make a big difference; remember to acknowledge and thank others for their kindness – it is never too late!

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted – Aesop

Visit our Events page for more information on Happiness Club and other Be Do Have Coaching Events.

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