Amid all the current turmoil – Brexit, protests in Hong Kong and the like – we should live in the moment, ignore our ‘inner critic’ and try to be happy, writes Jim Duffy.
Are you feeling the BoJo bounce? Is your life that wee bit more chipper as the blond bomber is now in the Brexit hot-seat? Are you leaping out of bed with a spring in your step, knowing that our new non-elected Prime Minister is steering us toward his lofty vision?
Well, if like me you are not – with BA pilots about to go on strike, seized oil tankers bobbing up and down in the sea indolently and parts of the UK washed away by biblical flooding – then you may need to find a dose of pick-me-up somewhere else.
Add to this a massive Eurozone debt, the Federal Reserve again getting US fiscal sentiment woefully wrong, and the prospect of Scotland tearing itself apart again in a new independence referendum and you may just want to hide under the bed. Happiness seems so far away just now. But, we can all change that...
External events will always creep up into our consciousness, impacting what inner happiness we may have. I guess right now we are very lucky and indeed blessed not to be living in the 1940s when the whole place was at war. We have relative peace, a fairly stable economy and more fast food outlets than one can shake a stick at. I hear Greggs is now considering late night opening too so even more choice of steak bakes or vegan pasties. A good pastie takes your mind off Northern Ireland backstops, stockpiling of drugs and years of recession.
Of course, the language boffins switched out depression for recession many moons ago. But we all know what it means, eh? Still feeling gloomy? Maybe it’s time to take ownership of your own happiness or, as they say in business, be proactive, robust and seize the day – Carpe Diem!
In true positive style, I’m going to give you some tools to promote happiness and well-being in your life at a time when there is great uncertainty and volatility out there. And it all starts with you.
The first thing to help boost your happiness is to not take yourself too seriously. At times, I, and perhaps you too, get worried about what others think or say about us. Or some of us can get a bit prissy about people and events, believing we are above the “hill-billies” that we see getting things wrong. I guess the best way to think about this is to put yourself into historical perspective. No-one was talking about you or cared about you 100 years ago. Accordingly, no-one will talk about you or care about you 100 years from now. So, in this tiny moment of existence that you have, you do not really, truly matter in the grand scheme of things. How about that for a leveller? Therefore, maybe just chill a little and accept each day at time and be happy for that day.
Next, in a social media-driven world of Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook etc, stuff doesn’t make you happy. There is so much emphasis put on what trainers you wear, what phone case you have, what car you drive, where you go on holiday or what bars you hang in, that it can cause you to be who you are really not. Literally, that is all just stuff, things you cannot take with you when you check out.
A friend recently challenged me to have just 100 things in my life. That includes boxer shorts, socks, gadgets etc. All transportable in a small suitcase – nothing else. What a challenge, ditching a ton of redundant clothes, multiple paraphernalia and the ten notebooks I have on the go at any one time. The point, of course, is they are earthly possessions that complement us, but are not intrinsic to who we really are. And it is understanding and finding who you really are that aids your happiness. Not what designer labels you wear.
I hope this is all beginning to make sense. I fear this particular time in history will be judged as one of the most unhappy, even as we seem to have everything. So what’s next? How about you being your own worst critic?
I’ve written on the inner critic before, that voice in your head that tells you you can’t do something, you’re not good enough or you don’t deserve happiness. Many people have this compounded by imposter syndrome. Here they wake up feeling that they are way out their depth and should not be in the position they are. Indeed our First Minster has bravely, in my opinion, opened up about feeling this way sometimes.
These feelings can be debilitating. So, we have to ‘swipe them left’ and get rid of them.
Letting go of such internal doubts and fears can open up so much happiness – you can choose to ignore your inner critic and choose a happier life. And guess what? The guilt washes away as you see that better day-to-day decisions mean a better you.
Bringing that extra little bit of happiness into your short existence on this planet is not hard to do. You just have to feel empowered to do it without asking for permission. And there are lots of little things you can do towards a happier you. Don’t live in the past. Don’t live too much in the future. Take a holiday more often. Take up a new hobby or learn a new language. Try cooking a meal from scratch for someone you love. The list is endless.
Sure, BoJo and his cohort will create big change, while Hong Kong implodes under rioting and duress. That’s the world we live in. But, it doesn’t mean we need to let it sour who we are or can be. Bring a little more happiness into your life, one small step at a time, one day at a time.