Tuesday, 12 March 2019

What makes you happy?

When we have to make a big decision in our lives, we tend to look at the impact on our careers, finances, kids education, safety, future prospects. I remember in 1986 when we made the decision to leave South Africa, it was tough as our life there at the time, was so good. I was in a top, very well paid job, with a fortune in share options that were due to come up in five years. We had built our own home on half an acre of land in between a golf course and a bird sanctuary (to be) and it was our own very special paradise.

We lived under the old apartheid government and as British passport holders we couldn't vote, but to be quite honest, provided you didn't think too deeply, life was very good. However, we really didn't have faith in the future, as we believed that the status quo had to change because it wasn't fair or in tune with the rest of the world. We believed that we would have to move and do it while I was still young enough to get a job in whatever country we decided to emigrate to.

Looking back we definitely valued our family above wealth creation. We always believed that I as a qualified accountant would always earn enough for us to live well, but that our future happiness was tied to our family life. We moved to the UK and 33 years later family life is still awesome and enriched through the addition of a wonderful daughter and son in law and four lovely young granddaughters.

My advice based on my personal experience is that when you make big decisions, basing them on logic alone is not good enough. Emotion will play a massive part in the success of your decision and you need to ensure that you and your family are happy as a result of your decision. 

Without happiness  ... what is the point!!!!

So what makes us happy? I think each person has their own keys to their happiness. Having gone through many tough events in my life, including the tragedy of my wife's sudden death through sepsis, I am very clear on what makes me happy. 

This is my 10 keys to a happy life:-
(Guided by book '10 Keys to Happier Living' by Vanessa King)


  1. Acceptance - I am comfortable with who I am, warts and all. After a lifetime of being a coach and trainer, I know what I'm good at and the areas that I struggle with and I am constantly looking for ways to improve. Mindfulness taught me how to be kind to myself as I learnt to develop the skill of self-compassion.
  2. Family - has to be top of my list and I envy cultures like the Italians where family of all ages is a way of life. Nothing gives me more pleasure than spending quality time with any member of my family. I shudder when I hear of parents who have not had any contact with a son or daughter for years. I love my family and I know they love me and I would never want to sacrifice that for anything! I include my lovely dog Thandi as part of my family and she makes me feel happy every day of our lives together.
  3. Friends - I have a lot of LinkedIn contacts and Facebook friends but having a small circle of nice, fun, kind but challenging friends is a joy. Also to have one special friend to love and spend time with is a constant source of happiness.
  4. Keep moving- I walk Thandi every day, play pickle ball twice a week and indoor bowls once a week. Plus I am planning to start dancing again this year. Whatever I do is fun, helps me to maintain my mobility and health as I get older and certainly puts a big smile on my face.
  5. Learning - I am very curious and I love learning and I hope I never stop discovering new things. This is linked to my love of gadgets and photography where I know I'm learning new things all the time.
  6. Having fun - sitting down and becoming a couch potato is a very occasional 'treat' normally when the weather is rough. Eating out, travel, walking, cinema, theatre and so much more all available to make life a lot of fun.
  7. Helping others - there is nothing more fulfilling than helping someone to solve a problem, learn a new skill, gain confidence and build self belief. As a qualified accountant I gave it up to become a coach and a trainer as this was a job that fitted most with who I am. I am passionate about helping others to release their personal magic!!!!
  8. Mindful living - I apply mindfulness on a daily basis, most days I meditate at the start of my day. I work hard to live in the moment and appreciate the wonderful world around me. As a result I am a lot calmer and chilled, I sleep better and that all feeds into my energy and happiness.
  9. Direction - I think all my life I have been a bit of a futurist, needing a big picture with a clear direction. Having something big to aim for without getting bogged down by the detail. Yes I set goals and I sort of monitor progress, but I'm too spontaneous to become a slave to an action plan. 
  10. Resilience  - being able to bounce back from set backs and to always look for the positives has helped me to get through the bad times and find happiness again. 


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