Monday, 13 May 2019

Happiness Drivers

I continue to look at ways of simplifying the path to happiness in my coaching practice. What makes us happy is very much an individual thing, but I have found that there tends to be five key headlines that come up time and again.

  • Inspiring sense of purpose - having something to work towards that you find, exciting, inspiring - something that fills you with passion. Having a reason to get up in the morning which can be as simple as organising a wonderful gathering of good friends for a weekend away.
  • Meaningful relationships - here we are not talking about the 100's of Facebook 'friends'. What works is having a loving family, caring friends, a loving partner and colleagues that you enjoy working with. Having key people in your life that you can trust. Also very important is the relationship you have with yourself in which you are able to practice self-compassion.
  • Health and wellness - although this tends to be dictated to by the genes we are born with. However there is substantial scientific evidence that through regular exercise, eating and drinking sensibly, managing our stress levels and just having fun and enjoying life, all count towards improving your health and wellness.
  • Approach to life - having an upbeat approach to life does make such a difference. Being able to bounce back from hard times, always looking for the positives in every situation. Taking a mindfulness approach to living, willingness to learn new things and to do things for others - they all help you to feel happy.
  • Feeling of security - they say money can't buy you happiness, but lack of it can lead to misery. Feeling financially and personally safe and secure in your life, having the support of others and the confidence to deal with life's challenges are definitely big contributors to happiness.
The challenge I believe is to balance the five happiness drivers and by doing this you will find and be able to maintain happiness. 


My Calm app recently dealt with 'ubuntu' in the 'daily calm' meditation. 

What is ubuntu?

According to Michael Onyebuchi Eze, the core of ubuntu can best be summarised as follows:

'A person is a person through other people' strikes an affirmation of one’s humanity through recognition of an ‘other’ in his or her uniqueness and difference. It is a demand for a creative inter-subjective formation in which the ‘other’ becomes a mirror (but only a mirror) for my subjectivity. This idealism suggests to us that humanity is not embedded in my person solely as an individual; my humanity is co-substantively bestowed upon the other and me. Humanity is a quality we owe to each other. We create each other and need to sustain this otherness creation. And if we belong to each other, we participate in our creations: we are because you are, and since you are, definitely I am. The ‘I am’ is not a rigid subject, but a dynamic self-constitution dependent on this otherness creation of relation and distance."

I found that explanation a bit complicated, so looked for another explanation. When former president of the United States, Barack Obama, made a speech  at the 2018 Nelson Mandela annual lecture — he said that Mandela “understood the ties that bind the human spirit.” 

“There is a word in South Africa — Ubuntu — that describes his greatest gift: his recognition that we are all bound together in ways that can be invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others, and caring for those around us,” Obama said. 

“Umntu Ngumntu Ngabantu” or “I am, because you are” is how we describe the meaning of Ubuntu. It speaks to the fact that we are all connected and that one can only grow and progress through the growth and progression of others.

Ubuntu has since been used as a reminder for society on how we should be treating others. 

For me it was best described by the Calm narrator, Tamara Levitt, who told the story of a group of African children who were invited to race towards a tree, with the winner being given sweets. What they did was join hands and run together as one, because to win was for them all to win.

This made me think back to a recent holiday to the Scottish Highland Railways, where in the coach trip to the railway station our guide (from Glasgow) explained the difference between Glasgow and Edinburgh people. He said if you turn up unexpectedly to a Glasgow home, they immediately invite you in and offer you drinks and food, however he said Edinburgh people will assume that the unexpected guest has already 'had their tea'. 

I realise when I work with teams, that a lot of what I do is to (unintentionally) draw on the ubuntu philosophy to get team members to respect and to care for one another. Working effectively together as a whole team, making use of the individual skills of team members in a complimentary way, can achieve amazing things!!!