What if you don’t know how to be happy?

Being happy has always seemed to be the thing that us humans chased the most. The way in which we chose to try and find happiness is different for everyone but we all want to be happy. Scientists have studied the topic for years, how can we find happiness?, is there a path or a formula for being happy? The fact that this question has never been fully answered tells us that it is a difficult and perhaps some would say impossible question to answer because what we define as happiness differs for everyone.

So perhaps we need to pose a different question and instead ask “how can we live a good life?”.

This puts a bit more context onto the issue of us finding our happy place and some fulfillment which is something that interests me more, I have always felt and believed that instead of happiness, what we really need is contentment. The reason, I prefer to look at happiness from the lens of contentment or living well is that contentment is much easier for us to define and put into words. Also as a coach, it is much easier for me to help people work out what they need to be content than finding the unique combination that will give them happiness.

The truth is that for many of us, we don’t really know what we need to be happy and for others, we don’t know how to be happy. This is because happiness by definition is a transient emotion, that can be here one moment and gone the next. We cannot be happy all the time and truth be told we should not be happy all the time. Our emotions can be very varied depending on not just what is happening around us but also our own unconscious biases and perception. This is why being able to regulate our emotions is very important. Emotions can be unreliable, fickle and transient. This is why making one particular emotion our goal is in itself a futile exercise.

So apart from the fickleness of emotion and the difficulty in knowing what makes us happy, we can also have people that do not know how to be happy. There are reasons why happiness may seem elusive such as;

  • Having depression and anxiety; both of these disorders can leave you feeling a sense of dread and feeling like something bad is about to happen which makes it difficult for you to enjoy anything
  • Spending too much time in the past dwelling on things that went wrong and your failures can leave you feeling resentful, frustrated and unable to see the positives in anything
  • You let your emotions control you. As its famously said, you cannot control what happens to you but you can control how you react to what happens to you. As I mentioned above, emotions can be fickle and unreliable so we need to learn how to regulate and manage our emotions so we can live more happily
  • You’ve lost track of who you truly are and what you like. This is common when you’ve been in a long term relationship, have been taking care of others for long periods of time or you’ve spent a long time pleasing other people. You don’t know who you are and cannot identify what makes you happy. In order to find what makes you happy, you have to spend time alone and learn to rediscover your true self. This requires learning how to be okay with solitude and loving your own company
  • You don’t know how to be mindful. Mindfulness is about living in the present moment and making the most of each day you have without worrying about the past or overthinking the future.

I remember when my anxiety and depression were at an all time high and people (trying to help me) would tell me to just be happy. Be happy, focus on your kids, don’t spend time worrying about what you cannot change, move on, and all the rest of that rah rah self help talk. The problem was I didn’t have a clue how to be happy and to be honest, I had spend so much time being a mom and wife, I had lost track of who I really was.

I tried my best to be happy but it just didn’t work because at that time, I thought “something” or “someone” would make me happy but of course I learnt that it wasn’t about what I bought or had or was given or whether I was alone or with someone, in fact, I learnt I couldn’t find happiness through anyone or anything. My happiness was dependent on my mindset and the way I looked at life.

What I learnt and would like to share with you is that, if I wanted to be happy, I needed to first learn how to be content no matter what life threw at me and the only way to learn contentment was to develop some essential mindset attributes, this meant cultivating a positive mindset.

I also realised that I needed to develop and work on attributes such as gratitude, kindness, selflove, wisdom, learning to love myself, learning how to be mindful, learning how to deal with anxiety and worry, being part of a loving community, finding my anchor, having good quality friendships, taking care of my healthy and living an authentic life. I cover all of these and how to attain them in my book Screaming helps.

The truth is that even when we constantly hear that money or possessions do not buy happiness, there is a part of us that doesn’t want to believe this. How many times do people say yes, I’d rather be miserable and rich than miserable and poor?.

The truth is finding out how to accept our “lot” and learning to find our PURPOSE in life is the only thing that paves the path to a life that makes us happy. Our search for our purpose is not about making 6 figures or being famous, but its about finding that thing which we love but also involves elements of compassion and service.

When we learn how to serve others and do what we truly love, we develop so many attitudes and skills which are really the key to healthy living. Attitudes such as gratitude, mindfulness, being authentic which automatically means loving ourselves as we are, living our truth, having the courage to face challenges, not worrying about what others think about us. Of course, I am not saying these are automatic gifts that we are given when we find our purpose, but what i know is that when you find your purpose or your thing, you are prepared to put in the mindset work, the self love work, the self confidence work and “all the things” needed because suddenly everything makes a lot more sense and there is something to work towards. Also when you are in this space, you are going to attract the right people to yourself which kind of brings us back to the recent study done by Harvard.

This was the longest and one of the largest studies done on happiness. The study followed over 700 men for almost 80 years to find out if they could answer the question as to how to live a good life. The answers were interesting but revealed what many of us already know or are realising.

There were three main conclusions from the data; 1) Social connections are good for us and loneliness kills, 2) the quality of your close relationships matter and 3) good relationships protect our bodies and our brains.

You can watch the TED talk on YouTube here What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness | Robert Waldinger – YouTube

Another article from the Blue zones website, highlighted the importance of having a purpose in life. The article stated “In the blue zones regions of the world, having a purpose has always played a major role in well-being and the resulting extreme longevity seen in this areas of the world (Blue zones are geographical locations in the world that features people who have the highest rates of longevity). It continues, it is also believed that the strong sense of purpose possessed may act as a buffer against stress and help reduce overall inflammation. in turn lowering the chances of suffering from Alzheimer’s, arthritis and strokes.

In my work as a mindset coach, I work with people who recognise the need for a mindset shift so they can find out who they really want to be. If you would like to learn more about how to work with me or you just want an informal chat, feel free to contact me via email or through any of my social accounts and if I could give you some advice to help you learn how to be content and lean into your purpose, it would be this; 1) focus on the good things in your life, learn from but don’t dwell on your mistakes and failures, take it one day at a time and 2) learn to love yourself.

Tayo xoxo

Why you should start journaling

Remember when you were a child and you had a diary and would write down all your little secrets about what you and your best friend got up to? Well that little diary was a form of journaling and is something that has far more benefits for us as adults than many people realise.

In recent years, a lot more research has been done on the benefits of journaling and the findings are pretty amazing. Journaling is a superstar when it comes to helping us manage our emotions in a positive manner. In a study done in 2006, journaling was found to reduce symptoms of people with depression, anxiety and hostility

Journaling simply refers to the act of writing down or keeping a diary about your thoughts and the everyday events of your lives including what may be going wrong or right.

This simple act has been found to be extremely powerful for helping individuals deal with conflict, reduce stress and manage difficult emotions

In particular, when it comes to conditions such as depression and anxiety, journaling can work wonders.

I started journaling reluctantly in 2018 after a friend of mine suggested it to me during a very difficult and stressful time in my life. I did it reluctantly because I had this fear of someone finding my journal and reading all my innermost thoughts and the thought of that used to put me off. I eventually overcame that fear and started to write down my thoughts and feelings from day to day, my emotions around certain events, feelings of anger and hurt, basically I wrote down anything and everything that came to mind.

What I found from doing this is I had more clarity of mind, less emotional baggage and I started to feel much more at ease with myself. I also felt less encumbered, like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I had discovered the power of journaling.

I went from strength to strength at that point, writing down inspirational verses from books I was reading or the bible and my interpretation of what I read and how it impacted me. This became the beginnings of my foray into writing. Before I knew it, I was addicted to writing.

One day I sat and read through my journal and was startled to see how meaningful, helpful and uplifting it was and that moment of realisation, that day was the day I decided I was going to write a book loosely formed from the writings I had done in my journal.

My book “Screaming helps” was published in 2019 and the whole journey of writing it has been an amazing experience for me, so much so, I am in the process of writing a second book. Of course, after this experience, I am a complete convert to journaling and I believe it forms an essential part of a robust self care package.

If you’ve never journaled, a great way to sample this form of expression is to try using the Pandemic Project website. A resource created by Psychology researchers to help people explore their challenges, experiences and emotions around Covid-19 and the Pandemic.

Otherwise, you can easily buy a notebook or a custom designed journal and start your own journey of journaling.

If you want to know why you should journal, I share below some surprising benefits of journaling ;

  1. Writing things down gives you much more clarity about what may be bothering you and helps you to identify more clearly what your problems and challenges are
  2. Helps you to identify negative thought patterns and your triggers
  3. Acts as a tool for self reflection and self evaluation as you can look back over periods of time to see how you have changed
  4. Writing allows you to engage with difficult emotions or experiences
  5. The routine of writing regularly can help you build more structure into your life
  6. Writing can encourage you to take action on things that are bothering you. When we put our thoughts and worries down on paper, they become more real and with the added bonus of clarity we gain from seeing those thoughts, it can help us actually decide what type of action we need to take to improve things in our life.

These are just some of the many reasons that you should start writing your thoughts down. It can be a force for good, forcing you to confront difficult emotions and giving you the opportunity to see what you are grateful for and how you can improve. Although you can buy journals which already have prompts and question that form the basis for your writing, it is also possible for you to decide how and what you want to journal. You can buy a notebook and try your hand out at doing it freestyle and see how you do on a day to day basis. I favour both styles of journaling and I have a journal which I purchased that has prompts and suggestions which I like to use as a formal way of journaling but I also like journaling free style. It really depends on my mood.

I feel that if you are a beginner, it may be useful to have some guidance around what to write but this is of course totally up to you. However, some useful prompts and questions for what to write in your journal for your morning routine include;

  1. What you are grateful for at the start of the day
  2. One thing that you will try to do that day
  3. A positive affirmation
  4. How you will make that day a good one/ good deeds

At the end of the day, prompts can include

  1. What was the best thing about the day
  2. What didn’t go well and how you would improve
  3. What good deed you did that day
  4. What you are grateful for at the end of the day

I hope this article has inspired you to start your own journaling practice today. If you want some more tips and help to get started, feel free to email me at tayokutiwrites@gmail.com

Tayo xoxo

Knowing when to move on

This quote by the amazing Nina Simone is one of my favourite quotes ever and it has been even more relevant in my life in recent times. I first heard this quote many years ago and at the time would usually only apply it to relationship issues. However, as time has gone on, I realised I can apply this to many other areas in my life and it has become one of my grounding principles and one that I apply when considering a vast number of problems.

The quote is from the song “You’ve got to learn” by Nina Simone who was an American singer, songwriter who sang a mixture of jazz, blues and folk music in the 60’s. She was a staunch civil rights activist and also known as a highly regarded voice for black women in that era. The quote “You’ve got to know when to leave the table when love is no longer being served” is about moving on. Its about closing the door on situations or people that no longer serve you. It is about recognising that a particular behaviour or practice is not helping you and may even be holding you back.

The reason i believe this quote has become such an important mantra for how I live my life is because I have been able to apply it to most areas of my life quite easily. I have had challenges like everyone else in life and one of the most difficult things I have had to learn is that I have sometimes held on to situations or things even when they no longer served me because I was afraid of change and what that would mean. Walking away or giving up on something can be so hard and sometimes feels like you will never recover or you are actually self-sabotaging but the reality is every good thing that has happened to me has come from change whether it has been welcome or not, I now accept that without change there can be no progress.

It leads us to wonder why it can be so difficult to leave a situation that is no longer serving us.

There are a number of possible reasons; fear of change or the unknown, fear of what could happen if we do (in abusive relationships, this is one of the main reasons people don’t leave an abusive partner), at other times, we are slow to realise that love is no longer being served so we continue with the hope that whatever is not going well, will improve. In other words, we bury our heads in the sand. These are just a few examples, I am sure you can add a few more of your own.

I actually believe that we can apply the same logic to a lot of life situations. We can apply this to friendships that have become toxic, activities that we no longer love which now cause us stress instead of pleasure, places or things we possess that don’t bring us joy and yes we can definitely apply this also to a relationship where the other person is clearly no longer giving us love.

I think it is important to make a distinction between a toxic relationship where it is clear the other person does not love you and may actually be damaging your mental or physical health AND a situation where a relationship is going through a bad spell. Marriages and relationships go through phases and sometimes we can get stuck in a phase where we feel disconnected from the other person, in this situation it is more advisable to communicate and seek to see where the relationship has gone off rail and try to do some work on it.

However, where you have a situation where your partner shows you by their behaviour that they do not have love for you but instead they treat you with contempt, indifference or derision. They may put you down regularly, may be verbally, emotionally or physically abusive and any other behaviours which significantly affects your mental wellness and may even put you in harm’s way then this is where you need to realise that love is no longer being served.

I am always on the side of trying to save a marriage but this is something that the two people in the relationship should be working on TOGETHER. If you find you are doing all the work and your partner does not commit to working on the relationship and their behaviour doesn’t change then you may need to reevaluate the situation. Also staying and working on a marriage is fine provided, you and any children you may have are not in any danger or your mental wellness is not at stake.

When we do identify the need to move on, what does that look and feel like?. I guess one thing I have learnt is that moving on may not always feel good at the time you do it. It is difficult to walk away from something familiar that you’ve grown used to however it is useful to look at it as the beginning of a new adventure, instead of focusing on what you are losing, think about what you may gain. Leaving the old behind and looking forward to the new means a world of possibilities that you may not even be able to imagine. It may also be helpful to remember that holding on to something that is no longer serving you may actually be very limiting and may stop you from becoming the best version of yourself. I experienced this personally when I gave up people and friendships, even family members that I have finally come to realise do not have my best interest at heart.

One thing that is important about leaving the table and moving on is that when you really understand what this means and when you really are able to evaluate and identify areas where you need to move on, you do it with dignity and with clarity. You do not need to give reasons or excuses and you certainly don’t need a grand gesture or to declare for all to see that you are moving on, you just get up, get out and close the door, gently even.

As a life coach, this is the main focus of how I help clients, by helping them to recognise behaviours and practices that do not serve them and working in unison with them to find a strategy for change so that they can live a more productive life.

So, as Nina Simone says “You’ve got to learn to leave the table, when love’s no longer being served, To show everybody that you’re able, to leave without a word”. I hope that whatever you feel is no longer serving you and in particular any area in your life where love is no longer being served, that you find the courage to get up, leave the table and move on. xoxo

****If any of the issues mentioned here are a trigger or if you or someone you know needs support with a difficult relationship or domestic abuse, please contact one of these organisations mentioned below.