How I worked out that success doesn’t equal happiness, and that what really matters is having a sense of purpose balanced with sustainable well-being.
As I’ve grown from surviving to thriving, I’m realising more and more that success doesn’t necessarily bring happiness, driven people are motivated to ticking the next box and not necessarily celebrating their successes along the way, or stopping to smell the roses. I’ve been known to do this myself; peer feedback has been directed to sustainability and enjoying the journey more than worrying about the destination. Being acutely aware of your own purpose, your own why and having an attitude of gratitude is to key to unlocking happiness.
After losing Jeremy’s brother in a motor vehicle accident in 2002, I stood by my husband’s side and declared I would do, “whatever it takes” to help him and the family business get through. The loss and vulnerability was a position I never wanted to be in again – not knowing the password to the payroll system was just one example of where I vowed I would do better, making sure that the next generation would be better prepared for disruption.
Just like in an airplane emergency, where you need to put on your own mask first, before you save others, running a business has the same connotation; I needed to put on my own mask first before I could help my husband, my family, our business, our community. It’s amazing how effective simple and free some well-being tips are, but in times of crisis we don’t have the capacity to stop, think and breathe. Setting up good habits now, before you need to rely on them, is key to preparing yourself to be resilient.
Some call it well-being, others resilience, others nature & nurture, others sustainability or mindfulness – it doesn’t matter what you call it, it’s about being acutely aware that it matters, and that it makes a difference. For me, it’s my morning walk (and I hate early mornings), I find that the days I go for a walk, I can better handle what’s thrown my way. It’s when I’m tired that I need to do this the most. If I walk in the morning, I tend to eat better, drink more water, and generally have more patience.
How many times do you struggle to go to the gym or netball training but feel exhilarated and refreshed (if not exhausted) once done – exercise releases happy hormones! I’m also conscious about how much sleep I get, and generally, this is more than most other people, but I need to do what’s right for me. Having a sleep routine with my phone on silent is part of this process, I’ve learned that one more episode on Netflix, does not make me a happier person in the morning! At work, we refer to it as a green prescription, enough sleep, water, good food, exercise, time in the sunlight, and time with good friends – these things really do make a difference and they can be free!
When seriously considering, what makes me happy, I realised that sometimes it’s the journey and planning that come before an event. As a recent winner of the SA Women Awards 2021 – Backbone Award, there was a moment of letdown after the announcement… that this was all coming to an end. The preparation and excitement of anticipation were what made me happy and once the award was announced I struggled a little because my mind automatically focused on “what’s next”. Taking a deep breath and just being in the moment has been an important step in my growth, sustainability, and happiness. Allowing for the “after-glow” rather than moving on to the next challenge. Taking time to truly appreciate how I got to this point and thanking those who helped me along the way.
When bringing up my four kids, a common talking point, is to tell yourself, “there’s always someone better off, but there’s always someone worse off, stop comparing and just accept who you are and be happy with what you’ve got.” Don’t waste precious time on what you can’t change, grab hold of what you can change and run with it.
So, the next time you are down, challenge yourself to a green prescription and see if it makes a difference. The next time you want to have a winge about someone, change it up and think about the gratitude you have, focus on what’s working, not what’s not working. It’s a choice to be happy and when you make that choice, your well-being increases, it may not happen straight away, but if you stick with it, it will happen.