Happiness is a skill
Written by Laurie Terrasa CEO & Founder of HAPPY EARLY, teaching children the tools to be happy: www.happyearly.com
If you had met me 6 months ago you would have thought: wow she really has the perfect life! A senior role in a big company, a beautiful 1 year old, a loving husband, a nice flat 5 mins from the beach, an awesome group of friends.
Everything looked perfect… On the outside. Inside, I was miserable. Being a mum, a wife and a worker are 3 full time jobs and I gave 100% to each one of them. I let you do the maths: 3×100%=300%.
How can you give 300% when you only have 100%? There is only one way to do it: you burn yourself out.
Monday 11th May, I fell into tears in the street. I cannot move, my body is frozen. What is happening? I called my GP straight away. Her diagnosis: burn out. Burn out? What do you mean? You are exaggerating I am sure, I am ok! Everything is great, my daughter is always smiling, my husband is happy, my boss says I am a superstar – you see, everyone is happy about me. But what about you? Are you happy? Tears, again. No, I am not.
This was the first discovery: I am not happy.
I give everything I’ve got to others and forget about myself along the way. I do not know who I really am and what I need to be happy.
Second discovery: I need help.
I started therapy with a psychologist, got a professional coach and took a break at work, 1 month initially which turned out to be 5.
Third discovery: Happiness requires work.
You need to dedicate time for it each day.
How come no one told me this before? How come no one talks about it at school? This topic is fascinating: happiness is what everyone aims at and yet not many people know how to get there. I became completely obsessed: books, online courses, webinars, magazines,coaching sessions, videos, movies, apps, retreats…exploring every resource available linked to Happiness and Wellbeing. I have learnt so much, everything was mind blowing – this was all so new to me! Most importantly, I started to “practice” happiness: meditating every day, exercising in the mornings, volunteering in a charity, journaling, writing thank you letters to friends and family, connecting with strangers, being grateful… And guess what? I became HAPPY! People would ask me: what have you done, you look different? I answer with a smile: Nothing, I am just happy!
The last discovery
Happy people have one thing in common: they have all been through something BIG: loss, divorce, burn-out, disease, accident, depression…
We should not wait to hit rock bottom to discover happiness, it should be the very first thing children learn about.
HERE it is, my purpose, the reason why I am here: teach children the tools to be happy. This is such an awesome feeling: I know who I am now!
When I looked at the market and realised that there were only a few non for profit and social ventures, it confirmed my initial instinct: I have to create my own business, following the great principle of “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself !” I want to create a successful business so I can impact as many children as possible. I am not doing it for me, I am doing it for our children.
So I did it: I created Happy Early, teaching children the tools to be happy. I teach them what I wished someone had taught me earlier in life: gratitude, kindness, connection, exercise and mindfulness. It is scientifically proven that these 5 tools, if practiced regularly, improve happiness. By using these tools at a young age, children create habits and become resilient adults, well equipped to face the ups and downs of life.
For me, coming back to work after maternity leave was the most challenging part of having a child, it should not be underestimated and companies still have a long way to go to support young mums & dads. My advice to you is:
#1 take care of yourself – this means dedicating time for you – alone! Do something you love at least once a day. It could be as small as go for a walk around the block.
#2 find your purpose: we all have something that makes us smile, for me it was kids, what is YOUR thing? Once you find it – just go and get it!
For more information on how to become Happy Early, visit www.happyearly.com