3 Signs You’re Not As Happy As You Could Be

Happiness

Years ago, I was in a slump. Nothing much ever happened in my life, and I liked it that way – or at least, that’s what I told myself. I wasn’t unhappy, after all! It took me years to figure out that an absence of pain or suffering, doesn’t necessarily mean everything’s all right.
 

It’s incredibly hard to find guidance on this. I myself have discovered that pursuing my passions gives me that buzz that lifts life from ok to amazing, but I never want to give the impression that in order to do things right, you need to be overjoyed all the time. That kind of pressure usually has the opposite effect: it makes you feel miserable, like a failure.
 

Conventional advice would have you believe that getting a good education, then a good job, a family, and then a house, car, and other material possessions, are the key. It’s a fairly universal assumption that “working hard” and achieving these milestones will make you happy. The majority of people ignore the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
 

I’m going to try to look beyond exterior criteria such as money or position in the world. Here are some factors which indicate happiness more reliably than material wealth.

[bctt tweet=”Here are some factors which indicate happiness more reliably than material wealth. https://www.wildspiritscoaching.com/happiness”]

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What is happiness, anyway?

 

I’ve done a lot of research on the subject of happiness, for a course I once offered (which is now an ebook exclusively available for my Coaching clients). It’s a difficult subject to study because happiness is so subjective. Studies have come up with some common ground though.
 

One indicator of happiness seems to be progress. A person who is constantly moving towards goals, regardless even of whether or not they succeed, are generally happier than their fellow humans who spend every evening on the couch. Another criterion is gratitude; apparently, it’s impossible to feel grateful and unhappy at the same time.
 

My personal experience is that happiness is in direct proportion to pursuing my passion. Anything that keeps me from doing so, or harder-to-grasp reasons for me being inactive, are all red flags. I’ve decided to list a few of those, in order to define happiness by the symptoms of its absence.
 
 

Red Flag #1: Food love

 

This isn’t about massages or expensive beauty treatments, although they can go a long way towards appreciating yourself. No, what I’m talking about is much more basic.
 

For me, the way I eat is a sure-fire indicator. When everything’s all right, I crave whole, plant-based foods which give me energy and strength. I do occasionally eat junk food, but this happens once or twice a month, and when I start getting takeaways more often than that, something’s off. Junk food makes me sluggish and lethargic, and I’ve long realised that I subconsciously use it to numb my emotions and hide from the world – and my passion.
 
 

Red Flag #2: Exercise

 

Exercise is related to eating habits. Once I’m low in energy, it becomes almost impossible to kick myself into action. I find excuses, and day after day passes without me moving at all.
 

Plenty of my clients come to me saying they hate exercise but would like to get into a routine because they know it’s healthy. Once they kick themselves into action, they come back gushing: “Oh my god, I’d forgotten how much fun it is!” Isn’t that interesting?
 
 

Red Flag #3: Social life

 

We all have different needs when it comes to socialising. Some are extroverts and relish all company, whereas many introverts prefer one-on-one meetings with close friends. As human beings, we all need a degree of social interaction, though.
 

If I find myself declining invitations and never mustering the energy to drive to an event I’m actually interested in, it means I’m in hibernation mode. Don’t get me wrong: It can be an act of self care to take a few days or a week off to just be alone, but if this continues for a long period of time, there’s something else going on.
 

The challenge with all the above is that the signs are very subtle and tend to creep up on us. And as I said above, if you’re not unhappy, you may tell yourself that all’s well. But really, life can be so much more. You deserve to feel blissful instead of just ok. Get some support and get moving! Once you gain momentum, you’ll be so glad you made the effort.

[bctt tweet=”Life can be so much more. You deserve to feel blissful instead of just ok. https://www.wildspiritscoaching.com/happiness”]

About Time!

Time and Time Management, Wild Spirits Coaching

When I was a kid, I was chronically late. My friend, who’d pick me up for school (in those days, we walked to school), unfailingly arrived on time and stood in our hallway, waiting patiently while I dashed around looking for stray books to stuff into my bag, and my mum tried to get me to hold still long enough so she could run a brush through my always-messy and untameable hair.
 

Looking back, it’s funny, but there was a lot of unnecessary stress in my life when I was growing up! It’s even funnier when I, after learning punctuality and time management in my 20s, get told by people how “German” I am because of this (I live in Ireland these days). If only they knew how very “un-German” I am by nature! It was a big effort for me to come to terms with that elusive thing called time.
 

Over the years, I’ve studied and tried out different time management systems, with varying success. It’s probably no accident that my Coaching specialisation – prioritising passions – has a lot to do with time management.
 

Are you ready for some pointers on how to deal with the, quite literally, ‘time of your life’? Read on.

[bctt tweet=”Are you ready for some pointers on how to deal with the, quite literally, ‘time of your life’? @sibylleleon”]

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Systems failure

 

I adore the work of the late Stephen Covey. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is my all-time favourite non-fictional book. It all makes so much sense, and I’m applying so much of it in my own life, and yet, the time management system attached to it is something I’ve never quite been able to implement.
 

The same goes for all the other systems I’ve learned about over the years. There are always highly valuable elements I put into practice, but an entire system? Nah. Isn’t that strange?
 

I believe it’s because time is a construct which doesn’t actually exist. Gay Hendricks acknowledges this fact in his book The Big Leap and introduces a principle called “Einstein Time”. He points out how relative time really is, how time can drag or fly depending on what we do, and draws the conclusion that time is under our command. Humans created it and so we can decide how much of it we have. It sounds a little crazy – you’d really have to read it in the book to fully understand – but as long as you understand that time is whatever you make it, you’re getting the gist of it.
 

When it comes to learning, I’m very eclectic: I take whatever suits me from the different ideas and approaches I study, and put them into practice. In the following, I’ll tell you some “time hacks” you can use to take control over the time in your life.
 
 

Prioritise like a pro

 

If you are one of those people who always have a million things on their plate, Stephen Covey’s quadrants could be a lifesaver. The idea is to focus on the things that are important, but not urgent, things like looking after your health (eating well, going to the gym), your relationship (it’s not urgent to spent quality time with your spouse; you won’t get divorced tomorrow if you don’t do it today, but in the long run, you will run into problems), and self care.
 

The important, but not urgent quadrant II contains all the most important parts of our lives. In reality, it often gets pushed aside by things that are urgent, like the phone ringing, everyday chores like the grocery shopping or picking up the kids from school, etc. The idea is to schedule your quadrant II activities first, before everything else, and make them a priority.
 
 

Master of time

 

  • What activities makes you feel like time stops existing? I mean the kind of feeling you get when you’ve just fallen in love, the way the hours spent with your lover somehow don’t exist, as if the two of you together were outside of time. Anything which makes you feel even remotely like that, is likely a passion and should take a central role in your life.
  •  

  • Watch out for your Einstein-Time clues. Audit your life: Are there obligations, clubs, meetings, even hobbies, that you are no longer passionate about? Don’t feel bad about cancelling something. It may have fulfilled you once, but you have outgrown it. Time to let go!
  • [bctt tweet=”Remember that you don’t have to fill every minute of every day with activity. @sibylleleon”]

  • Remember that you don’t have to fill every minute of every day with activity. Downtime, simply being instead of doing, is good for the soul and slows down the overall pace of your life. You’ll suddenly find you’re much less busy and frantic, and find time for those things you actually want to do.

Of Course You’re Not Stuck!

stuck, pursue your passion and live your dreams

When I was stuck in withdrawal mode, neglecting most of my friends and living between my soul-eating job and my own four walls, I was honestly convinced that nothing was wrong with me. If you had offered me help to “get back to life”, I would have laughed and said I was right in the middle of life.
 

The only thing I disliked was the job. But when I was finally in a position to give that up and move across the country to where I feel at home, that’s when I began to slowly realise how deep a sleep I’d been in. It was a slow, painstaking process, and to this day I still have days and weeks when I’m a little quieter and need to remind myself, but all in all my life is truly unrecognisable.
 

I realised with crystal clarity that nothing in life is more important than to do what lights us up. The only challenge is to explain this to the people who need to hear it most, because they are usually oblivious to their “dormant” state, just like I was.
 

This article is dedicated to those who are currently stuck, or struggling. Life tends to evolve in cycles, and almost everyone experiences these periods of stagnation from time to time. Therefore, please don’t stop reading if you’re in a period of high self-actualisation at the moment. You might need to pick yourself up some time in the future.
 
 

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How can you tell?

 

It can be really hard to know that we’re in a state of settling for less than we could be, or stagnating in our development. First of all, to a certain extent it’s absolutely natural to plateau in life. We can’t always move ahead and forward; there are quieter times in everybody’s life.
 

It’s when we begin to settle into these quieter times, and begin to accept the status quo as “as good as it gets”, that we have an issue. That’s because the very nature of life is change and growth. Just look into nature!
 

You might be stuck if you:
 

  • have lost sight of something you used to want to achieve.
  • have stopped doing something which used to light you up.
  • let your health slide, be it in terms of physical fitness, eating habits, sleep, or anything else.
  • don’t prioritise Self Care.

 

Two distinct stages

 

What makes the matter more complicated, is the fact that there are several stages. Roughly speaking, there are at least two:
 

  1. Pursue your passion: You practice an art or craft or hobby/interest which lights you up. Note that this isn’t just about “things you like”. It’s great to do anything you like, but a passion is something you absolutely love doing. It makes your eyes sparkle, you could talk about it all day, and it makes you forget time.
  2.  

  3. Live your dreams: Once your passions are firmly incorporated into your life, you can go about matching the rest of life to it. This is about doing work which makes your soul sing, which doesn’t feel like work. It’s living every day in full alignment with your soul’s purpose. For many people, it takes a lifetime to realise this bit by bit. I’m certainly still in the process myself!

 

Taking measures

 

Even if you are not currently stuck, it’s almost always possible to amp up a passion. To determine your next step, take a piece of paper or open a text document on your computer, and write two lists.
 

On the first, write down what you love doing more than anything else – your passion(s), the thing or things which light you up. This is something you love doing, for you!
 

On the second list, write down the most important people in your life. Typically, this will be family and/or friends.
 

Then try and determine honestly how much time you spend doing these activities, and how much time you spend with these most important people. There aren’t any hard and fast rules as to how much time you should spend, but it should be a considerable amount. This is what your life is about, and it deserves some space!
 

If some or all of it is currently absent from your life, start with 5 minutes a day. Then expand it to 10, 15, 20… Get some support if you need it (I’m only an email away, and there are other Coaches out there as well!). This is worth every minute and every penny you spend on it, because once you get truly un-stuck, you’ll wonder how you didn’t see it before. It’s time to soar!

Are You A Good Enough Artist? (or Writer/Crafter/Dancer/…)

Permission to Pursue Your Passion

When I about five years old, I started writing awkward little stories on my parents’ ancient mechanical typewriter. At twelve, I wrote what could pass as a “novel”. Of course it was awful, altogether terrible writing. My family was rather blunt, as families are. Nobody told me: “You need to pursue your passion!” I internalised the criticism to such an extent that I stopped writing.
 

Later on, I went to study literature, and now I had the judgment to see that anything fictional I produced simply wasn’t up to scratch. I only ever wrote small poems or snippets, few and far between.
 

It took a great emotional blow for this to change. In 2010, when my mum lay dying after a bad stroke, I started writing a fan-fiction set in a computer game I played at the time. It still wasn’t good writing, but I no longer cared – I poured all my emotions into the story and my characters. That’s what kept me sane.
 

Today, I write whenever I feel like it. I even wrote a novel-length story. It’s a good story, but still not very well-written. Who cares? I’ve learned that I don’t need to be published or get recognised as an author. I don’t need anybody else’s validation or permission; I can just write for myself, because it gives me joy.

[bctt tweet=”I don’t need anybody else’s validation or permission; I can just write for myself, because it gives me joy.”]

This is something I only learned in my 40s. I’ve wasted so much time! And many of my Coaching clients are hung up on the same misconception: That you have to be basically a prodigy in order to practice an art or a craft. I’m here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth.
 
 

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The perfection trap

 

We all love stories like Mozart’s: The child prodigy who went on to become a celebrated composer, revolutionising the music of his time and earning undying fame. We look up to the genius of the great poets and the sheer raw skill and expression of actors and dancers.
 

It’s definitely a good thing to recognise and appreciate quality. The problem begins when we begin to judge everyone, including ourselves, by the standards of the masters. Or maybe even that isn’t a problem – there’s nothing wrong with me knowing the flaws of my own writing, after all. The trouble is that I allowed it to keep me from writing for decades.
 

Can we all agree, then, that having judgment and being able to tell a masterpiece from an amateur’s work shows taste and education – but drawing the conclusion that only the masters should practise their art, is wrong?
 
 

Pursue your passion without being a genius

 

There are very practical reasons for you to step up and pursue your passion.
 

1. “Every master was once a disaster”
Very few people can play the piano the way Mozart did at the age of four. Most of the greats in any art or craft, had very modest beginnings – clumsy paintings, bad writing, trivial compositions, and more failed crafting projects than you can shake a stick at. The truth is, you’ll never know if you really “got it” unless you commit to practising for years and decades.
 

2. Improving yourself
Even if you don’t reach the lofty heights of mastery, if you keep practising you will get better. This is the aim of every serious artist or crafter. You may not have your paintings exhibited in a posh gallery, but is that really what attracted you to your art/craft in the first place? If you love what you do, you’ll have the urge to be the very best you can be at it. Learning and improving your own level of skill will give you a buzz.
 

3. The fulfilment lies in creating
Sometimes it seems like we’re waiting for the world to give us permission to do something. More often than not, we tie this imaginary permission slip to our skill level. Since even the masters often doubt themselves, it’s the perfect recipe for never creating anything. But isn’t creating the most fulfilling part?
 
 

Your Happiness Counts

 

What you need to understand is that your personal happiness counts. In fact, it’s what life is all about! Look past the judgment and ask yourself why you want to create. How does it make you feel?
 

Stop waiting. Stop denying yourself. I’m here to tell you: You have permission to do what lights you up. People who are on fire set the world on fire. Go shine your light!

[bctt tweet=”Stop waiting. Stop denying yourself. I’m here to tell you: You have permission to do what lights you up.”]

You’re Not As Lazy As You Think

Lazy, Laziness, pursue your passion

What would you guess, is the one thing all my different clients have in common, when asked why they don’t pursue their passion? People from diverse backgrounds, education, interests, passions… What is the one thing they all say about themselves?
 

They all call themselves lazy.
 

I would be hard-pressed to come up with another thing practically everyone has in common. And that’s astounding, especially considering how untrue the statement is. People are in fact far from lazy. They get an astonishing number of things done, only they fail to count those and dismiss them as “normal”. Some run an amazing household. Others kill it at work. They may spend lots of quality time with their children or pets – or indeed, any combination of the above.
 

All these amazing people share a nagging feeling that they should be doing more, that they should be on top of things and have it all figured out. There are many reasons for this phenomenon, one of them being how easy it is to compare ourselves to others these days, especially on Social Media where everyone emphasises the positive aspects of their lives. The impression one gets from scrolling through friends’ status updates is that they are all at the top of their game, and we are somehow… lagging behind.
 
 

 
 

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Why we think we’re lazy

 

When we think about why we aren’t doing everything we want to – when I, for example, ask someone what keeps them from pursuing their passion – we quickly jump to the conclusion that we’re simply lazy. After all, not every minute of every day is taken up by different tasks. We often even sit in front of the TV or the computer doing nothing but wasting time! If we weren’t so lazy, we’d be out exercising, or crafting, or pursuing some other passion, right?
 

Wrong.

[bctt tweet=”If we weren’t so lazy, we’d be out exercising, or crafting, or pursuing some other passion, right? -Wrong.”]

You see, the assumption that every moment of our waking time should be filled with some productive activity, is simply wrong. It’s also completely against anything we’re equipped to do from an evolutionary standpoint.
 

I’ve read several accounts of anthropologists (anthropology is one of the subjects I studied at university. Did I mention I’m a multi-passionate?) who went to live in tribal cultures that haven’t been touched by technology. They all observed that there’s no “laziness”, no reluctance to work or do things, in these cultures. Very rarely, there might be someone who doesn’t want to work, and they’ll be regarded as sick and left alone, until they “feel better” and come to join the others in their chores again.
 

Isn’t that interesting?
 
 

Information overload

 

A lot has been said and written about the fact that our modern lives aren’t particularly suited to our human nature. We get overstimulated by media, advertising, traffic, noise, artificial light, and a myriad of other things. We have access to practically all information available to humanity, at our fingertips, and more opportunities to work, practice, create, and do whatever we please than we ever had before.
 

A lot of these things are marvellous, but they also carry the danger of constant overwhelm. To go back to the example of tribal societies: One thing they seem to have in common is that the pace of life is slow. There is a lot of work to be done, but people aren’t in a rush all the time. The phenomenon of stress is unique to our “civilised” culture.

[bctt tweet=”So maybe, just maybe, we aren’t lazy at all when we scroll through Facebook instead of writing a novel?”]

So maybe, just maybe, we aren’t lazy at all when we scroll through Facebook instead of painting a picture or writing a novel? Maybe sitting on the couch munching a takeaway, rather than going for a run, doesn’t make you a bad person, but is simply a symptom of a life full to the brim with impressions and stimulation already? What’s more, we all have different tolerance thresholds and different needs for rest, which makes it even more pointless to compare ourselves to others unfavourably.
 
 

Overcoming inertia

 

Isn’t it perhaps time to let yourself off the hook for your “laziness”? Beating yourself up isn’t going to solve anything. At the same time, you shouldn’t just accept that you’ll never get to pursue your passion or live your dreams. When you think you’re lazy, it’s a sure sign that your life is too full. It’s time to de-clutter, simplify, downsize.
 

One thing Coaching does for people is to make them feel better about themselves because they go into action mode. Humans aren’t supposed to do it all by themselves. In tribal societies, people always work with at least one other person.
 

Get the support you need, sign up for Coaching, join a Mastermind group… You’ll be surprised how motivated you suddenly are to make the changes you wish for.