We had the great pleasure of catching up with the one and only Happyologist, Susanna Halonen. An accomplished TEDx speaker and life coach, Susanna’s philosophy is that happiness fuels success (not the other way round) and that happiness really is a choice. We love her positive attitude! Read on to find out more…
Tell us a bit about yourself. What is the Happyologist?
As the Happyologist I offer happiness coaching to help you to kill your self-doubt, embrace positive thinking and build a life you love. My mission is to create a happier world, one person at a time.
How did the Happyologist philosophy come about?
I combined life coaching with positive psychology, the science of happiness and human performance, to become the Happyologist. My biggest inspiration for getting started was Shawn Achor’s book, The Happiness Advantage. It taught me that happiness fuels success, and not success that fuels happiness. This is the philosophy behind everything I do.
You mention the typical scenario of work being “black and white”, stressful and hectic in your TEDxSquareMile talk. What are your 3 tips to change that work life into colour and keep happy?
- Say thank you. For the things you have, for the work that you do and to your colleagues for doing their work. We need to make appreciation (in life and at work) the norm. Get some perspective by finishing every working day by writing down three specific things that you were most grateful for in that day. Do it for 21 days and you’ll start to turn gratitude into a habit. Also, say thank you to your colleagues when they give you a report you expected, when they help out randomly or simply for being them.
- Breathe & smile. It’s so easy to panic when stress hits the fan but you’ve got to stop it before it becomes overpowering. Fill your day with deep breaths and pauses from your work if you’re feeling really stressed. By getting back in control of your breathing you’ll lower the stress hormones in your body and make your brain more focused on the task at hand. Also remember to smile! Even a fake smile produces happy hormones in your brain so sometimes forcing a smile to start off with can actually help, especially because the more you smile the more your brain tells you to smile. It’s a smiling spiral!
- Remember why you do what you do. Reminding yourself of the purpose behind your work brings more perspective in. How is the work you’re doing creating positive impact? How is it helping someone in need? If it’s not about providing a product or service to someone, maybe it’s about inspiring people. Identify the purpose behind what you do and you’ll immediately feel a more meaningful connection to your work. Also, remind yourself why you chose to do this work. How is it aligned with your values and beliefs? What is it enabling you to do (e.g. pay rent, go to dinner with friends etc)?
What do you think is the biggest challenge to being happy?
People don’t realise happiness is a choice. They expect external circumstances in their life (like getting that promotion, making more money, getting married etc.) to bring them happiness. Sure, those things bring momentary leaps in happiness but after the initial excitement is gone, you’re back to the same level of happiness as before. Research has shown that about 10% of your happiness is dependant on your circumstances – the rest, 90%, is entirely up to you. That means you have the power to proactively choose happiness every single day. Once you realise that, you start to prioritise the things that are most important to you and the things that make you feel good.
What has been your biggest success story or achievement as a Happyologist?
That’s a hard one – there have been a few! I’m very proud of my book Screw Finding Your Passion: It’s Within You, Let’s Unlock It, which debunks the idea that you need to find and follow one passion, and instead shows how you can live your whole life with passion. I’m also very proud of my TEDxBrighton talk which I did to an audience of 1250 people. It was the first talk I threw a joke on stage and it was also my most personal talk yet.
When it comes to client success stories, there are many! My favourites are the ones where women got their confidence and clarity back – and as a result got the courage to go after their dream job (and get it!), set up their own businesses or got clear on the future direction of their life.
One of the challenges is not only being happy but managing to stay happy. How do you maintain that feeling of happiness once you find it?
First, it’s important to understand that happiness doesn’t mean that you are laughing 24/7. When you have found a fulfilling type of happiness in yourself and in your life, you still experience the full range of emotions (including the negative ones like sadness, anger and stress) but you’re better able to manage them. You become more aware of them when they arise, you know they are temporary, and you have the confidence in your abilities and in your mindset to get yourself through them. You stop denying negative emotions and instead acknowledge them, which already makes them fade quicker. You stop chasing positive emotions and instead you let them arise by remembering to prioritise the things that are most important to you, to be mindful of the present, and to appreciate what you have.
Where can I find out more?
I’d love to see you hanging out at Happyologist.co.uk – and be sure to sign-up to my free happiness newsletter there! There you can also dive deeper into my story and ask questions about my coaching. Also stay tuned for some online courses which I’m releasing this spring!
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