What is success and why is happiness more elusive than ever for so many? We know that stress is becoming the number one health killer. What do we need to do to make some positive changes so we can get successful and be happy without all the stress that gets created with modern life?
I talked as part of the Huffington Post series of Conversations Starters in the Secret Form tent at Wilderness Festival talking about stress and mindfulness.
Ruby Wax- out of her mind
I got talking on stage with Ruby Wax the comedian who has suffered with bi-polar disorder about suffering depression and anxiety – she knows what it’s like to feel ‘out of your mind’ with anxiety.
She admitted she always wanted to be seen as really busy so that people would see her as really successful and the hot ticket. Noone near us really wants to admit that they are not busy, but now the tide is shifting. We’re fed up. We’re stressed. And we are way too busy.
Is it true that the busier we are all of the time, the more successful we are being? We’re living through this view of success right now but it’s clear being busy to feel successful is getting well out of date. Being so busy makes us feel stressed and unable to cope in many cases. Our children are experiencing this in a way that is becoming an endemic problem.
Having it all
I used to look after a lot of celebrities at my PR agency. I noticed that the people at the top of their game in entertainment, music and film were busy, successful, surrounded by people saying yes and jumping through hoops. Yet behind the scenes these big stars were unhappy and often taking a lot of drugs or alcohol to numb the truth of feeling miserable and ‘having it all’ yet feeling empty.
For many of us, life is a continuous drip feed of arranging more things to do – working harder, more meetings, more output, taking the kids out more to keep them busy all the time, buying more stuff, eyeing up the latest must-have goodies.
Why do we have to create a life of being so busy with little time to talk, hang out with friends or really relax? Is it to feel good? Do we arrange all these things because we think it will make us happier or more successful. Yes. Does it work? No.
Our time is getting pressed, our nerves are getting frazzled, real communities have diminished and we need a fresh look at things.
Happiness is an inside job
The studies on happiness show us that running fast, being busy, having more stuff doesn’t make us happier. Both science and ancient wisdom point to the same answers loud and clear – happiness is an inside job. Quiet time, meditation, taking time out is essential to tune into who we really are.
We are learning that taking some time to pause, to relax, meditate and take time out of a hectic schedule to do things we love doing with others are probably the most useful ways to get a happier life. Ironic that the ‘being really busy’ thing is also the ‘how to get more stressed and ill fast’ thing and yet we keep on loading layer upon layer of new things to do into our lives day by day. Time for a new look at this.
How we run our mind
As research on the human condition unfolds, we are discovering that it is how we run our minds that counts towards the quality of our happiness. How we run our emotions. What we think about, how we feel, where our attention goes and the dialogue we regularly run in our minds are major keys for our health and wellbeing. It’s these things that make a real difference between us feeling good or bad.
Modern science is showing us precisely the same information that the ancients knew – that how happy we are depends on how we think and is affected by what we do from the inside out and not outside in. Once we know that we have more power than we think – by thinking differently – then we can learn to master better states of wellbeing really fast.
When things go wrong from the inside or with high levels of stress, then mental health issues easily arise. Stress and mental health issues are one of the major killers of our times and are responsible for major problems in our developed world. If we can get cleverer, more honest and more open about what’s going on in mental health, then we have a chance to change things for the better quickly.
We could probably all do with a little more help to bring on happier, easier lives.