The inspirational author on gratefulness, savouring, self-love and getting through tough times.
What’s something that you’re grateful for?
I like to think of three things I’m grateful for every morning. I try not to pick the same things, otherwise it becomes Another Thing To Do rather than something joyous! So I’ll try and think of a person I’m grateful to, an opportunity I have, something great that happened yesterday, and something simple. So today, it’s my girlfriend, who I chatted with in the surf. The opportunity was I had an interview today for my book on happiness. Something great that happened yesterday – the moon! It was incredible! I watched it on the balcony with my son.
What's something that you’re savouring?
Gah! Hasn’t corona been a lesson for all of us in the importance of savouring in the small moments? With small delightful (and noisy and relentless) children, the more I savour and relish in the moment to moment, the more I enjoy them.
What are you anticipating: Small? Medium? Big?
Small – my nephew is turning one this weekend.
Medium – I am jazzing up our balcony (less toy cars and spades and buckets, more lounges and soft furnishings).
Big – would love to go to Moorea and do the marathon over there. One day!
One thing you do as part of your morning routine?
Look, the best tip I have here people is actually something I don’t do – I don’t look at my phone! As soon as I look at my phone, I get sucked into a digital vortex of emails and calendar notifications and Instagram stories… and then all of a sudden, my focus is on everyone else. A new day is like a whiteboard that’s been expunged of all the whiteboard marker, fresh and clean and beseeching you to scribble all over it.
A quick fix to improve zest (energy)?
Boringly, the best way to get zestier is to eat better, move more, get enough sleep. For a quick fix though, try doing ten square breaths. What’s a square breath? Good question. Here’s how you do it: rest your hands on your belly, breath in long and slow and deep so that you can feel your belly expanding with the air. Inhale like this for five seconds. Hold your breath for five seconds. Exhale slowly through your nose for five seconds. Hold for five seconds. Repeat.
Something kind you’ve done lately?
Gah! It’s embarrassing but I had to really think about this one. Um, I helped organise a girlfriend’s baby shower two weeks ago. And then today, a woman dropped her mail and I picked it up for her.
One way to keep your inner critic in check?
Definitely speak to yourself like you’d speak to a best mate. You wouldn’t say to a best mate, 'you’re an idiot, you always stuff things up'. You’d probably say, 'mate, it’s all good, you made a mistake, it happens, you’re a human, let’s watch reruns of Seinfield and have a laugh'.
A way to generate some self-love?
I think firstly, accepting that the road to self-love is rocky and uneven, and that we can love ourselves most of the time but still be a work in progress!
(Huh. Just like happiness).
And secondly, accepting that the road to self-love involves a lot of work. For me, the ‘work’ was forcing myself not to run away when the postman came to the front door. The ‘work’ was walking around my block without my mask on. The 'work' was surrounding myself with people who made me feel good about being me. The 'work' was going to a psychologist every week.
One way to improve a relationship?
Relationships are hard. If you do have a wonderful partner, as wonderful as they are, pleaseeeee don’t forget... you! Yes, glorious you! The you that adores soft-sand jogging, playing Bananagrams and volunteering at the homeless shelter. Don’t ditch your life because of (or for) your wonderful partner. You need a life outside of your partner. You need your own hobbies, you need your own social circles. It’s okay to cross over, but carve out your own space in your life.
One way to spend your money to be happier?
One of the proven ways of spending money to increase our happiness is spending it on time. In other words, buy time, not a Rolex. What does this mean in the real world? Things like spending money on a house cleaner, lawn care or grocery delivery.
What’s your purpose? What are you interested in?
Lots of things! My family. Running. Surfing. Geology. Writing. I tend to forget about 'finding my purpose' and focus on things that I like to spend time doing.
A tip for getting through hard times?
Firstly, acknowledge it. A hard time is a hard time no matter how hard you try and spin it. And secondly, not to be that person, but a little perspective does help. Holocaust survivor Eddie Jaku’s book The Happiest Man on Earth is brilliant. So is Sam Bailey’s Head Over Heels (the book I read constantly in my recovery). Watch the movies Touching the Void and The Intouchables. And look, not to be that person again, but the books I’ve written are pretty good too! Happy is my latest book, and contains a lot of advice for building happiness even through the hardest times.
One way you like to have fun?
Bushwalking. Wait, bushwalking and looking at geology. Getting goosebumps thinking about it haha.
A goal you’re working towards at the moment?
Hahaha getting Happy out into the world and into the hands of as many people as I can!
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