I spoke to a friend of mine last night, he holds a very senior position in a London based company, he’s done extremely well in life, he also experiences Bipolar. He told me that although he works extremely hard to maintain an equilibrium in his mind, he still wakes up some mornings feeling like there is no point to life.
He confessed that although most people would perceive him as a larger than life, joyful person, he wasn’t sure that he had ever really experienced that elusive thing we call ‘happiness’ and he was visibly distressed by the whole ‘happiness industry’ that was constantly reaffirming to him that he was not part of the gang.
Watching my friend in such pain, wanting to show him something of himself that we could all see and he could not, was a moment of realisation for me. As GM of PUSH and one of their Coaches I work in the field of helping people recognise the best of what their company offers and what they as individuals can do to experience the best of themselves. This means nothing though without the understanding of why the hell they should! What does it mean to someone who feels that all this personal development stuff we (as an industry) are offering, this positive mental attitude we encouraging, this happiness industry we are pushing… is just confirming a sense of separation instead of a sense of community?
I wanted to do more, I wanted my work to be even more powerful, to add even more value, to address this head on, to call out the happiness industry for the head-fuck that they were selling and provide something that really wasn’t afraid to say ‘happiness is not all it’s cracked up to be’ and give something in its place that was far more powerful, far more real and didn’t make you feel like shit for not being ‘there’ instead of ‘here’.
So I made a decision to stop side-lining my own thoughts on this, to own the fact that keeping your head in a healthy space is hard work sometimes, that it takes a dedication and a commitment just like any other change to life – that yes, it happens powerful decision by powerful decision but that it wasn’t helpful to just shout that out without the support to get to the moment of transformation.
What we need is not just a redefinition of happiness and its supposed all important virtues, but a whole rewrite on what lies beyond happiness – that is far more important.
When you recognise what is really important to you in life you can buy your way out of the happiness delusion and instead buy in to something far more profound. Happiness is transitory, an emotion like any other but not as deeply felt as joy, not as easy to recognise as anger or as transformative as love. It’s a state we feel we need to achieve on a permanent basis but what happens when striving for happiness simply leads to a sense of failure?
PUSH aren’t in the happiness business, we are in the business of being human. Of celebrating, acknowledging and understanding what it means to be human, of giving you the tools to be aware of how incredible it is to have a whole range of emotions and to learn how to harness those that serve you most – whether that’s using your anger to drive you towards solutions that work better, using your fear to show you what you want the most, or being loving instead of being right.
Like many people, I don’t want to bring my whole self to work, I want to keep some of that just for me, just for my family, but what I do want to bring is my humanity. If happiness arrives as a result then great, but beyond the transitory experiences of my emotions lay a sense of purpose that is worth far more. It is that which brings change into the world, it is that which gets me out of bed, it is that which means I don’t need to be part of the happiness gang, I can simply be myself and enjoy the business of being human, whatever that brings.
Nova’s Top Tips for Remaining Human
1. You are not required to be anymore than you are already – for increased levels of joy, just be more of you, more of the time.
2. Other people aren’t there to measure yourself against, they are there for you to know yourself better by knowing who you are in light of your relationship with them – connect, fall in love a little, laugh.
3. Where you are right now is not wrong, behind, bad, stupid or a failing of any kind. Your journey is as unique as you are; and the story hasn’t ended yet. Let it play out a little longer, watch, observe, understand. Then, every morning, try in your head to write the next page just as you would wish it to be.
4. Notice things, anything you like. Notice the leaves, the car fumes, the pain, the love. Now notice that what you noticed is having an effect on what you are now thinking about… choose wisely.
Nova Woodrow is our General Manager here at PUSH, she is also a Psychotherapist, Coach and Strategist who has worked with hundreds of businesses over the last 20 years to develop a clear and workable business plan for the future. She specialises in supporting and advising companies on increasing psychological resilience, creativity, productivity, motivation and confidence. Nova will be sharing more insights like these on the PUSH blog. We hope you find them useful and if you want to find out more please get in touch.