It began when I hit 30 and had everything yet I was deeply unhappy. I wasn’t sure if I was old enough for a mid life crisis or if this constituted one but it is here my journey to find happiness began. I had a partner who loved me, living in a house by the beach which is what I always wanted and I was earning more than I ever thought possible in a job I was told I excelled in. My life had all the hall marks of success from the outside but inside there was a hole in my soul. I was too busy rushing around trying to be successful to really notice if I was happy.
My experience demonstrated the impact on our physical health when we’re mentally unhappy. I studied the intricacies of health and how it all fits together and came to the conclusion that the key is balance, you can’t have one without the other it’s a bit of all of these things. Traditionally balance for me was seeing how many balls I could keep in the air without dropping any. My corporate job and associated travel, eating right, making sure I got up early enough to do yoga and meditate and ensuring I went to the gym after work to offset all that sitting down, trying to maintain social engagements despite being exhausted, organising our next weekend break and making sure I didn’t forget anyone’s birthday, eventually something had to give, a ball had to drop and for me it was my health, I burnt out.
Something had to change and I decided that was everything. I cleared out my life, if it didn’t fulfil me it went, I was left with nothing but strangely I found I had everything I needed and I embraced the simplicity of life. The more I had the less happy I became so I thought I would try and experiment and try the opposite. So I gave it all up; quit my job, left my partner and started again; many people thought I was brave, many more thought I was stupid and I wasn’t quite sure which category I fell into. I felt excited about the future yet also daunted and fearful whilst also dealing with the emotional loss and sudden change in circumstances, this was all part of my journey to discovering where happiness lives.
I decided to give myself 12 months to try all the things I’d learned and learn some more along the way, I wanted to experience these things and see what worked and most importantly I wanted to find the answer to what makes us happy. I had a plan and knew what I wanted to achieve but looking at the list I wasn’t sure 12 months would be long enough; I planned to sample the simple life, put some perspective around what really mattered in our material world, do things that made my heart sing, live healthily, cross a few things off my bucket list, spend time with those I love, spend time with those who inspire me and learn from the experts, experience different cultures and see how they approach happiness, meet like minded people, challenge myself, give generously and discover my purpose.
I’ve not had a major awakening or religious experience, no drug addiction or terminal illness to overcome. I don’t have a PhD in health or happiness, I am just your average human, trying to live my best life and be happy, I am not a vegan hippy and I still like to enjoy fish and chips on the beach as much as the next person. I have lived in the corporate world, commuting in long lines of traffic and working all hours. I used to take a pill when a headache came on because I was ‘too busy’ to stop and rest, I have the same family dramas as most people and can still put on a few pounds just by looking at a slice of cake but I aim to share with you what I have learnt over the years, what has worked for me and those I’ve spoken to along the way and how it can change your life.
Over the last 12 months I quit the corporate world, left my home, gave away my possessions and became single for the first time in years. I spent time living in Ashrams and retreats, volunteered teaching English overseas in Buddhist temples, took part in meditation retreats and studied mindfulness. I have visited those I admired and those I loved, qualified as a yoga instructor, spent quality time with my family, spent time in Thailand the land of smiles and a place close to my heart, visited Bhutan the country dedicated to happiness and lived as a nomad. I set out on a journey to spend time doing the things I loved and what it taught me in the process was a whole host of lessons about myself, my values, how to find happiness and live life to the fullest. At the end of my journey I finally felt comfortable being the person I was instead of the disappointment of not being someone else and this goes a long way to contributing to your happiness. Of course it was also not the end of my journey but the beginning of a new chapter, the rest of my life.
To find out about my first book A Rough Guide to a Smooth Life click here
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