What’s your happy?
If someone asked you that right now, would you know the answer? If not, it’s okay. Because Vernon Brown can help. Vernon, one of the top happiness coaches in the country and founder of What’s Your Happi, spends his days helping entrepreneurs (like you, solo PR pro!) and executives get unstuck, identify their true source of happiness and figure out how it relates to their career.
How to find your happy
In a recent episode of That Solo Life: The Solo PR Podcast, Vernon shares some helpful insights on how to find your unique “happy”— plus three tips that will help you live your happiest (and most successful) life.
First, get curious.
According to Vernon, we’re all actually taught how to find happiness at a very early age. But somewhere along the line, for various reasons, we forget the basics. We start to expect it’ll just land in our laps. Unfortunately, that’s a fallacy.
In order to unlock true happiness, we must seek it out. Ask yourself: What did I used to do that made me happy? Dig way back to when you were a child, when you were in high school, early on in your professional life and so forth. Start writing down all of the different activities that brought you joy — from the little things (like doing your times tables) to the big things (like performing on stage). You may not understand how they relate to your current life or career at first, but once you have a full list in front of you, you can begin searching for the common thread among most of them.
You can also be curious about other people, too. What are your family members, friends, colleagues and so forth doing that makes them happy? Sometimes, examining other people’s lives helps you become a little bit clearer about your own. But take note: Just because something makes someone else happy doesn’t mean it’ll have the same effect for you.
But make sure the items on your list do not include:
- Other people. In other words, you can’t say, “My friends make me happy,” or “It makes me happy when my daughter calls me.” It doesn’t mean these things can’t be joyful for you — it means that your main source of happiness should not be reliant on others. That’s a recipe for disaster for everyone involved.
- Spending money. You know what they say — money can’t buy happiness. And that’s pretty much true. Yes, money can buy comfort, safety, security and things that bring you temporary joy. But happiness? Unfortunately, no. Say you love going to concerts. That’s great! But it can’t be your happy because, typically, it requires purchasing tickets. Dig a little deeper. What is it you like about concerts? Is it being around a lot of people? Is it listening to your favorite bands? Is it exploring new music? These are things that can be done for free.
- Food or alcohol. At the end of the day, food is fuel and alcoholic beverages are meant to be an occasional treat for those who are able to imbibe safely. Typing happiness to either of them could create myriad unhealthy habits. (But make no mistake — you should definitely still eat food you enjoy!)
Three tips for living your happiest (most successful) life
Here are three expert tips from Vernon to help you live your happiest life.
1. Prioritize intent, action and inspiration
Vernon does three things every single day. First, he starts each morning with intention. He wakes up at 4:30 a.m. so he has 90 minutes to himself before his daughter wakes up. During this time, he plans out how he wants his day to go, including what he wants to get out of the day and what will make it a success. “When you’re intentional about your actions, you have no choice to be successful — especially when you combine it with a bit of consistency,” Vernon says.
Next, he makes sure to get his body moving, whether it’s going for a walk, hitting the gym or riding his bike. Recently, he’s been cycling for 10 to 20 miles a day. This physical activity, whatever it may be, helps Vernon relieve a lot of stress and worry.
Lastly, he carves out time, even if just a few minutes, to talk to someone who can inspire him, present him with a different edge or perspective, or challenge him in some way.
2. Flip the script on the comparison trap
It’s tempting (and far too easy) to compare ourselves to others. We all do it sometimes, especially with social media. And while many say you should stop comparing yourself to others completely, Vernon actually believes you should do the opposite — but in a healthy way.
When you see someone doing something you want to do but haven’t yet, or achieving a higher level of success than you in some way, resist the urge to turn that into a negative assessment of yourself. Instead, use it as motivation.
For example, let’s say you’re running a race and you spot someone ahead of you. Rather than thinking about how much faster they are than you, or putting yourself down for being “so slow,” shift to a positive mindset. Try to catch up to them, or at least match their pace so you don’t fall further behind them. (Still listen to your body of course — protecting it from injury is top priority.) Turn your envy into motivation. Let it drive you.
And remember: Most of the time, you simply have no idea what other people are dealing with behind the scenes. Comparing your entire existence to the 10% you see of their life is a colossal waste of time.
3. When things get hard, double down — but don’t be afraid to take a break
There are times, especially as entrepreneurs, that we can all get so overwhelmed with our to-do list that we flounder and stall. Vernon urges you to keep going, to push through determined to get to the other side.
“It’s what you do in those moments when most people give up, when you’re frustrated, the kids are driving you crazy, everything’s going haywire,” Vernon says. “When you decide to finish it, to just do it now, that’s when it’s a success. And once you do whatever you needed to do, you usually realize it wasn’t that bad anyway.”
Of course, it’s incredibly important to recognize when to take a step back and recharge. You need energy to think, to be aware, to concentrate, to focus. If your energy is low, you’ll spend more time completing a task than is really necessary. When you feel this way, take a break, reach out to a friend, listen to your favorite song — just do something that allows your brain to rest for a bit. Then, come back to it and double down.
Finding your true happiness certainly isn’t easy. It requires time, effort, determination and the commitment to seeing it through for, well, the rest of your life. But it’s worth it. Because, as they say, you only get one life — why not try to be as happy as you can?
We want to hear from you! What’s your true happy? And how did you find it? Let us know in the comments or on social media using #solopr!