Happiness

How To Be Happy: Founder Of The Authentic Life Company Shares His Secrets

Most of us want the same thing in life - to be happy. But sometimes, when you're working long hours, understanding what your dream even is can seem impossible.

But one organisation is trying to make happiness a little bit easier to comprehend, then achieve.

The Authentic Life Company provides life coaching, helping people to identify what will make them truly happy before suggesting the steps they can take in order to move towards their goal.

Speaking to HuffPost UK Lifestyle, founder of the company Robert Hutchinson said: "I think the idea of not understanding who we are is quite a universal problem.

"A lot of people could really help themselves by taking time out to look at how they work and what’s important to them."

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The Authentic Life Company was formed after Robert underwent a process of re-evaluating his own happiness and wellbeing.

After years of working in television for major stations like the BBC, Channel 4 and The Discovery Channel, Robert began to feel dissatisfied with his job.

"I was director of media planning, looking at the strategy of on-air communications," he explains.

"Working hours were a good eight or nine hours per day plus I had a one hour commute to work, so I didn't have a lot of time for myself."

As Robert approached his forties, he began to find the job "unfulfilling" and knew it was time for a change.

"I wanted to work for myself and I was looking at the next 10 and 20 years and considering how I wanted my life to be structured. I wanted to focus on something I was really interested in and passionate about," he says.

Robert believes it wasn't just his mind telling him it was time to leave the entertainment industry, but his body too.

"Sometimes I’d be sitting at my desk and it would feel like I was suffocating or drowning. I just really felt very visceral need to get out of there," he says.

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After taking three months off to re-connect with himself, Robert founded The Authentic Life Company to help others make the transition into happiness.

"I had been coached previously myself and had a great experience, so I knew how powerful it could be," he says.

According to Robert, most of our problems stem from us not understanding who we are or what we really want.

"People just don’t time to take stock of who they really are, to consider changes in their personality and their circumstances.

"As you get into your 30s, 40s, even 50s, life has changed a lot, but you don’t really get chance to step back and think about what your life currently is and what you actually want it to be like," he says.

This idea of not being "real" or "genuine" with ourselves is what inspired the name of The Authentic Life Company.

Robert tries to help people re-discover a more "authentic" way of living by stripping things back to their true desires.

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"I start by really bringing everything into the client's consciousness, getting them to think about how they tick and what's important to them.

"Once they've got a clear picture of themselves and how they want things to be, suddenly a lot of the confusion that clients come to me with goes away," he says.

Robert works with clients to create a plan that enables a "managed transition" into a new life. This limits the risk of a client reaching breaking point and losing their job (perhaps due to stress) before they are able to financially cope.

So what advice does Robert give for anyone feeling dissatisfied with their life?

"Firstly, listen to that voice in your head – if the voice is saying change, then take it very seriously and start to make plans towards the change as soon as you possibly can.

"The second step is to notice when you are being genuine – if we’re specifically talking about work, notice those times that feel right and feel good and notice those times that feel bad, awkward and inauthentic. When I used to network it would feel awkward and staged – it wouldn’t feel real.

"Then, talk abut how you feel with friends, family and colleagues and get some professional advice yourself," he suggests.

Robert is certainly a man who practices what he preaches - since leaving the world of television, Robert says he feels more "like himself" than he has in years.

"It’s a different league of happiness to what I was feeling before. I don’t have that feeling on a Sunday evening of dread and not looking forward to the week coming up," he says.

"I’m now defining success beyond power and money and status – what’s now important to me is working in a field that I’m passionate about.

"I go on holiday but I don’t feel that need to – I go on the holiday, enjoy the holiday but also look forward to coming back and continuing the work I love."

Click SOURCE below for the original article on The Huffington Post

Learning to drive your mind.

We all have a standard human brain and they’re all exactly the same. Any one human brain is capable of doing and behaving in exactly the same way as any other human brain, and this includes the best and the worst of human endeavours.

This was how Prof Paul Gilbert opened a talk on Evolution, Compassion and Happiness this week arranged by Action for Happiness. Starting from an evolutionary angle provided an interesting perspective which makes total sense if you think about it. The higher human brain functions which evolved over the last two million years or so created a step-change increase in intelligence, logic and reason, but the new functionality also brought a unique set of downsides such as self-criticism, fearful imagination and shame. These downsides combine with an inbuilt negativity bias that’s common to all animals (it’s better to be safe than sorry and to assume the worst) to create the negative self-talk and rumination that plagues many of us.

In school we’re taught facts, history, languages and maths. We might be taught about the physiology of the human brain from a Western perspective, but we’re not taught the practicalities of how the brain works, how to get the best out of it and how to be happy. We never learn to drive our own mind!

It turns out that mindfulness and compassion together help us learn to detach from an over-active mind and in so doing to harness the full potential and power of the human brain.

This is powerful stuff, in fact Prof Gilbert went on to explain that true compassion consists of sensitivity to the distress of yourself and others along with a deep commitment to try to relieve or prevent it. So compassion is both an awareness of suffering or distress and an active desire to do something about it. Far from compassion being a ‘soft skill’, true compassion is incredibly courageous. You may have to think about this connection between compassion and courage for a while.

A quirk of the human mind is the ability to generate emotions and physical bodily reactions on demand. If you choose to think about a recent argument you can actually make yourself physically angry; your body will prepare itself to fight! If you think erotic thoughts you can even stimulate your body to be sexually aroused! As far as we know, no other animal has this ability to consciously affect the mind and the body, and it’s this curious feature of the human mind-body system that is developed through mindfulness practice.

We’re actually pretty familiar with the idea of getting ‘psyched up’ for say a meeting or a sports game, but what we’re not so familiar with in the West is the exact opposite response which is our ability to make an active choice to ‘psych down’ the mind and body. Mindfulness trains us to bring the mind to a state of rest and to connect into a state of being rather than doing. Then by adding kindness and compassion practices to mindfulness we can learn to self-generate compassion for ourselves and others.

The final piece of the jigsaw is what’s called eudemonic happiness, which means long-term happiness or human flourishing, and eudemonic happiness is grounded in positive emotion. So mindfulness and compassion practices work together to stimulate the brain’s relaxation response to create a sense of happiness and wellbeing. This calms the body and opens up the brain’s higher functions of intelligence, intellect and creativity.

So from evolutionary psychology we understand that the brain has a stress response and a relaxation response, and that crucially we are able to consciously trigger these responses. Every human brain is more or less the same so we understand that the mind is generated, and it has the capacity to be re-generated or re-wired. We practice mindfulness and compassion to trigger the relaxation response and to create a habit of calming the mind and the body.

Prof. Gilbert took us on a fascinating story from evolution and ancient meditative traditions through to modern physiology, psychology and long-term happiness. He encouraged us to detach from the mind that drives us on autopilot and to learn to take control and drive our own minds, or as he put it “To become mindful of nature’s mind.”