How to Be Happy, According to a Life and Happiness Coach in Singapore
As a life and happiness coach, the first question I am always asked is: “Have you always been this happy and positive?” And the truthful answer is no. Plain and simple. I wasn’t born like this, I definitely wasn’t a carefree teenager, and even as a young adult, I didn’t let things go, and tended to overthink the smallest things. I envied people who were easy-going and content, and I always wished for happiness when I blew out my birthday candles.
Big surprise—happiness isn’t something you can wish for. The universe doesn’t control what falls into your lap, or how you react to situations. Only you do. Only you can make you happy. I wished that I had more awareness of that when I was a young adult.
As a life coach who advocates happiness, and a mother of two, I now feel truly grateful to be aware of what makes me happy, and can channel this as my purpose and work every day. It took a journey of hard work, intention and dedication to making certain changes in my life to get here. Which explains why I am so passionate about helping young people discover what makes them happy, so that they too can lead meaningful lives.
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, I created Getting to Happy SG, a movement that aims to inspire our community to live happier lives. Getting to Happy is a box set of 31 cards detailed with activities and ideas to boost happiness, as well as explanations of the science behind how they can increase well-being. These are designed to be used—one card a day—over a month so that an overall surge in positivity and well-being can be achieved.
From over a decade of coaching clients, as well as going through my own journey, I have come to realise that happiness comes from within. We are truly the driver of how happy we are in our lives. If we place happiness in the hands of others, we will constantly be disappointed. I can’t control how others perceive me, but I can control how I respond to that perception—it’s up to me. In the same light, we need to learn to let go of things beyond our control. We can’t change what has happened in the past—we can simply acknowledge what happened, ask ourselves what we’ve learned and could have done better. And move on.
We are truly the driver of how happy we are in our lives.
Life is so precious, and through the pandemic, we have realised more than ever what truly matters to us, and what makes us happy. Maybe it’s something small, like the smiling faces of your children, or a clean bed that you can sleep in every night. Or something bigger, like the gratitude from being able to have the job you love, or simply from having your pet’s constant companionship.
(Related: How to Stay Positive Amidst the Covid-19 Pandemic)
What you can do
When you see the wonderfulness around you, and you give thanks to it and let go of all the negativity around you, you move towards happiness. To cultivate this attitude of gratitude, give thanks for three things every day. Say it to yourself before bed, to improve quality of sleep and increase well-being. Spread happiness by sharing gratitude or thanks with someone else, maybe a friend, or encourage your kids before sleeping to share with you three things from their day that they are grateful for.
My kids are 11 and seven, and even before they could speak, I would—before their bedtime—tell them three things they should be thankful for. Now that they are a little older, they do it diligently every night, eager to spread positivity. It definitely doesn’t mean that we don’t have bad days—we certainly do, but it’s about seeing the silver lining in every situation. Happiness is all around us, it’s just up to us to see it.
(Related: Finland is the World’s Happiest Country—Again)
Shireena Shroff Manchharam is a certified life and happiness coach with her own practice, Sheens Image Consulting. Her passion is in helping individuals reach their highest potential and she is always on a mission to bring happiness to people’s lives. Her husband and two kids—Lara and Arian—and her pet dog, Bowen, are her constant source of love and happiness.
This is the first in a series by Shireena Shroff Manchharam on mindfulness and gratitude.