About Talent and Prejudice… and a bit of Happiness

May 11, 2009

Today, out of curiosity, I went on YouTube to watch Susan Boyle. I had heard about her singing performance, but I had no idea what it was and whether she was good indeed.
What I have watched and heard on the video is simply amazing! Moreover, it immediately inspired me the title of this article.

First, about prejudice: When she introduces herself on the stage to the jury panel, all she met was skepticism, smirks and disbelief. Can you imagine? An unemployed 47 year-old who is not particularly blessed by her looks and does not wear fancy clothes. In the audience, you can hear giggles and laughter at her, as well as eyes rolling. The general thinking probably was “What a loser!”. Her slightly cheeky attitude was just adding to the comic perception. And yet…

Now about talent: It did not take Susan Boyle more than 3 notes to make them all shut up. The eyebrows rose, the jaws dropped and the mouths went silent. Just 3 notes to realize that all that her looks made people think were simply irrelevant, because that lady on the stage is simply something else. She has an amazing voice and she can sing. A whole bunch of pop divas who are all about cute and sexy should simply ponder about what their talent is about, because they not even remotely can compete with Susan Boyle.

Click here to view the video

Finally, about happiness: Her performance not only stunned the audience, but you could see on the faces, by watching at the throats and by the final ovation, that Susan stirred some really strong emotions. The listeners really experienced something deep and very positive. When you listen to her, you cannot keep on thinking about the little worries in your life. No, all the rest goes on stand-by, because her voice is too beautiful to be missed by insignificant details that can wait for later. Susan makes us happy because she is happy herself.

The great lesson that comes from this is that she did not doubt her abilities, even if she probably had to deal with people who judge her on the wrong parameters. She shows that when you have a dream (no pun intended with the title of the song), you must keep chasing it, regardless of what others might think or say, because if you persist long enough, it will come true. It also shows that talent is inside, that too many criteria used to judge are irrelevant because not aimed at the right thing, and that the critics should not jump to conclusions. One can only wonder how it is possible that people supposed to spot talent have been able to not notice her for so long!
Her performance truly touched me and this article is dedicated to her.

Thank you Susan!

Copyright 2009 The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.


The meaning of life

May 11, 2009

Some subjects have the ability to keep you busy for a while. The title of this article is one of them.
The problem with it, though, is that the answer is really difficult to find and cannot be verified for sure. Depending on whether you are a scientist, a theologian, a philosopher or a hockey fan, the way you will answer this question will vary quite substantially.

The Meaning of Life

Therefore, this question remains mostly an intellectual exercise, which can be satisfying, but it lacks practicality.
Instead of tormenting oneself with the absolute answer that no one can find, maybe because there is no such absolute answer, this topic can be dealt with in a much more stimulating and practical way.
All you need to do is to slightly change the question, from “What is the meaning of life?” into “What meaning do I want to give to my life?”. This simple shift of scope can do wonders, and quite rightly so, because it now offers you the possibility to become your own Creator, thus shifting the scope of another difficult quest for absolute truth that has kept mankind busy for eons.

There are a few simple steps and simple things can help you creating a very meaningful life:

  • Identifying which values are really important to you.
  • Identifying what makes you feel alive.
  • Taking the initiative, instead of letting your environment make the decisions that will shape your life.
  • Persisting when you meet resistance.
  • Always identifying the positive signs and remaining enthusiastic.
  • Taking the opportunity to learn and improve.
  • Venturing out of your comfort zone.
  • Not being afraid of setbacks, as they are part of life anyway.
  • Making decisions and keeping moving on.

Giving a meaning to your life is all about pursuing fulfillment and finding gratification in your activities, and this as much in your personal life as well as in your professional life. If it happens to fill a universal significance, too, then that will be a nice addition. However, you must build your life for yourself first, because all that counts is that your life means something to you.

The worst thing would be a meaningless life, wouldn’t you agree? But that can happen only by waiting and not taking action. So, live, experience, try and share!

Copyright 2009 The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.


Maslow’s pyramid and happiness

May 11, 2009

Happiness is a subjective feeling. What works with one person, does not necessarily work with another person. The answer to this “mystery” can be found in Maslow’s pyramid of needs […] Click here to read the entire article.


The shift from negativity to positivity

May 11, 2009

Unfortunately, negativity takes quite a toll on too many people.
It brings an array of feelings and emotions that are eventually destructive. Yet, there are simple ways of dealing with negativity and move towards a much more positive approach of life.

 

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Negativity is used with different meanings. In many cases, someone will be labeled as negative, just for being critical, which annoys the person who is challenged. This is why calling the “challenger” negative is an easy way to dodge what may be a difficult discussion.
This is not what I mean by negativity in this article.
What I mean is the attitude that reduces anything and everything to an almost impossibility to do and achieve anything, a systematic refusal to even consider undertaking. It is the preference of the unsatisfying status quo above the potentially riskier change. It is loaded with negative experiences, such fear of failure and of rejection.
Negativity does not bring anything good in life. It leads to inaction, frustration, even sickness and depression.

Nonetheless, negativity is not a final condition and it can be turned around without to much difficulty. This, however, does not mean without effort…
The first step is to recognize that you have landed into negativity, and to have the desire to change this. Very often, this where most of us can feel “stuck”. How to make the switch to positivity?
A very important aspect of turning things around is to not isolate yourself, which is common when you do not feel too happy about yourself. Let the people that you trust that you are willing to change for the best will bring you more support than you would think, and for a simple reason: people who like you suffer of your negative mindset, too, and they will be more than willing to help you become more positive. So, do not hesitate to let your closest friends and relatives know what you are doing and have them get involved.

A really good way to deal with negativity is to increase your level of self-awareness. Every time you realize that you have a negative thought or reaction, just say “stop!” and rephrase your thought in positive language. For instance, instead of saying “that won’t work” ask yourself “how could I make this work?”.
Also, have your friends participate in this and allow, even mandate them to be the ones saying “stop” and ask you what you think you should have said instead. This method can actually quickly become a very playful experience and stimulate you to do more of it. After a while, you will already realize how much better you feel and how more optimistic you have become. This exercise is like gymnastics of the mind and brings good results.
What also works very well is to focus on the successes and not spend too much time on failures. By celebrating the victories, you will create a dynamics of enthusiasm and success, which very quickly will by far outweigh the attempts that went wrong. This will grow your appetite for more victories, as well as your refusal to accept defeat and fight harder next time to achieve your next success. There again, support and help from trusted friends and family makes this process faster and more effective.

Life is a constant challenger of your will, of your aptitude to dare and of your knowledge and abilities. This is how we grow, feel better, and achieve fulfillment. Take on the challenge and make your life fun and exciting!

Copyright 2009 The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.


Success and happiness: which came first?

May 11, 2009

I have heard and read about this question quite a few times, without getting a very clear answer, though.
Probably, this is because the question as such does not really address the core of the issue it wants to raise.
In my view, both success and happiness originate from the same, and grow in a very similar way.
In order to be successful and happy, you must start with shaping your life around your core values, and not around those that your environment imposes on you. Only by doing so, you will be able to choose and develop activities that, both professionally and personally, can bring the fulfillment and the enthusiasm that are required in any successful endeavor.

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Success can be a rather difficult concept to formalize, as its definition depends greatly on what you consider important for you in life. For some, this will be making lots of money, for others it will mean have a family, it also could be gaining a position of power or reach a certain social status; it could be becoming famous, and so on.
If you try to eliminate the subjectivity that goes together with the variety of values, a good definition of success that I have heard is that “success is to bring what you start to its completion”. I personally like this definition, because it describes very well the whole process that is necessary to reach the required satisfaction to feel successful.
What, to me, reinforces my conviction that success and happiness go in parallel is that you can write the same paragraph above, just by replacing success by happiness and the text will make just as much sense.
It is quite difficult to try to see a relation of cause and effect between the two concepts. Indeed, if you are not happy, can you feel successful? In the same line of thought, can you feel happy if you are not successful? You probably cannot.
Next to engaging in activities that match your values and working on bringing them to completion, a very important aspect for both success and happiness is to get others involved as well. Never hesitate to ask for help, for support and for feedback. You will never have enough of those. Other people’s input is very valuable to stay motivated and determined, as well as to avoid losing track.
A great way of increasing your level of happiness and success in life is to first envision what the ideal world would be. What would you do if you were the one who could make things “perfect” for yourself? Once you have defined this ideal world, you can start developing your own plan. Although in some cases, a drastic change could work, I would recommend having a step-by-step approach, as a drastic change all of a sudden could bring a lot of uncertainty and chances of failure that not everyone can handle. Set your targets to go from point A (where you are today) to point B (your ideal world). Define each step clearly and set realistic and rigorous timelines to this plan. Timelines are quite important because they will force you to keep taking action. Not doing so will always end up in inaction, because we are all very good and finding excuses to postpone what we prefer not to do. Another important part in the execution of this plan is to designate someone (friend, coach, family member, etc…) to remind you, to enforce these timelines and if needed to reprimand you, because there again, if you can get away with procrastination, chances are that you will indeed.
To sum up, the way to happiness and success requires the following: build your life around your values and choose the environment in which they can flourish. Have a plan to improve your level of fulfillment. Share the enthusiasm with others. Celebrate every success along the way. Do not forget to ask for assistance to make sure that you will not divert and give up on your plan.
This last point is actually quite important: many people feel unhappy because they have given up on their dreams.

Copyright 2009 The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.