The Esssentialists: What Are The Secrets To A Happy Life?

The Esssentialists: What Are The Secrets To A Happy Life?

Robyn Foyster



It’s something we need to bottle – the secrets to a happy life that is. And here, The Carousel talks to Shannah Kennedy and Lyndall Mitchell, the authors of the new book Shine, 20 Secrets To A Happy Life. 

Tell us your tips to help set boundaries

Boundaries are essential to becoming a healthy adult and balancing your work and personal life effectively. 

They demonstrate your commitment to self respect.

Half of the troubles people are having can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough.  Having strong boundaries is an essential skill for calm confidence and a foundation for your own wellbeing.  Life with boundaries doesn’t mean being rigid or inflexible, instead having good boundaries creates and cultivates a purposeful life with great meaning and happiness.  It allows you to stay in the driver’s seat.  It means doing things you deem important and letting go of those you don’t want to do. 

Top tips for boundary setting:

  1. Self-care – learning the art of putting yourself first so you can be the best version of self personally and professionally.  Every day taking 2-3 blocks of time for self-care.  We have 72 x 20 minute blocks of time every day.  How many 20 minutes blocks can you take for yourself daily?
  2. Awareness – if you take more time for self- care then you will have a higher level of self-awareness.  With a high level of awareness you can then easily think of your feelings on scale 1 to 10, when you get near a 7 or higher chances are someone has just crossed your boundaries. This is the moment to pause and ask yourself:

• What is causing that?

• What is it about this interaction, or the person’s expectation that is bothering me? 

When someone acts in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, that’s a cue to us they may be violating or crossing a boundary.  This is the time to pause and process before moving forward.

       3. Space – Before committing to the next party, event or task (especially if you’re a yes person), have a standard response of “I just need to check my diary and get back to you”.  This puts space between you and the decision and gives you an opportunity to check in with your values and see if this activity, task or event will add to your values or take away.  Once you have had the space it will be easy to make the right decision to support your health and wellbeing moving forward.

The Esssentialists: What Are The Secrets To A Happy Life?

Shannah Kennedy and Lyndall Mitchell

Do you get sick of everyone saying they are time poor?

We do hear from the majority of our clients that they are in a time famine.  We have become a society of distraction over concentration hooked on constant entertainment.  For so many people they are a servant to their technology, rather than a master.  We need to take back the control of our time in the areas you can control, like your morning and evenings.  We call these the book ends of your day.  These are the times of the day you can control and create a proactive routine for your mind and body to thrive on.  It is about living life by design not default and when we are locked in a time famine mindset we are constantly triggering our stress response and affecting our health and wellbeing as well as our productivity.

What should people do to help free themselves up from the shackles of taking on too much?

Boundaries at work – what is your schedule, chunking your projects, meetings & emails in the morning

Boundaries at home – what do you need to do to walk in to your home and inspire your family/friends not drain them?  Take a breath, finish your calls/emails outside the home and create a transition space from work to home.  Don’t take your muddy feet inside the home.  You can be tired and happy you don’t need to be tired and grumpy.

Boundaries for your health – take the stairs where possible, move regularly, give up soft drink, hydrate with water every day, put effort into your food preparation to make available the food that supports your health.

Boundaries for technology – phone out of bedroom, set clear technology curfews and stick to them

Saying NO – what is the cost of this on my time, health, having the commitment to self to say no, when it doesn’t feel right

What are some practical tips to simplifying your life?

Technology – what essential structures and reminders can you put into your smart phone to support you?  When are you not on it?  Let’s just check something: For how many of you, is the last thing you look at, your device (phone).  What about, the first thing you look at when you wake up?  Why aren’t the last thing and the first thing, your spouse? Or your own set of thoughts?  Assess your media diet. 

Create space and take a pause and answer some questions to help you gain clarity of your time and your boundaries.

What can you say no to today?

Where do I feel deprived?

What do I need more have right now?

What do I need less of?

What do I want right now?

Who or what is causing me to feel resentful?

If you want to start doing a journal what are the benefits and best ways to get started?

Journaling is the minds way of processing our thoughts. Typing is not as effective as writing.  This is your outlet for all sorts of feelings, thoughts, emotions, frustrations and gratitude.

A great way to start is to put a pen and pad next to your bed and before you go to sleep write down the 3 things you are grateful for today?  Some days you may write 3 words other days you may write 3 pages.  Journaling about gratitude before bed trains our brain to go to sleep in a positive frame of mind.

Is being happy as simple as it sounds? What are your top tips to being happy?

Just like we have a genetic healthy weight range – to live at your peak is about being at the top of your range not the bottom.  Similarly we have a genetic happiness range – when you consistently invest in your own happiness you can live at the top of your range more consistently, without investing in the skills you may end up being in the lower range.

Our top five tips for living at the top of your range are:

  1. Kindness – be kind to self, take a moment to help someone, smile, do a random act of kindness everyday
  2. Journaling – taking time to process your thoughts
  3. Compassion – giving to your community and helping others
  4. Gratitude – every day writing your top 3 things you are grateful for
  5. Empathy – being a great listener and practicing this skill
book Shine, 20 Secrets To A Happy Life. 

The Essentialists – Published by Penguin Random House Australia, RRP $19.99