Named top 25 Influential Wellness Experts By Mind Body Green, bestselling author, inspirational speaker, and one of our own travel writers, Shannon Kaiser is helping you find your happy.
Shannon Kaiser is the bestselling author of multiple books on happiness including Adventures for Your Soul, The Self-Love Expierment and Find Your Happy. Her new book Find Your Happy Daily Mantras, and card deck, comes out Feb 13, and is already a hot seller on Amazon.
This girl knows a thing or two about living a life your feel proud of. We sat down with the author, our very own travel writer to share her tips on staying, well, healthy and happy.
1. Why is it that some people simply enjoy more happiness and vitality than others?
Shannon: Happiness is a lot like working out. You have to train your “happiness muscles” to be happy regularly to be comfortable and feel the lasting benefits. At first it can be uncomfortable and in many cases painful, but with daily practice you become stronger, healthier and more confident. Happiness is a habit that can be cultivated. We can train our brains to see the good in everything, but just like working out, some people choose not to work out because it feels like hard work at first or they become comfortable being uncomfortable. Those who work out regularly know the benefits of feeling good and taking care of yourself, and I find it beneficial to treat happiness as a habit, just like going to the gym.
2. Where did you get your drive for living a happy life and encouraging others to do so too?
Shannon: My personal drive comes from a passionate desire to help others who feel stuck and want to feel more happiness. I spent years suffering with eating disorders, drug addictions and depression, so I know what it is like to feel exhausted by life. My drive comes from a desire to help people who are in pain. I know what it is like on both sides of the spectrum, and I believe happiness is a choice. Happiness is not a destination but a consistent way of life.
3. You make the connection of finding everlasting happiness with getting in physical shape. How do they compare?
Shannon: Getting in touch with my body was an essential part of my healing process and integral to my discovering lasting happiness. Coming out of my depression, I started to get in touch with my heart’s desires and signed up for endurance events. Training for triathlons and setting goals to be ready for an event is part of being healthy. As I mentally focused on new possibilities, my body became more fit and vibrant. Feeling good in your skin is essential for true happiness. When we take care of ourselves, we shine from the inside out, we show that we respect ourselves and put our energy behind proving that we are worth it.
4. Can the pursuit of happiness actually make us unhappy?
Shannon: The pursuit of happiness can definitely make us unhappy. Anytime we try to get something we don’t have we focus on the lack, we focus on what we don’t have. That focus actually keeps us in the vicious cycle of only recognizing the negative aspects of our lives.
As I healed myself from depression I didn’t actually focus on “getting happy.” I just practiced small steps daily to pull me into a happier state, such as signing up for a triathlon, or choosing to drink a smoothie instead of a sugary latte in the morning. These small subtle shifts amounted to monumental changes in my overall outlook on life and tapping into true happiness became a regular way of living.
What I say to my life coaching clients is that instead of trying to get happy, they should focus on what they have now, in this moment, which makes them happy. There is always something we can be grateful for and that takes your attention away from the areas where we feel lack.
5. How can we encourage our negative thinking friends to turn into positive and happier individuals?
Shannon: First, consider how hard it is to change yourself, and then reflect on the impossibly daunting task of trying to change someone else.
Your goal in friendships or with family members that are less than supportive or negative is to accept them for who they are. We all have moments of frustration and negative emotions. I learned that trying to cheer someone up with positive mantras when they are feeling low can sometimes back fire. You should avoid trying to change or pump someone up with happy tips if they are in a negative place; realize that when they are stuck in the negative, they likely can’t truly hear you. Instead take care of yourself and align yourself with positive things. Clean up your side of the street so to speak, and watch how your world transforms. The best way to make an impact on others and in the world is to be the change you want to see in others; rather than trying to encourage others to change or try to promote change, be it. Your actions towards health, happiness and vitality will be infectious and that in it self will help them become more positive.
6. What would you say are some of the most effective habits of happy people?
Shannon: I write a lot about what happy people do and why they stay happy, but the truth is, we all have the ability to be happy. Sometimes we just have to remove the barriers, fear and insecurities that are keeping us from finding our own happy. So I believe truly happy people are accountable. If they don’t like something, they change it or they accept it as is.
Happy people don’t blame others for their situations or challenges; they roll up there sleeves and dive into the adventure that is life. I also believe that the happiest people are truly grateful for their circumstances. Being thankful for what you have, even when it is not what you expect…even when it feels like something you don’t want, can help you get more of what you do want. An “attitude of gratitude” is the fastest way to happy.
I have also found that the happiest people around us do not take things personally. They recognize that when things happen, it is not a direct insult or criticism of their actions. They are comfortable in their own skin and happy to listen to others without trying to argue or prove their point is correct; happy people enjoy the diverse contrast of life.
7. What advice can you offer someone who thinks that happiness is not in the cards for them? What would be the first little step in reaching for joy?
Shannon: Happiness is our birth right. We are here on Earth to experience joy; one way to be more joyful in the moment is to follow your “joy route”. That means you drop from your head into your heart and let your heart guide you. If you have an urge to go to try a new fitness class, join a new yoga studio, or maybe buy a new cookbook, give yourself permission to follow that urge. Following the “joy route” means listening to those little nudges from your heart. They will always, 100%, without a doubt, lead you to happiness.