I get paid to talk about happiness to rooms full of people and I love it. Those closest to me will tell you that happiness has always been my number 1 definition of success. Even when I experienced trauma and an acute illness in early 2020, I was still in hospital, getting patients that were up for it singing, laughing and having fun (in between the inevitable tears and breakdowns that come with being in a fragile state of course). I was always running baths and encouraging patients to enjoy some ‘chill time’. Water has always been my happy place. Last week, the show was running over and I had just over a minute on live radio to sum up what happiness means to me. I spoke as quickly as I could in that time but there was so much more I wanted to say on this topic.
I spoke about getting out of our mind and in that mojo, you know that place where you are just there, all in. Maybe it’s twerking, dancing on tables or singing like nobody can hear you. Or perhaps it’s getting lost in a great book, performance or activity that you love. Perhaps it’s adventure sports or having a few drinks and letting your hair down. Or laughing so hard that your stomach hurts. This is all brilliant. But I wanted to say more. You see, happiness isn’t always noisy and high energy. Sometimes it is in those calm, still moments. Sometimes it’s in acceptance and surrender. Acceptance of the moment that you are in, knowing that you can still feel a sense of peace, hope and calm, even when there are so many things going on that we cannot always control. Happiness is knowing that we can take control of the present moment.
I am an excitable person. I love diving into things and embracing all things larger than life. I love the things that we know raise our energy such as music, cold water, moving the body, nature, good company, comedy and new adventures. Yet, I have come to realise that a huge part of happiness is also being grounded. We need to take time every day to do so. We need to take time to get still. The stillness and the calm and the balance is just as important as the ability to embrace being excited. These days I try to aim for a 50% balance. If my diary is getting busy with exciting and stimulating plans, then I need to schedule in time for calm and still. If I am feeling a sense of achievement for ticking goals off the list, I know that the dopamine levels will be pretty high and therefore it’s important to seek out some much needed oxytocin.
I remember coming home from a year travelling around the world. Sometimes I had slept in stunning hotels but mostly it was backpacking, sharing dorms and even sleeping on the beach, on boats, trains, or doorways if the hostel wasn’t open yet. It was an amazing year of adventures but that first night, back with my parents in the home I grew up in was oxytocin in a shot. Hugs at the airport after a year apart, a home cooked meal and then that golden, in fact platinum moment that my Mum still remembers – the moment I jumped into MY bed in MY room for the first time. I was so happy. The screams of comfort were pure joy! What can you do each day to give you those small and simple comforts that feel like home?
I’ve written before about happiness vs joy. To me, happiness is often based on the external things that really excite us, people we love, music, doing fun things, treating ourselves. Joy comes from a deeper place, it’s internal. Two people could be on the most stunning beach, one lost in the moment, lost in the feel of the water on their skin, the sun beaming down or a stunning sunset. That still, calm and beautiful feeling where all is well. Then the other person may be complaining about the sand, it’s too hot, they are scrolling through social media, thinking about work, worrying about the future, the past – not there. People have often told me I am easily pleased but I think it’s more about leaning into the positives in a world that encourages us to pick up on the faults. This can take practise though because we are wired to judge to keep us safe. But leaning into the present moment helps us. Also, taking time to reflect on the times we haven’t been there in the moment and learn from them. I remember in 2018, being horrified at myself for working by the pool on holiday. I was arranging a press night for David Lloyd for the day I got back, why on earth did I not just say – let’s change the date. My boundaries were lacking. I was emailing my book publisher with last minute edits before the launch the next month, could it not have waited for a week? The following year I put my phone away for most of that holiday and I was there. Sometimes it’s a choice to do so. That to-do list will never ever stop but if you don’t take time to get off the busy train and press pause, your mind may stop working so well.
When we take time each day to get mindful, the answers just come. A mantra I love comes from the book of Psalms: be still and know. Sometimes when we are too busy or overstimulated, we don’t have the time to get still and know. I remember when I still felt super happy in many ways and excited about life, my mind was racing. I was buzzing but it turns out not in the best way. It was buzzing without balance. I was working so hard trying to be a great Mum and I was tired but I loved it. I was working so hard at my job and I was tired but I loved it. I was playing so hard, lacking a bit of JOMO (joy of missing out).
I had an amazing chat on the podcast this week with the lovely Zach from Wellbeing in your office. You can tune in here, jump in and feel lighter. We talk through many ways to get into the moment and seek out more harmony and balance in our life. It can be very easy to talk about all this stuff, but it’s always a work in progress. I loved the fact that Zach’s alarm clock went off when he was chatting. He explained to me that he sets it each day to remind him to get still for a few minutes. Alarm clocks to take still time, that is brilliant. I hope this post and this week’s podcast encourages you to prioritise happiness in your life, the still peaceful moments and the more upbeat. You got this.
Jojo Fraser is an award-winning author, podcaster and keynote speaker, dubbed as ‘the Queen of positivity and a kindness advocate. She is a Tedx speaker and a regular speaker on BBC Radio. Jojo is known for normalising discussions around our mental health, making it accessible and relatable to all. She has quickly grown a reputation for having a huge impact even on the most sceptical of people. She has a huge passion for helping people to get their mojo back. Jojo loves acting, singing, wild swimming and exploring with her family.
Contact her at – firstname.lastname@example.org or across social @jojofrasermojo
Follow Jojo’s popular podcast here, which is dubbed by her global listeners as ‘free therapy’.