Back To The Future

January 22nd, 2012 by Alison

I remember well the impact this film had on my imagination back in 1985. Michael J. Fox appeared on ‘Wogan’ as an unknown young actor the day before the film premiered in the UK. Today he is well known for starring as ‘Marti’ in the epic time travelling trilogy alongside Christopher Lloyd as the unforgettable ‘Doc Brown’. He went on to star in numerous TV and film roles including Stuart Little and Spin City. In the midst of his sparkling career and at the tender age of only thirty, he was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson’s disease. Having nursed elderly people suffering from the same condition, I can only say this must have come as devastating news. Being a progressive and debilitating disease, it can sap confidence and lead to depression and personality changes. Yet perhaps his greatest role lay ahead of him as he launched The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research in 2000. Whilst continuing to act and write, (Lucky Man published in 2002, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future published 2010, Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist, published in 2009) he primarily focused on raising awareness for Parkinson’s disease through the foundation he created.

By now, unless you have, or know someone with Parkinson’s, you’re probably wondering “what on earth has this to do with me?” In some ways, absolutely nothing! Yet Michael’s story reminds me of a tool I use with many of my clients. I call it the ‘Cycle of Success’. It has little to do with riding a bike and everything to do with making life work for you instead of against you. It works like this: there are four stages and each one determines the outcome of the next. Here’s how it works:

Stage One: Thought: leads to…

Stage Two: Emotion/Feeling: leading to…

Stage Three: Action: leading to…

Stage Four: The Result…

Which in turn leads to the next thought and the cycle continues.

For many of us this works negatively. However it is extremely effective when used positively. Let’s use Michael’s story as an example for both.

Negative example:

Thought: I’m thirty years old and have just been given a diagnosis which means the end of my career when it’s just taking off.

Emotion: Anger, sadness, grief, frustration, hopelessness, self pity

Action: Withdraws from the public eye, his family/friends

The Result: Becomes lonely, depressed, focusing on all that he has lost, including his dreams.

This result fuels the next thought which may go something like this ‘I might as well resign myself to being miserable. I can’t have an acting career like this.’

Ringing any bells for you?

Here’s the good news! This same cycle can help us have an amazing life despite what is thrown at us. Let’s look at what Michael actually did…

Thought: This diagnosis is so unfair. I’m thirty years old and in my prime. But do you know what? I’m still going to work on my career and focus on what I can do

Emotion/Feeling: Empowered, positive, hopeful, resourceful and uplifted

Action: Works through his frustration with his family/friends/doctor

Result: Continues to build his career moving into alternative directions, including writing

This result ultimately fuels his next thought about helping others through establishing the foundation. Ultimately he gets a career and positively impacts the lives of others.

Of course I have simplified the example with Michael. The reality is there are hundreds/thousands of cycles operating in our sub conscious and conscious minds. The trick is to become aware of what we are thinking, capture those thoughts and replace any negative thoughts with helpful ones. Only when we take control of our thinking can we steer our lives in the way we want to go. We cannot always help what happens to us but we can control how we respond to it. Use Michael’s story as a fabulous example of someone who has used the Cycle of Success to his advantage.  If he can, so can you!

Happy New Year, Happy New Career?

January 6th, 2012 by Alison

I would like to introduce my husband, Paul, as a guest writer who is an education coach and consultant. I do hope you find his articles both useful and inspiring. Alison

‘I suppose it would be easier for all of us to be the people we truly are if we didn’t inherit so many prejudices about the kind of person we should be.’ 

The above quote is taken from ‘The Career Guide for Creative and Unconventional People’ (CarolEikleberry,1999).  As we enter another new year, many of us will be taking stock of our lives, and our careers in particular.  But what comes to mind when you think about your career and how would you define a successful career?  Do you think of a career as something belonging only to a ‘professional’ person or can a ‘non-skilled’ person have a career also?  Is raising children to be regarded as part of a career or as a career-break?

According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, a career can be defined as:

– one’s advancement through life, especially in a profession

– a profession or occupation, especially as offering advancement

– working permanently in a specified profession (e.g. a career diplomat)

I used to think that the difference between a career and a job was that a career had opportunities to progress, whereas a job was an occupational dead-end.  Nowadays I prefer to think of a career along the lines of one’s advancement through life and that all of life’s experiences can inform and contribute to our career management skills.

After a number of years working in the career guidance field, with young people and adults, I have experienced many different attitudes to career choice.  The influence of the media is particularly strong amongst young people and I recall, with some amusement, the sudden interest in the legal profession with the advent of TV programmes such as ‘LA Law’ and ‘Ali McBeal’.  The truth is that we are complex individuals with our own value systems, experiences, skills and attitudes.  If we wish to successfully manage our career, it will be important for us, firstly, to understand about ourselves and about the factors that can influence our choices in life.

For most people there may be many different fields that would provide the enjoyment and fulfilment we search for in a career; sometimes it’s just a question of which door opens first. We also need to understand, however, that we often change with life experience.  Ask yourself, for example, if you still have the same understanding, outlook on life, values and attitudes that you had fifteen or twenty years ago; probably not.  Why, then, should we be surprised that we wish to change career direction at different points in our life?

You may well be in one of a number of situations right now.  Some will feel trapped in a career not knowing how to escape, needing the money but hating the job.  Others may feel that they have made a wrong career move but can’t understand why.  You may be looking for promotion or a new job but can’t seem to get the breaks.  Perhaps you are asking the wrong questions.  Perhaps you should be asking ‘What do I want from my career now?’ instead of ‘What is the next step in my current career?’.  I believe that many people are locked into a traditional way of thinking about their career, I certainly was and it can lead to frustration and disillusionment.

Over the next few weeks I will be publishing more articles aimed at helping you to move forward in your career planning.  For some it may mean taking a new approach to
your present job, to others it may mean a radical change of direction.  We invest too much of our time and efforts into our career not to get some sense of fulfilment from it.  Are we really living whilst we make our living?

It is my firm belief that we owe it to ourselves to both seek and find happiness in a vocation that we will invest years of our life in.  So whether you are seeking to climb
further up the corporate ladder, or wanting to jump off, I trust you will find that the forthcoming articles will open new doors and guide you through a successful career, however you define this concept.

Happy New Year

Next time – ‘Know yourself’

In Pursuit of Happiness…part two

January 5th, 2012 by Alison

What can I say? I’m overwhelmed at the response to the articles/blog on my website. Thank you so much for your positive feedback. It does my soul so much good to hear how your lives are benefiting. One article in particular seems to generate a plethora of comments- ‘In pursuit of happiness’. There have been requests to write more on this subject, so with this in mind, here are my next scribblings…

In my work as counsellor and coach, I’m often surprised at how many people expect happiness to turn up in their lives. Yet they neither think about what happiness means for them or how it will get there. In other words, they abdicate responsibility for their own lives.

‘Ouch’ I hear you cry. Yes, if you’re one of those people who want different results without taking an alternative approach, then this idea of abdicating responsibility may feel rather uncomfortable. Last night I watched a television programme about King George and Queen Mary. They were the grandparents of Queen Elizabeth 2nd and the parents of Edward v111, who abdicated the throne in 1936 in order to marry the twice divorced Mrs Simpson. Edward V111 illustrates well this notion of abdication.

‘So what’s a dead British royal got to do with me?’ you might well be asking yourself. In terms of pursuing happiness, Edwards V111 has everything to do with you and me. You see, abdicating responsibility for our own happiness means giving up on what is rightfully ours. Edward was next in line to the throne, which was his birthright as the eldest son. You and I are born with a right to lead happy and fulfilling lives. Yet, just like Edward many of us give up that birthright. Or in other words we abdicate responsibility for making ourselves happy. Instead, we blame the government, our peers, the weather, our parents, the economic climate…. There is an expectation that someone else should make us happy!

Working in couple and individual therapy, I find the number of individuals who expect their partners to make them happy quite alarming. The idea of making themselves happy doesn’t enter their head. I have worked with some who have had numerous partners, yet have never had their expectations met because they abdicate personal responsibility for making themselves happy. Instead, they prefer to work through umpteen partners seraching for the one who will do it for them. Can you imagine the heartache that causes to those in the relationship, especially when children are involved?

Some might argue that Edward abdicated from the throne in order to pursue his own, personal happiness. And to be honest, I can appreciate that perspective. After all, Edward and Mrs Simpson did live the rest of their lives together, albeit, in exile from the British Isles. Indeed, he gave up something (the throne) in order to take responsibility for his own personal happiness. Which ever perspective you take on Edward and Mrs Simpson, the idea of taking responsibility for one’s own happiness is a poignant one.

Here are some questions to get you thinking about how you can become King or Queen of your own happiness?

1. Think about your own internal dialogue- Are you a blamer or a responsibility taker?

2. What does being happy mean to you?

3. What does it look like?

4. How do you know when you are happy?

5. Who else notices when you are happy? What do they notice?

6. What can you change to bring about happiness?

7. What circumstances can be altered? Which can’t? Which can you simply accept?

8. Which of your own mind sets need to be different to allow happiness to flow?

Next, set some goals around being happy:

A. Be specific- which single action/mindset do you want to work on? E.G Doing an extra activity with the kids on a weekend or changing from being a blamer to a responsibility taker.

B. How will you know you’ve got the result you want? How can you measure it?

E.G you’ll be doing the activity twice a month, you’ll be having at least 10 more positive thoughts per day.

C. Can you achieve your goal? – It’s no good wanting to spend more time with the family on a weekend if you always work them. Find an alternative time to do the activity instead.

D. Set a time scale on completing your goal. If you don’t, procrastination tends to set in and you don’t even take that first step towards it. It could be a month, six months or a year. The important thing is to start and then keep moving towards your desired result, even if you take two steps forward and one back.

Remember being King or Queen of your own happiness means taking responsibility for it- Now go for it!

Forgive and Forget?

December 16th, 2011 by Alison

This past weekend I have felt extremely challenged to deal with some personal failings. Like most of you, I have friends and family.  And where there are people, there are misunderstandings, tensions and fall outs. Over a period of two days I have had to deal with two instances where I needed to apologise for something I had said/done in the past. These episodes caused me to think about the whole issue of forgiveness, what it means, how we can benefit from it and the damage that can be done if it is withheld. Here are some thoughts :

What is forgiveness?

The Oxford Dictionary defines it as:

  • stop feeling angry or resentful towards (someone) for an offence, flaw, or mistake
  • no longer feel angry about or wish to punish (an offence, flaw, or mistake)
  • cancel (a debt): he proposed that their debts should be forgiven
  • used in polite expressions as a request to excuse one’s foibles, ignorance, or impoliteness

All these are useful in helping us understand, yet I would like to think about forgiveness like this:

  • Forgiveness means letting go of those things which hurt and damage our well being. It does not deny we were wronged (or we have wronged ourselves), rather forgiveness allows us to be free of it.
  • Forgiveness has more to do with the forgiver, than the forgiven.  Forgiving an offence or mistake means the offender hasn’t got away with it, rather that the forgiver chooses not be burdened by it.

What are the potential benefits of forgiving oneself?

  • It provides a route for healing personal hurts
  • It can free us of guilt
  • It makes room for greater self worth/self esteem
  • It allows for personal restoration
  • It can create greater well being

What are the potential benefits of forgiveness in relationships?

  • It can pave the way for a rebuilding of trust
  • It allows space to share other other past hurts/shame-cleared air
  • It creates an avenue for greater equality in the relationship
  • It can lead to reconciliation

What damage is done if forgiveness is withheld?

For an individual:

  • Overwhelming guilt
  • Continual poor choices in an attempt to cover the guilt
  • Reduced self esteem
  • Limited potential in every area of life

For a couple:

  • More arguments
  • More blaming
  • More unhappiness
  • An inability to trust again
  • An inability to put wrongs/mistakes behind
  • An inability to move forwards

I’m not suggesting for one minute that forgiveness comes easily.  It certainly doesn’t to me. And yet, without it, there is little hope for our future.  We cannot go through life trying to avoid getting hurt, it is inevitable that we will. What matters most is how we handle that inner pain and whether we allow it to destroy our inner peace or embrace what life has to offer. Forgiving doesn’t necessarily mean forgetting, it does mean letting go of the offence and being free of it.

Waiting for the bus!

December 16th, 2011 by Alison

Last weekend as I sat waiting for my daughter in the local shopping centre, I was fortunate enough to be part of a  most interesting conversation with two old ladies. Sitting right next to me, they chatted away about how pretty the Christmas decorations were, glistening and sparkling as frenzied shoppers weaved their way in and out of the shops. After a few mintues they told me that they had time to kill whilst waiting for their bus.  I asked them if they had far to go.

“Oh yes, they replied and then went on to tell me they lived in a village which would take them two buses and about two hours to get there.

“You must like travelling” I responded. And again their resonse was

“Oh yes, we love it”.

Even though they must have been in their eighties, rather wobbly on their feet and somewhat bent over with the unkindness of the years, they had a lesson to teach us all. Their wrinkled expressions became animated as they revealed how they loved to visit Hull, not the most salubrious of places and certainly not somewhere one might expect two elderly ladies to want to travel three hours by three different public buses to get to .  And yet, every few months, they don their most comfortable shoes, smartest coat and hat and head off on their escapade to Princess Keys in Hull. What is most remarkable is that although the journey to get there takes three hours, they only spend two hours in the shopping centre before they catch the next return bus. That’s a total of six hours on a public bus for two hours shopping! Intrigued, I asked them why they do it.

“We love to get out and about, see the countryside, look in the shops and spend time together. We’re planning to go to Eastbourne early next year.”

What a wonderful reply. They could have moaned about the state of their health, the current economical climate, and the cold weather. Instead, they had chosen to focus on what they could enjoy, where they might go and what they would do next. I decided, there and then, that I would share their tale with you as an example and an encouragement that even in old age, life can be fun, an adventure even. Despite their apparent ailments and limited mobility, they put some younger people to shame with their positive outlook and determind attitude.

As the New Year approaches, perhaps you could use this story about these two remarkable old ladies to motivate you to get the most out of 2012.

Dare to be happy!

December 6th, 2011 by Alison

“I dare you to be happy” sang Tina Arena in 2002. It didn’t resonate with me until just last week.  Like many of you I have a busy, and at times, complicated life. Financial pressures, family issues, a career and Christmas looming fast. I found myself becoming stressed, lacking in energy and snappy with my family. It wasn’t until I was reminded of this song as I listened to the radio that I felt challeneged. I had forgotten about daring to do anything, never mind be happy!

This got me thinking. I thought about how my circumstances seemed to be taking over my life. It was as if I had lost the ability to steer my life in the direction I wanted it to go. Having received this wake up call from the radio, I decided to take action. Can you imagine what happened next? The first thing was that I immediatley had a sense of satisfaction at being in charge of my own destiny. It felt ‘goooood’, as Bruce Almighty would say. Then I made a decision and chose to risk being happy, no matter what. I say a risk becuase none of us know what will happen from one day to the next.

We can live in fear of loosing our jobs, becoming ill, or our partner having an affair, yet what good does it do us? Choosing to be happy means  taking a risk about being disappointed.  But the plus side is that you could gain:

  • Greater mental and emotional health
  • Reduced stress levels
  • Fulfilment
  • Less reliance on material things
  • Freedom to be yourself
  • A positive impact on those around you

I realised that to risk being happy also takes courage to break the mould. If you’re struggling then here are 5 simple tips to help:

  1. Recall previous occasions when you showed courage and it paid off
  2. Push yourself a little every day to do something new. E.G. Talk to someone you don’t know, smile at the person who always grimaces at you or slide down the bannister at work! Whatever takes your fancy.
  3. Embrace the experience of being out of your comfort zone.
  4. Keep notes on your progress
  5. Celebrate your success.

So in closing, I wish you every success as you take a risk and dare to be happy! Let me know how you get on.

So who are you?

November 23rd, 2011 by Alison

Soothsayer:” Your story may not have such a happy beginning, but that doesn’t make you who you are. it is the rest of your story, who you choose to be… So, who are you, Panda?”

As my husband and I sat curled up by a roaring fire (yes, I am rather a romantic!) watching Kung Fu Panda 2, I was thrilled at the plethora of comments about identity. In my work as coach and counsellor, and even as an image consultant, I regularly work with clients who don’t know who they are.

For some, like Po in the film, they have been brought up by an adopted family.  Others have come from abusive or traumatic backgrounds, enmeshed in family breakdowns or conflict. In the film, Po struggles with his own journey of self discovery, desperate to find out his origins, yet afraid of what he might unearth.  However, with courage, conviction and the support of his friends, he was able to push through the pain barrier and face the truth of what happened in his past.  Whilst difficult and distressing, he was able to accept the truth of the situation and then pass on this new found learning to Shen, the evil peacock saying

“You got to let go of the stuff from past – because it just doesn’t matter! The only thing that matters is what you choose to be now.”

For me the past does matter but what matters more is who and what we become. In order to choose to move forwards, we need to let go of the past.  If we don’t, we get stuck between the two, like someone trying to hold the two ends of a tug of war rope. Imagine how difficult that would be, especially with Po and Tigress pulling against each other!

Like Po, we need to find the willingness and courage to move into an unknown future. It might feel scary at first, but it is one where we are free of the past and liberated to be whoever we choose to be.


She shoots she scores!

November 10th, 2011 by Alison

So just how can you set a goal, shoot and end up between the posts? By asking the right questions!

Let me explain. I recently had a conversation with a friend who was applying for a second part time job. I asked her why she was applying for the position as it was well below her capabilities. I enquired whether it was for some extra money or if it was something she really wanted to do. She seemed a little surprised at my questions.  As she replied, her answers gave away the real truth.  What she said was that she wanted a change. As we talked it became apparent there was a lack of self belief and confidence in her own abilities.  She was applying for positions where there was little risk or challenge that would cause her to feel stretched or challenged. When I asked if she saw herself doing this same job in five or ten years, she abruptly replied ‘oh no’.   So, what do you want for your life in five or ten years I asked?  ‘I want to be rich’ was her reply.  My response was that this was not going to happen on the wage of a part time receptionist!

She made quick progress after this point.  She could see that she was asking herself all the wrong questions.  Finance is an issue for her at the moment and so the prospect of having some extra income was most appealing and necessary. But instead of looking much further ahead at the bigger picture, she was focusing on the here and now instead.  Consequently, there was no planning for how she could become rich at all!

Like so many of us, she had become entangled with the pressures of day to day living.  She wasn’t asking the right questions and so was getting the wrong answers.  By asking the correct questions we can give the best possible solutions to turn our dreams into reality.

Read and apply the following 7 steps to reach your goal:

Step 1. 

What I really, really want!

Ask yourself what it is you really want to achieve and by when.  Be ruthlessly honest with yourself. Get to the bottom of your deepest thoughts.  Ask questions like …

‘What would happen if I did…’

‘Am I willing to go to any length to…’

‘If I could wave a magic wand, what would my life look like?’

‘Just how much success/happiness/joy can I cope with?’

How will I feel if the next 12 months are the same as the last?’

What would happen if I don’t make any changes to my life in the next 6 months?’

These questions are designed to help you focus on what you really want and on what you do not!  Make sure you discover the bigger picture for
your life rather than focusing on the detail.  For example, you might decide you want a different job. But what you are really looking for is a challenge or deeper satisfaction or greater responsibility.  That way, even if you go for a job and don’t get it, you can look for your outcome in another form. The goal hasn’t changed, the route to it has.

Step 2.


Many don’t prepare before they start on their desired goals and launch themselves into cruel regimes which they are too addicted to simply stop overnight.  Before you decide what it is you want to achieve, have a time of preparation.  Prepare your mind, your schedule, and your friends, colleagues and family (where appropriate) for action.

Prepare by:

  • Setting a start date( at least a week before you start)
  • Begin focusing on your desired outcomes(visualization)
  • Making an action plan
  • Setting a time scale
  • Gaining support of family/friends/colleagues. Join a support group(e.g. stopping smoking)
  • Be realistic

 Step 3

Take Action!

Move from the thinking zone to the doing zone. Don’t procrastinate!  The human mind is an incredible organ.  It knows exactly what we want to do.  If we really don’t want to do something, it will find a way for us to put it off, or not do it at all.  The minute we start saying we should do something, (stop smoking, lose weight, get fit, go for promotion) it knows we don’t really want to do it and we are subconsciously looking for delaying tactics.  Because it wants to help us, it searches out something else for us to do instead!  Clever stuff eh?  What’s even cleverer is if we find a way to focus on a goal that maximizes our minds potential to subconsciously energize us and stimulate us in the direction we want to go.  Then, our conscious and unconscious minds are working in harmony to thrust us towards our desired results.

Step 4

Strengthen your muscles of discipline, perseverance, determination and courage.  Without these you will not succeed.

Step 5

Reward yourself as you see growth.  A manicure, massage or meal out are all perfect treats for such an occasion

Step 6

Be kind to yourself when things don’t go according to plan. Sometimes even the best laid plans go to pot.  Start the next day afresh leaving any
mistakes behind, focusing on the benefits/ results you desire.

Step 7

Celebrate your successes with style.  Be proud of your achievements and the person you have become

So, dare to set that goal, shoot and score!



Alison’s aeroplane adventure!

November 10th, 2011 by Alison

When I read Susan Jeffers ‘Feel the fear and do it any way’ back in 2007, I had no idea that it would lead to me facing my own biggest fear: flying. For years I had been petrified of heights and flying in an aeroplane.  Well to be truthful, it isn’t so much the heights or the flying, as the totally constricting horror of the falling and crashing to the ground!

Consequently it had led to my family and I missing out on allsorts of opportunities.  In order to combat this, I decided that perhaps a flying lesson would help me overcome my terror.  I felt that if I could understand more about flying it could help me to have a more balanced perspective.  So, when I won a raffle prize at the local school ball and the prize of a flying lesson had not been taken, I grabbed the opportunity!

I booked the lesson.  Then the thoughts started coming into my head. What if I couldn’t do it?  What if I panicked and had to be brought down?  What if I was sick?  What if I crashed? What if, what if, what if? Enough was enough.   I decided to stop focusing on what I didn’t want and instead, start fixing my thoughts on what I wanted to get out of the experience instead.

By the time the lesson arrived, I was actually looking forward to it!  It was a fabulous opportunity to view the world from a totally fresh perspective and to face a challenge and win!  And do you know what?  I loved it.  When I felt the symptoms of my fear coming upon me, I put them out of my head and focused again on what I wanted. Once,  when the aeroplane tilted and I really felt my legs starting to ‘go’ I just asked the instructor not to do that again.  I wasn’t quite ready for that yet!  Finally, the instructor gave me the controls.  I couldn’t believe it!  I was actually in control of an aeroplane.  I was in the air, flying and it was awesome! I had faced my fear and won.

The theory really was true and I knew with certainty that it is possible to achieve anything with the right thinking, the right focus and at the right

In Pusuit of Happiness

November 10th, 2011 by Alison


‘feeling or showing pleasure or contentment’

Concise Oxford Dictionary




Q. Why is it important to be in pursuit of happiness?

A. Otherwise we are dependent on what life throws at us for our own happiness.  We give control of our happiness to others and our circumstances.

Q. Do we choose to be unhappy?

A. Not on a conscious level. However, by not choosing to make ourselves happy we are choosing to abdicate responsibility for it.

In pursuit of happiness:

The Greek Philosopher, Aristotle (394-322B.C.) observed that no one deliberately chooses to be unhappy.  This being the case, that human beings wish to be happy, let’s allow our search for happiness take us to find out more about the different kinds of happiness, their priority in our lives and how we might achieve them.

According to Greek and later Christian writers, it may be observed that there are four levels of happiness.

In ascending order:

Type 1. Happiness in a thing


For example, ‘I see the beauty salon, having my nails done makes me feel good, I am happy.’

Or  ‘I see the Ferrari, I drive the Ferrari like a mad man/woman, I am happy!’

For the most part it means enjoying a pleasurable experience: having fun!

In its extreme, for many it means getting plastered on a weekend or taking drugs or having an elicit affair and so on. In essence, this type of happiness is based on something external, that is outside our self and is usually short lived.

In other words : Quick fix happiness!

Generally we consider that this is not all there is to human happiness.

 Type 2. The happiness of comparative advantage


For example ‘I have more of this than Julie does’. Or ‘I am better at this than Daniel’.

This type of happiness results from competition with others. The self is seen in how we measure or compare with others, or in other words, ‘the comparison game’. Such happiness is rather unstable, especially if one fails as it can lead to unhappiness and a sense of worthlessness.

However, it is good to experience a sense of achievement and accomplishment.

This type of exclusive pursuit often oppresses others.  This then impacts their happiness in a negative way. Most people would not view a world as satisfactory if only type 2 people existed.

Type 3. The happiness that results from seeing the good in others and in doing good for others

Beatitudo= happiness or blessedness

In a sense, it is in opposition with or at war with type 2 happiness.  We cannot be in competition with someone and at the same time be seeing the good in, and doing the good for them.

Most people would prefer a world (local community, family, and relationships) built upon the pursuit of happiness type 3, rather than one entirely based on type 2.

Type 3 happiness is on a higher level than type 2.

Type 3 is meaningful but still presents a problem: it is limited.  We cannot be some else’s everything. For example, people disappoint, let us down, even die!  If our own happiness is contingent upon them, it is disappointed, let down or even dies with them.

There is a balance in working for the common good and our own happiness.

 Type 4. A desire to attain a fullness or perfection of happiness

Sublime Beatitudo sublime= ‘to lift up or elevate’

This is perhaps the most difficult type of happiness to describe. That fullness being in the form of goodness, beauty, truth, justice and love.  In a sense, it is those things that we cannot achieve or attain purely on our own.

The quest for a fullness of happiness is sought through all the types of happiness’s, 1, 2 and 3 but with an understanding that type 3 must take precedent over type 2.  That is if we are to reach this fourth and ultimate level of happiness.

There is a requirement to transcend or stretch ourselves (transcendental=trans=above or over and scendere=to climb over or surmount) if this level is to be achieved.

Three steps to transcend to this level:

Step 1.

Awaken the spiritual part of ourselves.  What ever our spiritual beliefs, most religions have a concept that truth, beauty and goodness can place us in a position of ultimacy of fullness or completeness.  Searching out God’s love and role in our lives can help us to feel pure, whole and beautiful and at peace with ourselves.

Glimpses of this sublime nature of beauty, truth and goodness can be experienced through the arts and nature or when we love or are loved by others.  These experiences can be very deep and largely beyond words.  It takes a whole lifetime of open ness, honesty and living and loving well to achieve it.

Step 2.

Our sense of purpose/meaning needs to be addressed.

Many of us do not ask ourselves what our life’s purpose is, so do not search for an answer.  This type 4 level of happiness is therefore
never achieved.

Step 3.

Apart from step 2, there is also a need to take responsibility for what stops or keeps us from this ultimate place of happiness and then remedy it.

A type 4 example:

Ebeneezer Srcrooge in Charles Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol’ is an excellent example of how we can work on achieving a higher level of happiness.

The story starts with Scrooge living and working in level 2 happiness.  Although successful in business, he is as miserable as sin in private.  Fear of death and his unhappy state (and a little help from the spirits) lead him into type 3 happiness.  Helping the Cratchets and others, and reconciliation with his niece assist him to shift from resentment to gratitude.  By addressing type 4 questions about purpose and meaning, which he previously refused to examine, help him achieve a much higher and greater level of happiness.


There’s more to being happy than meets the eye!

If we leave it to chance or others, there’s a big possibility that we won’t achieve it. There is no wonder that those who only look for type 1 happiness (a quick fix) have no possibility of achieving true happiness at level 4. Yet there are times when a quick fix is just the tonic we
need to help us in a difficult moment or situation.  If we rely on it however, we’re sunk. A balance of all 4 works best.



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