The Happiness Coach

Are you a happy person? Do you wish you could be happier? Would you like to learn how? In my most recent Wealth, Health, & Happiness interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kim Strobel, the happiness coach. Happiness has been a big driver for me on the financial planning journey. Having one of the coolest titles ever (happiness coach), Kim teaches individuals and companies how to maximize their happiness.

Why does she do it? Besides her transformative journey through severe anxiety to now giving live (or Zoom the past year) coaching sessions in front of hundreds of people, she believes we can all be happier. The question is how to become happier? For starters, there’s been tremendous advancements made in this field over the past few years. Two specific examples can be seen from Shawn Achor, professor at Harvard (check out his awesome TED talk here), and Laurie Santos, professor at Yale (here is her inspiring, online Yale course).

Both of these individuals have researched the psychology and science of happiness. In my chat with Kim Strobel, she referenced some staggering statistics.

Below are the most thought-provoking ones.

  • 50% of our happiness is baseline genetic.
  • 10% of our happiness is external circumstances.
  • 40% we can directly impact with our actions, thoughts, and behaviors.
  • 3X is how much more creative a happy mind is.
  • 6X is how much more motivated at work a happy mind is.
  • 70,000 is the number of thoughts an average person has in a day.
  • 56,000 of those thoughts are negative.
  • 95% of those negative thoughts are the same ones you had the previous day.
  • 5 key factors to happiness (exercised, gratitude, random acts of kindness, meditation, and journaling)

You can start to see why this is becoming a bigger and bigger field.

Not only is it a noble cause we all strive for, but it leads to a more successful, less stressed, more motivated, and more productive life. This is great for both our business and personal lives.

The question is how to go about improving one’s happiness? According to the studies, only about half our happiness is attributable to things we have immediate control over. Because 50% of our baseline happiness is genetic, you’re born with it. Let’s focus our attention on the other 50% shall we.

10% is one’s external circumstances. I believe this is the area Diversified Lifelong Advisors can directly impact. These are things like one’s wealth or career. We spend a lot of time working with people to optimize their happiness in this area and achieve their goals. I can personally attest anecdotally that working with a financial planner can increase happiness in this category, but the studies show that people who do are truly happier.

That now leaves 40% we can actively work on, and truthfully, it’s a must in order to change the brain’s mapping. It’s estimated to take approximately 21 days of consistent work on these categories to make a change. Let’s take a minute and discuss the 5 areas proven to increase happiness.

To Improve Happiness (from a happiness coach):

  1. Exercise for 30 minutes a day. As we exercise, endorphins are released and we feel great. Imagine if you consistently did this every day, how much better would you feel? Well, the data is in folks. Not only will you feel better, but you’ll feel happier as an offshoot of all this exercise.
  2. Three Acts of Gratitude. Kim gave this as her big tip on my interview. Showing gratitude and being grateful directly impacts one’s happiness. Kim suggested the very simple task of writing down 3 things you’re grateful for every day. Big or small, it doesn’t matter, they just have to be different each day. This easy and quick task can help rewire those 56,000 negative thoughts a day to focus more on the positive outlook of things.
  3. Random Acts of Kindness. You know the old saying, it feels better to give than to receive? Well guess what folks, it leads to a happier lifestyle and will improves the 40% you heavily control. I’m a big believer in this component and personally love doing little things to brighten someone’s day.
  4. Meditation. One of the biggest things I added into my life during this pandemic is daily meditation. (I use the app Headspace). That said, the science is strong on what meditation does to one’s mental health and outlook (there’s only like 3,000 years of data). The practice of meditation releases endorphins and serotonin, both critical chemicals in increasing happiness. It also goes a long way in increasing positive thoughts and decreasing the 56,000 negative ones.
  5. Daily Journaling. Spend a few minutes every day writing down one good thing that happened to you. It’ll help you be happier. It generally helps you focus on the positive things in your life and helps creativity, love, and the fun stuff.

Get busy living or get busy dying.

I know this stuff on the surface can seem cheesy or makes you want to roll your eyes. But honestly don’t you want to be happier? For you, your spouse, kids, friends, etc.? If no one is around, isn’t it worth a few minutes a day to work on yourself so you can be the best version of yourself? I know my answer and hope you appreciate the same.

I’d like to thank Kim Strobel for the inspiration and if you haven’t already check out the interview here and can connect with her here. Kim has also provided a free gratitude tracker that will help you find happiness and joy in all the small – and big – things around you, and you can sign up for her sign up for her weekly newsletter called The Joy Drop.

As always stay wealthy, stay healthy, and stay HAPPY!