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A psychiatrist’s seven steps to happiness (and confidence)

Dr Anthony Clare was a respected psychiatrist and broadcaster who fronted the Radio 4 programme ‘In the psychiatrist’s chair’, interviewing prominent people from all walks of life (still available on the BBC website). I came across his seven steps to happiness and wanted to share them because I think they’re sensible and practical and achievable.

And because the first one relates directly to my work helping people to communicate with more confidence and impact.

  1. Put on a happy face. Choose to be optimistic. Make a conscious decision to express positive ideas because that can change how we feel. In a professional context I believe, and I know from personal experience (as does Amy Cuddy), that presenting a confident and powerful demeanour to the world actually helps us grow our own confidence on the inside. Confidence is a muscle which we can grow, little by little every day, in the way we speak, stand, sit, look at others, contribute to a Zoom meeting (how often does our interjection begin with the word ‘sorry’????).
  2. Belong to something bigger than ourselves – a choir, sports team, club. Be part of a community.
  3. ‘Break the mirror’ – avoid thinking about ourselves too much. Dr Clare observed that his happiest patients were the ones who were interested in other people and curious about the world around them.
  4. Don’t resist change. Accept it and adapt. Fighting it doesn’t make it go away. Oh there are lots of opportunities to practice this one these days, with almost daily changes to our way of life. I personally found this tough at the beginning of the pandemic because it constitutes a loss of control!
  5. Cultivate a passion.
  6. Live in the moment. It’s not helpful to mourn for the past or live for the future. Take it one day at a time.
  7. Audit your happiness. Dr Clare suggests making a list of the things which give you pleasure alongside those which you don’t enjoy, and if the second list is longer, take action to add new items to the ‘pleasure’ side of the equation.

Just reaching for another slice of banana bread……………………………………..


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