It’s that time of year when everyone gets a little down in the dumps. The London Lassie chats to Happyologist, Susanna Halonen on how to be cheery and live life to the full…
Le Pain Quotidien on Marylebone High Street is the setting for my lunch with Happyologist, Susanna Halonen. Nestled between fashion boutiques, and quaint restaurants, this French cafe reeks of chic. Amongst the bustle of well-to-do accents and air kisses I order a cappuccino, which arrives in a large handleless mug – just how the French drink it. Susanna arrives, all in black, which contrasts with her blonde hair and pillar-box red Alexa bag. Around her neck is a Tiffany silver horseshoe chain. She orders a green tea Mojito and unsurprisingly, has a huge smile on her face.
Susanna, 25, is Finnish, but has lived everywhere from Brazil to Germany. She now rests in Surrey where she can enjoy the best of both worlds: riding in the countryside and enjoying the hustle bustle of London. Susanna runs a blog, ‘the Happyologist’, where she shares her insights and experience on how to achieve happiness. She also coaches people on how to employ life fulfilment. “I figured it would be great to share insights that inspire others to work out what makes them smile, and pursue it”.
Susanna notices people don’t know what happiness is anymore. “I realised how focussed everyone is in climbing the career ladder, making money and buying things. The common believe is ‘if I’m successful then I’ll be happy’, but actually it’s the opposite”. She makes me think of a Finnish friend who always thinks negatively, and attracts bad luck (think perm from hell). Susanna laughs. “That’s a bit of a Finnish trait! But yeah, I completely agree. Whatever you focus on in your life is what you’re going to attract. It’s so much to do with a positive mindset”.
Susanna seems to be in the right field at the right time. “There are studies showing happiness levels have decreased, even though our income levels and living standards have risen. It shows income and success doesn’t bring happiness. I think society is waking up to it.” She tells me about the UK governments ‘Action for Happiness’ movement. “They hold seminars monthly. They had a Buddhist monk last time. They’re really interesting.”
I ask Susanna why she thinks despite increased quality of living, our society is getting unhappy. Is consumerism to blame? She thinks so. “There’s this whole thing about having so much stuff. People are like ‘oh i don’t have anything to do, I’m gonna go shop’ and then you buy this cheap stuff, and wear them a couple of times. We should invest in quality pieces. We appreciate things more that way, and that in turn makes us happier”.
Health may also be to blame. “It seems sports have disappeared. Hopefully the Olympics have brought it back!” She is a huge believer in health (probably why she invited me to an organic cafe). “You need to have a healthy mind and body. Invest in good sleep, healthy diet, and exercise. It gives you healthy hormones and adrenaline”. However, this Nordic chick ain’t a health freak, “I’m all up for treats. I love cakes! But it’s about balance”.
Susanna coaches individuals, as well as work teams. “With individuals, I help them to identify things they need to change by helping them self reflect. For example, if they’re insecure and dwelling on past experiences we try and conquer that in unique ways so they move on. I create a timeline and set goals”. She states “It’s always looking towards the future, working on positivity and working towards achieving it”.
As for businesses, “Everything from how you position desks to how you deal with authority effects happiness. With quarterly reviews, you have to focus on the person’s strengths and let people use what they’re best at because that’s what they’re happiest doing”. As for office layout, “Cubicles are bad. Make it more open. It promotes collaboration rather than competitiveness.” Susanna uses Apple as an example, “Steve jobs was such a visionary leader. That’s why the company is successful. You never hear a bad word from someone working at apple – they enjoy their job”. Susanna obviously loves her job as well. “Its empowering for me to watch clients progress and realise they have the answers within them to create that self-confidence.”
It appears Susanna has always been happy, but that’s not the case. “I can’t say I’ve always been the happiest person, but awareness is the first step, then you have to put positivity into practice”. I ask Susanna about her most inspiring story, and surprisingly, she uses herself. “I was actually coached myself. I always wanted to start my own coaching company, but thought people would think ‘she’s young, what does she know?’, but my coach helped me achieve the confidence I needed. When you get that light bulb moment it’s like wow!” It was this increase in confidence that saw the creation of the Happyologist persona. “Since then, I’ve been taking steps to work towards my goal. I realised I want to help more people find their happiness”.
Susanna’s typical client is a young professional woman who is unsure she is on the right path. “I think I attract women because they feel they can click with me”. Susanna’s past with her own coach also has a lot to identify with her clients, “I think a lot of people can relate to that, they realise that there’s lots of other opportunities out there”.
So, what makes us happy? “Follow your passion; it’s something you will naturally be good at. My passion is horse riding”. As well as this, “create positive attitude and believe in yourself – focus on the things you are grateful for in your life”. Making other people happy is key, “help people, even just holding a door open. It’s a double win – you make yourself and the other person happy”. But overall Susanna states “Life is long – enjoy the journey, little successes and daily joys!”
Five Tips on Living Life to the Full:
1) Do what you love.
2) Create that positive attitude – Focus on the little things you are grateful for and appreciate them.
4) Believe in yourself. Then you can achieve anything. You are the master of your life and the skies are the limit.
5) Be generous and kind. It will spread good vibes around you.
View Susanna’s blog here: http://www.happyologist.co.uk/