A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege and the honour to speak at the first ever Serious Waffle Session. If you haven’t heard about them you might be wondering what on earth is a Serious Waffle Session? Whilst the TED talks https://www.ted.com/ seek to inspire Serious Waffle Sessions seek to educate. I was invited to give 3 key learning points on my talk on happiness. Why Waffle Session? Whilst Brussels is well-known for its waffles, there is also a pun involved here. In the UK to ‘waffle on’ about something means to talk at great length on a subject – often in a boring and roundabout way. A Serious Waffle is not a long and boring talk, but a short one and to the point – I had 15 minutes. There are two more Serious Waffle Sessions in the coming series. You may like to join me as part of the audience. I am sure the next round of speakers will be excellent and thought provoking. Serious Waffle Talks
I had agreed to give this speech because I believe I have something of value to say about happiness, and it was also a good opportunity to raise my profile. As one of three speakers for the evening, we addressed the topic of happiness. Sascha Siegmund kicked us off, by talking about some of the myths about happiness. Andy Whittle followed with some principles to follow. You can check out what he said over here Andy Whittle’s principles of happiness
For my own talk I wanted to give some tools that can be useful in everyday life. Keeping my talk practical and hands-on idea was a key motivator for me in giving this talk. After I had said YES a few months ago, there were quite a few moments when I had serious second thoughts. What did I know, really? What made me think I had something useful to say on the subject? I noticed the barrage of negative thoughts, but I kept reminding myself why I wanted to give this talk. What it meant for me, was a big motivator.
As a trainer and facilitator, I am used to standing up and talking to people . But I had never given a proper speech before!! Truth be told, I was terrified! We met as a group a couple of months before, to review the planned event. I wasn’t liking it – it was feeling too formal, too real even. I was very much in contact with my own fears of about giving this kind of speech. But I felt committed. I wanted to do this even though I felt scared about it.
Agreeing to give this talk was challenging me in more ways than I had bargained for. I had forgotten that I had spent much of my earlier life perfecting the art of invisibility. When I look back at my childhood, it seems that being visible almost always got me in to trouble. Even when I had done something good. A memory is standing out, of me at about 8 years old. I was given a certificate for some good work I had done. I was called out in school assembly and congratulated, for my hard work and endeavors. It should have been a nice happy moment for me. Unfortunately for me, my elder siblings were also present and they found it hilarious. They didn’t rate my youthful hard work as they were not as studious as me. They laughed at me, as only elder siblings can. I was young enough and sensitive enough to take it to heart and it was painful! I ended up feeling that I had done something wrong , when I was just being a good conscientious student!
Through that event, and others like, it I learnt not to stand out. It was never good news, so I became a master of being there without ever being noticed. So now, what on earth was I doing, thinking that I would stand up and make a speech?! I had never done anything like that before!! In a sense, I was challenging myself to rewrite my history. I needed to create a positive memory in the present to counter-balance the negative memories from the past that were still impacting me. Even after all this time. Its only now after the fact that I recognise why this was so important for me, and so scary.
Before Christmas I had a vague notion of what I wanted to talk about. When I was in the shower, or out for a walk, thoughts arrived that belonged in my talk on happiness. Most of all, I realised that I definitely did have something to say about this topic. I realised that I used to be invested in being unhappy – without even knowing it. No longer! My perspective had changed so much that I definitely wanted to share some of it. This was already building my confidence, as was my excitement about my topic.
Then I had the good fortune to go on holiday over the Christmas break. It turned out to be perfect opportunity to think about my talk. I went away with a group but I hadn’t bargained on being almost the only single amongst many couples. This not a topic that I think about much in daily life. But I was on holiday now, and some moments were excruciating!
I asked myself if I believed everything I said about happiness? What a perfect opportunity to find out! As I realised this, I remembered the practice I had received years before, from my then teacher Alan Lowen, from the Art of Being. This practice of ‘No complaining’. It took me a long time to learn that one, and now I can talk about it!! This practice of ‘no complaining’ pulled me out of the pity party I had fallen into. There is so much here and now to be grateful for, even if its not ideal. I am fortunate to have this opportunity, to go on this holiday. I am enjoying this glorious sunny weather in the middle of winter. The people were all friendly and inclusive, some of them were going out of their way for me. Thats plenty to be grateful for.
This was my first tip that I could speak about. And I had some good anecdotes from my holiday
By now my speech was writing itself, new memories and old ones kept coming. I even learnt my speech by heart, all 15 minutes of it. I had not never imagined I could do that. The words were alive inside me. I am glad to report that my speech went super well. It has helped my confidence no end and I am looking forward to the next opportunity!
And here you can see me in action
Is happiness an inside job? No doubt about it now, I am sure of it. What about you? Please add your thoughts in the comments below.