Ushi: What is the most inspiring and eye-opening definition of happiness you have heard?
Katherine: This is a great question. I always try to absorb many definitions of what people think happiness is and I love to ask about their perception of why or what causes happiness in their life. The topic of happiness gets my curiosity going especially because I am still developing my own understanding about happiness. It probably will always be an ongoing development, but there is one definition that really inspired me to explore know more. It was Aristotle’s:
He wrote that Happiness is not a state but an activity and depends on the cultivation of virtue. He expressed that “Happiness depends on ourselves”, and more than anybody else, Aristotle enshrines happiness as a central purpose of human life and a goal in itself.
“Happiness is the meaning and the
purpose of life, the whole aim and
end of human existence.”
This for me…is freaking mind blowing!
Ushi: What is the most intriguing and useful fact or breakthrough in science that you have discovered about happiness?
Katherine: I will say that for me it is neuroplasticity. Finding out that we can re-wire our brains or how our neurons communicate further sparked my curiosity about my brain and how it works in relation to happiness. I wanted to better understand what I could do to create more of the neuron connections that produce happiness.
I am also fascinated by the scientific studies on Positive Psychology and the science of happiness – the scientific investigation of what makes life worth living. I was surprised as I started to learn more about the results of these studies because I saw how simple happiness is – from smiling to enjoying the “small” things in life to gratitude and helpfulness – happiness is simple if we are willing to choose and practice it.
Ushi: How do you define happiness?
Katherine: Hmmmmmm! I’m still in the development of my own definition of happiness and do believe that happiness is an ongoing process and path of discovery. What I can say today, is that for me happiness takes place when I’m feeling, seeing, thinking and acting freely from my heart, without judgment, and without attachment. Living, giving, receiving, loving, and even experiencing sadness or anger (which can sometimes be thought of as counter to happiness) from that place is magical! I believe that is liberation or true freedom from the human condition. Living from the heart produces a great, joyful (I have no words no describe), bubbly effect on me, which, as of today, I name “happiness.”.
Ushi: Why do you think people, including yourself, need to pay more attention to happiness?
Katherine: I think we shouldn’t pay attention to happiness. Based on what has created happiness for me, I think we need to pay more attention to our hearts. In doing so, in my experience, happiness naturally comes. When we really listen to our hearts, happiness is constant. In my belief, once we are transparent and have an honest connection with our heart, happiness is a result – one of many great results. So I say, let’s pay attention to our hearts!
Ushi: How have you found happiness in your life? What activities make you happy? What frame of mind supports happiness?
Katherine: I have found happiness through practices – regular and sustainable practices. I define practices as the consistent use of a tool or engagement with an exercise that helps me get to know more about myself or how I behave, and why. I love personal development, understanding areas in which I can improve or evolve, doing so from a place of love and in alignment with my heart. I especially love the part of the growth process that involves meeting people who are actively engaged in personal development, so we support and help each other along the way. It’s fun to learn (and laugh at ourselves) together.
What I can share is that within my day-to-day I integrate the following practices most of the time, and I can feel how they contribute in a big way to my “happiness”, or my current understanding of it:
- I listen to, express and share my heart at all moments. Unconditionally. Sometimes actions or meetings take longer than planned. Sometimes I may annoy others. Sometimes I may even look crazy. But I do it. And it has worked wonders for me.
- I care about others. Most of the time before talking or acting, I put myself in others people’s shoes. (This was something my mom taught me since I was little). When I look back at the times I didn’t, I recognize that I wasn’t listening to my heart. So back to point one!
- I exercise. Soccer is my passion and I make the time to do it. It’s my meditation time! Even if it isn’t convenient or logical to do so. I schedule the time. When I don’t, I feel miserable.
- I try to find my flow in the activities I engage with. If I don’t feel “flow”, I opt to disengage.
- I talk to the Universe. I believe there is a greater force in the Universe, and also that the Universe is within me. So let’s say, it’s my spiritual practice – talking to the Universe.
- I practice gratitude every day.
- I practice consciously detaching from things – outcomes, material objects, the way someone acts or I think should act.
- I make the time for personal exploration. I make time for understanding and growth.
Ushi: Why do you think entrepreneurs need to pay more attention to happiness?
Katherine: As with any person, I think we shouldn’t pay attention to happiness. Based on what has created happiness for me, I think we need to pay more attention to our hearts. Entrepreneurs are no different. What I will share with entrepreneurs specifically is to recognize when you are not “feeling happy”, see it as a sign that something needs to be evaluated. Lot’s of entrepreneurs that we work with are genuinely happy most of the time. Lot’s of entrepreneurs are not. Usually, it’s a sign that they are not connected to their heart (for whatever reason…there are millions!). Honesty is one of the greatest assets for entrepreneurial success because when you are honest with yourself, you naturally connect to the heart. Then, that heart connection produces one of many positive results, happiness.
Ushi: If someone isn’t happy, and they know it, what guidance would you offer or recommendation would you make?
Katherine: Get to know yourself better, so you can acknowledge and value your strengths and virtues. Once you know them and get in touch with them, your own inner guidance will encourage you and facilitate circumstances to use them creatively to improve the quality of your life and experience true joy and happiness. There are so many tools to get to know yourself better, know your value and strengths, and connect with your heart. Find what works for you and then do it consistently. The more you practice, the easier it is to sustain the experience. You also get better and better at listening to and following your inner guidance. I can’t say I do this all the time, but I have seen that I get better and better through practice. So I know my practices are working! I can feel it in my ease, clarity, flow and joy.
Ushi: Is there a personal story or specific moment in your life when you chose happiness? How has your life changed as a result?
Katherine: Today, at age 32, when I look back, I can see that happiness has become a part of this process of learning and growth. There are many moments in my life where I have experienced happiness or what I understand by happiness as of today. In every one of those moments, there is a common thread…I choose my heart.