'Ten Times Happier’ – #ICBookClub review
By NATASHA CALDER
January 9, 2021
The final #ICBookClub of 2020 examined a title focused on well-being. We’re grateful to Natasha Calder, an external communication professional working in the public sector, for reviewing the book.
"I’m not usually the ‘self-help’ book type but in support of my personal pledge at the beginning of 2020, this was a great opportunity to broaden my horizons. It was also perfect timing as I’d reached a point where I wanted to grow, personally and professionally.
Carefully, Owen looks at the possible ten barriers to happiness and provides insight as to why we might experience them. This is followed by helpful advice on how to overcome negative learnt behaviours through simple techniques we can practice every day. The chapters use subheadings, bullet points and case studies, which also made it really easy to read. And, the content of the book can be adapted to support growth in all aspects of our lives, which makes it very useful. There’s so much of Owen’s book to unpick but I sincerely suggest reading it to get the full experience. Here’s a taste of what I learned:
1. Don’t ruminate
This was probably the most useful tip for me. I’ll openly admit to being an ‘over-thinker’ but Owen helped me to realise that ruminating on things that go wrong can make us stuck. We should take time to acknowledge this and make a note of the learning points but then we need to move on. These reflections can take place privately or in regular 1:1 sessions with managers but it’s important that the reflection doesn’t only focus on the learning points - achievements and professionalism should be celebrated too.
2. Comparisons are not comparative
Owen suggests that comparing our present and future with others can lead to feelings of stress, worry and unhappiness. From this, I learned that comparisons aren’t comparative because my journey and experiences are completely different to someone else’s, so how we deal with situations can’t be realistically compared. Take work for example, you may have a different approach to a project than a colleague but the ultimate outcome will likely be the same. It doesn’t really matter how we get there, as long as we’re pleased and satisfied with our capabilities.
3. Live in the here and now
Although ambition is important for development and growth, Owen says that issues arise if we’re constantly chasing something new. He encourages the reader to think about the here and now and suggests that if we can’t be appreciative of the basics in life, we’ll struggle to appreciate everything else. I once delivered a session to my team as a way of helping colleagues gain perspective during lockdown. I asked them to identify the most random, everyday object in their room or on their desk. I then looked at them in a more positive way. For example, a table is the place where families come together to talk about their day and is where you eat the food you’re privileged to have in the fridge. Similarly, a cup signifies how we have access to fresh water to keep us healthy. The idea was to appreciate the small yet necessary things in life at a time when everything else might seem rubbish.
4. Normalise access to support
This wasn’t necessarily something explored in the book, but it’s definitely something I’ve thought about since reaching the last page. Truly incorporating wellbeing as part of an organisations values is really important for it to feel genuine. If wellbeing and mindfulness is normalised, people are more likely to take support when they need it without fear of being judged or seen as ‘incapable’.
An example I can draw from my own organisation is the roll out of ‘mental wellbeing champions’. Employees, such as me, volunteer to deliver sessions and engage with staff. It’s a great way to encourage employees to take ownership of their own and their team’s wellbeing. My organisation also involved local influencers who have had their own struggles to provide motivational talks and endorse wellbeing tactics to the workforce. As a result of this being prioritised, people were appreciative and felt supported.
Overall, the book taught me that recognising learnt patterns and safety seeking behaviours are key to reducing worry and improving happiness. So, with all of this in mind, I think my 2021 New Year’s resolution will be: 'Be present and be kind'.
Hope you all had a Merry Christmas and are able to look forward to a happy and healthy new year."