Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on February 9, 2018

Self Awareness Is Underrated: Why the Conscious Mind Leads to Happiness

Self Awareness Is Underrated: Why the Conscious Mind Leads to Happiness

Whether your life is motoring along beautifully or you feel like you’re hitting one pot hole after another with constant grief and hardship, there are things you can do to have a better life. One of the things I think we’re seeing more and more is moving away from a desire for material riches, and a desire for freedom (emotional and physical.) And instead of seeking things, we are seeking feelings. We want to get away from pain and hurt, guilt and sadness, and want to experience more fulfilment, love and happiness.

Even I read that paragraph and thought “Mandie when did you become a flowers in the hair kind of girl?” However, the fact is we do seem to be craving different things to what I’ve seen people come to me for coaching for in the past. And one of the most important things we are learning from this shift is that, no matter how fun or fear packed your life, no matter how much you hate and loathe or enjoy and love your life right now, there are things you can do to make it better. Right now, at this very moment. Not with more money, a bigger house, a newer car, or a smaller or larger body, not with your boss’s job or a house on a beach; today, at this very minute you could create a better life.

Really?

I speak from experience here. In the first half of 2017, I attended three funerals of people far too young. Three members of my family had serious health scares. My hard drive blew up, so did our boiler. (On the coldest week of the year!) It felt like the electric goods around the house were conspiring against us, both of our cars were hit while we weren’t even in them within in two weeks. And my beautiful Springer Spaniel fell ill suddenly and I had to have him put down when my Husband was on the other side of the world. And that is just some of the stuff that happened in the first half of this year. It was hard to not feel victimized, and like there was some evil deity reigning down a torrent of hell on the Holgate family. And having suffered from severe depression that nearly killed me 13 years ago, I will be honest and say I feared for my mental health.

Advertising

Despite the feeling of “is this really all happening to us?” that aimed to raise it’s ugly head, I managed to stay happy. It become the Holgate mantra that the harder times got, the happier we felt. How is that possible and why does it matter?

You see no matter what happens on the outside, we can choose what we think and feel on the inside and when we appreciate the power of this self awareness we can dramatically change not just our day, but our futures too.

Now it gets interesting, right?

Have you ever heard the saying “Who got out of bed on the wrong side?” That person moves through their day feeling miserable, frustrated and struggles to hold compelling conversations or get the results they want to. Did it start with these bad results? No of course not, it started with the thought that created the actions that delivered the results.

Advertising

Being able to be self aware is a powerful way to power up your happiness, actions and success. It enables you to be in touch with who you truly are.

My own experience taught me that I have a very blessed life (despite the three auto immune diseases and losing my dear pet.) It reinforced for me that I’m on the right path, going for the right goals for the right reasons. Many people find that despite achieving success in the traditional ways, they still lack happiness and it is highly likely it could come down to not being self aware of what matters to you.

5 Powerful Steps to Build Self Awareness

Here I share my 5 top tips to self awareness and how this power could help you achieve more personally, professionally and emotionally.

1. Drop the Victim Act

This has been so powerful for so many that I’ve worked with (including myself). Have you noticed how around some people, you are confident and capable; and around others you feel like a child? Or maybe you lose your power? Be aware of how you feel around different people. It is not your job to change people, it is your responsibility to change the way you perceive people and handle them. This is an internal exercise. Maybe you were bullied at school and you still question if people are your friends, and this impacts on your choice of activities and level of trust. Maybe you had an over critical parent or teacher and still find yourself berating things that you do. Become aware of these beliefs that you may have stored for decades. You don’t have to challenge them if that feels too big a step. Just notice them at this stage.

Advertising

2. Respect, Accept and Appreciate Who You Are

I remember up until only about seven years ago that someone I love dearly would say “You are so over sensitive Mandie!” and for years I saw that as a negative. I actually learned that I was not respecting who Mandie was. How can you achieve the things in life that make you happy, including just pure love for you that leads to internal genuine happiness if you don’t respect who you are? It may sound like a girlie fluffy subject, however by not respecting yourself and understanding your own emotional intelligence, you can seriously damage your chances of achieving. I learned for instance that what I’d seen as oversensitivity was in fact one of the reasons that I find coaching so easy and powerful—I can truly connect on a level that most people miss.

3. Learn What You Truly Value

If you learn to respect, accept and appreciate who you are, you can still find that you have emotional negative attachment to elements of who you are. By learning to hear and listen to your values, you can become more self aware and go for things that really matter to you.

In my book Fight the fear – how to beat your negative mindset and win in life, I recommend the values exercise. It enables you to explore on a subconscious level to learn what really matters to you. This is great for when you fear that you are concentrating on the wrong things in life—often being impacted on by the outside world, rather than hearing and knowing your own values.

4. Reframe Your Negative Thoughts

So after you’ve learned to accept who you are, you can still find that negativity is impacting on your ability to become self aware. If you have feelings of low value and self worth, it’s hard to want to listen to more of your thoughts. Re-framing your thoughts can help.

Advertising

Listen carefully to your negative thoughts, beliefs and feelings. Don’t try and change them, just acknowledge them. What comes next? Is it a physical thing, an emotion or a belief? By following the flow of this, you can create a negative spiral of what happens to you when you are not self aware. The awesome thing is I’ve used this process with so many clients to shift them fast into a positive spiral. Here is an example of how many of us struggle to accept compliments.

    5. Ditch the Shallow Self Development

    With a growing appreciation around the world that our minds impact on our success, alas there are some that are exploring this subject on a very superficial level. While any level is better than nothing, you need to do your homework if you really want to be self aware. Expecting results by osmosis or by reading motivational posters is not enough. Aristotle, Einstein and so many others have indeed said powerful things about our minds and our ability to achieve true happiness, creativity and success. However remember that at their core they were people of action too.

    By always assessing your self awareness, you can learn to not just respect who you are but to trust this true version of you. And that could be incredibly powerful on so many levels.

    Buy Mandie’s book Fight the Fear – How to beat your negative mindset and win in life on Amazon

    More by this author

    Mandie Holgate

    Internationally endorsed, Fight the fear book in 5 languages helping thousands around the world.

    How to Jump on the Road To Success Today and Change Your Life How to Take Calculated Risk to Achieve More and Become Successful How to Overcome Your Irrational Fears (That Stop You from Succeeding) How to Make Positive Changes Now (And Start Living a Fulfilling Life) I Attempted Suicide Twice but Today I’m a Professional Coach Who Leads People to Success

    Trending in Mental Strength

    117 Ted Talks for Kids to Inspire Little Minds to Do Big Things 2Being Self Aware Is the Key to Success: How to Boost Self Awareness 3How to Find Motivation When You’re Totally Burnt Out 4How to Jump on the Road To Success Today and Change Your Life 5Most Overlooked Signs of Autism in Children (And What Parents Can Do)

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on July 12, 2018

    17 Ted Talks for Kids to Inspire Little Minds to Do Big Things

    17 Ted Talks for Kids to Inspire Little Minds to Do Big Things

    A few years ago, I watched Brene Brown’s TED Talk on Vulnerability. Her story, her research, her authenticity, and yes, her vulnerability resonated with me deeply. One of the concepts that stood out the most was that in order to live wholeheartedly, we must feel the full range of emotions. The positive: joy, gratitude, happiness. And the not so positive: grief, fear, shame, sadness, disappointment.

    This talk moved me, changed me and challenged me to think differently. And that is what TED talks have the power to do. They can make the hairs on the back of our neck stand up, bring us to tears, and most importantly, motivate, inspire and challenge our thinking.

    Which is why I’m so excited to share these TED Talks for kids. I’ve always had a passion for working with children; I have three daughters of my own, co-lead two local Girl Scout Troops, spent time in my career working in education and am a member of the Galileo community advisory board (an innovation camp for kids).

    I’m involved in all of these because I feel deeply how important it is to help our kids build their confidence, self-esteem, innovation and creativity. I want every kid to realize they are awesome just as they are. That they have the ability to make anything happen if they dream big and work hard. Imagine what that would do for our youth.

    If you Google or scour lists of top TED talks, you tend to get similar ones popping up. That’s because they’re awesome. But they’re not all appropriate for kids.

    How I shortlisted these TED Talks

    I’ve done the hard work for you. Along with my family, kids, their friends and a few others, we vetted over 100 TED Talks and picked out the 17 that I believe send powerful and inspiring messages our kids desperately need.

    So, whether your kid is 6 or 16, I hope you find something that inspires, moves, motivates and challenges them.

    • They’re short enough for young brains to stay engaged. While there is an 18 minute “rule” for TED talks, many of the most popular talks are 20+ minutes. Recently, as I toured middle schools for my daughters, one of the principals shared that a kid’s attention span is the kids age minus one. So, if you have an 11 year old, then 10 minutes is his/her attention span. You can’t expect him/her to listen to 18 minutes and stay focused the whole time. All of the talks highlighted below are under 15 minutes. Some are as short as three.
    • They all include life lessons I believe are important for today’s youth. For me, this meant searching for talks that would build confidence and self-esteem; help kids be true to themselves. Understand what makes a happy and successful life. How to dream big. To communicate, interact and treat others. Above all, these talks will help kids see that they are awesome and that anything is possible when they dream big and work hard.
    • They’re kid-friendly. You might think this is obvious, but I found many speakers share political views, curse, or share content or concepts that that could be scary or confusing for young minds. If you ask those around me, I’m probably a little overcautious about what I expose my kids too. I’m ok with that. They have plenty of time to see the darker side of the world as they age. I would be comfortable with my seven-year-old watching all of these.
    • They’re interesting. Kids need to be engaged, interested and motivated to even sit through a video. While this isn’t always easy to do, I’ve tried to find videos with likeable speakers, compelling topics and inspiring stories. And don’t worry, they’re not just for kids – these are awesome talks for adults as well.

    Top 17 Ted Talks for kids

    1. A Life Lesson From A Volunteer Firefighter (4:01)

    I started with this one because all of my kids absolutely loved it. It’s an easy entry point for kids – short and sweet with a powerful message. (And what kid doesn’t like a firefighter?!)

    Volunteer Firefighter and Activist Mark Bezos shares his story about how small things can make a big difference.

    My 11-year-old’s key takeway? “It shows we don’t have to do something big to make a difference”.

    Here’s a key piece of his message:

    “In both my vocation at Robin Hood and my avocation as a volunteer firefighter, I am witness to acts of generosity and kindness on a monumental scale, but I’m also witness to acts of grace and courage on an individual basis. And you know what I’ve learned? They all matter.”

    2. What Adults Can Learn From Kids (8:06)

    One of my 11-year-olds was riveted by this one. In fact, at one point, I tried to increase the volume on the iPad while she kept pushing me out of the way so she didn’t miss anything.

    Twelve-year-old Adora Svitak is incredible. This talk is inspiring not only because of what she says, but because of how incredible and confident this young girl is as she presents.

    Here are some of my favorite excerpts from her talk:

    “Kids don’t think about limitations…they just think about good ideas.”
    “Learning between grown-ups and kids should be reciprocal.”
    “When expectations are low, trust me, we (kids) will sink to them.”

    3. Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection (8:50)

    Recommended by several people when I was asking around, I found myself choking up in the first two minutes as Reshma shares her personal story about bravery in the face of failure.

    “This is not a story about failure or resilience…it’s about bravery.”

    She talks about our “bravery deficit”.

    “When we teach girls to be brave, and we have a supportive network cheering them on, they will build incredible things.”

    She shares one of my favorite philosophies: Progress, not perfection.

    This is a great one for those who need a little more confidence to raise their hand, try out for that team, or face an upcoming challenge.

    Advertising

    4. 10 Ways To Have a Better Conversation (11:30)

    This is one of my all-time favorites. I’m becoming increasingly concerned about our kids’ ability to have a face-to-face conversation. Just look around at a restaurant and see how many kids have their faces in phones. One recent survey of managers said 46% of recent grads need to hone their communication skills.

    As someone who spent many years earning a living helping people communicate better, I think this is necessary for every kid. It’s a lost art. A skill that is becoming extinct with the world of technology.

    Radio Host Celeste Headlee provides great tips for how to have a better conversation, and, more importantly, how to listen.

    At one point, she shares this thought written in the Atlantic by a high school teacher named Paul Barnewell.

    “I came to realize that conversational competence might be the single most overlooked skill we fail to teach. Kids spend hours each day engaging with ideas and each other through screens, but rarely do they have an opportunity to hone their interpersonal communications skills. It might sound like a funny question, but we have to ask ourselves: Is there any 21st Century skill more important than being able to sustain coherent, confident conversation?”

    My older daughters both really enjoyed this talk. They learned “how important it is to listen and to think about other people, not just yourself”.

    My favorite line of all time: “There’s no reason to show you’re paying attention, if in fact, you are actually paying attention.”

    This is a great one to share with your teenagers – even if you need to text them the link?

    5. A Promising Test for Pancreatic Cancer… From A Teenager (10:46)

    I just love this one. Jack shares his story, how as a teenager he searched for and found a promising cure for pancreatic cancer. Motivated by the death of a close family friend, Jack shows some of my favorite attributes: thinking, process, initiative, perseverance, determination, courage…and humor. He’s a fantastic speaker and will keep your kids interested and engaged.

    One of my favorite quotes:

    “You don’t have to be a professor with multiple degrees to have your ideas valued…Just imagine what you could do.”

    “He did that all by himself?” One of my daughters asked at the end. Yep, he did. And you can, too.

    6. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (6:09)

    With three kids, I’m always driving a car full of kids somewhere. As I was researching for this article, during each of my rides, I took the opportunity to ask whoever was in the car about their recommendations. This talk was recommended by a 16-year-old high school student. (Thank you, Bella!) I had seen it before and was so glad she liked it as much as I did.

    Angela Lee Duckworth left her consulting career and became a 7th grade math teacher in the New York public school system. She was fascinated by what helped students succeed. This talk is the story of what she found.

    Here’s a quick preview:

    “Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint. “

    Need another reason to share this with your kid? Angela highlights that kids with grit are more likely to graduate…and be successful in their chosen careers.

    We all know how important grit and perseverance are; let’s help our children see that.

    7. Dare To Dream Big (8:49)

    With just over 22,000 views, this video hasn’t hit “mainstream” TED world yet, but Isabella Rose Taylor, a freshman in college and a working fashion designer, tells a fantastic story.

    “Today I want to talk to you about dreams and stories.”

    She shares one of my favorite stories about the 4-minute mile and how belief is such an important part of success.

    “They didn’t all the sudden get faster or stronger, they just believed it was possible.”

    The rest of her talk is filled with lessons on dreaming big, believing in yourself, courage, authenticity, and the importance of relationships.

    “We should aim as high as possible and dream big.”

    Yes. We. Should.

    8. Yup, I built a nuclear fusion reactor (3:26)

    Even the title shows the confidence that 17-year-old Nuclear Physicist Taylor Wilson has. As he says…and proves,

    “Kids can really change the world.”

    I love his passion and confidence. He started out with a dream and ended up meeting the President.

    9. Underwater Astonishments (5:18)

    While this may not have any explicit life lessons, it’s incredibly interesting and fun to watch with kids. Approved by my 7-year-old, who said, “It was very interesting and I liked the pictures. I didn’t know an octopus could do that.”

    The underlying lesson? For me, it shows how everything is incredible. When we look for beauty and awe, we will find it.

    I also think it’s fascinating as Geologist David Gallow shares:

    “And in a place where we thought no life at all, we find more life…there’s still 97 percent, and either that 97 percent is empty or just full of surprises.”

    This teaches kids that there is so much in life and in their world to discover.

    10. What Makes A Good Life? Lessons From the Longest Study on Happiness (12:40)

    I’d say this talk is better for older kids. Robert Waldinger shares what makes a good life, from the longest study in history on happiness.

    If your kids are having a hard time getting into it, head to 5:51 for the highlights:

    “So what have we learned? What are the lessons that come from the tens of thousands of pages of information that we’ve generated on these lives? Well, the lessons aren’t about wealth or fame or working harder and harder. The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”

    I love the focus on the importance of relationships and friendships.

    11. The Happy Secret To Better Work (12:14)

    Positive Psychologist Shawn Achor is funny, fast and witty. He begins his talk with an incredibly funny story about his sister and him when they were little.

    He shares that:

    “90 percent of your long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world, but by the way your brain processes the world. And if we change it, if we change our formula for happiness and success, we can change the way that we can then affect reality.”

    If you want to get to the essence, head to 9:09 for his suggestions.

    This is another one that’s probably best for older kids and teenagers.

    12. Weird, or Just Different? (2:35)

    The shortest talk on this list, Derek Sivers talks about the power of perspective. It teaches kids that we all have a different lens through which we see the world and we need to be aware of our assumptions and bias.

    One of Derek’s thoughts:

    Advertising

    There’s a saying that whatever true thing you can say about India, the opposite is also true. So, let’s never forget…that whatever brilliant ideas you have or hear, that the opposite may also be true.

    My daughter’s thoughts: “It shows we can both be right.” YES.

    13. Living Beyond Limits (9:44)

    When I said earlier that I would let my 7-year-old watch all of these talks, this might be my one exception. Amy Purdy’s message is incredible but with an illness and near-death experience, it could be scary for little ones.

    When she was just 19, Amy got bacterial meningitis and after a long fight for her life, she survived, but lost both legs below the knee. Now, a pro-snowboarder, she shows how “It’s believing in those dreams and facing our fears head-on that allows us to live our lives beyond our limits.”

    Her message:

    “If your life was a book, and you were the author, how would you want your story to go?”

    As my daughter and her friend watched this video, they loved Amy, were completely engaged by her story and got this lesson – “Don’t give up on our dreams just because something bad happens.”

    14. 8 Secrets of Success (3:26)

    In this short video, Analyst Richard St. John condenses a decade of research on success into three minutes. It’s a two-hour presentation he gives to high school students on what’s needed to be successful. Quick. Fast. Interesting with lots of great life lessons including serving, persisting, hard work and passion.

    15. Nature. Beauty. Gratitude. (9:47)

    The title says it all.

    Filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg’s beautiful cinematic time lapse imagery is paired with words of perspective from a little girl and an elderly man about what makes life so beautiful.

    It may feel slow for some kids, but contains a compelling and valuable message.

    I loved when the little girl shared her perspective about why we should be exploring nature and not watching TV and when the elderly gentlemen shared these thoughts:

    “You think this is just another day in your life? It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you today. It’s given to you. It’s a gift. It’s the only gift that you have right now, and the only appropriate response is gratefulness.”

    Kids might also find it interesting why we say OMG. I did.

    16. Why Some Of Us Don’t Have One True Calling (12:26)

    This is a great talk, especially for high school students who are trying to figure out what to do with their life! In my coaching practice, this question still evokes a sense of stress, whether someone is going into high school, graduating from college, or in a mid-life career change.

    Emilie’s powerful message:

    If you have multiple dreams, goals and interests, “There’s nothing wrong with you. What you are, is a multipotentialite. Someone with many interests and creative pursuits.”

    The statistics back up this concept. Studies have shown that only 27 percent of college grads have a job related to their major; the average person changes jobs 10-15 times during his or her career; and people change careers anywhere from 3-7 times over the course of their lifetime.

    Emilie then goes on to share the skills and benefits of being a multipotentialite, complete with examples of successful individuals who have created a life that works for them.

    My absolute favorite message from this talk is one that I’m deeply aligned with in my coaching practice:

    “We should all be designing lives and careers that are aligned with how we’re wired… Embracing our inner wiring leads to a happier, more authentic life.”

    Amen.

    Advertising

    17. How I Harnessed the Wind (5:52)

    Incredible and inspiring. At the age of 14, William Kamkwamba, with very little education or resources, motivated by poverty and famine, created a windmill to power his family’s home. As he looked at his life, he felt that what he was living was a fate he couldn’t accept. So rather than live the life he was “destined” to live, he decided to change it.

    Not only is this story about courage, drive and innovation, it will also help kids gain perspective about what others in the world are facing on a daily basis.

    He closes with these words of wisdom:

    “I would like to say something to all the people out there like me, to the Africans, and the poor who are struggling with your dreams. God bless. Maybe one day you will watch this on the Internet. I say to you, trust yourself and believe. Whatever happens, don’t give up.”

    BONUS: I Think We All Need a Pep Talk (3:28)

    Ok, so it’s not officially a TED Talk, but it was on their site[1] and I just had to include it! Many of you have probably seen this Soul Pancake video before. I don’t need to say much. Just watch it.

    Here are three of my favorite lines from 9-year old “Kid President”:

    “We’re all on the same team.”
    “We were made to be awesome.”
    “Give the world a reason to dance, so get to it.”

    Now What? Watch these with your kids!

    Now that you’ve read through these options, it’s time to pick a few and watch them with your kid(s). I recommend you choose three that are relevant to your family, a situation your kid is in, a life lesson you feel is important for them to learn, or something that you’re just excited to share.

    That’s the easy part. Now you have to get them to watch it!

    Here are a few recommendations for sharing these with your kids:

    1. Share your thoughts and a few W’s

    Who is this talk about, why you think it’s important for them to watch and what you think they’ll find interesting. Get them hooked before they watch it. Giving them high-level context will not only get them interested, but get their minds primed for learning.

    2. After you watch the video, have a discussion.

    Not sure what to ask? Here are some ideas:

    • What did you think of the video?
    • What did you enjoy?
    • What do you think motivated this speaker to speak on this topic?
    • What did you learn?
    • What do you think you’ll do differently as a result of watching this?

    3. Ask them to stick with it and be patient.

    When I started testing these with my daughters, I could see in the first minute they were wondering if they really wanted to do this. I asked them to be patient, keep an open mind and stick with it. Once they got through the initial, “Ugh, Mom!”…. they enjoyed watching.

    Lucky for you, the ones they couldn’t get through didn’t make this cut! Watch one (maybe two) at time. Stick with the age minus one rule.

    I loved researching these talks, watching them with my kids and their friends, and hearing their thoughts and reactions. I hope they provide a great discussion for you and your family, some inspiration for your kids and something that moves, motivates and challenges you both.

    I’d love to hear which of these resonated with you and your kids – and if you have other favorite TED talks you think would be great for kids, please let me know!

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

    Read Next