tia graham imperfectly empowered podcast with ahna fulmer
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This Is The #1 Predictor Of Human Happiness

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Chief certified happiness officer, Tia Graham, reveals the surprising science of human happiness and how to be happier according to the research.  

Improve your well-being and sense of happiness with Tia’s proven tools from this incredible episode!

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  • Ways to overcome perfectionist tendencies
  • The #1 indicator of human happiness
  • The effect of digital technology on happiness 
  • About the Hedonic treadmill
  • Practical ways to improve your happiness (they may surprise you!))
  • Tia’s tips to reduce anxiety and depression
  • Tia’s ultimate key to success


  • Tia’s book: “Be a Happy Leader: Stop Feeling Overwhelmed, Thrive Personally, and Achieve Killer Business Results” – https://amzn.to/3MYUdr9


Tia Graham is the author of Be a Happy Leader, a highly sought after keynote speaker and the Founder of Arrive At Happy.  With multiple certifications in neuroscience, positive psychology, and leadership coaching Tia has led global companies to success and now supports executives to boost profit and performance utilizing her evidence-based process that focuses on creating happy leaders. 

Chief certified happiness officer, Tia Graham, reveals the surprising science of human happiness and how to be happier according to the research.


Ahna Fulmer Signature

Once you have a baseline of income and you have a place to live, you have food, you have some disposable income. Basically you have your needs met that any increase in income or a large material possession is going to give you a psychological, emotional high for about three or four months. Welcome to the M perfectly empowered podcast with leading DIY lifestyle blogger on.
Where women are inspired with authentic stories and practical strategies to reclaim their hearts and homes by empowering transformation. One imperfect day at a time. Hello, and welcome back to another episode of the imperfectly empowered podcast. I am your host on a former today. It is my pleasure to introduce you to TIAA.
He is the author of be a happy leader, a highly sought after keynote speaker and the founder of arrive at happy. If you don’t feel happier already, just wait until you meet her with multiple certifications in neuroscience, positive psychology and leadership coaching TIAA has led global companies to success and now supports executives to boost profit and performance.
Utilizing her. Based process that focuses on creating happy leaders featured on CNN, Forbes thrive, global and fast company. Welcome certified chief happiness officer TIAA. Well, Hey girl, welcome to the podcast duel. You’ve got your book in the back in the back. Love it. Happy new year. Yes. Happy new year to you.
I can’t remember what we’ll chat about this. I can’t remember where you live now. It is 16 degrees here in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. So when we talk about being happy, Warm weather. It would make me happier. No, I’m right there with you. I’m in British Columbia, Canada near Vancouver and Seattle. So there is tons of snow outside.
It is snowing right now. It’s cold. So yeah, I got a heater under my desk. Yeah. That’s actually exactly what I have to, when I was first introduced to your book, I was like, this is marketing at its finest because. Just the book in and of itself made me happy for those of you watching on YouTube, you can see, look how cute it is.
I was happy just looking at the cover that was in that was well-planned right there, orange and in a smiley face. So listen, people are going to be happy. Just looking at this book, you can make it a poster like you did. Yes. Well, it’s just getting out around the world, my launch dates on the 18th. So I’m sure that you have it already.
And I love it. I love the three. First of all, let’s start out talking. We’ll dive into more about just the science of happiness and how you are specifically coaching people to enjoy life more. But tell us a little bit about your earlier years. You did that in the book and share just a little bit of how you ended up where you are today and passionate about happiness and how it ultimately leads to just more successful.
Yes. Yes. So, okay. When do you want me to, just, how far back do you want me to go? So I wasn’t born at three in the morning. I know. Well, I’ll tell us super, super quick, which is this story’s in the book actually. So I was born and raised in Northern Canada where it’s really, really cool. Then the closest town was 45 minutes away.
And I won’t tell the whole story, but after my parents went through a really, really tumultuous divorce and separation. Several years of craziness and chaos. And my dad was really, really unhappy during this time. And you were, how old, how old were you? I was about around this age. I was sort of age 10 through 12.
I’m the oldest of three sisters. So I definitely knew what was going on. And it was of course, sad and scary and we moved and then my mom moved out. And my dad really lost his light, lost his spark, and he’d always been a really happy human. And I thought that maybe that was my new dad. And she was a really terrifying thought.
And one day on his birthday, he woke up and I was the first one up and came downstairs and he just had a different energy about him. He was making pancakes. And, um, yeah, and I basically said like, dad, are you happy? Cause it’s your birthday? And he said to me, I’ve had two of the worst years of my entire life.
And I woke up this morning and I said, I’m not going to have another bad year. And from that point on, I saw him choose happiness. I saw him make choices to increase his happiness. And so at a very impressionable age, I’ve learned. That happiness is a choice. Cause I saw someone choose it right in front of me.
And so that was the starting point of just how I live my life. And throughout my life in crib, make choices to either increase my happiness or get back to happy. When I was having a really unhappy time. I had a career in the luxury hotel industry. For 15 years. So I led sales and marketing teams in the Hawaiian islands in New York city.
I lived in Istanbul Turkey for a couple of years, and then I was in Los Angeles and. The catalyst to start. My company arrive at happy was I went back to work after having my second daughter. And I’d always been a pretty positive, happy person. Went back to work after having my second daughter. So I had a two-year-old and a three and a half month old.
Cause you go back to work after three months in the U S right. Which is in my opinion, a human torture. So your back is when people have a one-year paid maternity. In Canada. Yep. Fascinating. Is that consistent with other countries or is that so Europe? Yes. So for Western Europe and yeah, a lot of developed countries, I think the United States.
The shortest compared to any developed country that I’ve researched fascinating. Yeah. No, I think that really, really hurts. It hurts families. It hurts children. We could get that’s a whole other topic. Seriously. That’s how another podcast tune in later. So I’m back at work and really struggling. I’m full of work.
Guilt, mom, guilt. I’m angry. I’m stressed. I’m overwhelmed. I’m sad. Anxious, you know, just exhausted and, and, you know, so unhappy and that’s really was the catalyst to go on this journey on this quest. And I discovered the science of happiness and neuroscience and coaching, and it became a certified chief happiness officer.
And I basically built, arrive at happy on the side and now work with different companies and organizations and people. So. Yeah. That’s that’s high level. The story. Yeah. So let’s, you know, just at the beginning, let’s define happiness. So, because it’s easy to hear something like this and. That happiness is just a smile or it’s this constant sense of elation, uh, define happiness for people listening and watching.
Yes. So happiness to me is a commitment to joy and meaning in your life. And it’s also accepting life’s peaks and valleys. So I could elaborate a lot, but that’s, that’s the definition and the essence of happiness. And I think it’s important to highlight, as you said, you could unpack that, but I think from the get-go and you do clarify this in your book, but I think sometimes we misunderstand what it means to be happy.
And social media does not help this any, when we start to make these associations, that frankly are just inaccurate, but it is. Clarity purposes. It is not the absence of struggle. It is not the absence of imperfection or mistakes or those rough raw realities that make up all of our lives. But it’s more that choice in how you respond to those challenges.
And so I just want to clarify that because you do that in your book, and I don’t want anyone to listen to the next 45 minutes and start getting the wrong perception of. Happiness truly means. I love in your book. You mentioned that you’re a recovering perfectionist, and I think this speaks to so many of us who are the personalities, this funny perfectionism, and obviously this is called the imperfectly empowered podcast and my whole passion, whether it be in the DIY world, whether it be with my fitness, nutrition class.
Just in life is this concept that imperfect progress is better than no progress at all. Like you want to empower transformation, then you need to embrace imperfection. Like the sooner that you can do that, the sooner you can get the life that you want. And so imperfect progress gave me goosebumps. I just want to say yes.
Yes. Yes. Yes. And I loved, I think you’re so relatable in the book because for so many men too, but women, especially, I think we associate this external appearance and how we portray ourselves to other people with this perfectionism. And then we internalize it as well. And we’re like, well, if we didn’t do X, Y, Z, right, then we are just.
Like, we’re not worthy. We’re not enough. We’re so hard on ourselves. Yeah. And so tell me a little bit, share with us a little bit about your journey through that place of recognizing that you’re a perfectionist living through the struggles that are involved. With that mentality and then kind of how you started to overcome or work through, I should say recover.
Let go, let go. Let go. Great one, great one. Let it go. We can break out into song.
So I think it started off really with childhood, as I fed on the eldest of three daughters on my father’s side, on the eldest of 16 cousins. And so I think there was this persona. I know there was this persona and achieving, wanting to get. Impress my parents, not that they were like impressed us, but you know, yeah, just that desire.
Um, you know, I don’t know what Enneagram I am. I need to do it. I actually, I need to do it. It’s in my inbox. Sorry, Capricorn. So I think a lot of that, I don’t know anyway, and really when I started. I think getting more awareness of my strive for perfectionism was the general managers. Cause I always, as a director of sales and marketing, I was reported the GM of the hotel.
And so in my one-on-one meetings, in my coaching with my leaders that I reported to, I would get feedback, not so much saying those exact words. Like you are a perfectionist. Around this idea that I would be working, I would get to the hotel at eight. I would stay till nine. I was literally trying to do everything even outside of my scope.
I was trying to help all areas of the hotel and getting the feedback that in that we’re sort of like calm down. It’s okay. You don’t need to try and do everything. Sometimes you’re going to make mistakes like that kind of feedback, which then I started having more self-awareness on, what am I trying to do?
And really what the massive shift to let go of perfectionism was when I became a mom and I, my working hours, all of a sudden where I could only work from eight 30 to five, because I had to leave, go pick them, both my daughters. And so. Since I didn’t have this expense of time to work on everything and do everything perfect.
I started to be like, okay, good enough. Good enough. Good enough. Good enough. And how freeing and amazing. That enemy I’m still catching. I’m like, yeah, good enough. I’m never letting go with that. I’m not. So that’s the recovering piece. And I think it’s hard too, because there’s element of almost our identity is caught up in the perfectionism because it’s that sense of, well, if I settle at good enough one, I’ll never be great.
One I’ll maybe never set myself apart from the rest, or it’s almost like we put ourselves into this place of. Well, my identity, I will be valuable when I reach, fill in the blank. And it’s like in that pursuit, you lose who you are. It’s like, you actually never really had. Happiness or freedom because you’re constantly in pursuit of an unattainable.
You just said everyone should rewind and let us do it in the morning. What you just said, you’re talking about external validation, right? You’re talking about so that people will think, or that I will do. And all of that. I want to say just like you and I’m sure listeners too. I do my best everyday. I wake up and I give it my all, whether it’s marriage, parenting, exercise, friendships, family work.
I really try my best every single day. And sometimes I am great. Everyone’s great sometimes. Right? I think it’s the awareness and the acceptance that you can’t be critical of. Right. Sometimes you have to say, huh? That was good enough. I’ll try again tomorrow. Right? Well, and it’s in that progress that you kind of do end up becoming great because it’s like you recognize in your mistakes that, well, that doesn’t change my value.
It’s just simply, that’s a learning curve and I just need to grow in this area. Yeah, it’s almost like you just kind of reestablish your baseline of what success actually looks like. Right. And then your value isn’t based on the success that you achieved, right? Your value as a human is so much more than right.
Absolutely. I, um, I was, I loved reading them about research. I love research. I love when we can actually put like some science behind evidence, as opposed to like the fads or something that someone came up with on a blog somewhere, and we can’t even figure out, wait, where did this idea come from? Yeah.
Yeah. So I love how you talk about the science of happiness. Some of the research studies that you quoted were so interesting to me. And one of the things that I want our listeners and our viewers to pause is there was so much evidence. There is one specific predicted. Consistently that is directly correlated with one’s reported happiness and satisfaction.
And I want everyone to stop and think whether you’re by yourself, say it to yourself out loud or in your head, take a guess. What is the number one predictor of human happiness. There is something consistently in a person’s life that the more they have of this, the more they report increased satisfaction and happiness.
Take a guess. And I’m going to be willing to do. Probably 60% of you are wrong. So I just want you to guess, all right. So Tia, tell us, according to the research, what is the number one predictor of human happiness? So cross cultures cost demographics across ethnicities around the globe, right over 7 billion of us.
Yeah. Number one, predictor of happiness is human connection. So no wonder the pandemic has been so difficult for everyone, right? By human connection. That means spending time with people that you care about and who care about you, right. Spending time with people. And there’s a two way flow of care. Yeah, people who meaningful relationships, basically the people who have reportedly more meaningful relationships in their life, the more they report being satisfied and generally happy.
And it’s interesting because you mentioned the pandemic and I think this is absolutely one of the greatest struggles is we would argue even before that, I think just, even in a technological age, we’re losing that sense of true. Human connection. And I just think, I don’t know how old your girls are, but like you’re five and seven, five and seven.
Yeah. So mine are nine, seven and four, and we’re adopting our fourth, but we don’t have him yet. But the bottom line is I just think our kids generation, as a parent, I’m constantly thinking like, okay, how can I encourage them to make connection in real life? Like off of. Screens off of technology and the science clearly supports that.
Now I can tell my seven-year-old will look. The science says it’s like, that’ll mean anything. And I mean, in a lot of ways, social media is so wonderful for staying connected with friends and family and people you care about. But if we all know it does a lot of harm and for anyone that has not seen the social dilemma documentary on that, Watch it, especially if you’re a parent and Dr.
Tal Ben Shaw, who has studied with the Harvard happiness professor showed us the research, the direct correlation between teenage depression and teenage suicide, social media. So we have to be really, really intentional. I know I am. Can I move to a town in Africa where there’s no cell phones when my girls are teenagers, you know, it’s very scary as a parent.
Well, and it’s also tough too, when you’re in a digital age where business and livelihoods truly in many ways, depend on the internet and it’s idea, right? You and I. Yes. I mean, I’m right there. If I move from a brick and mortar job, like as brick and mortar, as it gets and emergency medicine who know to now a virtual job.
And one of the things that was the most life-changing was social media. I didn’t have any, I had nothing three years ago. And when people are like, oh, I’m so sorry, I don’t follow you. I don’t do social media. I’m like, bless you. Yeah. No. I’m like, look, if you really want to know what I’m up to you just head to the blog, but don’t get social media.
I mean, I don’t think I’d have it either still. Right. So that’s a real challenge. So when we talk about being a happy leader and just in general, Being generally more satisfied with life. I do think we will have more and more struggles moving forward, just simply based on the science. So I’m taking kind of adding that takeaway for people listening and watching is just be very, very conscious that it is human connection that across the globe improve satisfaction and happiness.
So if you think about it and you have very few true real life, Go out for breakfast friends, then you need to get yourself some like yesterday and you need to take the time and get off of social media and find people in real life and find people in real life. And if you’re married or dating, like go on date nights and don’t have your phones to table.
Yes. Spend time in nature with your kids. And yes, connecting, connecting. The happiest countries are in Scandinavia. I talk about that and be a happy leader. Those are cold, right? They’re freezing. And what do they say in the world? What am I doing that makes them so happy? Yeah, we work a lot less healthcare university pretty there’s a lot of reasons why their wellbeing is they rate their wellbeing higher.
It’s a lot of time with friends and family and not just on the weekends. We’ll have friend dinners Monday nights. They’ll go ice skating Tuesdays. What are you doing? Finland? I don’t know. It’s cool things, but the point is they’re spending time with friends and family five or seven days a week and they’re working less.
That’s interesting. Yeah, they work about 37 hours weekly. Really? Yeah. I still want warm productivity is higher than the us average. Well, what’s really fascinating. And I unfortunately could not think of the, this is terrible to bring up research and not be able to cite it. But I saw a guy that did the study for his company.
And the bottom line is he proved that as a CEO paying for his employers to go on vacation. Not just time off. So there was PTO, but then he actually offered, there were different packages that people could pick from, it was like a cruise. I’m sure he had a relationship. He probably had it like figured out on the business end, but they had to actually go on a trip and get away.
That was part of the job requirement. And it was a really fascinating, and basically he found that the productivity was higher. Job satisfaction was greater and ultimately. His business did better. And I thought that’s so fascinating. And especially as what you’re saying there, so how do we implement that?
And people investing in wellbeing, travel, there’s so much research of travel. You get happier before the trip while you’re planning while you’re thinking about it. And then there’s a halo effect after interest. Yeah. I always say spend money on experiences rather than material possessions spend money on experiences rather than material possessions.
I have. Including trips. I love that. I love that. Well, it was also interesting to read. Um, human connection being the number one predictor of human happiness. I bet a lot of people may have considered money as part of that possible answer. And you addressed that. So there’s another thing called, am I saying this right?
The hedonic treadmill? Yeah, this, I also found very fascinating. I’m not incredibly surprised by it, but it was still an interesting thing that we’ve been able to show it in the research. Talk a little bit about the hedonic treadmill. I was super surprised when I read this too. Interesting. Yeah. So this research is from Dr.
Martin Seligman, who was sort of the father of positive psychology. He was the president of the American psychology association a couple of decades ago. And there was more research that’s built on this, but basically what that Dominic treadmill says is. Once you have a baseline of income and you are able to pay how you have a place to live, you have food, you have some disposable income.
You’re not worrying about having your needs met. And it depends. This varies depending on where you live in the world. Right? So basically you have your needs met that any increase in income, or for example, a large material possession. It’s going to give you a psychological, emotional high for about three or four months.
So let’s say you live in apartment, you have friends, you have all your things, and maybe you have a, I don’t know, Honda civic, and you get a raise at work and you’re like, I’m going to upgrade. I totally don’t know cars. So I shouldn’t use the car example. Unlike.
Okay, I’m going to yeah, go up. I don’t know. It was something, a little flashier. Right? You get more of a, what you perceive as like, oh, I upgraded my car forever. What happens is that you feel happier. You have a boost for about three or four months, but then you go back to your resting level of happy. So the research shows that these increases in material, possessions and wealth, you can’t build your life around.
Okay. I’m going to get all of these things and I’m going to be happy because that’s many reasons on why. Right. There has been some reason, very new research that just came in. 2020. And it does show that wealthier people are slightly happier than not wealthy people, but really it’s not necessarily because of the money they have or because their house is big and they have a pool and a whatever it’s that wealthier people have more time affluence and time affluent.
Increases our happiness time to spend in nature time for human connection, time for exercise, time for sleep. So it’s not necessarily that my bank account is bigger. So I’m happier. It’s that wealthy people have more time. That’s actually fascinating too, because I wonder what the threshold for the wealth is.
Like. I wonder how they define. What that income level is to qualify as wealthy because on the flip side, I would also argue one of the challenges is then there’s probably like a middle ground, because as soon as you reach a certain level of wealth in my experience, not my personal experience, but what I’ve observed is there seems to be.
Opposite reaction that happens. It’s almost like the more wealth you accumulate the last time you have, because you have so many more responsibilities in order to maintain that wealth. So I’m curious, that’s just in my observation, but I’m curious, there’s probably like this sweet middle ground. And again, depending on where you live, what your needs are.
What’s considered to be how you live your life. Right? So where’s, there’s so many wealthy, famous people, right? By the way, fame, there’s a direct relation to unhappiness and fame, but yeah, who are completely unhappy. And I’m thinking if there’s a really wealthy person whose life is full of meaning and purpose, and they are using their money and their influence to make the world or to help animals or to help the earth, they’re going to be a lot happier than someone who’s really wealthy.
Just trying to get wealthy. And really sort of has this vacuum of meaning and purpose. Yeah. Well, to that point, the other fascinating thing that I found was the correlation between generosity and happiness. I thought that was really interesting too, because it, again, speaks to that whole concept of it’s actually more the experience of.
Giving away and doing something for somebody else that improves happiness. I think the beautiful thing about that is that in my mind has nothing to do with how much money you make. It’s that idea of you live generously. In fact, in my experience, the people who give the most generously often tend to be the ones who have.
Yeah, it was always so humbling to me. It’s just like, yeah. And a wealthy person can say multimillionaire, they can give a million bucks to somebody, but the percentage of that money in correlation to what they make could be significantly less than somebody who gives a hundred dollars. But when you look at their overall, the piece is actually being taken out of their overall income, they’re actually giving significantly more.
So it’s just a fascinating, yeah, no, it is a really, and you’ll be happy. Interesting correlation. And also it’s this you think about? Cause I get asked all the time when I’m giving talks. Well, isn’t focusing so much on your own happiness. Isn’t that kind of selfish ask this on a regular basis. And I say, no, absolutely not.
For a million reasons. One being that happier people are more generous to others and the world needs more generosity. Whether it’s to animals, whether it’s to mother nature or other humans. And also when you focus on your happiness, you’re inspiring and you’re lifting other people up around you to do the same.
So it’s like this collective emotional contagion of lift and giving to our children, giving to coworkers, giving to all directions and that when you’re generous to people, They are happier, right? Because they’re receiving, they’re feeling kindness and then you also get happiness. Yeah, it’s just good all around.
Yeah. What is that again? I think it’s that important clarifying point that it doesn’t mean in my opinion, happiness does not necessarily mean that you are ignoring harsh realities. It doesn’t mean you’re wearing rose colored glasses. It means that you are proactively making choices. To, to live in such a way that does inspire.
It’s like it gives somebody else a platform to inspire somebody else like that sort of in my mind where happiness is worth the investment, it is just that contagious inspiration. Yeah. And like you said, it’s choices. And when life is really, really challenging, when we’re going through those extremely difficult seasons, That’s when we need the science of happiness and this research and these tools the most.
Yeah. That’s when you have, you can have this toolbox and know that. And I want people to know there are so many proven tools that have been researched for Yale and Harvard and Berkeley. We know that seem easing thing. We know it’s not a mystery, so there’s ways to actually use them. There’s ways to actually use them.
And to know that so much of it is within your control. It takes work and effort. It’s not easy, just like exercise and healthy nutrition. It takes work and effort, but that’s available. For you. Yeah, we’re going to take a quick break, but we come back, stay tuned for speed round of this or that with Theo, we’re going to have a little fun and we’re going to hear more of her expert advice on how to improve your happiness.
We’re going to talk a little bit about her age set methodology. As she mentioned, there are tools and this is definitely one of them right back here. All right. Right. When we come back, you have tried it all. Worried you will never lose the extra weight or reclaim the energy you once enjoyed want to achieve fat loss without spending hours in a gym or eliminating entire food groups from your diet.
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All right, well, Tia, we’re going to play a quick round of this or that you have two options, not super stressful. Pick whatever comes to mind. First chocolate or vanilla chocolate cake or pie pie. What’s your favorite pie? Apple pie. Ooh. Okay. LA or New York. Oh, Ty, I can’t tell it. Okay. Ty’s not an option. I’m just kidding.
I’m just kidding. Which would you rather live in LA or New York outline. Okay. With kids with kids. Yeah. Hmm. Oh, children. Would you rather live? Okay. Why your Canada? You’re in Canada. So this is sort of like a yeah. To live. Yeah. Okay. What about visit? If you add a friend they’re like, yeah, yeah, yeah. Visit a while, especially if you never been.
Amen. I love Hawaii. Yeah, it is so wonderful. Okay. Mountain or beach mountain. Okay. That’s interesting. So would you rather. Or swim hike. Definitely. Yeah. You guys are hikers. So then Canada is a good thing for you. Yeah. I see. The mountains are like church to me. Yeah. So you mentioned in your book that you started out in Canada, then you moved to Hawaii and I love how you instantly were like, okay.
Clarification. I know this is a book about happiness and it’s easy to be happy when you live. Oh, why I liked that you instantly were like, all right, let’s just get that over with and out of the way. But you mentioned an interesting thing when you moved to Hawaii, it wasn’t just the weather. It wasn’t just the sunshine.
I’m reading this quote here, but you said when you have meaningful concordance goals that you are working towards the journey itself toward those goals in. Your happiness. And what I loved about that is I’ve experienced that even just professionally, I felt I’m putting in more hours in my job actually now than I did when I worked in the emergency department and the stressors look different, but I genuinely feel more satisfied because.
Like you said a slightly more meaningful concordance goal to what I’m truly passionate about in life, which is sharing people’s stories and helping people understand this idea that take off the filter embrace and perfection let’s have real conversation and just know that your story matters and you’re loved.
And I loved when you said that, because I was like, I can resonate with that because that’s been my story. So what would you say to somebody. Who is struggling right now, as so many people are with anxiety, with feeling of what am I doing with my life? What do I want to do with my life? Depression? This is saying, be a happy leader, but I can tell you right now, this is for anybody.
There are so many good things in here for anybody to read. What step number one, maybe not literally in your eight step methodology. What’s the first thing you tell somebody. Yeah. So the very first thing I would tell someone is that you are a human being and I give yourself permission to be a human being and do not.
Judge yourself and be hard on yourself that you’re in a place of depression and you’re feeling low and you’re feeling anxious. There’s so much going on. Of course you are. I mean, we are all collectively. We are all collectively struggling together for many different reasons. And for someone who is in this place, and as you were just talking about self concordance goals and really feeling.
Like you’re getting a lot from the journey. Cause life is about the journey. It’s not about reaching this, you know, oh, I got this at no it’s life is about the Monday mornings. Life is about the Thursday afternoons when your kid’s screaming or you’re that like, that is what life is made up or the deadlines are at all of that.
And so the first step is giving yourself, self-compassion accepting where you are. And then I would say is. Finding support. So whether it be a therapist, I hired a coach when I was in that really low point with my, when my kids were little, could be a friend, could be someone in your religious community could be, but know that no one needs to go at it alone.
And when you’re in that low point, that having someone who has tools, who has support, that you can be vulnerable with, that you can lead real and authentic with. To be a partner and to help you and to know that, just remind yourself of life’s impermanence, nothing lasts forever, that you will not be in this place forever.
You’re in it now. Yeah. I love that. Just the sense of grace for the moment. And also not trying to skip the struggle. I think too often, we either don’t want to talk about it or we just are so quick to want to skip over it. It’s almost like that sentence. Uh, if you just allow yourself to sit there, not stay there, but like sit there for a little bit and allow yourself to process it.
It’s more likely to actually move forward in a productive, permanent way, as opposed to just like skipping right over it. You’re probably gonna end up right back there because you never actually dealt with manifest. It’s going to manifest in your physical body. The worst thing to do is push it away and ignore it.
So whether journalists. Talking with people, is that you’re exactly right. You have to choose. You’re not going to choose to stay there hopefully for three years, but if you’ve gone through, if you’re going through something, no, it might take several months depending on what that thing is. But, and even just having emotional granularity.
So the more emotions, you know, and there are over 150 different emotions that humans have. So even the research shows, even if you just say out loud, I am extremely anxious or like Adam, Grant’s super popular. Ted talk this year, languishing, everyone is languishing. They’re not depressed. They’re not happy.
Everyone’s kind of in his like mucky, muddy, middle ground. I’m not flourishing, but I’m not depressed. I’m just sort of languishing to just say that, tell people, this is where I am. That that alleviates. Yeah. It’s the idea of communicating what you are actually feeling, which is tough for some people who don’t even know what they’re feeling.
I think sometimes it’s almost just like, I don’t even know what I feel. So languishing is a good word. It’s kind of like, listen, if you don’t know how you feel and you’re listening or watching this right now, you’re languishing. I’m telling you right now, I am diagnosing you as languishing. That is your diagnosis.
So you can just say that out loud, I’m languishing, but one of the other things that you talk about that I enjoyed, again, as a medical professional, I appreciated this example, but you gave an example of a resting heart rate with this idea of your resting level of happiness or the happiness baseline. And.
I understand that I’m bringing up these things. For those of you watching and listening and bits and pieces in Tia’s book here at the last several chapters, she goes through this eight step method of practical ways that you can, actionably just improve your happiness. So I’m taking bits and pieces from things, but understand there’s a much more organized approach.
It’s in this book that you need to get. One of the things that I’m pulling out here is this idea of your resting heart rate with your resting level of happiness or the happy. Baseline. Tell us a little bit about this concept of a resting happiness baseline and why it’s important. Yeah. So when I was learning from Dr.
Tal Ben Shahar and others, and. Understanding the difference between pleasure spikes, which are great. Not saying you shouldn’t have pleasure, but the difference between these pleasure spikes and then actually improving your day in, day out, wellbeing, your happiness baseline, and like you, I really love movement.
I really love exercise. And. Physical health and movement is directly connected to happiness too. And of course we all know, we all are connected to our heart and we know about our heartbeat. And so for myself, I was thinking of this analogy of. When you go for a sprint run, of course your heartbeat goes faster, but then it goes back to your resting level.
Right? And when I teach people and what I want to do with this book and my work is let people know that we can improve your baseline. That’s what the science of happiness and neuroscience can do. You can actually make your day in and day out, baseline stronger. And better and that your personality and how you move through life.
Of course, it’s influenced by your genetic history. Our genetics play a part, right? And our life circumstances like living in a pandemic, of course our life circumstance play apart, but so much of your wellbeing and your happiness is based on those daily choices. And if you use the daily choices based on positive psychology research, you can improve your baseline and.
This is a lifelong process that depending on what’s going on, what changes in your life circumstances? That know that you have a lot within your control. So that’s really what that analogy is about. Yeah. When I love that, it’s this idea that like to use the idea of a resting heart rate we see in medicine that runners, for example, somebody who’s really fit with greater aerobic fitness.
What they can do is they can do like a hit workout. So heart rate goes really, really high it spikes, but because of their aerobic fitness and ultimately flexibility, they are able to quickly drop back down to their baseline. So there’s sort of this flexibility. And I, you know, I, what I interpreted as I’m reading that is this can go multiple ways.
I think on the flip side, when you are going through. Difficult thing in your life and maybe instead of a pleasure spike or now like the opposite and we’re feeling this discouragement. Yeah. Like if you have that really healthy investment in that baseline, I also think there’s more flexibility in your mindset.
You’re quicker to be able to reach this level of satisfaction again. Yeah. Just like confidence, even kind of in weird. You just came you goosebumps again. Yeah. So everyone has ups and downs. We all have. So by using the science of happiness and understanding this holistic approach, it’s spiritual, physical, intellectual, your relationships, your emotions, all of it, all having huge spikes potentially and massive lows is that instead just like a heartbeat, it’s going to be more like this.
So it’s going to be. It’s going to be less of a drop and you will be in that low point for a shorter period of time. Yeah. And actually that’s even more important than, you know, the pleasure spikes. You’re exactly right. Yeah. But it’s that same concept I’ve told my fitness nutrition clients that so many times in my program is it’s this idea of I’m as passionate about the mindset changes.
I am the physical change because I think they’re directly correlated and it’s really very consistent with what you’re talking about. The science of happiness. And it’s this idea of learning to live with discipline moderation, not the all or nothing mentality. It’s like when you learn. And the whole perfectionism conversation comes in here.
And I think it’s the same as the happiness baseline, but it’s trying to really fight that mentality of all or nothing. And the perfectionistic tendencies. So many of us have that are really correlated to how people. Perceive us, but instead allowing for that discipline moderation so that those ups and downs are a lot more controlled and you’re not this crazy, whether it be physically up and down or even mentally or emotionally up and down, I’ll say one thing about the exercise, which made me think of the beauty industry is obviously multi multi-billion, right?
Yes. Humans forever have been well, not forever, but for a very long time, I’ve been obsessed with our outer appearance. Right. And people exercise because it’s like, I want to look good. Right. And this flip. Feeling good is so much more valuable than looking good. And by the way, side benefit, you will also look good.
But really what you should care about right, is the connection between feeling, because there’s so much research for exercise and happiness for kids and adults. And so birds, new brain sounds like. That should be your inspiration and motivation for movement. Not. So you look good for the Instagram feed.
Absolutely. Well, and it’s this whole idea again, it’s perception and it’s a perspective change. It’s the idea that, to truly, I’m all about body fat percentages, because to me it’s a much better reflection of your health, not the scale, not what you see in the mirror. At et cetera, let’s get more physiological.
Let’s stop basing everything just on how we feel, because the lens through which we see ourselves as the lens through which we see the world. So we want to make sure that it’s accurate and making it a little bit more scientific, a little less emotion-based, but exactly to your point, it’s that idea that some of the most beautiful aesthetically pleasing people in the world are also some of the most insecure people I’ve ever met.
I mean, some of the most beautiful. Like objectively, aesthetically beautiful people. I feel incredibly insecure and it’s because their value, their whole lives has been associated with how they look. So it’s this concept of, well, it’s easy for somebody to say if they’re pretty and I would argue disagree.
I think it can be just as challenging because then you question, well, I might perceive to be good at something simply because I’m attractive. So it’s that whole idea that it is all about the lens through which you see the. What do you perceive as valuable when you look at other people? Why are they valuable to you?
Because they’re attracting. Or because they’ve been made in the image of God, because the quicker that you can understand that is the quicker, you will be able to also see yourself as valuable. So like you are infinitely valuable period. You can’t answer it, you can attract to it. And it’s exactly what you’re saying.
This senior that you can come to that that’s when you can like, establish that baseline of happiness, because it’s no longer related to. Success or what you are or not. Yes. Yes. But you are not doing what is the number one thing. If you could say one thing that has made all the difference for you, if you could boil it down to the success of achieving happiness in your life, if you could boil it down to one word or one phrase, what would it be?
Gratitude. Oh, yep. Great. One for me. It’s gratitude. I don’t know if it’s because I was raised in the middle of a forest and had no people around and then I’ve had amazing opportunities to live and explore the world, but I have always been very aware and this is before, like everyone got a gratitude journal.
Like I’m very aware that, oh my goodness, life. Precious. And I’ve been in awe of the world and the people and just all of it, of how special it is, like what a gift that we woke up today and we’re breathing and not taking anything for granted. Amen. I love that you say it’s just, it’s just gratitude followed by off just being an awe of the world.
Yeah. It’s that sense of living out of abundance? It’s an abundance mentality. Yeah. I love that. Well, I want to end with, there’s a section in your book that I’m reading from, and this is what TSS, she says you are not. Your choices matter. And the daily choices you make can increase your spiritual, physical, intellectual relationship and emotional wellbeing.
It’s not an option. You’re responsible for creating a massive positive ripple effect. And I know you can do. This is Tia Graham. This is her book. You definitely need to check it out. And your website is arrive@happy.com. Is that right? Yes. Where else can people find you? Where else should people look you up?
Yeah, so I’m super active on Instagram trying to do positive social media. Of course. So that’s provided that happy. And then also a Tio gram on LinkedIn. And I have a YouTube channel. I put out a video every Friday at 10:00 AM. Pacific. Tia Graham arrive at happy on you. I mean, it’s hard not to smile because you just said happy like six.
Like, do people even understand there’s like a legit certified? What is it? You’re a certified chief happiness officer. I laughed out loud on the airplane when I was on an airplane. When I read that and I was like, What I want to buy people are like, that’s a real title. I’m like, yes, I got certified on Denmark.
It’s real. It’s certified in Denmark. It’s real. We’re happy in Denmark. Yeah. Well, Tia, thank you so much. It’s an honor chatting. I learned so much reading your book. It was really, it was inspiring and encouraging. Thank you. Thank you. Well, it’s been so wonderful talking to you. We’re definitely aligned and yeah.
Thank you for the message. The work and the help that you’re putting out in the world. Yeah. Well, thank you so much. I pray. God’s richest blessings over you and your family. Take care. Thank you so much for joining us for this episode of the imperfectly empowered podcast. It is my honor to be here with you.
I am so grateful for each and every one of you. If you are watching on YouTube, be sure to click the subscribe button below. So you don’t miss a show and leave a comment with your thoughts from today’s episode. If you are listening via your preferred podcasting platform, would you help keep us on the air by rating our show and leaving an honest review of your thoughts from today in case you haven’t heard it lately, your story matters and you are loved.
This is your host on a former, and I will see you here next time on the, in perfectly empowered podcast.

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