Episode 21: How I Overcame Self-Doubt With Advice From The Happiness Advantage Book

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Hi, I'm Victoria Hefty and welcome to Activate Purpose, where I talk about finding purpose through action while balancing motherhood and career. In today's episode, I'm going to share how a random visit the bookstore for a fun thriller novel led me to a book that I wasn't even sure I needed. Learn how advice from The Happiness Advantage book helped me to overcome some serious self doubt and get back to a place of excitement.

Let me just begin by saying that, I just woke up feeling really at peace today and excited for whatever the day brought my way. You know, I'm typically a pretty happy person to begin with, but I wouldn't say that I wake up with peace in my heart every day. I definitely get stressed out, I mean life isn't perfect. But, waking up that way today just made me feel really grateful and it's something that I've actually been feeling over the course of the last few days, which I'll get to about in a second.

But, I just wanted to mention that I am grateful because, I've been really trying to acknowledge sort of since this journey started, so maybe over the past year trying to acknowledge at least two to three things every day that I'm grateful for, and that's one of the things that popped in my head this morning as I woke up. So, I just wanted to share that with you guys.

And I think a large part of that piece actually comes from what I'm going to talk about today. On a side note, I will say that for those of you who are skeptical of this whole gratitude thing, you're rolling your eyes right now. The things that I am grateful for, I will say they vastly ... I can't even talk today. They range vastly in their level of importance.

So for example, last night I wrote in my journal that I was really grateful that I made a delicious steak quesadilla, Right? What's unusual about that? Well, nothing except for, I was grateful that I tried these low carb, quote unquote plant based Spinach Tortilla wraps that I bought at Whole Foods because I'm trying to be more careful about what I eat as I'm pregnant.

And, I didn't love sort of the subtle seaweed-esque smell of these tortilla wraps but, the texture was spot on and the flavor from the steak, the veggies and the cheese was enough to make me sort of forget that weird smell. And so, I was really excited that I could have this sort of delicious meal that didn't feel healthy, minus the subtly weird smell. So yes, I was grateful that I could find like I said, something nutritious to eat simple enough.

And I guess I'm sharing that before go into why you're listening to this episode, is that I think that there's so many little and big things to be grateful for every day. And if we just look for them, we'll find them. So, I just wanted to share that with you guys, which brings me to the main message of why I'm here. Don't worry, I'm going to stay focused.

So this past weekend and my husband wanted to make a quick run to Ikea so that he could finish decorating my daughter's room. So actually, if you listen to episode 19, you'll remember that one of the things that my husband had forgotten that he liked to do was anything design related. And so, since we have had that conversation about curiosity and all the things that he used to be interested in but hadn't really touched in like 10 years or so.

He's been slowly redecorating different rooms in our house, and putting up paintings, and being just really more attuned to that side of him, which for me is great to see. And so as part of that, he wanted to run to Ikea and get some throw pillows or whatever for our daughter. And, I realized at the time that, I didn't have any desire to go shopping, I dunno, I'm kind of over the whole shopping on the weekend thing.

I think I just want some relaxation on the weekends. So I actually asked him if he could drop me off at a nearby bookstore while he and my daughter were doing their thing. You know I love reading, and I have this thing where I sort of alternate between a serious nonfiction book, and with a fun quick read, which is usually like a thriller of some sort.

I like having the balance of something serious and something fun. It's sort of for the quick thriller people. For me, it's analogous to watching a movie. I just don't want something that's going to make me think a lot, I want something that's gonna be a turn pager, kind of like a movie. I just want to read it instead of watch the movie. So, I just finished a nonfiction book, so I went in the store and I was in the mood for something fun.

I went to the best seller section because I didn't have a lot of time to wander around, and I found what seemed to be a good book by David Baldacci and it was 40 percent off. So, you know, done. I grabbed it, and I started walking towards the cash register. But as I was walking, I saw this little bright yellow book that caught my attention, and it was called The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor.

So, I immediately recognized that name because Shawn gave a Ted Talk that I watched last year, and enjoyed calling The Happy Secret, I believe, To Work Better. I think as of today it has about 18 million views and it's a really great talk on how the formula of working hard so that you can eventually be happy is backward. Like I said, you should watch it. It's great.

Back to the book. The subtitle of The Happiness Advantage book was quote, how a positive brain fuels success in work and life. So I debated whether I wanted to get it because one, that wasn't the reason why I went into the store and two, like I said, while I have my bad days like everyone else in general, I'm actually a pretty positive and optimistic person.

In fact, most people would say my positivity is one of my strengths. So, I was like no, I don't need this book. I started putting it back on the shelf but I don't know, something, this little voice, whatever you wanna call it made me say, you know Victoria, even if positivity is your strength, that doesn't mean that you can't improve. And it's a relatively short book, and I'm a quick reader.

So I decided, I'm gonna trust that instinct, hasn't led me astray yet. So I bought the book along with my fun little thriller novel. So that night, I was still sorting through which book to read and I decided all right, let me just get it over with and read this happiness book or at least start it. I'm actually about halfway through and really enjoying it, but for that first night I read two chapters, and then I went to bed.

What I would say is the book at least as of yet, I mean I should say so far, it's great for people like me who like to hear advice that is backed up by like tons of empirical evidence. Everyone has an opinion, but I do like when either statements are backed up with some element of fact. You know, my husband always calls me quote unquote evidence based for everything, which I think is a strength, he thinks it's a weakness, but whatever.

So a few days ago, I actually read another chapter and one paragraph in the book really helped me in a way that I didn't know I needed. So first, for those who listened to my very last episode, which was episode 20, I talked about how I was struggling with being vulnerable, and how I had this idea of creating a workshop for women to explore their curiosity. But then I started having real self doubt about my ability to even host something like that.

I was pretty critical of myself, and I had talked myself out of the idea. I was like, who am I to run this? I'm not even capable of doing this, this is crazy. I don't want to do it. And I just sort of pushed it in the back of my head, and that was the end of that. But, I stumbled on this section, it was just like four or five sentences. And this specific chapter that I was reading in the happiness advantage book, which really kind of stopped me in my tracks and resonated with me. So I'll share it right now.

And I quote, “If you're sporting self doubt, you've undercut your performance before you even begin. So when faced with a difficult task or challenge, give yourself an immediate competitive advantage by focusing on all the reasons that you will succeed rather than fail. Remind yourself of the relevant skills you have, rather than those you lack. Think of a time you've been in a similar circumstance in the past and performed well.

Use of research have shown that a specific and concerted focus on your strengths during a difficult task produces the best results”. So, I had to read that again because I felt like it was speaking directly to me. You know, when I asked myself okay, Victoria, what are all the reasons why I would succeed at developing this workshop or conference, whatever this idea is in my mind?

I started thinking about all of my professional strengths, and capabilities, and quickly realized that the only thing stopping me from believing in myself was me, was my mindset. I needed to take all the energy I was spending on listing why I wasn't good, or smart, or ready enough to host or even plan this type of workshop, and instead focus on all the reasons why I was more than capable of doing it.

In short, I had a choice to make, and this paragraph forced me to focus on all of the aspects of my personality that can make something like this possible. And the best part, I actually started smiling as the thought sank in. So literally, I was smiling while holding the book in my head and my hand. I was sitting on the couch in my pajamas and my robe, exhausted after a long day at work, chasing after my daughter waddling around because I'm in my third trimester, but I was smiling and it felt really good.

You know, I felt like me again. And since that happened just a couple of days ago, I've been waking up like I said, with this sense of peace in my heart like I mentioned at the beginning of the show, I think that I resolved something that maybe I didn't even realize was creating some real inner conflict within myself. Is it always that easy? Probably not, but maybe it is.

Maybe I need to get out of my own way sometimes. Sure, now the hard work begins as far as actually flushing out this idea, turning it into reality. But for me, that is secondary. I'll continue to talk through the brainstorming and planning, and share that with you over the next couple of episodes. But from now, I'm celebrating this milestone of overcoming a limiting belief that was really probably unnecessary to begin with.

The important takeaway is that once I set my mind to something and truly believe that I'm capable and in this instance worthy of making it happen, I'm committed. So thank you Shawn Achor and this book for reminding me that even positive people need a confidence boost every now and then to pursue what interests them. So my challenge for you today, is to think about a difficult task or challenge that you're currently facing, or a situation where you were doubting yourself.

Take a couple minutes to either think through or even better, write down all the reasons that you will succeed, and remind yourself of the relevant skills you have, rather than those that you lack. Think of a time you've been in a similar circumstance in the past and performed well. I bet even the most skeptical person will be able to find at least one to two reasons why they would succeed at the very challenge or situation that is causing them so much doubt.

And for me, that is a huge win that is worth waking up feeling peaceful about. Well, until the rest of the day happens, and sometimes it goes down from there, but let's just start with waking up and feeling peaceful I think is a huge win and one that I am very glad that I have had and I'm treasuring for the moment, because who knows how long it will last.

So if you have any questions, or you want to share your breakthrough, you can email me at Victoria@activatepurpose.com. I will include links to Shawn Achor's talk ... I hope I'm pronouncing his name right, but Shawn Achor's talk, as well as the previous episodes I've mentioned in the show notes at activatepurpose.com/ episode21. Finally, if you enjoyed today's episode, make sure to leave a review, and subscribe to next week's episode.

Until next time, bye.

I'm Victoria, your host.jpg
Activate Purpose