• Monday, February 26, 2024
businessday logo


Boosting your happiness level with sense of self

The recipe for true happiness

When you hear or read a statement such as Ian Murray’s, “We couldn’t out-polo Polo, we couldn’t be glitzier than Bergdorf or more rugged than Patagonia”, what comes to mind? I would say, “Self-awareness!” Running their clothing business, Vineyard Vines, they realised that they must do things differently from their major competitors like Polo, Bergdorf, and Patagonia. Carving out a niche for themselves entailed looking within to identify why they were in the business in the first place. To them, it was not just to sell neckties, pants, and shirts. It was the comfort, fun, bright, cheerful, and feel-good values that wearing their clothes could give their customers that brought them into the business; little wonder why they see themselves being in a lifestyle/brand business rather than a clothing one.

This self-awareness is evident in how Ian and his brother, Shep, run their business with a culture carved out of EDSFTG (Everyday Should Feel This Good). In 1997, they both quit their seemingly great yet unfulfilling jobs because they didn’t want to “work ever again”. Ironic, you would say, but according to Shep, if you do what you love, you will never have to work a single day in your life and that’s what has happened to them, having built a privately owned company valued at over a billion dollars.

As a career coach, I know that not everyone has the same route to success and this is so, simply because our stories, backgrounds, upbringing, exposure, and the likes are different. My journey from point A to B will be most likely different from yours due to these reasons and must be respected. I remember always standing aloof and sometimes clueless when it came to researching. Reading tips, maps, samples, drafts et al all seemed gibberish to me till I found what I love to write about. The Murrays’ story buttressed by mine and many others is a testament to the fact that we are capable of more than what we think, especially as it relates to finding a suitable career or job role within an organisation. This is one of the reasons we run different tests to determine the type of therapy a client needs based on the background information available.

One such test is the S-A-I-L Quadrant developed by my practice. This personal assessment toolkit is based on the eight pillars of wellness: Social, Physical, Emotional, Career, Intellectual, Environmental, Spiritual, and Financial. Although these pillars are expected to be balanced in theory to have a strong wellness score, the trick to a skewed or lopsided analysis is the indication of strength and self-awareness prompters. Also, because balance doesn’t necessarily mean perfect scores, a test taker can easily know if they are strong, average, ill, or losing it working with the range markers. As much as this isn’t to scare anyone, everybody needs to take the test occasionally, to have a snapshot of their wellbeing.

Using myself as a case study here, I knew deep inside me that I love and enjoy intelligent conversations. This means, my intellectual well-being must be in tip-top shape to boost my happiness level. However, at the time, I was somewhat clueless at the thought of researching and reading academic papers daily let alone writing a proposal. So, what did I do? I found ways studying could be more fun and interesting to me rather than a chore. I ensured that I understood all I was learning or studying by quickly applying them to real-life situations. This approach made information and knowledge stick, and more relatable without feeling too academic or foreign. Having gone through this process, I often find it flattering when people see me as nerdy or quite knowledgeable. There is nothing special about knowing and performing, it’s the will that makes all the difference, hence anyone can do it.

Using myself as a case study here, I knew deep inside me that I love and enjoy intelligent conversations. This means, my intellectual well-being must be in tip-top shape to boost my happiness level.

Reflecting on self-awareness and sense of self becomes interesting as they are almost the same concept. Self-awareness being the ability to recognize and understand one’s thoughts, feelings, behaviours, and characteristics, involves self-analysis and a deep understanding of one’s own identity, motivations, strengths, weaknesses, and emotional reactions. Interestingly, our S-A-I-L quadrant effectively nudges you to this consciousness amongst others. Thereafter is the need for a sense of self which represents your perception or understanding of who you are. This covers the different roles, characteristics, and attributes that make up your identity including your personal beliefs, values, physical appearance, cultural identity, and roles as a friend, parent, spouse, student, employee, or employer.

Even though a typical Nigerian hates completing surveys let alone taking tests, it is highly expedient that you take them for a successful and effective engagement. As a wellness coach who grants talk sessions, I’ve seen the impact of these two concepts on many people. At one of my talk sessions, I made all the participants take the S-A-I-L Quadrant test. Even though it was quite riveting for the attendees, I had an encounter that opened my eyes to the extent to which the assessment can help, which goes even beyond the individual. There was one I named a Nicodemus encounter.

Call to action.

During this Nicodemus encounter, an attendee approached me to discuss her wellness assessment result. Bear in mind that, because it was a large group of people, I allowed the test for their awareness. And because the test is such that, you only need to be true to yourself to know your wellness status. Whether you share your results with me or not, the self-awareness mission is always achieved.

So, in this scenario, the attendee ranked lowest in intellectual well-being. Talking to her, I could pick it too but that wasn’t the big issue. The issue was the fact that it was already affecting her marriage. She didn’t like reading and felt too old to be interested in personal development of any kind. Her husband wished she could have more intellectual conversations with his colleagues and their wives. He would buy different books with the hope that she would read them as she is always at home. As a friend, what gift would you give that person this Christmas?

Kindly send your suggestions, advice, or gift ideas to [email protected].


Olayinka Opaleye is a Wellbeing Specialist and Corporate Wellness Strategist. She writes from Lagos. Tel: 09091131150 or follow her on www.linkedin.com/in/olayinkaopaleye