From Sadness To Scotland's Happiness Day
November 1, 2013 by VIA Contributor ·
As Kim Macleod has learned, life is not always easy but it is in those dark moments when your inner strengths help to pull you through and flourish, reaching for goals that never even existed until after tragedy struck. After the loss of her young son, Kim has chosen to channel her energy into a global effort bringing happiness to hundreds. She has exhibited so many VIA strengths, among them… hope, perseverance, bravery, love of learning, zest. We thank her for sharing some of her story below.
The Journey Toward Scotland’s Happiness Day
by Kim Macleod
Life is very rarely ever a straight line; it goes up and down all the time. I believe that happiness gives you resilience to cope with anything that life throws at you, to bounce back on your feet and make life better. Happiness creates success too – everyone benefits when we feel good, positive emotions spread out so we can create better things for ourselves and others too. If people understand this and know how to go about it, just think how much better our society could be.
I spent 20 years working as a human resources manager in various sectors. I have seen so many people struggle with stress, worry, anxiety and fear.
I wanted to find a way to help people to feel more positive and break free from the negative spiral; and my quest for personal development led me to explore so many topics of self help and positive psychology. Ultimately it led me in 2006 to leave the security of my job and set up my own business, Stress the Positive, to help and inspire people who were struggling.
I also taught my two children, Calum and Kirsten, techniques I had learned and their minds grew, they understood that they could change how they felt. Tragically, in October 2007, just a few weeks short of his 13th birthday, Calum lost his life to meningitis.
The impact of Calum’s death shook me to my very core. The grief, depression, panic and anxiety were overwhelming. I questioned so many of my values trying to make sense of what had happened, but I vowed that I would be happy again, that our family would survive this tragedy. I wanted Calum to be proud of us and to recognise us as the family he knew if he could see us.
After spending so much energy helping others, I now found myself having to apply what I had been practicing to myself. Grief is about as far removed from happiness as I have ever been; I described my days as black with no motivation to do anything. I knew that exercise can increase endorphins but as I struggled to get dressed, going outside seemed beyond me. This is when I began to use little simple things to lift my mood for a short while.
Listening to upbeat music, using aromatherapy oils like bergamot and peppermint, reading inspiring quotes and looking up to the sky helped to create a chink of light in the darkness. I began to write letters to Calum in a journal, pouring out my emotions while feeling a connection with him. Together with family and friends we began to raise awareness and funds for the Meningitis Trust. Many people helped with our fundraising efforts and we were on the receiving end of such kindness from people all over the world. These acts of kindness were like a beacon of light in the darkness that allowed some colour and happiness to enter my world. I was then able to use even more of my knowledge, disconnecting the trauma and emotion using a variety of NLP techniques and mindfulness. Gradually I became happier, friends and family noticed the difference as I smiled more and even began to laugh again.
Grief does not just vanish though; I still have days that are difficult but this is only natural. It is why real life happiness is so important to me. This is not just positive thinking and pretend everything is wonderful, it is learning what can work, trying new things and storing the happy energy to help bounce back from the low points.
The Happiness Club is born
I learned so much about what helped me feel happier that I wanted to share that with as many people as possible. I created The Happiness Club in April 2011.
Now with over 360 members and 2 locations our focus is to learn and try out real tools that can help too – members can learn NLP techniques to change beliefs and let go of negative emotions, practice meditation and mindfulness, talk about their strengths, write gratitude journals, learn how colour can affect mood, fill laughter banks and create feel good tunes and so much more. We invite guest speakers and arrange special events and workshops. The Happiness Club is all about empowering people to take control of their own happiness and encouraging them to make changes in a friendly and supportive atmosphere and then to spread that happiness further.
We had World Happy Day in February 2012; and, on November 11, 2012, we held our first Scotland’s Happiness Day.
Our second Scotland’s Happiness Day conference will be Saturday 2nd November and we have expanded to include Smile Awards, as a thank you to the positive people in our lives who help us to smile. I am encouraging the country to get involved beyond our conference – to take a day to focus on people’s own happiness and to share it with others.
I will also launch my first book From Heartbreak to Happiness at the Happiness Day conference. My book offers hope and practical tips for anyone struggling with loss or difficult times. It is filled with heart lifting stories of kindness and compassion that made such a difference to my life.
Each one of us can make a difference in the world – I like to focus on spreading happiness and positivity. Want to join me in creating more happiness in the world on Sat 2nd November 2013?
Kim Macleod, www.stressthepositive.co.uk