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Sloan Sheridan-Williams, life coach (UK)

Sloan Sheridan-Williams is London’s leading life coach and relationships expert 

What is happiness to you?
Happiness for me is something I find from within based on the simplest of things in my life. It is my belief that people who look for happiness outside of themselves or make others responsible for their happiness put great pressure on themselves which can severely challenge their potential to be content with whatever this world throws at them. Moments of happiness can come from doing a good turn without seeking reward. Something as simple as making someone else smile or being grateful for that which you already have. Moments of happiness can also be found in the innocence of others like children playing in the snow making snow angels contrasted to complaining of the cold. There is no great secret or hidden formula to being happy. Acknowledging the universal truth that there is an abundance of happy moments that already exist in the world around you should you choose to look for them has been the key to my happiness. 

How did you come to your current level of positivity and what did you have to overcome to achieve it?
I have always had a positive outlook but it is impossible to be 100{35d3525f1c030a1ad48e5d7c137e9475e12a267c00dd63e0fd71f891391fbb40} happy all of the time. I strive for contentment rather than happiness which can change in intensity over any given moment. Today my positivity is a 9, but if tomorrow it dropped to a 6 I would not berate myself for the natural ebb and flow of emotions. In fact in my saddest moments in life, people surprise me with such kindness. Change can create happiness in ways one would not have predicted had it not been for the period of regrouping. My childhood was to me a fascinating and fantastic opportunity for growth. Growing up around people who lived in fear or created fear in others, I watched a cycle of what I knew even as a young child was unhelpful behaviour and unhealthy patterns. It inspired me to search for different ways of being and model good behaviour whilst learning from unhelpful behaviour. I learned to look at what causes a person to act a certain way and how that behaviour might be changed for a more positive outcome. The result is that, in my opinion, you should only change yourself but be present to help others change should they wish to change for themselves. It is very important to respect the rights of people who do not wish to change and know when to walk away. To achieve my current level of contentment, I overcame the need to fix everyone. I developed an understanding of balance and choice. I learned to let go of that which did not serve my best interests and strongest values. These three things are my foundations for my current level of positivity.

Through your work as a life coach, how do you help people become happier?
As a life coach it is important to qualify what someone means when they say “I want to be happier”. Happiness means different things to different clients. Some strive for contentment, others want to move away from loss, sadness and stress. The key is to reframe the want into a positive statement being grateful for what they have already achieved and remind them to be proud of how far they have come. Once I have flooded their emotional system with positive thoughts, I work with them to connect these feelings to their passions and intrinsic drivers. This helps pull them forward into their concept of what happiness is rather than running away from that which they don’t want. The common theme is that clients require their emotional needs to be met to be happy. For some this might be significance in the form of a career or parenthood whilst for others this could be love and connection. Although each client is different, whether they are looking for good health or going to the next level in their career, the solution follows a similar process. Clear focus of what happiness means to them is essential, followed by what they are willing to do to get to the level of happiness they desire.

Could you share one of your “secrets” to becoming successful, healthy and happy that anyone could apply right now?
“Perception is everything” has been a concept I have promoted for over 15 years now. It is essential to see one’s life for exactly how it is it is, not worse than it is. So often the story we make up in our head about a negative situation is far more dramatic than the situation itself. This is often because we are not only contending with our interpretation of events but other people’s too. Taking a step back and seeing where you actually are in a calm, considered and logical fashion is key. I often tell my clients to imagine they are watching a film of their lives and to take it down a notch. By this I mean instead of a Hollywood blockbuster have it in a calmer setting, less special effects, less drama. Then I get them to ask themselves if they had enough time, money and drive which direction would they take their character in the film to create the happy ending. The problem is people often think they do not have enough resources to be happy but the real issue is they are just not being resourceful enough.  If you take away the perceived limitations you can often get to the solution.

Can you be happy anywhere?
True happiness comes from within yourself and the truth you tell yourself about your story and situation. One’s values and beliefs paired with their connection to things is what can make or break the feeling of happiness. You can be happy anywhere, however if you place yourself in a toxic environment you are severely limiting your happiness by putting a ceiling on that which can be truly achieved. Happiness is something that should not be taken for granted, it is a concept which should be nurtured like an inner child within us all. Such an inner child should be given careful time, consideration and love to grow into a part of oneself and therefore be with us always no matter where we are.  

Share your favourite Happy thought
Playful Puppies. To me there is a certain charm and cute factor that comes from the innocent exploration exhibited by puppies as they investigate the world and it’s endless possibilities and options. They come from a place of curiosity with no fear, being totally present to what is around them with a sense of seeking connection to all other living things that they meet.