We are all pursuing happiness in life but many of us don’t know what we are searching for or when we will find it. Most of us are looking to fill a void or maybe escape ourselves, others are looking to fulfill a superficial dream, and well at some point, you’ll need to face the fact that happiness is within you.
Amy Powell, once believed happiness came from external factors, and because of that, she spent her time chasing someones else version of success. It took Amy years of doing inner self-work to let go of her old beliefs and rewire her brain to understand that we can connect deeply and find happiness within ourselves.
Boss Up: What inspired you to become a Happiness Coach?
Amy Powell: When I hit my darkest unhappy dark, I was 33. At that time, I believed I was doing “all the right things” to be happy. I was working a cool, fast-paced job, I had large groups of friends, I was traveling and jet-setting almost every weekend, I was going out every weeknight and on the weekends, and I had the latest beauty trends and material items in my closet.
I thought that if my life looked “perfect” from the outside I would achieve happiness inside, meanwhile internally, I was a mess. My self-esteem was at zero. I didn’t have boundaries in my work, relationships, or life. I was working a job that completely burned me out. I was a professional people-pleaser. Most of my friendships were surface-level and didn’t fulfill the deep human connection I was desperate for. I was constantly in debt because I was spending all of my money on fashion, beauty products, and going out. By traveling so much I was isolating myself from the deep friendships that I craved. I was completely disconnected from my inner Self—my true desires, feelings, and purpose in life. And on top of it all, I was drinking practically every night to numb my unhappiness, which made me even more unhappy because most days I was waking up with a hangover. Inside, my life was not laddering up to the great pursuit of happiness.
One morning I woke up, physically hungover and mentally depleted, and I said out loud, “I’ve been working so hard to be happy. When will it come?” There was a deep disconnect between how hard I was trying to bring happiness into my life, and how intensely I hoped that it would just appear. At that moment, I decided that I would do everything I’d been doing the exact opposite way. If my current lifestyle wasn’t bringing me happiness, perhaps the opposite would. For six months I stopped buying anything non-essential, and I stopped going out. I started exercising to connect with myself and my body more deeply. I started only meeting up with friends who I cared about, and who I knew cared about me. I started to read books written by thought-leaders, coaches, and healers in the happiness space to see how they were living their lives. And I started to attend talks, events, and panels to discover who I really was and what I truly wanted in life. I started to develop myself from the inside out, instead of the outside in, like I had been doing for years.
Today, my journey has allowed me to design, refine and reconnect every piece of my life, work, and inner Self with intention, clarity, and joy. The journey has not always been easy, but every step—especially the vulnerable and uncomfortable steps—has made the journey worth it. And that’s why I’ve made it my mission to help creative entrepreneurs, healers, and impact makers reconnect with their spark and live in their most fulfilled version of happiness because it’s attainable AF. If I can do it, so can you.
Boss Up: What are some reasons people feel stuck?
Amy Powell: There are 1,000,000 reasons why people feel stuck from living in their everyday happiness. And the most common one I see, time and time again is losing connection to your inner self—and your inner spark. When you are seeking validation from external places, when you are people-pleasing, when you are living up to others’ expectations and conforming to outside rules, when you are fully focused on extrinsic goals and not on your own intrinsic goals, you are disconnecting from your inner Self. And that disconnection means that you are letting your Self, and your ultimate happiness down.
For example, when a person repeatedly abandons their personal desire to stay healthy by staying late at work instead of exercising as they promised themself they would, on a subliminal level they are dishonoring their Self and compromising their self-trust. Or if a person deters from their money goals and overspends on a hot new outfit just to be noticed by their peers, subliminally they are defaming their Self and discrediting their independent self-worth. This thinking develops an untrue, internal narrative that can become a person’s “true” belief and identity—I’m not trustworthy, I’m not capable without assistance, I’m not lovable on my own, I don’t deserve to be happy, etc., etc.
I was there. And I’ve learned that happiness is generated from the inside, not the outside. It’s individual, personal, internal. When you are able to focus inward and consistently connect with your inner Self, and love yourself fully and unconditionally, you are taking the first, biggest step to be able to find and live in what true everyday happiness means for you.
Boss Up: How can we get unstuck?
Amy Powell: This is the top exercise that comes to mind:
Get in the daily practice of allowing yourself to take an extended, personal pause every day so you can continue to come back to yourself and connect with your true spark, your feelings, deep desires, and your purpose.
Start Day One by pausing to write in your journal, “How do you envision your life to be in 5 years? Dream big and bold. What truly fulfills you? Where do you want to be mentally, emotionally, and physically?”
Find time to reflect on your answers and perhaps on Day Two consider, “What’s holding you back from living your most fulfilled, happy life today?” Talk to your friends about what you wrote down, and share where you’re stuck. Then start to take action on creating small shifts and changes in your life towards getting unstuck to live in your everyday happiness.
As I discovered, happiness does not just arrive at your doorstep. You cannot hope for a happy life to come to you. It takes work. And as I mentioned above, I will proudly tell you, the work has been the most fulfilling work I’ve done in my entire existence. We can all take ownership of our happiness and create our own paths. The journey is attainable AF.
Boss Up: How does our conditioning from childhood affect how we accept happiness in our life?
Amy Powell: I have a crazy story on this one. A year ago, I was taking another coach’s workshop and we were discussing the idea of people-pleasing, and how it cripples our independence, creativity, and growth. We were looking back at our pasts to pinpoint exactly when we started to people-please. I didn’t get very far in the workshop, however, I took time to come back to the exercise afterward and I went deep.
I tracked back to a moment in 3rd grade when I was walking into class. That morning I had dressed in my three favorite articles of clothing—sparkly shoes, big colorful shorts, and a button-up top. Walking to school I felt confident, playful, and grounded. As I approached my classroom, a group of girls who I looked up to was standing by the entrance and one of them said to me, “Nice…. outfit”. I was crushed. In that moment I went from being so proud in my skin to wanting to implode right there in my sparkly shoes. I felt empty, unaccepted, uncool, judged and most of all, I hated myself for picking the mismatched outfit I had on. What was I thinking!?
I never wanted to feel how I felt at that moment again. So right then and there I changed. I disconnected from the real Amy so I wouldn’t have to feel like an outsider again. I started to wear trendy clothes even though I didn’t like the trends, I muted my voice so I wouldn’t stand out, I acted how I thought I should to make others comfortable, I became a different version of myself to fit in among my peers, and to be accepted by the world. I went from loving my unique Self to seeking safety in how others perceived me.
This coaching exercise was such a huge ahhh-ha for me! That one moment in 3rd grade changed my trajectory and informed me how I operated in the world all the way up into my 30s. So many of us have experienced and traumas just like mine that we’re holding onto from our youth. And those traumas encourage us to lose our real Self and become someone else—they put out our spark.
This type of self-perpetuated conditioning has continued in the extreme today with online bullying, social media influence and an overwhelming sense of fear projected in our media. It is detrimental to our well-being, mental health, and our happiness. And that’s why I’ve made it my mission to challenge social norms and debunk the “pursuit of happiness” narrative so we don’t ever have to lose our spark, so we can shine brightly and live happily on our own terms.
Boss Up: What are some negative effects of feeling unhappy and how does that impact our health?
Amy Powell: As I mentioned above, unhappiness is linked to a disconnection from our true inner Self and the love and respect that we have for ourselves. When I look back at my early 30s, I can remember the specific feelings I felt on a daily basis, regularly felt: empty, depleted, alone, hopeless (so hopeless after being insanely hopeful that happiness would arrive for me), desperate, doubtful, and lacking in all areas of my being. I had little to no self-esteem and I started to lose trust that my version of happiness was even possible.
Mental realities like this dismantle our happiness and take a big toll on our health—both mentally and physically. Some of the effects I personally experienced were depression, over-eating, over-drinking, becoming overweight, and then under-eating and becoming underweight. My emotions were on a constant rollercoaster and my inner critic was louder than ever—I was living in a world of constant self-shame and self-doubt.
I had abandoned, disappointed, and hidden from my inner Self for so long that mentally and physically, I was living in a semi-destroyed state. However, underneath it all there was a sense of restlessness and knowing. I knew there was something more for me, I knew a happy life was possible and it wasn’t until I took ownership of my happiness, discovered my inner Self, and ignited my spark that my mental and physical health regained its balance and joyful nature too.
Boss Up: What are some tips to feel more fulfilled in life and ways to tap into our happiness?
Amy Powell: There are so many! The most important, and the most practical, would be to have 3-6 months of savings to cover all your expenses when you take it full time. This is your fallback plan that while you are focusing on
The journal prompts I shared above are where I would start. Take time to pause every day so you can sit and reconnect with your inner Self, your knowing, and the version of happiness that is most fulfilling and meaningful to you.
Another tip is to reduce your time with technology. Start charging your phone in the kitchen at night so it’s not close to your bed when you fall asleep and when you wake up. Set a timer the next time you’re on social media so you can be intentional with how much time you’re scrolling. And put your phone out of sight next time you’re catching up with a friend in person.
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