I recently had the pleasure of enjoying two great days at the ‘Happiness and it’s Causes’ Conference. I loved hearing the different perspectives on one of my favourite topics – from Scientists, Psychologists, survivors and his holiness, the Dalai Lama.

Despite the variety of backgrounds and viewpoints, the common theme remained consistent over the two days. And I must admit, the theme came as a surprise to me. Not like a blinding flash of the obvious, “wow, I’d never have known” kind of surprise. More, the repetition made it a valuable reminder.

The theme that kept coming up was that the key to happiness is …

… drumroll …

… wait for it …

Self-compassion. Essentially, in order to experience happiness, we must practice being understanding, loving and accepting of oneself … unconditionally.

Sure, we can enjoy moments of happiness in seeing the joy in others or a fun experience, or being the witness of something beautiful, or a huge belly laugh. Sustained happiness requires you to be as kind to you, as you are for others. As I say to my workshop participants …

We all want to be happy, right? And I mean truly, deeply happy; not ‘appearing happy on Facebook’ type happy. So, here is my challenge to you.

What would your days be like if you were just 5% more self-compassionate and self-loving?
How would you feel if you turned your inner critic into your inner coach?
Imagine you were to treat yourself with the same love and empathy as you would treat a close friend. What would you need to stop doing and start doing?
I truly believe that happiness is a choice. Sure, stuff happens and things don’t always go as planned. But if self-compassion is the essential ingredient to happiness, we can always choose to be more self-compassionate; choose to empathise and cut yourself some slack. In every moment, we have the opportunity to choose how an event or comment affects us, to choose how we respond. We always have the choice to be more self-compassionate.

Throughout this month, what will you do differently to be more self-compassionate? I’d love to hear from you about what impact your change had on you?

Here’s to your happiness!