March 8 is International Women's Day! This gives TopVintage the ultimate opportunity to pay tribute to a number of power women throughout the month. This week it's Josje's turn: a wonderfully enthusiastic woman with a successful business as a happiness psychologist and author of a published book. Want to know more about how she made this happen? Let yourself be inspired, gorgeous!
You are a successful happiness psychologist. Tell us a little more about that?
‘’I graduated as a clinical psychologist 20 years ago. I then worked with hardened criminals for a while and though I learned a lot during that time, it was also very depressing. After about 8 years I just thought to myself, ‘Is this my life?’ I then relocated to the southern part of the Netherlands for love and started teaching at Maastricht University. That’s how I first came into contact with positive psychology. Here the focus lies on how we as human beings can stay healthy, can maintain a good work-life balance, can prevent a burnout and especially on how we can be happy. That’s when I thought: ‘This is fun! And since everyone wants to be happy, I should definitely bring this to market!’ As it turns out there is a great demand for it. I approached lots of organisations like for example HelloFresh and Heineken with the question: ‘Is workplace happiness something that you’re already focused on?’ Those companies were immediately interested and that got the ball rolling. To be honest, things actually got off to a flying start. I also started blogging on famous platforms like Wendy Online, Bedrock Magazine and &C and I even got to write a book. It all just grew tremendously in a very short period of time and I think this is also due to the fact that there is such an incredible need for it. And that is also the reason that I generated a lot of media attention.
I’m now helping people to learn how they can manage their own happiness and mindset. Both through my training courses as well as lectures. It is just so much fun! For now, I’m doing all of this on my own, but I’m getting to a point where I’m looking to expand as well.’’
What does happiness mean to you?
‘’I’m always busy, so happiness to me is having some peace and quiet, including a peaceful mind, and just be content in the here and now. Without always longing and wishing for more. At the end of the day happiness is completely subjective, it means different things to different people. But in my 20 years as a psychologist I have realised that what most people want is to be content. People want to learn on how to be content with what they have! Nowadays we are often focused on the things in life that can create short-term happiness, for example attending a festival or getting a like on social media. This causes big spikes but also a quick decline. The keys to true long-term happiness are small things like being at peace and being okay with what you have and what your life looks like. That may sound a bit boring, but it is very important!”
You mentioned that you wrote a book. How did that happen?
‘’I started blogging for a number of famous and popular platforms and those blogs prompted a publisher to approach me. They really liked my style of writing and thought it was very accessible. Super cool, especially since it was one of those things that was actually on my bucket list. It was a wonderful experience, I loved doing it and the whole process was incredibly educational. In the end the book Happy in 100 dagen (which means Happy in 100 days) sold really well and I always take it with me when I give lectures. I don’t know if I would be willing to write another book though, because the whole process is so intense. The book provides you with an insight regarding questions like: ‘Who am I?’, ‘what are my capabilities and skills?’ and ‘what do I want?’ By completing a number of assignments, you eventually end up with one specific goal. And that is something that is really nice for you to think about. The book has a very practical approach so it’s also a great choice for people who don’t like reading as much.”
Which tips for living a happier life would you like to give women?
‘’Exercise for 30 minutes every day. Very cliché, but this is my top tip. Because it’s the only way to activate all four happy hormones in your body at the same time. Research also shows that the earlier in the day you’re exercising, the longer the happy hormones remain active and the better prepared you are for tackling any resistance or stress throughout your day. So people who exercise in the morning, already seem much more resilient and positive when it comes to tackling certain situations than people who don’t. I’m a major proponent of going for a walk, hoovering up or really any morning activity that gets your heart rate going. Another tip would be to make a conscious effort to rest and relax. And I really mean time away from external stimuli. Social detoxing is quite the hype right now. The brain is ancient and not wired to handle all those stimuli. So while we’re watching Netflix there are still all these visual and auditory signals coming at us. When you are on your phone, the brain is still busy. It’s not until your brain is free from external stimuli, for example when you’re reading a book or going for a walk that you get to literally recharge your battery, in other words your brain. And a final tip for the long run: think about your goals and break them down into specific and small goals. For example: This month I won’t be saying ‘yes’ as often at work and stick to this at least once a week. This will also give you an instant confidence boost!’’
Who do you consider a power woman and why?
‘’There are so many! But for me right now it’s Olympic speed skater Ireen Wüst. I recently read an in-depth interview with her. For years she’s been practicing so incredibly hard and she has made so many sacrifices, while all we see is her winning her 6th Olympic gold medal. She has also often felt like she wasn’t good enough and has had her share of adversity, for example the death of a really close friend. Despite all of that she kept going, she kept proving herself and going even faster. Her approach is: ‘What am I already good at and where is there still some room for improvement?’ That to me really is making your own happiness. So, it’s all about the mindset and how you deal with all the shit. She is living proof of that and that makes her a real power woman!’’