Lessons from Hector

Hector and the Search for Happiness by Francois Lelord is a funny, insightful, and interesting read for those who enjoy stepping back and becoming a spectator of life’s nuances.

I loved reading The Little Prince and The Alchemist, so it was no surprise to find myself smiling and nodding as I made my way through this little gem of a book.

Hector, a disgruntled psychiatrist, collates lessons whilst on a global journey, through his experiences with different types of people, places, and perspectives. He finishes with a list of some 20 plus lessons in his search for happiness. Here are some of the lessons he documented that I thought resonated with many of the performers we work with…

Lesson no. 1: Making comparisons can spoil your happiness.
Lesson no. 6: Happiness is a long walk in beautiful, unfamiliar mountains.
Lesson no. 7: It’s a mistake to think that happiness is the goal.
Lesson no. 8: Happiness is being with people you love.
Lesson no. 10: Happiness is doing a job you love.
Lesson no. 13: Happiness is feeling useful to others.
Lesson no. 14: Happiness is to be loved for exactly who you are.
Lesson no. 15: Happiness comes when you feel truly alive.
Lesson no. 16: Happiness is knowing how to celebrate.
Lesson no. 17: Happiness is caring about the happiness of those you love.
Lesson no. 19: The sun and the sea make everybody happy.

My personal favourites from this list are 10 and 19.

Happiness is doing a job you love.  For those of us chasing our dreams and engaging with people and activities each day that energise us, there is simply nothing better.  In fact the word ‘job’ seems too bland and somewhat inappropriate to describe what I do each day!

A large part of this energy creation is knowing and using your strengths on a daily basis. There are many researchers and practitioners that confirm using our strengths creates energy, and the link between feeling energised and motivated is strong, which inevitably leads to high performance.

There are several books such as Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman, Go Put Your Strengths to Work by Marcus Buckingham, which advocate this position.

If you have had a chance to complete a personality assessment such as the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory you may also find that your typical tendencies also energise you (or at least don’t drain you like working outside of your personality type can).

Whatever the source of your understanding of your strengths, make sure you show them off!

The sun and the sea make everybody happy. Having now lived on three different continents (Australia, Asia, and Europe) and grown up in Australia (with some of the best sunny weather in the world), I know this is a universal truth!  From our brain’s perspective, the vitamin D from the sun provides the opportunity for serotonin release, which elevates our mood. Naturally, people spend more time outdoors when the sun is out, which typically involves moving and we know how good that is for our brain’s health.

The sea provides a combination of benefits to our brain. Salt water is refreshing and has been touted as having somewhat healing properties dating as far back as Hippocrates. Heading to the beach also provides an opportunity to spend time with people in a visually beautiful environment, feeding our desire to be social and to appreciate our external environment. For me, the quiet of the ocean can also be just as therapeutic, especially on some isolated beaches where you can tune into the sounds of the sea and your own breath.

Which of Hector’s lessons will jump out at you?

Make this title a mid-year read and share you favourite lessons with us!

Books such as Lelord’s provide a welcomed reminder of things that pay true dividends in the fast paced world in which we live.  There is something in this simply written and somewhat cheeky book for most people who appreciate that reflection is a healthy (and happy) part of our life.

As a person who loves to ‘check-in’ on a semi-regular basis I recommend it as buffer between your usual reading as it crosses the boundaries of all areas of life – work, play, and everything in between.

Now, I am off to chase some sun!

Andrea Furst PhD | Sport & Exercise Psychologist MAPS
Get in contact with Andrea – andrea@mentalnotesconsulting.com – to discuss your strategies to slow down to go faster.  Andrea is based in London and provides both face-to-face and virtual sport psychology services to athletes worldwide.