Happiness: “It’s what we do every day that makes the biggest difference”

When Dr Jessamy Hibberd – clinical psychologist and author – was invited to do a TED talk, she panicked. But she then realised it was an opportunity to spread her message that happiness can be achieved by making small changes to every day life…

“It is what we do every day that makes the biggest difference. It’s small steps that lead to the greatest changes.” Dr Jessamy Hibberd (BSc, MSc, DClinPsy, PgDip) is a clinical psychologist, author, commentator and speaker. Here, she discusses the TED talk she did last year, in Turkey, live in front of nearly 1000 people, on the search for happiness…

The first invitation I was sent about TED I completely ignored, thinking it was some kind of junk mail or con. Fortunately for me they were persistent and emailed again. This time my PA replied and I was pretty surprised at the response:

We are in the process of inviting speakers to this year’s TEDx event in Cyprus and we wanted to invite Dr. Hibberd as a speaker.

The event is scheduled for November 11th.

TED can cover all the requirements for her accommodation in Cyprus plus her airline tickets.

If I’m completely honest, the main thing that caught my eye was the free trip to Cyprus! I arranged a call, still not really taking it seriously. TED was for important people with big ideas. The most speaking I’d done was lunchtime workshops in corporates. Not terribly successfully, as they stopped asking me after a while, so my confidence – in terms of public speaking – wasn’t too high.

When I spoke to the organiser Nicholas he explained that he’d heard me on Radio 5 Live answering questions to a phone-in on New Year’s resolutions and thought I’d be a good fit for the event. As much as I tried to put him off, I knew this was an opportunity I couldn’t say no to. You just don’t say no to being offered a privilege like TED. Or if you do (and you’re anything like me) you regret it for the rest of your life.

After saying yes, I asked how many people watch – 800. Arghhh! But as I put the phone down, I reminded myself that this was the ultimate way to share my ideas and push my passion – to make psychology more accessible. If I was going to get over my fear of public speaking, then this felt worth doing it for. Even if it also felt terrifying.

I knew I wanted to talk about the importance of an every day approach to psychology – my motto is that “what we do every day makes the biggest difference. It’s small steps that lead to the greatest changes.” I wanted to dispel the myth of achievement and goals being the answer to living a happier life and show that when you become obsessed by that final goal – thinking, hoping and scheming about what’s ahead – it can blind you to the adventure of life and it’s real purpose: living.

I’m a private person and so opening up and talking about my personal experiences was completely new, but it felt right to share why this message was important to me. I was really fortunate that TED gave me an amazing speaker coach to work with – Avyie. She gave me the confidence to step out of my comfort zone, be vulnerable and have the courage to do a talk that felt really true to myself.

I hope by using myself as an example it shows how easy it is to fall into the trap and I hope my three small changes show that happiness is simpler than you think and within reach for all of us:

– Slow down: so you can take it all in and appreciate it.

– Empty time: just to rest, think and reflect.

– Natural highs: making time for the things that make you feel alive and the people you love.

Follow Dr Jessamy Hibberd on Instagram: @drjessamy.