The middle ground. It doesn’t get much press, does it? There’s no click-bait in stability, no hedonic headline in balance, no cliff-hanger in even keel. Hearts don’t beat faster, palms don’t get sweaty, mouths don’t dry up. In fact, we do our level best to avoid its average reputation. Why walk the path of least resistance when there’s a sheer rock-face to climb? Because it makes sense to, that’s why.
My name is Annmarie O’Connor. You might know me as the author of The Happy Closet, or you might not know me at all. Either way, allow me to reintroduce myself. I’m an inexpert expert on the subject of mindfulness. My first book, The Happy Closet, helped readers declutter their wardrobes from the inside out by using positive psychology to clear the hang-ups and habits that shape sartorial well-being. My new book, The Happy Medium, will help you gain perspective on your personal satisfaction from the outside in by using positive psychology to clear unsustainable expectations of what constitutes a life well-lived.
What makes me qualified to riff on happiness? Not a lot. Just my own outlook. I believe that happiness is found on one’s own terms – not the dictates of the masses or the validation of a crowd. As for me? I’m 43; single; I still rent; I earn less than most of my peers; I had a cat (but he left me), and I still don’t know how to drive. By society’s standards, I’m invisible; by my standards, I’m rather happy. Admittedly, my life sounds more like a country-and-western song than that of a self-help author but, aside from the packaging, it’s exactly what I hoped for as a freewheeling twenty-something. In fact, this personal paradox is what inspired me to write The Happy Medium – that and a chance to debunk the happiness myth that tells us we can ‘have it all’.
Think about it. Never have we been so liberated, so free to design our destiny, to play the lead character in our lives. Never has decision-making been so exhausting. And therein lies the rub. With a ransom of untold alternatives hanging like a noose around our necks, the expectation stakes just keep getting higher and higher and higher. In redefining happiness from having it all to wanting what we have, finding the middle ground could be less of an epic journey and more of a cake-walk. The key to having more with less? Making the bold decision to be satisfied, to be enough.
So, what can you, the reader, expect from this book? Let me break it down. The Happy Medium is structured in two parts: detoxing your mind (attention intervention) and retoxing your life (mindful motivation). It will help you discover your satisfaction type and reclaim your focus from the margins of modern day distractions; it will teach you connect purposefully both on- and offline while learning to accept yourself and your selfie; it will guide you on giving ‘gr-attitude’ for what you have while going after what you want; it will get you to unplug and tune into your own personal WiFi (wisdom, intuition, feelings, instinct) with pro user tips on facing up to FOMO (fear of missing out), establishing boundaries and learning how to say ‘no’ like a pro. In a bit of a bind? This book will also help you learn to reframe problems (they harbour our ‘aha’ moments) and merge potential with purpose; most of all, this book will show you how to savour life’s smaller storylines and create a personal narrative that suits you.
Trust me. I did the heavy lifting. When writing The Happy Medium, for example, I kicked FOMO in the goolies by enforcing the following limits: I scaled back on my work commitments as far as I could financially sustain for a three-month period. Then I activated my out of office and put myself on social hiatus (including social media) while I finished writing the book. The prospect of missing out on meeting friends and attending work events was mitigated by the bigger picture – submitting my manuscript within a set timeframe. Those three months became my ‘no’-fly zone. The great thing about it? By explaining my rationale to friends and family, I could fall off the grid without falling out of favour. Everyone was entirely supportive of the whole process, offering to help in any way they could. Had I assumed otherwise and overextended myself, things could have turned out very differently. A happy medium in action!
That’s the beauty of discovering your happy medium. You don’t need any fancy equipment, annual subscription or special handshake to get started; there’s no diet of chia seeds; crash course in chakra cleansing or mastering a mudra required to identify your sweet spot. Self-awareness starts inside your own head, that sacred space where you can take five, tune into your radar and decide what frequency best suits you. Sometimes our aspirations are as lofty as an unfurling clifftop mansion; sometimes they’re as simple as a cup of coffee and a midday nap. Sometimes well-being is, well, well enough. And what’s so bad with that?
If you’d like to swap the burden of trying to ‘have it all’ for a more mindful life mantra, then get ready. It’s time to discover your happy medium. Why not tell your story your way?
(c) Annemarie O’Connor
About The Happy Medium
The speed of modern culture combined with the hyper-connectivity of technology has shifted our perspective from good enough to never enough. We are now primed to expect more, to aspire to better, and to want nothing less than the best.
The reality? It’s making us miserable.
So if you’d like to swap the weight of ‘having it all’ for having more with less, then get ready: it’s time to discover your happy medium.
This isn’t a mantra of mediocrity. Rather, it’s about finding balance in a full-throttle culture. Offering a paradigm-shifting manifesto for Generation Burn-out, The Happy Medium will help you gain perspective and get rid of unsustainable expectations of what constitutes a life well lived.
You’ll discover what you really need so you can get more of what you actually want,, and begin to define your happiness on your own terms.
The Happy Medium is published by Gill Books pick up your copy online here!
Annmarie O’Connor is the bestselling author of The Happy Closet, a fashion writer and an award-winning stylist. Her editorials and stylings appear in the Irish Examiner, The Sunday Times Style, the Irish Times, Irish Tatler, Image and The Gloss. Over the years, she has reported from the catwalks of London and Paris and has interviewed fashion figures such as Victoria Beckham, Vivienne Westwood, Matthew Williamson, Manolo Blahnik and Ab Fab’s Jennifer Saunders. She is also the editor of the Louis Vuitton City Guide to Dublin 2012. She has worked as stylist to the coaches on the Voice of Ireland, and has styled shows at London Fashion Week and, closer to home, luxury department stores Brown Thomas and Harvey Nichols.
On air, she is a contributor to The Dave Fanning Show, The Ryan Tubridy Show, TV3’s Xposé, Ireland AM and RTE’s Today Show. She was featured as one of Ireland’s 100 Most Inspiring Women in 2011 and appeared on Ireland’s Power List in Irish Tatler Business in 2013, 2014 and 2015. In 2015, she was the winner of the Kerry Fashion Week Best Irish Fashion Stylist and the Irish Fashion Ambassador award. Find out more at www.thehappymedium.me