We recently came back from a mini break in South Devon with Bettina.  What made our break complete for my wife (Joyce) and me? We were driving along, dodging the traffic down a single track (which is called a road in that part of Devon!) and from the backseat Bettina said, “Very Happy”.

Being Bettina's Dad: Bettina and I in South Devon
Being Bettina’s Dad: happiness 

Bettina has limited verbal communication – her first word was “Mum” as an eleven year old – and due to her autism and learning disabilities, and the person she is, no-one can persuade Bettina to be happy.  She either is or she isn’t.  So perhaps the first lesson I have learned from Bettina is that no-one can tell you how you should feel.

If you have read other pieces from my ‘Being Bettina’s Dad’ series, you will know that I have learned so much from her that it helps me not only to be a better Dad, but also to be a better person.  If you are going to be effective as a leader, a networker, a person of influence and a change maker, then it really helps if you are happy.   I believe being happy spreads into all aspects of your work and personal life.

So what are the other lessons I have picked up from Bettina in my pursuit of happiness and what it truly means?  I have come up with 10 (I could come up with more but Joyce, my editor, reckons less is more):

  1. Bettina feels at her best when she is surrounded by people who love and care for her, or who have a positive attitude to life.
  2. She is happiest when she sees and does things that are familiar and they hold happy memories for her. During our break in Devon we made sure we visited Looe in Cornwall, which is a particular favourite of Bettina’s.
  3. Bettina enjoys being given space to think, and she seeks out places that are peaceful for her. You can have too much stimulation and too many interactions forced upon you.
  4. There is no sense of entitlement. Bettina does not display any signs that she feels she is entitled to be happy, however, I do think she believes she has a right to pursue happiness whenever and wherever she can.
  5. Bettina loves to laugh and she loves the sound of laughter.
  6. Bettina achieves and progresses more when she is in a happy state. We have always seen incredible progress with her capacity and ability when she is with her family on holiday.
  7. Music plays a large part in Bettina’s life. I must admit I have been influenced by trends and fashions, but not Bettina.  Bettina has an eclectic taste in music which covers Jazz, RocknRoll, Soul and Pop music.  She seeks out music that makes her happy.
  8. Bettina is not materialistic (Bettina does not need expensive gadgets to make her happy). The simple things in life rock Bettina’s world i.e. the sun on her face, the feel of the wind and (always a favourite) a walk in the evening when the sky is clear and she can see the stars.
  9. Making others happy makes her happy. Bettina delights in making me laugh; the more she makes me laugh the more she will repeat what she is doing.
  10. Bettina detaches herself from others who are unhappy. Bettina has a sixth sense for other people’s moods and attitudes.  If you have a negative outlook on life you are not going to cut it with Bettina.  This helped us to assist Bettina when it came to choosing her support.

So there you have it, Bettina’s golden rules for being happy.  I have incorporated these rules into my life and I feel so much happier and it transfers into my work, thank you again Bettina!

By the way the mini break in South Devon was fun.  I know it sounds smug but Bettina is truly magical and we call her the “sunshine fairy”. Despite the weather forecast, if Bettina is with you the sun always comes out!

Do you have any happiness lessons you would like to share with us? Please leave them in a comment below or tweet them to me at @DoshLtd.