Podcast - Episode 9: Embracing happiness

 Today, we tackle the topic of happiness with Declan Edwards from BU Happiness College, who sheds light on the connection between diversity, inclusion, personal happiness and workplace well-being. 

Declan Edwards is a happiness researcher, published author, podcast host, and international keynote speaker who is actively bringing the skillset of happiness back to the people and creating a world where we can all thrive. 

Listen the full episode here: 

Watch our episode 9 on happiness here:

The complete episode 9 transcripts can be found below: 

Brad Webb: Welcome to the latest episode of Embrace Your Otherness, Castle's inaugural podcast series, where we will have both casual and in-depth conversations with disability community members, leaders, advocates, and activists about disability identity, culture, work and rights, with a real emphasis on challenging people's perceptions and opening their minds to new ways of thinking about marginalised identities. 

My name is Brad Webb, and I'm honoured to be both the CEO of Castle and the host of this podcast series. Today we are gonna be talking about inclusion in the workplace, exploring ways to create a more diverse and inclusive work environment, and embracing diversity and inclusion as a business strategy. 

My guest today is Declan Edwards. Declan is a thought leader in the field of happiness and the founder of BU Happiness College, an organisation that is growing global happiness by empowering people with the tools and the team to thrive. As a published author, podcast host, and international keynote speaker, Declan is actively bringing the skillset of happiness back to the people and creating a world where we can all thrive. He actively explores this connection between happiness, workplace culture, and workplace performance in the podcast, Working Well, with Declan Edwards and Josh Devon.

Welcome, Declan. It's wonderful to have you here.

Declan Edwards: Thank you so much for having me. I'm very excited.

 Brad Webb: So we have to start right at the beginning. What on earth is a happiness researcher, and what is a happy workplace?

Declan Edwards:  They're both fantastic questions. The first one in particular, I get asked quite regularly. When I tell people my job is to research happiness, well, the first thing people say is, what does that even mean? Now, what I specifically mean by that is I've studied and continue to study now, a field called positive psychology.

So positive psychology emerged about 20, 30 years ago, basically from these great four thinking psychologists, such as Dr Martin Seligman, who looked around and went, hang on, we're spending 98% of our funding and research in psychology into what is, quote-unquote, wrong with people, and how to, quote-unquote, fix them. Why aren't we looking at what's right with humanity? Why aren't we looking at what makes life worth living? So he suggested this idea of, we need to put more effort into scientific study and understanding of what it means to not just go from minus 10 to neutral, but how we can go from neutral to plus 10, how we can feel we're fulfilling our potential, we're flourishing, and we're thriving, and thus, the field of positive psychology was born, colloquially, it's referred to as the science of happiness.

So that's what it means to be a happiness researcher.

Brad Webb:  So when people... I mean, I think we throw around terms like happiness and wellness, and industries hijack those terms and use them, and there is a sense that some people go, oh, here we go, it's this new-age stuff. So you're telling me there's something more to it than just a new-age way of thinking and putting a smile on your face?

Declan Edwards:  Correct, yeah. So I think this is what I love about positive psychology is how rigorous it is. It's a very well-researched and evidence-based field. And in terms of new-age, something I like to remind people of a lot is, these aren't really new-age questions. We've been asking since the dawn of mankind and since the ancient Greek philosophers, what does it mean to live a happy and fulfilling life?

I think in the world we're living in now where change is becoming so much faster and there's so much uncertainty and chaos in the world, people are craving answers to those questions even more so, and it's a really beautiful moment in the development of our understanding of this to go, hey, we're not just making up ideas about this anymore, we're doing these large scale studies and this really rigorous research to go, this is what leads to living a happier, more fulfilled life, or being happier at work.

Brad Webb: So, at a personal level, what's the journey that took you from being Declan not doing positive psychology research into this world of happiness and the impact that has on wellness?

Declan Edwards:  A lot of people meet me these days, and I think they make the mistake of going, of course, he studies happiness, he's a very happy guy. He's always been happy. And that's quite far from the truth, to be honest. I spent a lot of my, particularly high school years, with a very clear blueprint for what a happy and successful life looked like. And that blueprint to me, involved going to school, getting good grades, going to university, getting good grades, probably joining the military, because that's what nearly every male for five generations has done in my family, either military or police force, and following the societal blueprint of, once I get the job, I'll meet someone nice, I'll settle down, get married, have kids, white picket fence, two dogs, retire one day, and then I'll be happy. And I realised pretty early on that that wasn't working.

I started looking for other answers, and unfortunately at the time, social media was becoming a big thing. So I started seeking out my answers for what does happiness look like by comparing myself to what I was seeing on social media, and what that led to for myself was falling onto what we, I now know, looking back, is something called the hedonic treadmill, which we've all been on.

So if you're listening to this, I encourage you to reflect on what your hedonic treadmill is. The hedonic treadmill is, I'll be happy when, insert whatever you want after it. And we chase it, and then we get closer and the happiness goalposts seem to move. So for me, it was, I'll be happy when I lose five kilos. Lost five kilos, wasn't happy yet. I'll be happy when I lose another five kilos. And I kept going, and unfortunately it led to a point where 18, 19 years old, I was in and out of hospital with disordered eating and body image issues, which at the time weren't very well researched at all, but specifically for men, it wasn't something that people were thinking men were struggling with.

And after doing all these tests and they're trying to find out why I was so sick and unwell, eventually I saw the impact it was having on my mum, who is one of my heroes in life, and someone I'm very grateful for, and it was this real wake up call that how I thought and felt about myself, my own levels of happiness or unhappiness didn't just impact me. I think happiness, we think of very individualistically.

We think it's just about ourselves, but our own happiness or unhappiness spreads a ripple effect, whether we intend it to or not. And the more I became conscious of that ripple effect, the more I wanted to change it. I wanted to have a more positive impact on people around me. So I reached out to some great mentors and coaches and friends, and got a lot of help and support with my own mental health journey, and a common theme through all of this self-work and learning and development was positive psychology as a field. And I went, okay, if they're doing this amazing work, I want to go learn what they're doing. And thankfully was able to get an entry into a postgraduate degree in positive psychology with Central Queensland University, and I guess the rest is history.

 Brad Webb: And you talk about hedonic, the pursuit of hedonic happiness. Now, I presume that's a derivative of hedonistic.

Declan Edwards: Yes. The chasing of the high, the happiness high.

Brad Webb: Yes. What's the other side then, if you're not pursuing hedonic happiness? What's on the flip side of that?

Declan Edwards: Yeah, so we talk a lot about these two different types of happiness. Hedonic happiness is one, and you've hit the nail on the head, hedonism. It's about dopamine and joy and excitement and accomplishment and achievement. And interestingly, if you ask a lot of people in western societies what happiness is, a lot of the time they're gonna talk about hedonic happiness because that's what we've been raised to believe is happiness. On the flip side, we have something called eudaimonic happiness, which is more a sense of contentment, fulfillment, meaning, purpose and connection. So we see this concept really be elevated and celebrated a lot more in other cultures outside of, say, the US, the UK, and Australia.

Brad Webb: So, taking that into life, how does somebody become happy?

Declan Edwards: I think, first and foremost, I want to be really clear with people listening to this, there is no one in the world who has a one size fits all answer for a happy life for eight billion people, including myself. I don't care how much research I've done or how long I spent in this space; I'm not some magical guru who can say, this is what you should do to be happy all the time. But what we do know from the research are common themes.

Specifically, there is a recipe for happiness that positive psychology has found. It goes, these are the common threads; it's up to you now to define how you meet them and how much value you place on them. And it forms an acronym called PERMA.

Now, I recommend not only thinking of this in your own life but also in your workplace and in your team, how much of these common threads of happiness being met and fulfilled. So the first part of PERMA, P, is positive affect, which, to put in simple terms, just means, how often are you doing things that make you feel good? Which seems overly simplistic. A lot of the time, I roll my eyes at it, and I go, wow, the secret to happiness is to do more things that make you feel good. Thanks for all the research.

Brad Webb:  And is that the kind of things like the hedonic happiness, the sugar highs of happiness?

Declan Edwards: Correct.

Brad Webb:  Yeah. That gives you great joy and excitement and--

Declan Edwards: Exactly. And as much as I roll my eyes at it, we take an event on tour every year around Australia called The Art and Science of Happiness. And we teach this framework for happiness, and we ask people to reflect on which ones they haven't been looking after. And it's so common that people go, actually, you know what? I don't remember the last time I prioritised something that made me feel good. I'm so busy looking after family and work demands and juggling all of this stress I haven't really set aside the time to look after me.

So as much as I laugh at it, it is very important to get that reminder. And then, if we go to the second part of the model, it's the E, which stands for engagement and flow. This is more that eudaimonic happiness. This is doing things that help you lose sense of self and sense of time, so you can fully immerse yourself in it. So for me, for example, I get this from music. When I play guitar, I'm fully in the moment, whereas my wife gets this a lot from being in nature. When she's outside going for a hike, she can completely lose hours.

Whatever it is for you, that helps you lose sense of self and time, and if you are getting this in your work, even better, we know from the research that the more often people feel that sense of flow in their life and that deep engagement, the happier they rate themselves as. It's a really important one.

And then the third one, if we go through the remaining couple, is R, which is relationships. Again, I think it's one that's often been overlooked in a lot of Western philosophies around happiness. It's very individualistic normally, but we cannot deny the impact that communities and the people in our life have on us. So the more we can create supportive, connected, diverse, equitable, inclusive communities that elevate and support each other, the better everyone is, right? No one loses from that. Unfortunately, that's one that's really being missed a lot at the moment. There's an epidemic of loneliness that's been happening for quite a few years.

Brad Webb:  And no shortage of research that talks about the impact of that. And in fact, loneliness can actually be a greater contributor to ill health and early premature death than heart disease and cancer. 

Declan Edwards: Exactly. We were talking just obviously before the podcast, but this common thread keeps coming up in the research lately of we are the most connected we've ever been as a species and the most disconnected at the same time. And there's a real problem there that needs to be addressed. And then our last two in the official form of this recipe for a happy life is M.

M is meaning and purpose. Now, this doesn't mean answering the big question of 'what's the purpose of life?' If you have solved that for yourself, I applaud you; I congratulate you. Send me an email with what your answer is. I'm always curious.

It's more about finding the moments of purpose and meaning in the day-to-day activities. If you can find purpose in things that you do consistently anyway. The common example I give of this is a few years ago; a video went viral of someone saying they made their bed every morning. For them, it wasn't just about the act of making the bed; it was if the rest of the day didn't go to plan, they still feel like they accomplished something, it gives them a tidy and clean space to come back to afterwards. So it had a lot of meaning to it for an activity that was just a day-to-day thing. And this is why I love this framework, because you get to decide what gives you meaning and purpose.

I tried making my bed every day for 12 weeks. It means nothing to me. Much to my wife's disappointment, it doesn't add anything to my sense of meaning and purpose. So that's not part of my recipe.

And then the last one, A, is achievement and accomplishment. It's about setting goals that matter to you. It's about doing things that push your comfort zone, about learning and growing. They're talking a lot in the research now about adding a H to the end of this PERMA model, which is health, which I do think is going to come through in the research, the links between mental health and physical health, we're seeing so much more now. So I would bet my left leg, and for the listeners, if you see me wandering around missing a left leg in future, maybe my bet went wrong, but I would bet my left leg that health is gonna be included in this model too.

Brad Webb:  Just closing that loop.

 Declan Edwards: Yeah, exactly. So in terms of answering your question, what's it mean to live a happy life? I mean, there's a six-step recipe. Anyone can take it away and start answering those questions for themselves, what brings me to each of these?

Brad Webb:   And I was thinking about a couple of what... It was funny, I'll share that with you, is when you were talking particularly about the middle section about engagement and relationship and meaning, for some reason, a friend who's involved in land care popped into my mind. They love the idea of contributing to a better environment for people, but they love doing it with other people. And when they are involved in land care, they get completely lost.

They can spend days working on a block to improve it. So that interaction between all of those elements also that then just create that sense, I imagine. So how does that translate for workplaces? Let's talk about happiness in the workplace. Why would you, as an organisation, pursue a happy workplace as a strategy? Why is that a smart strategy? And then what would that look like?

Declan Edwards: So in terms of the why, I'll pinch a quote from Tony Hassay, who is the CEO and founder of Zappos. He really put workplace happiness on the map as a strategy for workplace success. And there's this beautiful quote; he says that workplaces often overlook the value of workplace happiness, and they suffer for it because you cannot deliver great service from unhappy employees. It's that simple.

The model of what a successful workplace is is dramatically changing right now. So for hundreds of years, the priority list for a successful organisation has been priority one, serve shareholders and stakeholders, get a good return on investment. Priority two, give great customer service, look after your customers. Priority three, look after your staff. And what's happening in the last, particularly the last 20 years, is people are going, hang on, what if we flip that entirely on its head? What if we really look after our staff and team and make sure they're happy and fulfilled and performing their best work?

Well, chances are they're then going to contribute to a really great customer experience, and they're really gonna look after the communities and the people and the customers that we serve and look after. And then that's gonna lead to people referring more, coming back more, we're gonna have better reputation. And that's then going to impact the bottom line and help shareholders.

It's like we've had the priority order completely backwards for well over 100 years. And in the last 20, people are going, it makes way more sense to flip it. Now, if you want to get into the numbers, I love talking to businesses about workplace happiness and going, this is not just a fluffy concept anymore. The research found on average that every dollar invested into increasing the happiness of your team and your staff over a 12 month period gives a $2.60 return.

Now, if I came to you and said, here is a machine that you can put $10,000 into and it's gonna spit out $26,000 over the next 12 months, that's outperforming the share market right now, that's outperforming the property market – like it's crazy to not do that. And how that number figure is, direct and indirect cost that it saves. So on average, if a staff member quits because of burnout, it's gonna cost you about 33% of their salary to replace them by the time you go through recruitment, training up, getting them to the level of the previous staff member, if there is mental health leave involved in that, that's an extra cost, we know we lose about, businesses are losing about 17,000 a year per staff member that's actively disengaged in lost opportunity and poor performance and lowered productivity. And it's about, from memory, 7,000 to 9,000 per year for low well-being. You start looking at organisations of 10, a hundred, a thousand, 10,000 employees, those numbers add up really quickly.

Brad Webb:  So, as a subset of the research questions that are being asked in happiness research, do you see this growing emphasis on organisations wanting to understand the impact, understand the bottom line impact, because fundamentally we still have operating that kind of model of producing a return on investment. Is that a growing subset of the research question?

Declan Edwards: It is. It's particularly from COVID and onwards. So about 2020 onwards, there is more and more interest. I think because the way people work and the way people think of how work fits in their life has dramatically been disrupted. We're seeing this real acceleration towards things that were probably coming anyway, so hybrid and virtual work is a big one that people talk about.

These were going to happen eventually anyway. COVID accelerated it. And there's a lot of workplaces now scrambling to keep up. So as a result, there's more and more of this sense of, hey, we don't need to say economic growth and staff happiness are opposites. They're actually the same.

If you, as I've mentioned before, if you focus on staff happiness and you have happier staff, I think there was a big study recently that found on average, publicly listed and traded companies that had really great staff culture and really great staff wellbeing in place, and scored highly on those metrics, outperformed their competitors by 20%. It is a strategic advantage now to become a happy workplace.

Brad Webb:  And I think that COVID brought us many challenges, but it also gave us some great gifts. I think shifting paradigms, particularly around workplaces and how people work together, what brings them satisfaction, even the old trope of you need to be in the office to be productive was thrown out the window when we suddenly couldn't be in the office and still discovered that businesses were not only functioning, but in some cases, thriving with that shift in paradigm. So I think we've reached a point of where organisations are seeing that fundamental demographic shift and demand from employees, but also open-minded to exploring opportunities and exploring concepts like happiness. So let's talk about that.

If you're a workplace that's contemplating, you've heard this and you thought, wow, that sounds interesting, what are the steps to becoming a happy workplace? Do you start putting up a couple of smiley signs and laughing more? What do you practically start doing?

Declan Edwards:  So the first thing we encourage all workplaces to do is start measuring it. There's this age old saying, what we measure, we can manage. And a lot of the time, organisations aren't accurately or effectively measuring things that were previously thought of as intangibles of the workplace. We've spoken for decades about the importance of culture, the importance of engagement, the importance of wellbeing. We know that burnout's becoming an increasing risk in a lot of industries, particularly in helping based industries, like allied health, nursing, social work. The issue was, we've been talking about them conceptually without dialing them into something that actually gets tracked in the business performance. When businesses start having a metric or ideally a series of metrics that they can track that contribute to their workplace happiness.

So for example, we spent the last three or four years developing something called the Happy Workplace Accreditation, where we go in and test workplaces, give them their scores for this, benchmark them and if they meet certain thresholds, they get accredited as a happy workplace. Think of it like the Heart Foundation tick, but instead of good food, it's for good workplaces. And the five contributing areas that we found for that that need to be measured and assessed, how high is the wellbeing of the team in this workplace?

Now, when we say wellbeing, there's seven types of wellbeing we look at. How high is engagement in this workplace. and that has three contributors. We look at things like individual engagement versus collective, versus growth driven engagement. We look at culture and a big part of culture that we recently added in only over the last 18 months was psychological safety and diversity, equity and inclusion as two massive drivers of culture. How confident and competent are the leaders of this organisation?

We know leaders and managers have a dramatic impact on staff happiness. There's a beautiful saying. People don't leave workplaces, they leave leaders. So learning how to upskill leaders to be humanistic leaders, to be emotionally intelligent leaders is such a core focus area to drive workplace happiness. And then the last one, which is almost a lag measure of the first four, is burnout and over resilience. How resilient is this team to changing circumstances and to adapting to stress and pressure? Because the world is going to keep throwing it's challenges.

First, it was... Not first, but recently it's been COVID and we're now talking about the AI disruption. There are going to continue being disruptions. Those are the five things that if workplaces start measuring them effectively, they can make more informed decisions, they can make better strategic plans, they can roll out initiatives that actually work, and ideally, they become a happy workplace. 

Brad Webb:  So, you just tapped into a passion point of mine and certainly one of the deep cultural values of Castle, and that is diversity and inclusion. And we can reference that to some objective definitions. I mean, the Diversity Council itself talks about diversity being the mix of people in the organisation, how many ways can we demonstrate that we differ from each other, whether that be gender, sexuality, ethnicity, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status, the language spoken at home, your professions, your education. So creating a diversity is creating that mix of people. And inclusion is what you do to get that mix to work. How do you create an environment where people respect each other, they collaborate with each other, they honor each other's contributions to the business, and they can collectively contribute to an organisational outcome.

If diversity and inclusion is an element of your metric of measuring happiness, what does your experience tell us about how big an impact diversity and inclusion can have on a happy workplace? And more importantly, why is that the case?

Declan Edwards:  So in terms of how big of an impact, let me frame it this way. Our first version of the Workplace Happiness Diagnostic Tool did not measure psychological safety or diversity, equity and inclusion. We took it to market, had early adopters, and then we read this amazing study that was conducted by Google. And basically the summary of that study was the two biggest contributors to a thriving and productive and effective workplace culture, a psychological safety and diversity equity inclusion. So our team had to do a bit of self-reflection and go, hey, we missed both of these.

We really need to look at rolling them in. So we went back, did more research and just found across the board, they are core drivers of a thriving culture. If you want to have a great culture work, those are your two pillars to start building on. And the reason I mentioned both of them is they really do need to work together. Just pursuing diversity without inclusion and without psychological safety is really challenging. It's really tough.

You mentioned before the idea of people actually valuing and respecting each other's differences. If that isn't there, if people don't feel psychologically safe to voice their true opinion to bring their true selves to their team, then the diversity's not gonna really make a difference. When they come together though, the difference is huge.

Brad Webb: That is our experience, particularly in the work we do with disability employment, that most people, most employers are very keen to be involved and to engage and to employ somebody with a disability. However, they need help to adapt and change, and it is a partnership between the employer and the employee and the work that we do to facilitate that discussion that enables the adaptation that the inclusion to really work, as opposed to somebody turning up in the workplace with their disability, with no accommodations, with no adjustments to the expectations of the role or the position. And then there's this conflict between expectations of both parties that are never met.

So the inclusion piece becomes a really important aspect to that. And I think that when we talk about diversity, it's not just about quotas, it's not just about ticking the box and being able to say, look at the real mix of people, it's the work we do to make sure that they're welcome, to make sure that they're part of the fabric of the organisation.

So how does that relate back? I'm interested to go back to PERMA. You've got this concept of organisational happiness and the metrics for that and the individual happiness. What's the intersection between those two? How does having a happy workplace fulfill an individual at an individual happiness level?

Declan Edwards:  Yeah. I mean, a lot of those measures you've spoken about with, with workplace happiness, so high wellbeing, high engagement, great leaders, high culture, they have direct ties into those measures of PERMA we spoke about. Ideally, you're having some really nice moments in your work. You're having moments where you can laugh and enjoy that positive affect that we first spoke about where you can experience joy. Ideally, you're doing work that challenges you and utilises your strengths so you can engage in flow and be in that engagement and flow.

Ideally, you're surrounded by a well-connected, supportive, diverse, and inclusive team that helps fulfill that relationship one. All of those measures of PERMA we spoke about earlier, in an ideal world could be, I'm not gonna say fulfilled, but contributed to by your work. Now, that doesn't mean, please don't think, if you're reflecting and going, my work is giving me four out of the five, I'm such a failure, I need to work on the fifth one, that's not the case at all. It might be that you get that fifth one from something entirely separate to your work. I've met very happy and fulfilled people who do not get a sense of meaning and purpose from their work, but they do something outside of work, like volunteering, or they're involved in a community organisation, or they campaign for projects and causes that really matter to them, and that fills up that cup of meaning and purpose.

They don't necessarily have to get it from their workplace. But the more you can get from your work, let's be real with each other, a fair chunk of our life is spent working. A large percentage of our waking hours are going to be involved in our career. So if we can not only find workplaces, it's like a mythical unicorn out there that's gonna automatically fulfill these, but work collaboratively with our teams, with our leaders, with other organisations in our sector to go, how do we meet these? Not only those five areas we measure for workplace happiness, but how do we contribute to those areas in PERMA for the individual happiness of our team and clients, and the world's gonna be a better place.

Brad Webb: I mean, it gives a lot of food for thought, this conversation, and what we can say in summary is that the research demonstrates that a happy workplace is good for business, so there's no reason not to pursue it. And we know that the research tells us that diversity and inclusion contribute to a happy workplace. So those two working in partnership with each other are a good thing for businesses to think about.

So what's your advice to an organisation or to an individual or to a leader in an organisation that's hearing this and says, okay, how do I take the first step as a leader in that organisation or even as an employee who wants to raise this issue within their organisation? What's the first step to promote this conversation, to start moving on happiness in the workplace?

Declan Edwards:  Yeah. So again, I think the first step is make it tangible and trackable because it takes it from being a fluffy concept of workplace happiness to something that could be measured and is really strategic. So those five we spoke about earlier, of five contributors to a happy workplace, know about them, learn about them. If you're a staff member wanting to promote it with your leadership team, bring it in. If you're a leader trying to roll it out, talk to the team about it. And then the second one is involve and include your team and your community in this. And this comes back to the diversity, equity, and inclusion part.

There's this concept called the Swiss Cheese Effect, which is, we all have blind spots, we all have biases, we all have weaknesses. Now, if I'm in a room of people making decisions about how happy our workplace is gonna be and how we're gonna move towards that, and I look around the room and everyone is looking pretty similar to me, talking pretty similar to me, we've got very similar lived experiences, the risk of that is each of us have the holes in a slice of Swiss cheese, you lay us over each other, all those blind spots and holes are lining up and that's where risk comes through.

So in terms of mitigating your risk and running this out, well, make sure you include the people around you and that you have a diverse range of people involved in this. Experts, consultants and partners, your own team. And yes, look for differences of experience and opinion and perspective, because it's gonna give you a broader and safer in the long run approach to becoming a happy workplace.

Brad Webb: Thanks for sharing that at an organisational level. For the individuals that are out there that think, okay, this happiness gig sounds like okay to me and I want to perhaps explore PERMA more or ask myself those questions, is there a place that somebody can go, a resource that somebody can access that helps them start to consider this for themselves in the same way that you unpacked that in your own life?

Declan Edwards: Yeah. So thankfully, a lot of positive psychology research is open source. They've really democratised it. So if you go to Authentic Happiness, I believe it's called, there are a bunch of evidence-based tests and self-reflection questionnaires and tools from Dr. and his team at the University of Pennsylvania that you can jump in and utilise.

The other fantastic one is the VIA Character Strengths Test. So you can go in and it'll help you get an understanding of what your unique humanistic strengths are, and they find if you utilise those in your home life, in your work life, you tend to show up as the best version of yourself. Those would be the best two starting points. And then if they wanted to do anything more in depth from that, obviously, check out the free resources we have at BU Happiness College on our website. There's some free tools and self-reflections that people can utilise.

Brad Webb: That's excellent. Declan, thanks so much for sharing this journey. It's a topic that is a little bit off centre to what we would usually talk about in these, but it has so much relevance to the conversations that we regularly have about inclusion, the inclusion of people with disability in society and in workplaces, and I think that this concept of happiness is one to unpack and to explore and to continue the conversation with.

I'm going to come back to you and ask you the question I ask every guest on this podcast, and it is themed, embrace your otherness, what does embrace your otherness mean to somebody like you?

Declan Edwards: What I find really serendipitous about this is if you look at the name of the organisation that I run, BU Happiness College, the amount of people who ask me what the BU stands for at the start of it, I go, be you, be yourself. I think that aligns so perfectly with Embrace Your Otherness.

The greatest gift that each of us can give our loved ones, our communities, our workplaces, the world as a whole, is to show up authentically and wholeheartedly as ourselves. And that is a journey of self-discovery, of self-compassion, of self-understanding, that although challenging at times, is I believe one of the most worthy pursuits we can take. So in terms of what embrace your otherness means, to me, it would be that, get to know yourself, really get to know yourself, and then bring yourself to your communities that you're in to your workplace, to your loved ones, and to the world as a whole.

Brad Webb: Well, that really is serendipitous. I think that is the truth, isn't it? Be you. And that's why you said to us at the start, there's no one recipe for happiness for the eight billion people on this planet. There are potentially eight billion recipes for happiness that we need to understand and unpack for ourselves.

Declan, thank you again so much for coming in and sharing the happiness story and the happiness journey with us. I really appreciate the time that you've taken to be so open about that, thank you.

Declan Edwards: You're so welcome. Thank you so much.