Happiness, Self-Actualization & Relationships – Brian Dubow – MensGroup Podcast

In this episode, Brian Dubow and Sean Galla from MensGroup get into how to understand and achieve happiness. We also get into the benefits of self-actualization and why are relationships so important for men.

Today’s https://mensgroup.com/podcast guest Brian Dubow is a happiness coach, blogger, and founder of Hit of Happiness (https://hitofhappiness.com), and he’s here to talk about long-term wellbeing, personal growth, and the value of building meaningful relationships.

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Hosted by

Sean Galla

An experienced facilitator, community builder and Peer Support Specialist, Sean has been running men's groups for 10+ years. Read Sean's Full Author Bio.


00:02:46 Chapter I – Happiness 

00:02:46 A Deep Dive into Happiness  

  • Everyone is looking for happiness, it’s everybody’s endgame, and actually everything we do, from having a job, getting into a specific relationship, taking in certain activities and most of our life decisions are driven by our inner seek for happiness. Ironically, almost no one knows where to start when it comes to this search for happiness, given that happiness itself is quite a broad concept.  
  • The main reason why most people struggle to achieve happiness is due to the fact that our society has an idea of happiness based on hitting benchmarks – “Once I get that promotion, I’ll be happy”, or “I need to buy a house with a big back yard, and then I’ll be happy”. As a matter of fact, happiness is more a path than it is a destination, so it’s better to set us goals that will set us off on a journey that will be the most fulfilling, rather than focusing on goals that we think will make us happy once we’ve achieved them. 
  • More than anything, happiness is the present, is being here now. On this note, being stuck in the past is one of the main things that keep people from feeling happy in the present moment. A good antidote for this is to have something exciting to look forward to in the future. Basically, it all comes down to having hope. In that sense, hope can be taken as the first towards the cure to depression, given that it brings about the belief that there’s a possible path forwards. 
  • Having something really stimulating to look forward to can help us tune into a thriving state, as opposed to being in a survival state, in which we’re just trying to make it to the next day, and just doing the bare minimum throughout our existence. 
  • If we’re feeling stuck and we’re having a hard time getting back in motion, a good first step forward would be to try to identify our biggest weakness, and then find things we can do about it on a daily basis. Truthfully, mood follows action, and we’re actually just as strong as our weakest link. 
  • Once we’re in motion, life becomes easier as things start to happen. Our existing experience is really limitless, and we never know where out next conversation may take us, or how meeting somebody new at a yoga lesson or any given context can actually turn our life around. When we’re in motion, it’s easier to feel excited and be able to spot the multiple possibilities that surround us, which is something really hard to do when we’re in survival mode 

00:11:33 SPHIRE Framework

  • SPHIRE is a five-dimensional framework that can be a powerful tool to help us spot those goals we can benefit from working towards. SPHIRE is an acronym in which each letter stands for something concrete. “S” stands for spiritual wellbeing – This would be our sense of purpose or meaning, essentially the reason why we get up every morning. “P” stands for physical wellbeing, including nutrition, exercise, sleep and touch, referring to our inner need for human contact. “I” stands for intellectual wellbeing, concerning how often we find ourselves in a state of flow, which is usually triggered when our interests meet the right amount of challenge, keeping us completely immersed in the present moment. “R” stands for relational wellbeing – on this note, it’s worth to ask ourselves some questions such as “Am I surrounded by people that allow me to be the most authentic version of myself, or am I just an impostor trying to fit in?”. Last but not least, E stands for emotional wellbeing, which can be narrowed to just giving us permission to be humans, and as humans understanding that we’re not going to be happy all the time. In fact, being happy isn’t about trying to be happy all the time, but about being resilient, and learning how to deal with difficult situations and going through them in a way that we can grow and learn something positive out of that particular experience. 
  • All emotions come from the same place – If we don’t let our negative emotions flow though us, we then won’t let our positive emotions flow through us either. 

00:31:59 Happiness vs. Pleasure

  • Nowadays, people tend to run away from challenging situations and lean towards instant gratification instead, but the reality is that we are actually happier when we’re growing, and this growth can only be nurtured by going through challenging experiences. We naturally avoid difficult contexts since we don’t want to feel uncomfortable. However, some of the most successful people in the world have managed to reframe that by being able to feel comfortable in the discomfort, and acknowledging that happiness and pleasure are not the same thing. For example, an ultra-marathon runner will most likely not experience any pleasure when hitting the pain cave, but will definitely be quite happy after crossing the finishing line.

00:43:14 CHAPTER II – Self-Actualization 

  • Self-Actualization can be defined as the journey towards becoming all we’re meant to be. We all have our own purpose in this world, and in order to figure out what that is, it’s important to ask ourselves some big questions such as why am I here, what’s my superpower, and how can I add to this world? It’s essential to focus on our strengths and on those things that energizes us, and that help us enter that state of flow. By doing this, we can actually go beyond ourselves and feel free from the reins of society that keep us from achieving our best selves. 
  • In this order of ideas, finding which are our passions is crucial. Unfortunately, society pushes us away from listening to ourselves, which can make us lose track of ourselves and adopt the identity of our workplace, social media or any other social context we frequent. For the sake of reconnecting with our true passions, it’s important to reflect on this – a good question to ask here would be “What did I like when I was a kid?”.  
  • From time to time we may feel like some sort of little sparks of energy, small bursts of excitement that arise whenever we’re doing something or talking about something that’s directly link to our authentic interests. Those could be taken as little hints sent by our intuition, that inner compass we all have, that points out the way we should head towards, even though that path may not align to who we think we are, or who we want our social environment to think we are. What’s more, every now and then our intuition may encourage us to make a decision that makes no sense from a logical point of view – however, it will always make sense from an emotional perspective.   

00:56:06 Happiness & Relationships

00:56:06 Coping with Divorce & Break-Up

  • When dealing with a nasty break-up or divorce, we can get to feel quite bitter. On that note, the first thing to be aware of is that bitterness is an emotion that doesn’t do a lot for us. Actually, by feeling bitter at someone else, we’re letting that person win and have control over us, even though we’re passed being in a relationship with them.    
  • Even though it may be tough, in order to be the “bigger person” and the best version of ourselves, we should aim to feel compassion for that other person, no matter what they may have done to us, bearing in mind that whatever that is, it may have happened due to unfortunate circumstances on their side that we may even not be fully aware of. So, just feeling sorry for them and wish them to overcome whichever compelled them to a given situation is by far our most convenient move. 

00:59:04 The value of relationships

  • It’s a proven fact that relationships are the number one predictor of happiness in our lives. Feeling that we’re a part of a community in which we can be authentic and expose ourselves emotionally is key to our personal development. On that same note, having a significant other who we can trust almost anything adds a ton of ease and value to our life. The purpose of a relationship is not to complete each other but to help each other grow – often times other people can help us bring out the best in us and learn things about ourselves that we couldn’t have done on our own.  
  • A big part of happiness is about giving to others and being aware that it is not all about us. In fact, the more we do for others, the more we do for ourselves. On that matter, when we are in a relationship and we’re willing to do anything at our reach to make our companion happy, that takes us out of our own headspace and makes our personal existence more fulfilling. 
  • We humans are tribal creatures, and as so we’re meant to help each other out and have a specific role in society. Unfortunately, in the last hundred years, mankind has developed a more competitive feature, as each individual is more concerned about their own success than about pursuing the common good.