If we really think about it, all of us are striving towards the same thing: to be happy. But this concept of happiness can be so elusive that achieving it can often feel difficult. This episode’s guest believes the journey doesn’t have to be. In fact, we can create lasting happiness by transcending even the simple and small moments. Julie Leonard, Certified Life Coach and Happiness Evangelist, joins Liza Florida to show how we can take control of our happiness and become our best self. She discusses intergenerational patterns and mental and emotional health in this time of great creativity where people are looking for connection. Tune in to this conversation and find out how Julie coaches people on creating happiness.
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Transcending The Small Moments To Create Lasting Happiness With Julie Leonard
My special guest is a Certified Life Coach, Happiness Evangelist, author, and speaker with years of Psychology, mental health, and coaching experience. She is passionate about happiness and living life with intention and is on a mission to empower you with the tools to take control of your happiness and become your best self. Please help me welcome the beautiful and lovely Julie Leonard to the show. Welcome, Julie.
Thank you. I’m happy after that little introduction. That was lovely.
I love your shirt is, “Be happy,” because that’s what we have to be.
Yes, and a cup of happiness as well.
She has a shirt, a cup of happiness, and a human that is absolutely happy after her long journey.
It’s an ongoing journey, isn’t it? I’m in a good place.
I was super grateful because I had 35 guests from all around the world joining me and it’s 10:00 PM where Julie is from. Julie, would you like to tell the audience where you’re from?
I’m from Scotland and I’m living in Munich, Germany. I’ve been here for several years. During pre-pandemic, I shared my time between Scotland and Munich, but I’m based here in Munich, which is a beautiful city to live in.
I’ve yet to visit Germany. Now, I know someone. I have family there. My family’s in Dusseldorf. Munich is beautiful, so it’s a great place to be posted at.
It’s a great place. For anyone reading who is an ex-pat or living in a different town, city, state, or country, it has its challenges, but it’s a great quality of life and I’m very thankful to be here.
I’m grateful to have you here on the show because you do some amazing work. I’d like for you to go ahead and start how you have gone down this journey to get to where you are. If you’d like to share a little bit of your story, I’d love to have you start with that.
I’m happy to. As many people in my position, therapists and coaches, it all started because I was figuring out my own self. That’s where it all comes from, isn’t it? There are two avenues in my life. One is the personal and one is the professional. I grew up in Scotland, as I’ve said. Growing up in Scotland, we don’t talk about emotions so much. It’s all quite hidden and not spoken about.
My parents are still alive, but my father was experiencing depression throughout my childhood and still does. I didn’t understand what was going on. As the years have gone on, it’s unfolded more and more as I realize what he was going through and how it impacted all of us. How it impacted me wasn’t anything overtly direct, but the way he was in his own mind and often not always present.
I internalized that in quite a negative way in myself. I grew up with a lot of limiting beliefs about myself, not being good enough and not having anything worth talking about. Ironic now that I’m on a show here. You can’t shut me up now. I grew up with a lot of stuff, like how I looked and feeling insecure about myself. At the core, I have that low self-esteem.
As with many people, you start with what shaped you in your childhood and then those things are compounded over time through school and all these different experiences. Until my late 20s and early 30s, I was very anxious, shy, introverted, had very low self-esteem, and struggled with how I looked, and a lot of how I felt was based on external things. When things were going well, I felt good. When they weren’t, I felt bad. A lot of those thoughts of, “If I was more beautiful, I’d be popular. If I was smarter, kinder, better, taller, or whatever, life would be better.” I’m sure other people will resonate with that.
It’s no surprise I ended up going to study Psychology. That’s what happens. I’m like, “I’m going to go and figure all this out. What’s going on here?” I went down that path. I studied Psychology at university and had this dream of being a psychologist, whatever that looked like. I was thinking I’ll be in a suit or something that looks glamorous.
My path changed after that because I decided I’d go and get some experience after doing the academic work. I started working in the charity sector, and I loved it. I could go into people’s homes, spend all this quality time with people, and understand the reality of mental health and life. When I went in to see people, I would ask them, “What are you looking for?” 99% of the time, people said, “I want to be happy.” This triggered something in me. I was on my own journey and I still am on that journey of happiness.
That’s the second path that came for me and that sparked something in me, “What is that?” I saw lots of people who were existing and not living. In terms of mental health services, they were doing fine. They weren’t in the hospital or having appointments but just existing. I was intrigued by what this meant. I was very interested in how we reduced those symptoms and got people to feel less depressed, less anxious, and less stressed, but I wanted to go further. I wanted to be like, “How do you live life?” That’s what sparked me on this journey.Lots of people are existing but not living. Click To Tweet
What is happiness? How do we get it? How do we maintain it? I was coaching people. I would break it down, “What does that look like for you? Let’s break it down into small steps. Let’s work towards that.” We didn’t call it coaching then, but that’s what I was doing. When I eventually moved to Germany, it was such a natural step to train as a coach. I wanted to work for myself. I wanted to put all this into action and do something.
I want you to share with people this belief that I have, that happiness is within your control. There’s so much that you can do. There are things I wish I’d known years ago. You can change. This isn’t who you are. This isn’t your life. You’re not defined by your thoughts, past, or experiences. You can take control and change your life.
It was a few years later, I was at a Brand Minds event in Bucharest with a friend of mine. We were daydreaming as you do. There are all these great speakers there. Brené Brown was headlined to be there. We were like, “One day, we will walk on that stage and be these great speakers.” I was thinking, “What would I call myself?” There was Guy Kawasaki there and he’s the Brand Evangelist for Canva. That name bothered me, evangelist. I was like, “I don’t know if I like that.” It’s got a religious connotation, perhaps to me. I was thinking, “What would I call myself? A happens what?”
There was another guy who is the kindness czar. I thought, “I like that,” but the word kept coming back. I was like, “I want to reclaim that for me. I like that word,” because I feel like I’ve got this mission. I want to go out there and reach people because I see so many people suffering. There’s no need to suffer. I decided that I would be the happiness evangelist, showing people that you can change your life. That’s how I ended up here.
As you were saying, your father had gone through depression. I had a lot of low self-esteem growing up, but it was interesting because I didn’t have parents that weren’t in that position. In fact, I had a mom that was quite a powerhouse. It’s interesting how we all each have a journey. The majority of the world is in that space where they’re not happy because the way we were raised, the programs, the matrix, or what everyone calls it is not conducive to us being able to express ourselves in such a way that allows us to be full expressions of ourselves.
A lot of it has to do with our parents because I still believe that even if I did have low self-esteem, if my mom was not and my dad didn’t, how did I go down that path? I’m pretty sure you’ve heard different stories and seen so many things in psychology. It was a very interesting and beautiful path to go down that healing and just trying to understand yourself. In the near future will be eight billion different expressions of each other.
We all have different life paths. We’re also unique. It’s beautiful how it all comes out. Now, we are in that place and human history where everyone has a safer space to express themselves and say, “That’s how I felt for many years of my life.” To truly be held and loved unconditionally and not judged for it is truly amazing.
I love that you share that because I hear over and over that nothing really bad happens. I worked for several years with women in trauma. I’ve done a lot of trauma work and supported women with the impact of that. There are many of us who have those big traumas or the major stuff, “That happened and that happened. That’s why I’m this way.” For many of us also, there are lots of small traumas. There are lots of little things that we wouldn’t say anything happened because of how we are. We integrate that as like, “This is who I am.”
As you’re describing, we are all shaped in lots of different ways, even if we see that her upbringing was positive. We are all a product of our parents, their family, and the family before them. There are all these intergenerational patterns that follow. We all interpret things in different ways. You may have got many things in one way, but somehow this shaped you from maybe where you grew up, your culture, society, or your generation.
Now, here we are all talking about these things, which is great. I’m on a mission to open up and talk about it. It’s still a lot of taboo about how we feel about our health, mental health, or emotional health, but my father’s generation didn’t talk about it because he didn’t. You just got on with it. You did the best that you could and he did the best that he could, and I know that.
He did the best that he could, but it still affected me. It still had an impact on me. That’s what I work through now. I was like, “I understand it, but I can also acknowledge that this is the impact it had.” It affected all my choices and decisions up until this point. Some of them are positive because they shape me in lots of positive ways. I learned so many great values. I learned a lot of caring, giving, and kindness from them. However, there are other things that were difficult and those are the things I’m working through now. You don’t always have to go through something so obvious, but recognize that we’re a product of all these patterns and experiences that shape us.We're a product of all these patterns and experiences that shape us. Click To Tweet
We are that. It’s so crazy even how connected we are in all of that. At least for myself, even if my parents’ personalities and behaviors were not that, there were things that happened in their marriage and that’s what shaped me. As I said, it would become the stories that we told. I have siblings, so what were the stories they created in their heads? It’s interesting how psychology works and now we are moving into that time space where everyone’s starting to understand like, “It’s not even about the conscious mind anymore either. It’s about the heart space.” That heart space is where everything truly starts to begin to heal.
It’s where we have to connect ourselves as a whole. A lot of us intellectually understand things. You can describe and talk about that, “This was my experience. That’s what I see,” but you’ve internalized stuff, connecting that whole of you together. Matching and internalizing that so that you can heal from that. You go on your own personal journey for whatever that is. Whatever you feel is okay, but we can integrate ourselves so that we become whole. We can then like, love, and accept ourselves. That’s important.
In western medicine, which is very tied to psychology, now as a certified life coach, is this different in terms of psychology? Is this outside anything that’s even covered by insurance or anything like that? Are your clients specifically in your programs because of your teachings? Not because of the psychology business. I’m hoping that I’m explaining this right.
I integrate my psychology and mental health experience, but the beauty of creating your own business and style is that you can deliver a service that people think is what people need and want. As I said, everyone has their place. I would’ve liked to be a psychologist and practice that way, but I saw the restrictions of that. There was a point where I thought, “I wouldn’t want to do that.” Everyone has different skill sets and I have my own skill sets. I’m not an experienced psychologist or a psychotherapist. Generally speaking, as a coach, we’re focused much more on the present and the future rather than looking at past work.
However, I feel with the work that I do and my own personal experience and all the experience that I’ve had over the years. I do both. What I find is that the people that come to me or I attract, their mindset needs work. They have lots of negative beliefs, low self-esteem, and negative thinking that are holding them back. That’s keeping them stuck. You can’t go for that dream life, dream relationship, or dream job if you don’t believe that you’re worthy of that and can get it.
Years ago, I would feel like I’m not good enough or I’m not worthy of that. If I can’t do that, then I’m not going to push myself forward because I don’t believe I can have that. I had to do a lot of work on myself. I was lucky that the job I did taught me lots of stuff that I could use on myself as well so I could learn as I was doing it. It was great. I’m putting into practice all the stuff that I’ve done for myself. I’ve gone from that shy quiet girl to the confident woman I am now. I hope that shows that everything is possible. You can change.
I like to do some of that past work to understand what we’re talking about, “Where does all that stuff come from? Where did you learn that?” and unlock that so that you can see where it comes from, why it’s there, and change it. Let go of the stuff that’s not helpful anymore. That’s completely possible. I love to change the mindset and get people to feel confident, resilient, and strong and then do that happiness part like, “Go get a life that you want.” That’s what I do and I can integrate psychology and all these EBTs.
I’m able to flow with whoever comes to me and work with them where they’re at. Also, it’s very open. As a life coach, you can talk about anything. People often come with one thing and say, “I want to change jobs. I want to find love,” and then off you go in this other world of lots of things because everything is interconnected. I get a lot of people who come and say, “Life is okay but it’s not amazing.” I’m all for, “Go for amazing. Don’t settle for fine. Who wants to go fine?” That’s why a lot of people feel like, “My job is fine. Life is fine. Everything’s fine,” but there’s more.Go for amazing. Don't settle for fine. Click To Tweet
There’s so much more. Thank you so much for understanding my question. Sometimes I’m all like, “Did you practice psychology and now you’re a coach?” That’s maybe the question that I was trying to ask. I’m glad that it came through and you understood it. What’s beautiful is that I see this amongst all of the 35 guests and even more people that I’ve interviewed. We are at a time in human history when it’s not your traditional ways like you go to school and become a psychologist anymore.
Even though that is still very much needed in this world, there’s nothing to put down about that. We are moving and stepping into this creative time where I know people that are hypnotherapists, but they’ve done this one program and then said, “I see certain things that aren’t test necessarily working in this day and age, and so I’m going to use a little bit of my knowledge from the knowledge that I gained from that and where I believe we’re going in the future.” It’s absolutely working. There’s going to become a day that that’s what we should be. There are eight billion different businesses, all helping each other.
There’s so much potential to create what makes you happy. That’s what I see a lot with people coming to me who you described exactly. That’s what we do. You study, train, and get a job. Who doesn’t want a steady job with a reliable income? The generation before us, that’s what they strive for. That gives you security and freedom, but then you find that a lot of people feel like that doesn’t fulfill them. There’s something that’s not quite aligned.
Now, it’s great because you can blow that wide open. You can create the job that you want. I’ve been very fortunate to take all these different experiences I’ve got and shape them into the service I provide. I won’t be the right person for everybody, but I certainly connect with a certain group and form that connection. The work goes well because I can take all of that knowledge and experience, cut through that and get you there quickly. I can cut down the time added all the tracking for you. It took me years to get to this point. Now, we can get you there in six weeks. Let’s get it done.
It’s that lovely combination of holding space because people need to be heard. People need to have their experiences validated, and that’s what I do. I hold space for people which we need. I allow people to get deeper because it’s hard to go deep by yourself. You end up going round and round in your head and not getting anywhere. I can help people figure stuff out, but also, we can take action and make things happen.
A lot of the time, we know we want things to change, but we don’t know what, how, what to do, or what steps. Although it’s very fluid and very individual, it’s a process that works and that I can guide people through. I love that I could move here to Germany and do what I do and, in a way, take all the things that I loved about what I’ve done and where I’ve worked that are more important and put them all together and create a service that I believe makes a huge difference.
I’ve seen it in the industries here. My range of being able to see things is based upon what is local to me. I’ve asked this of other guests that are from different countries. The world is awakening and it’s not specific to the United States, even though it’s starting to become big here. How are you seeing the environment around you in the energy fields? Everyone is now stepping into this space where they are going out to get coaching for happiness. The simplicity of just that. That’s what you are, a happiness evangelist. It’s amazing.
It’s opening up. It’s exploded more in the last couple of years. I’m sure this is a message that most people are repeating, but it’s been tough the last couple of years, even for happiness evangelists. I’ve seen so many people who were already struggling and it’s got even harder. People who have been positive are still struggling because it’s been hard. It’s also allowed us to stop, pause, and reflect on what it is we want. In the beginning, we were all like, “We want to get back to normal. I want to get back to my life.” As it went on and on, a lot of people started to question, “Do I want to get back to that? What parts of that do I want to get back to? Any of that at all?”
That’s exactly it. We were even talking about it. Once we went into the pandemic, everyone didn’t work here in the United States. That’s when I told everyone, “This is your time to shift into your creative space.” I was intuitively feeling it. It starts to get back to normal and they can’t find people to work because everyone’s like, “It’s not even worth the money anymore.” The peace of mind they started to find in that space of reflection is no longer worth the money.
People examined that busyness or that hamster wheel of life that most of us have been caught up on. People got a taste of something different. A different balance in their lives. A different way of living and working. It’s not for everyone. Here in Germany, people are going back into the office and I see a 50-50 split where there are people who are excited, want to be in the office, love, and need that connection of those people around them, but the other half was like, “No. I love being at home. I love this balance. I want it to be different.”
I live in Munich and it is a city. It’s beautiful. It’s not even that big a city. It’s a pretty chilled place to be, but so many people moved out because within an hour, you can be in the mountains and the lakes here are beautiful. Many people moved out because they were working from home and had this very different lifestyle of working online and then walking out into the hills. People have reviewed that and are struggling, like, “That didn’t light me up. I didn’t like that job. I didn’t like this and that. This is more of what I want.” We’re moving towards that slower pace, more of that intentional thing, and appreciation of what is important. It highlights what’s important.
I have a Happiness Club Facebook group. We have a big community of 1,000 women there. When people join, I ask them, “What does happiness mean to you?” People always say the same things.”# It means a sense of peace, calm, and balance.” Those are the things people say. Those are the words people use all the time. The top three are always there. People get a sense of that a lot more when they slow down and reflect. You get more of that sense.
Also, what’s come out over the last couple of years was more about security and relationships. These are the things that are important. It’s not always rushing around or going to work. These things are important. Work gives us a lot of meaning and purpose, but there is much more about connection, people, relationships, family, nature, and balance. This is what comes out and feeling a sense of safety and security.
To go back to your original question, people are looking to find people that can help them figure that out and to normalize and validate that experience. That is the great shift that’s going on in our world right now. People are looking beyond traditional methods or traditional healthcare providers. Coaching is getting a better profile. There are lots of people like myself who have that long background. That’s something that’s more unique about me is I have years of experience and this is all I’ve ever done. This is what I do. Everything I’ve done is about this work. It’s a vast array of skills and expertise out there. Ultimately, it’s about that connection that you feel. That’s the biggest part. It’s having someone that you click and connect with. That’s what makes it work.
It makes it all worth that while. I’m so glad we are moving into that space in human history where we are able to be of service to each other by being this open and able to connect with our feelings. This episode goes by so fast, and I wanted to thank you so much for sharing a lot of your work, journey, and story here on the show.
I’m trying to build a digital library of human consciousness. I do believe that we are on the precipice of us being able to go into the fifth dimension, where everything is all about love, compassion, and kindness. One thing I’ve been asking my guests this season is if someone came across this conversation of ours 50 years or 100 years from now, what would be the message you would have for them?
I resonate with your words about love, kindness, and compassion. I would say start with yourself and turn all that compassion, which is important in our world, and kindness towards others. Always remember that you’re equally important and turn that kindness and compassion towards yourself too. Learn to talk to yourself with that same loving, kind voice and treat yourself with the same level of compassion that you show each other.
I love that. That’s all it is. Turn to yourself in all ways and find that when you go down the healing journey. What’s interesting is that you not only heal yourself, but you also heal others around you and this planet. Thank you so much, Julie, for sharing your wisdom, dropping in these gems, and your love with the readers. If there’s anyone that would love to be a part of the happiness movement, how would they get ahold of you?
Go to the website, JulieLeonardCoaching.com or on Facebook. You can find me in The Happiness Club. Come and join me there. It’d be great to have you in our community. Reach out anytime.
Thank you, Julie, for being a part of the show. It would be an honor to have you back again. This is a place where you will always have a voice.
Thank you so much. It’s such a pleasure to spend time with you.
I feel the same way. Thank you, readers, for catching this episode. I will see you at the next one.
About Julie Leonard
Julie Leonard is a Certified Life Coach and Happiness Evangelist, author and speaker with over 30 years of psychology, mental health and coaching experience. She is passionate about happiness and living life with intention and is on a mission to empower you with the tools to take control of your happiness and to become your best self.