Dr. Tim Sharp | Positive Psychology and mental health | Consultant and Executive Coach, Speaker, Writer and Spokesperson | Founder & CHO- The Happiness Institute.

Chief Happiness Officer at The Happiness Institute

Special Interview of Dr.Tim Sharp with Spark Icon

1.From a Columnist to an Editorial Advisor to being an Adjunct Professor and Ambassador for various causes to Founding your Company. What was the Spark that made you do All this?

The start of my professional career was not overly complicated. I studied psychology because I was interested in people and helping and then I continued my studies because I wanted to be an academic. I followed this path for quite a few years, working as a clinician and researcher and lecturer, before changing direction slightly and setting out to start my own private practice. This was very successful, which awakened an “entrepreneurial gene” I didn’t know I had, and then I continued to branch out in new and interesting ways. But everything I’ve done and everything I continue to do is still consistent with my driving force…to help as many people as I can life happier and better lives.

2. You are a Pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology. What motivated you to start “The Happiness institute”? Can you share the challenges you faced while setting up this new concept and how you overcame these challenges?

As noted above, I’d already established and grown a successful clinical psychology practice when I discovered the very early beginnings of the Positive Psychology movement. At that time, no one was really aware of or promoting the ideas here in Australia but to me, it seemed very exciting and something I wanted to be part of. Accordingly, I established The Happiness Institute as a way of promoting the principles of Positive Psychology and to raise awareness of this new and exciting movement, especially here in Australia.

3. Switching hats between being an Employee and an Employer is difficult! How do you balance between both the Worlds?

I don’t! I’ve not been an employee for several decades. I’m self-employed, within the companies I run (Dr Timothy Sharp & Associates, Positive Leadership Development, The Happiness Institute) and I have adjunct appointments with two universities (so I’m not technically on staff). As for the not-for-profits with whom I’m involved, I have pro-bono “consulting” arrangements with them that work well for all involved.

4. You are associated with many Organisations. This means you should multi task. Can you describe how a typical day looks like, in your Life?

Yes, I do multitask. And I’m lucky that one of my strengths is my ability to organise my time and to be very efficient. I’m very focused, and I prioritise; which also means saying “no” to things! Every day is different for me, which I enjoy, but typical activities include writing, doing PR and media work, conference/corporate speaking, and consulting. Outside of that, I exercise every day, try to practice mindfulness, and as much as possible, be a good husband and father.

5. Being a Multi Tasker,what is the most important Time Management Lesson that you would like to share with our audience?

At the risk of contradicting my previous response, I’d prefer not to think of myself as a multitasker. Research has, in recent years, increasingly found that multitasking is not efficient. So instead, I try to single-task; that is, block off periods of time to do one thing and one thing only. Then, when that’s completed, I’ll move on to the next task. I’d encourage readers to try this because although multitasking is tempting, much focus is lost each time one switches between different tasks.

6. People say “Failures are the Stepping Stones to Success”. Do people need to actually fail to be successful ? Can't things be learnt in a Winning Path ?

Whether we want to or not and whether we like it or not, we’ll all fail sometimes. If you’re not failing then you’re probably not trying anything worthwhile. So yes, things can be learned while “winning” and yes, winning is great; but failure will happen and much can be learned from mistakes.

7. What was the lesson that you learnt the HARD WAY in your Life?Can you please share it with our audience?

I’m constantly learning; and constantly trying to learn more! But recently, for the umpteenth time, I learned that I can’t do everything on my own; and that reaching out and asking for help is OK, in fact it’s a good thing. Vulnerability is difficult, but so wonderfully liberating if/when one can master it.

8. What will be your 3 “Life Quotes” to our audience?

There are so many great quotes; it’s hard to pick just 3! But here are some favouries…

Change what you can change; accept what you can’t; and be wise enough to know the difference.

You’re not going to master the rest of your life in one day. Master the day, and then keep doing that every day.

Achieving happiness requires nothing more than practising a few simple disciples each and every day.

9. What was the biggest barrier when you wanted to start your first company?

I was lucky, really. There weren’t really any large barriers. I was very well established professionally, in my hospital position, so when I started my private practice it was pretty successful immediately. But I suppose looking back, the biggest barrier was my own fear, and uncertainty, and self-doubt. Luckily I didn’t listen to those voices!

10. Who is your mentor and what was the quality you always wanted to acquire from him?

I’ve had numerous mentors over the years, personal and professional ones. One of my earliest was the man who ran the Clinical Masters Course I completed and then became my employer and PhD supervisor. He was a wonderful psychologist and supervisor, but he was also a wonderful man who’s quiet and simple approach to “doing the right thing” and compassionately managing other people was a fantastic example from which to learn. In my personal life, my wife has been an influential, informal mentor. She loves and cares for our children in a way I constantly try to emulate. And more recently, all the various leaders in the realm of vulnerability and self-compassion have inspired me to life a more authentic life. These include Brene Brown, Kristin Neff, and Sebastian Robertson (founder ofwww.batyr.com.au).

11. What was your childhood dream. Was it the same as what you are currently doing? Out of all the profession, how did you land into psychology?

When I was younger, my dreams involved playing cricket or football for Australia! Then, through adolescence, I probably dreamed of becoming a rock star! So no, I’m not currently living these dreams. But on a more serious note, a little later on, I did dream of helping people live happier and better lives (even though I didn’t really understand what this would look like) and so that’s a dream that has become a reality.

12.According to you, what is the best way to deal with any emotional problem in life as emotional exhaustion play a major role than physical exhaustion?

I’ll preface this by noting that everyone’s different; and different strategies work for different people. That being said, here are a few general tips that should help most:

- firstly, accept the emotion. Don’t try to deny it or fight it or push it away. Good or bad, positive or negative, pleasant or unpleasant, all emotions have a role to play and all should be acknowledged

- accepting our feelings doesn’t mean we have to put up with being miserable or stressed for prolonged periods. We do need to accept we can’t be happy all the time, but when we accept “negative” emotions we can then do something about them

- take constructive action. Address the problem or address how you’re thinking about the problem or use relaxation strategies or problem solve or ask for help…whatever’s most appropriate, do something and/or reach out and find someone who can help you do something .

13. What is the advice that you would give to the youngsters when it comes to dreaming or determining their lives? What are your success snippets to make it become a reality?

Make sure your goals are clear; the more specific the better. Make sure also, that you take care of yourself (physically and mentally) so you have the energy to do what you need to do to achieve your goals. Build optimism and resilience. This doesn’t mean you have to “think positively” all the time; but it will be very helpful if you can adopt a solution-focused mindset so that if/when you face problems, you can focus as soon as possible on answers. Don’t think you have to do it all on your own; the most successful people usually surround themselves with great supporters. Use your strengths; sure, you’ll have weaknesses that need to be addressed. But you’ll also have positive attribute which when utilised will take you far. And finally, enjoy the journey!

14. What are the things that keeps you motivated to be your best everyday?

My wife and children; I hope to be a good, positive role model for them. And the people I hope to help. Spending time with the staff and the clients of the not-for-profits with whom I work inspires me to do all I can to help others as much as I can.

15. “Ignorance is Bliss” How True is this saying to You?

In most situations, not true or helpful at all! Instead, I’d say “knowledge is power”. More often than not, information and learning are preferable to denial; but that being said, there are some situations that most of us can and maybe should ignore. For me, this is the news! I find much of the news these days very negative and distressing, so to cope with this I need to take regular news “holidays” or “breaks” to limit the impact this has on my mood.

16. How many times have you been dejected in your life and what is the learning outcome?

Many times. I’ve failed and fallen and been rejected more times than I’d like to admit. I’ve also written and spoken previously about my history of depression (which is ongoing). But what I’ve learned is that failure isn’t permanent; and I can and have grown and become better as a result of learning from many of my “negative” experiences.

17.What according to you, are the 5 most important reasons, why people lose their positivity?

I’m not sure people are losing their positivity. But I do know that people can and are distracted from positivity often and some of the reasons include…

- the excessive and often unrealistically negative focus of most news services.

- the negativity of others.

- comparing ourselves to others (and, in fact, comparing our worst bits to other people’s best bits).

- a lack of appreciation for what we have; and a greater focus on what we don’t have.

- lack of direction; most people aren’t even sure what positivity and happiness look like (for them).

18. What do you tell yourself when you look into the mirror every morning?

Ha…I don’t spend much time looking in the mirror! But I do try, every morning, to focus on …

- what I want to achieve today.

- what I’m grateful for.

- what good I can do to/for others.

- how I can help others.

19. Can you name few books that keeps you motivated and that you recommend our audience ?

As with the quotes, there are so many! I really can’t narrow it down to just a few.

20. There is saying that ” the psychology and coaching works for some time and then you go back to the shell we used to live in “what would be your advise to keep the spark alive and ticking for life?

Make it your life’s work!

End Of Interview

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