"I'm part of the dissatisfaction generation, but I've discovered the secret to happiness."

Without cutting Oprah’s grass, I think I’ve found The REAL Secret…

And it has little to do with the acquisition of stuff.

Self-Help-For-Dummies would suggest I preface this life-transformational truth-bomb with a sob story, except in my case there’s nothing overtly sad about my life.

Unless of course you consider the act of consolidating one’s super on a Saturday night, sad?

Personally, I’d file that away under ‘t’ for tragic but I digress. I have all the elements of a happy life:

  • Friends
  • Family
  • Career
  • Health
  • Love

However I often obsess about what I don’t have as opposed to what I do have and as a result I rarely view life through the #blessed filter.

I’ve regarded happiness as a destination, a somewhat mythical place that I’ll arrive at when I feel I have absolutely everything that I desire– husband, kids, home, six-figure salary.

Yet I’ve wised up to the fact, that even if I check-off this wish-list, I may continue to experience a deep yearning from within.

People who appear to have everything can still experience a deep yearning within. Image via AMC.

I am not alone in this ‘ad infinitum’ dissatisfaction cycle, as I’ve discovered I’m part of a far greater problem – the dissatisfaction generation; less than half of us are happy with our jobs, there’s despair at soaring house prices, the level of voter frustration and dissatisfaction is on the rise, social media sh*t storms have become a daily occurrence and now thousands of women are undergoing labiaplasties as it appears their own vulvas aren’t good enough!

In an effort to examine and address this growing level of dissatisfaction, I launched a self-development program, ‘Illy’s Life Renos,’ in an attempt to ‘renovate’ the lives of people by re-invigorating their minds, bodies and spirits through a range of activities. I invited three other women, whom I christened my ‘renovators,’ to join me in this pursuit of fulfilment.

This is what we found.

Let it go

Our journey commenced with a transformation and empowerment course mentored by life coach, Rhyn Nasser, aka The Millionaire Monk. In the first part of this session we learned various principles designed to help transform our lives, such as judgement limits possibility, choose big (as the middle-ground attracts fierce competition) and your point of view creates your reality.


To demonstrate the latter principle, The Millionaire Monk asked us to focus on all the red and pink objects in the room. Then he requested we close our eyes and rattle off as many as we could remember. When we had finished he said, “Now, keep your eyes shut and tell me all the yellow items in the room.” We were stumped; none of us could recall anything remotely yellow, thus reinforcing the theory ‘we see what we want to see.’

what is asmr
"Your point of view creates your reality." Image via iStock.

This exercise proved to be a poignant lesson for one of my renovators, Shara who has suffered from negative body image issues as a result of damaging remarks from former partners.

She said, “My ex-boyfriend used to call me ‘chubby, wubby, bubby’… I weighed 50kg.” As a consequence of the accumulation of demoralising pet-names, experiences and thoughts, Shara had created a false narrative in her head, revolving around the devaluation of her body.

She learned, it is possible to edit ones story and to create a new reality however it requires silencing the inner-critic and letting go of harsh self-judgements. Fast-forward one month later, Shara exclaimed, “I’m even starting to love my ankles!”

In the second part, we partook in a chakra clearing session, designed to balance and cleanse the 7 major chakra energy centres. Translation: Helps you let sh*t go.

In my case, I have long carried around, ‘trust issues.’ I loathe being deceived, and as a consequence I have harboured contempt for anyone whom I believe has actively lied to me.

The Millionaire Monk asked me, “Are you ready to let this go?”

I replied, “No, I’ve got to over-think some more about it.”

Actually this was a rhetorical question and he retorted, “No, we’re letting this go!”

At this point, I had a major ‘Aha moment’ – all this time I didn’t WANT to let go of my trust issues as staying guarded seemingly helped me control and prepare for future catastrophe. I guess it was an attempt at self-preservation.


Watch Mia Freedman discuss how she deals with her anxiety. Post continues after video. 

The positive results continued for all of my 'renovators', particularly Amanda. For over 6 years she has been enduring chronic pain as a result of the death of her husband to brain cancer.

She said “I’ve dealt with a lot of grief, anxiety and challenges as a single parent that left me with what I’d describe as a knot in my brain, this feeling that something was pressing on my skull, just pain.” Amanda had engaged both traditional & alternative medicine to help relieve her, but to no avail.

However, remarkably, within a few hours of the chakra clearing session, Amanda felt her pain start to dissipate.

While our experiences should be viewed as anecdotal, there’s strong evidence to suggest the human body holds onto the past. According to Neuropharmacologist, Candace Pert, the “body is your subconscious mind. Our physical body can be changed by the emotions we experience.”

In sum, by acknowledging and releasing our trapped negative memories and emotions we were able to move forward with our lives.

We surrendered our ‘Fri-yay’ night drinks to volunteer at Rosies, a street van which provides food, tea and friendship to the homeless.


As I was offering a savoury scroll to a man, he looked me square in the eye and said, “You’re a good person.” As I beamed, I thought this is the most profound salutation a person can receive, far greater than idle flattery about one’s appearance or handbag.

It dawned on me, this man most likely believed that our exchange was one-way but in reality he was helping me too.

It became clear to me that giving makes the world go around; it helps one rise above one’s own self-interest, enabling one to further celebrate human dignity, possibly ease a person’s burdens and feel a deep sense of satisfaction.

Life Purpose
To assist us in finding our life purpose, we kept a journal reviewing which activities had been, ‘life-giving.’

A great number of us pursue a career we believe will make us happy, perhaps because it pays well, offers perks or looks good on paper, but in the end if we don’t commit our lives to a job or hobby we appreciate profoundly, we’re pushing ourselves further away from our truth and in turn delaying long-lasting fulfilment.

Over the course of the journey, we attended several fitness classes, all of which Amanda found to be exceptionally ‘life-giving.’ She concluded, “I’m not built for the stale air of the corporate world. I crave an active, vibrant and energetic environment, where I can be a non-stop cheerleader, and empower people to achieve their goals.”

"If we don’t commit our lives to a job or hobby we appreciate profoundly, we’re pushing ourselves further away from our truth." Image via Columbia Pictures.

The truth is that most of us are dissatisfied with at least one aspect of our life, and I believe it’s our responsibility to identify it, remedy it and transcend it via yoga, meditation, chakra clearing or whatever it takes.

I would never presume to know the secret to YOUR life, but I feel REAL fulfilment when I have the courage to let go, the compassion to give and the confidence to extend my personal impact.

I’ve come to realise that I have everything I require in my life, right now, in this very moment, at this minute, because you know what?! Happiness is NOT a destination, it starts right now!