There is a common misconception that being happy just happens to you. In my experience, it doesn’t. To work at a fast pace, sustain an ongoing high workload and meet intense family needs and be happy, is no accident. This is what I tell people when they say that I am lucky I am happy and successful. Luck has little to do with it. Having a happy life is like any other goal I’ve set; it takes effort and ongoing commitment. Some days I feel like I’ve taken two steps back but that is okay because most days I take many Key Steps forward. Here’s the type of effort I am talking about and my formula for happiness that allows me to keep taking Key Steps to…

‘be the difference that makes the difference.’


I hope that as you read these Key Steps, they resonate and inspire you to create and/or refine your formula for happiness…


  1. Doing work I love and lots of it. Of course, getting to this place took lots and lots of effort. I am so grateful for where I am, there just needs to be enough pauses between workshops, masterclasses, keynotes and coaching so I can breathe, ground and regroup. I am fuelled by passion and making a difference, but I am not a machine. It takes considerable effort to say NO to myself. This is probably the hardest part of my formula. What do you love doing? What are your boundaries needed when doing it?
  2. Following a consistent exercise routine for the past 28 years. Even when I don’t feel like it. In fact, especially when I don’t feel like it. This year has been hard because of a neck rhizotomy and Covid. But I am back to four days a week of running and have added weight bearing exercise, which I really don’t enjoy but it is much needed in my mid-40s.
  3. Participating in regular therapy every week for the past 22 years. I did not embark on a therapy journey because I had a specific problem but just because I wanted to stretch myself and deeply grow. When I started, I really couldn’t afford it. I thought it would only be for a few months, but I ended up eating beans on toast for many years, but it was the best investment I have ever made in myself, my mental health and wellbeing. I am certain that I would not be as happy as I am without it. As a result, I’ve steadily grown my EQ to the highest levels, I don’t take offense easily, I can be vulnerable, I am in touch with what I feel, I’m able to handle very complex and challenging conflict situations, I truly know myself and like myself, I’ve become wiser… and the list goes on.

    I also participating in coaching supervision.
    This has been another significant investment. But absolutely vital to my practice and overall wellbeing and ability to cope with the intense and demanding nature of being an executive coach. Another key ingredient is…

  4. Investing in various forms of self-care. This includes supplements, body talk, acupuncture, emotion code release work, kinesiology, facial treatments, chiro, regular massage and so on. I often feel like I don’t have time, but I do it anyway. I schedule my self-care in as a priority and I intuitively listen to when my body, mind and/or soul needs something different. I am about to do a four week liver detox and start juicing with celery juice every morning. I could use your positive vibes and good wishes as this aint going to be easy, which brings me to…
  5. Surrounding myself with great support. I’m blessed to have awesome Collette in our office and recently employed Kanya on home support – to help with the juicing, diet changes and running around needed for a large family. I get to do more of what I love and less of the things I don’t, with cooking being at the top of that list.
  6. Taking time to play. I often don’t feel like playing after a full day at work, but I know I am bigger than my moods. Play time makes Mila so happy and brings me so much joy too. Four-year-old laughter is the best! Scheduling date nights has become really tricky with being self-employed and having a little one, but time to have fun as a couple is so necessary, and it no longer happens as spontaneously. It takes effort.
  7. Taking regular travel breaks. I intensely dislike planning and booking breaks, but know it is something I have to do (or usually work with my travel agent on) to get to the good stuff. Of course, this part of our family’s happiness formula suffered during the pandemic. We eventually did more local travel. Thank goodness we got into this habit and found Plan B, as what should’ve been our trip to Mauritius this week (cancelled because of Comair liquidating) became Ballito. It was fantastic fuel for the soul – we return today rather reluctantly. Thankfully, I know how important it is to do…
  8. Scheduling of 10-minute happiness bursts every day. Mine is fetching Mila from school every day and having some midday quality time and then reading a few pages of a romantic novel every night before I sleep. This gives me something to look forward to every night. It’s a small joy that got me through the turbulence of finishing my PhD and giving birth to Mila. It’s a daily constant that is just mindless fun.
  9. Doing nothing for at least half a day or a full day (if possible) every weekend. My diary is back-to-back through the week with time sensitive appointments. So, I really don’t like to book up my weekend. Of course, it is lovely to plan some fun gatherings with family or friends and have them to look forward to. But, for the most part, the freedom and flexibility to take a walk in the park, get Mila an ice cream, drive to a nice spot for lunch, all spur of the moment, makes me very very happy.
  10. Celebrating where I am and choosing to be happy with it and not compare myself, my business, my family and my life to anyone else. This is one of the most important points (I saved the best for last 😊). Sometimes this isn’t easy with the seemingly ‘perfect’ lives of others popping up on social media. With life experience, I know that no-one has a perfect life, and everyone has their challenges, sad and even very dark moments. It’s part of the human condition and part of being happy. Last week, I had a morning where I felt like running away. Mila’s been sick and her coughing had me up most nights for over a week, I was tired, hormonal and feeling really stretched and frustrated. Accepting that the messy bits are part of a happy life is key.

What is your formula for happiness? What effort are you going to commit to putting into your life to…

‘be the difference that makes the difference.’ 


NOTE: The information in my blog may be freely shared and re-used in any online or offline publication, provided it is accompanied by the following credit line: This was written by Dr Sharon King Gabrielides, and originally appeared in her free weekly  ‘Key Steps Food for Thought Blog’ available on the Key Steps website.

Dr Sharon King Gabrielides

About Dr Sharon King Gabrielides

Sharon is a dynamic facilitator, speaker and executive coach with over 25 years’ experience in leadership development and organisational transformation. Her PhD thesis contributed a framework for holistic and sustainable leadership development that was published by Rutgers University in the USA. She is faculty of numerous business schools and highly sought-after by leading corporates because she works hand-in-hand with them to create sustainable results and long-term success. In 2020, Sharon was inducted into the Educators Hall of Fame, which is a lifetime achievement award, recognising excellence and her contribution to the field.

Sharon is one of only three women in South Africa to have achieved the title of
Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) – the Oscar of the speaking industry. She is also a COMENSA Master Practitioner (CMP), a qualified Modern Classroom Certified Trainer (MCCT™) and an accredited Global Virtual Speaker. Sharon is also a registered Education, Training and Development Practitioner (ETDP), holds an Honours degree in Psychology and practices as an NLP master practitioner.

Most important to Sharon is that she has become known for her genuinely caring manner, practical and transformational approach, and for providing valuable tools and that allow people to take Key Steps to really… ‘be the difference that makes the difference.’