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'How learning something new helped me find happiness again'

After editing HELLO! for 15 years, our new Creative Brand Ambassador Rosie Nixon reveals how starting a new challenge improved her happiness

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Rosie Nixon
Editor at Large
8 March 2023
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I like to spend the long month of January staying as warm as possible, hibernating – if it works for the animal kingdom, it's good enough for me – and it is also a time to solidify my ideas, start to formulate priorities and think about what I might like to achieve in the year ahead.

February is then about re-set and new beginnings for me. And so it was that at the beginning of 2023 I decided to bring more joy into my life by learning something new.

I was motivated to do this by a quote I read last year in Gretchen Rubin’s brilliant book, The Happiness Project. Gretchen says: "My research had revealed that challenge and novelty are key elements to happiness. The brain is stimulated by surprise, and successfully dealing with an unexpected situation gives a powerful sense of satisfaction.

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"If you do new things – visit a museum for the first time, learn a new game, travel to a new place, meet new people – you're more apt to feel happy than people who stick to more familiar activities."

This concept of happiness stayed with me.

rosie nixon in a cosy jumper© Photo: Instagram

Rosie Nixon worked as Editor-in-Chief at HELLO! for many years

I had enjoyed a fulfilling job latterly as Editor-in-Chief and formerly as Editor of HELLO!, for the past fifteen years, but my happiness was beginning to wane. It took me a while to figure out why and, when I boiled it down, there were a number of reasons behind this, one of which being that I wasn't learning anymore.

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Working life was a hectic whizz of deadlines, events, management meetings and layouts – there was little time for creativity and thinking about anything other than what was going to be on the cover of the magazine that week.

I missed challenging myself on a deeper level and venturing into unknown territory. So, 2023 felt like the right time to explore some new things to boost my happiness – to learn again.

Rosie Nixon in blue and green© David Venni

Rosie decided 2023 was the year to take on a new challenge

Reading about Gretchen's research into the importance of challenge to happiness helped convince me that I should stretch myself to tackle a large, difficult goal. I signed up to study for an Associate Coaching Diploma through Optimus Coach Academy, and in February I began the course.

Coaching has always interested me, both as a tool as a journalist to open-up more self-discovery from my subjects and also as a manager. I am not sure if coaching will be a professional path for me in the future, but I felt hopeful that I would gain a useful life skill and meet some new people with similar interests in the process.

After the initial excitement of signing up to the course – a fairly intensive four months of studying and coaching practice sessions – I felt quite daunted ahead of the first session. I hadn't felt out of my comfort zone like this for a long time. I wasn't sure if it would have the desired effect – can you be happy and nervous at the same time?

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But after those first three hours of training over Zoom, I felt exhilarated and ready to tell the next person I met about what I had learnt. I was buzzing!

Now that I am a third of the way through, I can honestly say that the course has brought a new sense of fulfilment into my life beyond my expectations. I have relished the opportunity to do something different every Tuesday morning. And in the additional practice coaching sessions, I have felt a new sense of purpose in my life – the whole point of coaching being that you hope to open-up the tools for your client to feel motivated and empowered to get to where they want to be in life.

rosie nixon new notepad

Rosie found her new challenge both exhilarating and joyful

This brings me so much joy on a deep level. It has also proven beneficial as a mother too, enabling me to gently prod around a challenge for my sons, helping them to reach their own conclusion on a way forward, rather than always jumping to problem solve for them. And when I see them work through an issue, it brings me a huge amount of pleasure.

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I have realised an important life lesson, that true happiness, to me, is found through connections with people and really listening and following my inner voice. The same voice that told me last year that something wasn't working so well anymore, led me to find happiness from trying something new. I have realised that we always have a choice in life, and that happiness can – and should – be a valid chosen path.

You see, you hold the key to your happiness. So, if you need a push in a happier direction, why not give that thing you've always wondered about, a try?

Feeling inspired? Check out our video on 12 easy ways to boost your happiness

Subscribe to Hello Happiness, for your ultimate guide on how to be happier.

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