'Pleasure is a glass of champagne or a bubble bath... Happiness is different' - Self-help guru Paul McKenna on finding happiness
Self-help guru and hypnotist Paul McKenna realised nearly five years ago that he’d already met the woman he wanted to marry. In fact, he’d been working alongside her for 20 years.
McKenna suddenly realised that he was in love with his personal assistant Kate Davey.
"I had a revelation that she was the right woman for me. I didn’t know that I could be happy with the same person but we get on fabulously - it’s what my parents had - and I thought that had eluded me.”
“My friend asked me: 'who do you love to be with, and who do you find attractive?' I went into a little trance, and my unconscious mind spiked at Kate, my assistant... and I thought, ‘oh dear that’s a bit awkward’.”
One night, the pair were sharing a few glasses of wine when McKenna asked her to tell him something about her that he didn’t already know.
"She said ‘I love you’."
Happiness, McKenna says, for him is now more about enjoying the simple things in life, like making a cup of tea or doing small things to make your partner happy.
“My life was about pleasure, I’d done a lot of work on myself and I was an ambition machine. I’d gotten things done but I moved towards a more values driven life, about happiness, health, love, creativity, and positive contribution.”
“If I can tick those boxes everyday, that means I’m living an emotionally rich life. I’ve met a few miserable millionaires over the years,” he joked.
But since he and Kate got together, McKenna says his life has become more about how he can make her happy.
“It’s all pretty good in my personal life. It’s about appreciating the things I sometimes take for granted. I used to live in LA which is a city driven by ego and power. A few years ago my whole thing was about more money, and status.”
"I was quite happy as a bachelor, being a single man, I was a commitment phobe and I was happy living on my own.”
“That lifestyle is more about pleasure than happiness. Pleasure is a glass of champagne or a bubble bath.”
McKenna says his wife is "incredibly unimpressed" by material things, and he describes her as a grounded person.
“I’m trying to be a really good husband and take feedback from my wife. I’ve never really been in a long relationship until recently... I was used to having things my own way... One of the great things about being happily married is seeing how much I can I do to make my wife happy.”
“It’s about knowing what her preferences are. Some people are visual, other people are auditory people like me.”
“People who are visual like to see gifts or acts of kindness, and if I buy her flowers or bring her cup of tea she can see that and she appreciates that. I like it when she tells me all the time that she loves me.”
“It’s knowing about someone’s way of thinking, or their love strategy.”
McKenna, who is bringing his show “The 3 Things That Will Change Your Destiny Today” to the RDS in Dublin on February 23, says he has his own plans for the year ahead. Just like many people, the gym and eating healthy are top of his list.
“I stopped myself from drinking spirits 18 months ago, because my wife said you’re no fun when you do. I’m in my 50s now so I started going to the gym and I eat healthy.”
Does McKenna have anything to offer by way of a solution for the obesity crises occurring in many western countries?
“There’s an interesting study done by Yale study in America which concluded that weight loss is a behavioural issue. It comes down to how you relate to food."
"I would say, when you eat, focus on the food and nothing else. If you watch TV while you're eating you’ll eat more, or if you're online, it’s difficult to hear that "full" signal. I would say slow your eating down and chew your food about 20 times. When we eat really fast, you can’t hear the "full" signal.
"After a few minutes, you begin to notice that you’re filling up. Now a lot of people are eating at their desks, and just give themselves 10 minute lunch break. You have to eat mindfully or consciously. Put the knife and fork down, prize your fingers off the sandwich, notice the tastes and textures, and chew your food 20 times. When you do that you’re immersing yourself in the experience."