Nicky Hayes is an Organisational Development Consultant with a passion for well-being, growth and supporting positive workplace cultures. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications, majoring in Psychology and a Diploma of Positive Psychology and Wellbeing.
Here we learn more about her definition of balance, success and wellness and how they have been shaped over time.
On living with balance:
My dad is incredibly hard working, literally the smartest person I know and has a great sense of humour. He taught me to follow through on my commitments, to be accountable and to really show up and do my best. My mum is incredibly warm, funny and loads of fun. She taught me to always look on the bright side of life, take chances on the things that excite me and to keep a sense of perspective.
I like to think I have taken the best lessons from both of them and live my life with a sense of balance. I like to work hard and I hold myself accountable but I also take the time to rest, play and enjoy life.
My definition of wellness:
In my late teens and early 20s I fell into a common trap and thought that if I was exercising and eating diet food I was being healthy. Looking back, I was over exercising, working too much and going out constantly so it’s no surprise I was struck down with glandular fever in my mid 20s.
This was the catalyst for me to develop a more holistic view of wellness and I started to look at all the areas of my life and ask myself questions like - what sort of relationships do I want? What stories am I telling myself - are they cruel or kind? How do I engage with my thoughts - am I mindful or reactive?
My view of wellness is completely different to what it once was and now encompasses emotions, relationships, purpose and meaning, goals and values, mindfulness alongside the physical wellbeing elements such as exercise and nutrition. All of these elements contribute to a sense of wellbeing.
I studied psychology at university, deciding that ultimately, I did not want to become a psychologist because I was more interested in prevention than treatment. I ended up focusing more on the communications side of my degree, then later went onto study Human Resources and ended up working for a HR consultancy managing corporate leadership and development programs.
When I started to explore wellness in a more holistic sense, I discovered Positive Psychology and fell in love with it.
Positive psychology is the scientific study of human flourishing and has spurred research in a variety of areas such as optimism, well-being, gratitude, motivation, flow, strengths, virtues, happiness, hope and mindfulness. I feel as though my love of psychology has come full circle, as I now work in Organisational Development and we incorporate positive psychology principles and concepts into the work we do in the culture and leadership space.
I learnt something incredible throughout my positive psychology studies and it changed the way I looked at success and happiness. There is research that shows that a whopping 40% of the difference in happiness between two people is down to intentional activities, 50% is genetic and only 10% is due to life circumstances (i.e. the house you live in, your car, where you live). It made me realise the incredible power we have over our own happiness and by being intentional with how we spend our time and energy we have the power to transform our lives.
Success to me is having a sense of balance, freedom and joy with time to do the things I love. For me these activities include spending quality time with my husband, my family and friends, playing with my dog, meditation, yoga, eating well and practicing compassion and gratitude.
I love to start my day with warm lemon water to kick start my digestion and then spend time meditating or moving my body. Meditation has been an important part of my life over the past two years. It’s had a profound impact on my ability to manage stress and has made me more compassionate towards myself and others. The impact has been so great that I have enrolled to study meditation and soon hope to help teach others how to develop a meditation practice they love.
Time with my husband and our mini dachshund Pickles is a non-negotiable, and this usually looks like a walk to the park, a rumble in our living room or cuddles on the couch. I also end the day with a small gratitude practice, reflecting on a few things I am grateful for or going through a short meditation.
What inspires me:
Podcasts: I am a huge fan of podcasts and listen to them every day on my commute. My top recommendations for health, spirituality, self-development podcasts are; The Melissa Ambrosini Show, Almost 30 with Krista Williams and Lindsey Simcik and The Lifestylist Podcast with Luke Storey.
Books: Some of the most impactful books I have read from a spirituality perspective are The Surrender Experiment and The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer. For more of the science behind happiness and well-being, some of my favourite positive psychology books are Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson and The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky.