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Interview with a Self-Help Author - Narissa Phipps

i-studentglobal spoke to first-time author and Loughborough University psychology graduate Narissa Phipps about her self-help book Happiness Diary, which is released worldwide on 28th September 2016.

1. What first inspired you to write a self-help book?

I was working on my 2016 goals and had read somewhere that it was good to write one that currently felt impossible, I chose ‘make the world a happier place’. Then one day in the shower it came to me that I should use my knowledge and experience to create a type of diary in order to make this goal come true, so I did!

2. Had you read many self-help books before or was it something completely new to you?

Apart from completing a few books on mindfulness the self-help genre was generally unexplored territory for me. I believe it is an area that we could all play a part in reducing the stigma. The reaction to a physical injury within the human body, by ourselves and others, can unfortunately be very different to a more psychological one. If you or someone you know could benefit from completing the Happiness Diary challenge, I hope that you can find the courage to purchase the book just like you would get a bandage for a sprain or dose up on vitamins to prevent a cold.

3. When you studied your BSc in Psychology at Loughborough, did you have any idea that you would be going down this career path?

Not at all! In fact if someone at Loughborough University would have said that in 2016 you will publish a book I would have laughed in disbelief. The process has definitely taught me to keep an open mind and that anything is possible.

4. What did you gain from your experience studying abroad at Maastricht University?

Packing up and delving into the unknown is very daunting but you learn a lot about yourself and that everything works out in the end. It definitely gave me the confidence and curiosity to travel further too. Studying with people from all over the world expands your mind in ways you can only really understand once you have experienced it. If you ever have the opportunity to study abroad, take it and if not create it.

5. Tell us a bit about the book. Who is Happiness Diary targetted towards? How is it different from other self-help books available?

Happiness Diary is a 180 day challenge for late teens to adults. The aim of it is to try and shift the brains negativity bias to a more positive one. There is a page a day to complete and its content is based on the latest research evidence of ways to increase happiness. Whilst there are a lot of self-help books already available they seem to either focus on one main research aspect or are more of a novel. Happiness Diary combines many areas and techniques all in one place. Most of us know by now which behaviours are good for us but this does not always lead us to actually do them. I have created Happiness Diary as a personal guide to help ensure we transform our knowledge into action and thus achieve a happier way of life.

6. How did you start researching happiness?

Growing up I always saw myself as becoming a Clinical Psychologist. I wanted the expertise to work with those in crisis but actively advocating early intervention strategies to prevent people from reaching such a point. My interest moved from a disease to a health approach when I discovered the area of positive psychology. Previously I had not considered looking at how healthy people remain so as a prevention. It fitted with my passion so I began to source what knowledge I could. What I have not learnt from my degree and working in the NHS I have taught myself from the internet. In fact the whole book process has been made possible thanks to the internet, technology really can be a wonderful thing.

Happiness Diary

7. The book cover seems to evoke an inner child with its design. Was this part of the idea behind it?

My idea for the cover was a rainbow umbrella in the rain and my quote “If you wish for a rainbow, first embrace the rain”. To me this represents the core of what Happiness Diary is about. The rest was down to the wonderful design team.

8. We understand that you’ve recently moved to New Zealand. What inspired you to move to NZ and how is it different from Brighton?

My first trip to New Zealand was in 2014, every day I thought ‘wow this is the most beautiful place I have ever seen’. Each time I was certain that the view could not be beaten but I was repeatedly shown otherwise. I have connected with the nature in NZ in ways that I did not know was possible. Probably from having spent most of my life in built up areas. The country has captured my heart and I cannot imagine living anywhere else now. I love Brighton and Hove and always will but once you leave city life you realise that there are alternative ways to live. Right now I am enjoying the daily friendly encounters with strangers, a smaller community and incredible hikes with stunning scenery on my doorstep.

9. Where can we find out more about the book and buy it?

If you want to follow the journey on social media just search @byNarissaPhipps. You can currently pre-order your copy from all the usual retailers or for those of you who are Brighton based please keep it local by visiting the lovely independent bookshop City Books on Western Road. Happiness Diary is due to be released on 28 September 2016.