3 mental wellbeing shortcuts that I learned from a Chief Joy Officer

Adele Barlow
2 min readJan 27, 2022

Over the years that we worked together at a coding bootcamp, Chief Joy Officer Dana Svoboda became a close friend. She has been described in various ways, but the most common refrain seems to be ‘a walking form of human sunshine’. I still learn a lot from our friendship. These three ideas of hers stand out:

You can be kind to yourself without losing your edge.

When we want to push ourselves, there can be a strong temptation to use tough (and negative) self-talk. However, it’s positive self-talk that has been shown to improve performance. Self-talk brings together your conscious thoughts with your unconscious biases. When you’re more generous with how you speak to yourself, you reinforce positive patterns, instead of toxic ones that you might have inadvertently picked up. (More here.)

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, the keys to calm are boundaries, prioritisation, and self-care.

Although these can seem like abstract concepts at first glance, each represents life skills that can be strengthened. Setting boundaries is a muscle that you can flex by learning to say “no”. A tool to use for setting priorities is the Eisenhower Matrix. When it comes to self-care, there is a wheel that we can refer to on getting specific around how we are taking care of ourselves. (More here.)

Comparing yourself to others puts you on the fast track to unhappiness.

It’s such an easy trap. But if you do fall into it, you can get out by using radical honesty to catch triggering thoughts around comparison. Staying in your own lane means that you remain absorbed by your own experiences instead of benchmarking yourself against anyone else. And if there’s anyone you’re going to compare yourself to, make it the past version of yourself. Appreciating how far you’ve come is important too. (More here)