The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it. Eckhart Tolle quote

Hypnotised by appearances – why you should never judge yourself by your life circumstances

Did you wake up this morning feeling low? Or have you been through a slump recently?

I’ve realised that when I get into a slump it’s usually because I’ve been focusing on the circumstances of my life and judging myself harshly because things aren’t going the way I want them to. I fall into the trap of thinking that “things not working out” means there is something wrong with me or that I am failing in some way. After all, it’s how we’ve been taught to think – if something is broken, we must fix it, including ourselves! Read more

Yoga on the lawn at Fynbos Estate, Malmesbury

Yoga and coaching retreat a great success!

My good friend Yogi Johann invited me to be part of a yoga retreat he organised, and I thought it would be the ideal place to try out some of the processes from my book The Discovery of Causeless Joy on a live audience.

And judging from the reactions of participants, it was a great success. Read more

Coach reveals the secret of happiness!

The secret of happiness Be warned …

in this article I am going to give you the answer to every question you have ever asked. I am going to reveal the secret of happiness!

Are you ready?

All right. Let’s begin with what we know: We are all seeking happiness. But for most of us it’s always a happiness deferred. We reach a semblence of it for a while, and then something happens and it’s gone again. And so we set out on the search for that elusive thing that will bring us what we feel we need in order to be happy.
If this is what you are doing, then welcome to the Happiness Trap! Read more

What’s the difference between a passion and a fantasy?

We all have goals and dreams – things we’d love to achieve in our lives. But have you ever wondered whether some of those dreams are really what you’re meant to do in life or whether they are simply fantasies?

At a Passion Test workshop recently someone asked me that very question. Say, for example, you dream of becoming a renowned concert pianist. Is this a worthy goal or is it an ego-based delusion?

Well, here’s a test you can do to help you identify what’s behind your dreams and goals.

Step 1: Extracting the Value

Every goal you set for yourself will be inspired by a higher-level value or emotional state of being. We all do things because of how they make us feel, right? So this feeling is the true motivation of your actions – and it’s going to tell you a lot about whether your goals are worthy of pursuing. To access this value, you simply ask the following question repeatedly until the answers start repeating: ‘When you have what you’re looking for, what will that get you?’

You’ll end up with high-level Values like happiness, fulfillment, security, and inspiration.

Step 2: Testing the Value

Once you have the Value you’re trying to elicit, you need to test whether you can get the same Value without achieving success in your goal. In other words, are you dependent on a physical outcome in order to achieve the desired emotional state. Why do we need to do this? Because a dream is only worthy if it’s done for its own sake and is not an attempt to buy happiness or some other state of being (remember all that about staying in The Now).

The way to test this is simply to ask, ‘Suppose you never achieve goal, will you still be able to be Value?’ (Replace Value with the particular state of being that’s motivating your goal, for example ‘happy’).

Let’s look at some examples.

Example: “I want to write and publish successful novels”

Step 1: Extracting the Value

When you have written and published this novel, what will that get you?

‘An audience, fame.’

And when you have an audience and fame, what will that get you?


And when you have money, what will that get you?

‘I’ll be able to do the things I love.’

And when you are doing the things you love, what will that get you?

‘I’ll be inspired, at ease.’

When you are inspired and at ease, what will that get you?


So the Value here is happiness, with the flavour of inspiration and ease.

Step 2: Testing the Value

Suppose you’re never able to write and publish those novels. Can you still be happy?

‘I don’t think so. It would be difficult.’

So this tells us that the person is wanting to buy happiness by writing novel. They are dependent on a physical outcome in order to achieve an emotional state. They don’t actually want to write novels because it’s their deep purpose and joy, so this goal is an ego fantasy.

Let’s try something else:

Example: “I want to be a renowned concert pianist”

Step 1: Extracting the Value

When you are a renowned concert pianist, what will that get you?

‘The joy of performing in front of large numbers of people, the excitement of performance, the knowledge that I’m creating a moving experience for people.’

When you are experiencing the excitement of performing in front of large numbers of people, and you’re creating a moving experience for them, what does this get you?

‘Joy and inspiration – I’ll be living my purpose.’

And when you’re joyful and inspired, living your purpose, what will that get you?

‘Pure joy and gratitude, pure inspiration. ‘

So the Values here are joy, gratitude and inspiration.

Step 2: Testing the Value

Just suppose you’re never, ever able to be a renowned concert pianist – will you still be able to feel joyful and inspired and grateful in your life?

‘Yes. I enjoy playing piano regardless of the size of the audience. I can still feel that joy and inspiration if I’m playing for one person or just for myself. It would be great, though, to play to thousands of people. That would really turn me on.’

In this example, the person is not dependent on a physical outcome to achieve their desired emotional state of feeling joyful, inspired, and grateful. They recognize that they have access to these feelings already, so their work as a musician is done for the joy of it. Of course, they will be paid for their work, but it’s not the primary motive, it’s simply the natural energy exchange for the work they love doing.


Many of us make the mistake of thinking that by having something or doing something we’ll achieve a lasting state of being. In fact, the creation process begins with being and flows to doing and having – when you are happy (a state of being), you will do things and have things that reflect this happiness.

So look carefully to see whether your desire is an attempt to reverse this order, in other words to try to achieve a state of being by having something or doing something. If you take away the having or the doing, can you still achieve that same state? If not, you need to check your motives.

Want to do The Passion Test and get clarity on your goals?

I present The Passion Test in workshops and individual sessions.  Let’s work together to find out what you really want and how to get it. It all begins with finding clarity on your true purpose.

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Inspired Coaching & Hypnosis – expert coaching and hypnotherapy in Cape Town.

Questions without answers

Much of what I’ve written on this site concerns ways of finding clarity on life’s great questions: Who am I, what is my purpose, what really matters? As a life coach and hypnotherapist I have a range of processes that can be used to help people dive deeply into these questions and find answers or new directions that bring greater meaning to life. But what happens when the answers are elusive, or when you get several answers to one question?

I was thinking about this recently when I found myself in my characteristic condition of alternating frustratingly between two quite different modes of being. One part of me wants to be out there making a name for myself, and the other wants to sit quietly in a chair, contemplating life and letting the world go its way undisturbed. So who am I, which path should I follow? As I sat with this perennial question, I noticed a kind of quiet space develop around it. The question had always been with me and always would. It was a knowing that a straight answer would not be forthcoming, and that it wasn’t required. I could have several answers at a practical level about who I was and what I could do with my life, but at a deeper level, where I tried to connect everything, logic did not work. The tools and processes ran aground. The purpose of my life, then, was not a thing at all but rather a space between things. The question would be forever asked and never answered.

Perhaps it is never answered because the answer is hidden within the question itself. The answer is to be in the “I don’t know” space, in the not-knowing. When we find answers to things we discover certainty, and certainty hardens our self-image, our separation. But when we discover the question that refuses to be answered it is like stumbling upon a doorway into Being itself. Suddenly our words stop, our constant stream of self-defining thoughts have nowhere to go. In that moment there is space, the peace of knowing you do not need the answer. You don’t know, and that’s OK.

It can be a great comfort for people who are suffering an intractable problem or serious illness to finally put down the burden that they should know how to fix it or how to heal themselves. In the end you simply don’t know the purpose of your condition or what it means, and perhaps there is no meaning other than that it has brought you to the place of silence, of not knowing. You don’t know what death is, either, and if you’re honest, you don’t know what life is. Do whatever you can to know, but if the question evades your best efforts, perhaps it’s one of those questions … the questions that open up into Being itself. Sit with it, be with it, there’s nowhere to go, nothing to do. This is it.


Welcome to Inspired Coaching, the web home of transformational facilitator Russel Brownlee.

I work through two main disciplines – hypnotherapy and life coaching. Click the tabs at the top of this page for overviews. An offshoot of the coaching work is The Passion Test, a process dedicated to helping people discover their destiny and their true purpose. This is one of my favourite subjects, so be sure to check out the Passion Test page on this site.