James Lambert, also known as Mr. Happy, helps and coaches people to become happy with their lives and bodies. He has written several books within the self-help and motivational scene, such as “Be Happy in 24 Hours” and “Unstoppable”. Before deciding to dedicate his life to helping others pursue happiness, James was an undefeated bare knuckle fighter and has come a long way from his unhappiness and anger. James talks with Sensa Nostra about his experiences and view of happiness contra unhappiness.
A beautiful statement that I heard recently goes, “The cave that you and I fear to enter hides your greatest treasures. And one of the caves we fear to enter is the cave of fear. One man is scared of spiders, one of snakes, another of heights. There are many fears, but the true fear is the fear itself.“
This is what so exciting: throughout my life, all through the fighting, inside and outside the ring, on the door or on the street, I was so intimately linked with fear that it eventually became my friend. Today, I don’t fear anything.
But you have to go back to the beginning to really understand me. I came out of my mother fighting. I was born eight weeks premature and was immediately torn from my mother. Without even a brief touch, I was put straight into an incubator. I was totally blue and not breathing properly. From that first moment I was fighting for my very life, and the fight has continued ever since.
Looking back, I believe that my energy contributed massively to my feelings of alienation and disconnect from mainstream society. A part also being due to my great creativity- I was a great dreamer and had a great imagination. But in the very urban, gritty, and hard place of Lewisham, south of London, where I grew up, these things weren’t encouraged.
Looking back, I believe that my energy contributed massively to my feelings of alienation and disconnect from mainstream society
Even going to nursery, I remember being in one of those little Wendy houses where you host little tea parties, and this boy coming over and trying to take the cup from me. I remember making the decision, at something like three and a half, that I wasn’t going to be the black sheep of society- I was going to be the wolf.
Later going into school, people would say things like, “ah, he’s daydreaming” or “he’s no good, he’s no good”. Little did they realise that I was planning my future, but they never understood. I loved words, but instead of focusing on that, they would focus on my so-called “weaknesses”. This is a problem I have with modern education- it focuses too much on our weakness instead of encouraging and developing our strengths. And what happened was that my good behaviour was ignored, so when I acted troublesome or with high energy, they labelled that bad. In a very bizarre and twisted manner, my good behaviour was disregarded and my bad behaviour got recognition.
I increasingly became more violent, more frustrated. I dissented in rage and it came out in explosive anger and violence.
As I got a bit older, into my early teenage years, the role models that were in my urban environment were all negative. The men I saw who seemed to get respect were the violent and angry men- the men that would take what they wanted through violence.
After that fight back in the small Wendy house, everything got worse. I was getting into more fights in primary school and then started boxing with gloves inside a ring. Eventually, my energy turned into unorganized bare knuckle fighting on the street. Anger has always been a huge part of my being. What I was putting out because of my unhappiness and anger was fuelled by a steady diet of violence. I watched violent movies, I listened to violent music, and I read violent literature. I hung around vicious people, I spoke violently with a language littered with swear words. I didn’t understand it at the time, but the world is like a mirror sometimes. In truth, is there any surprise that all that energy inside me was reflected in the people I met? It didn’t take much to bring my anger forward, cause it was always bubbling inside- the anger was me.
So when I went out into the world, I encountered other angry people. Cause as we all know and understand, like attracts like and like energy attracts like energy. Most of the time I would fight young, angry men around the same age as myself, but it could also be older men and sometimes younger ones. I would just be walking on the street, and somebody would catch my eye, and I would feel like they disrespected me, so a bare knuckle fight would ensue. As I got older, it would start to get more organised, and more money got involved through gambling. And then I was involved with door work as a bouncer, and through that there was even more fighting. It just became something that permeated my life, and I constantly sought improvement. How could I deliver a right hook more devastatingly, how could I do an elbow or a knee more efficiently, how could I apply a strangle hold quicker?
Something very significant I’ve realised about reputation is that you can never get enough of what you don’t want or what you’re really not. Let me explain: Much like an alcoholic, one drink is one too many, so of course hundreds are never enough. It’s a disease. And violence was my disease, where one fight was one too many, but hundreds of fights were never enough for me. Let’s say you become the best fighter in your street, and then other people like to test you, so you become the best fighter in your town. Then more and more people want to test you, and it never ends. This is particularly true in the boxing, bare knuckle, martial arts, and cage fighting scenes.
You can never get enough of what you don’t want or what you’re really not.
So you become the best in your town, but that’s not enough cause you need to see if you can become the best in your country. But then that’s not enough cause you want to try your wings at becoming the best in Europe and eventually the world. And even then you’re not happy. Even when you’re the so-called Number One, you have other people calling you out because they are now hungrier and angrier. What I’m gently suggesting is that now I look at violence as an addiction and a problem. You can never get enough of what you’re really not. And what I mean is that James Lambert, was, is, and always will be a happy and loving soul. All I wanted to do was hug and cuddle people, but where I grew up that was seen as weakness. So I learned to hide the happy part of me and cover it with an angry face – but that wasn’t the true me. The problem was that when I acted long enough, it became my pseudonym.
You can make the decision to be happy during 24 seconds, but then afterwards you have to make sure that your actions and feelings are congruent. I made the initial change in a night where I was particularly close to a suicidal edge. I gave myself 24 hours to fundamentally change my outlook or I would probably die. And I managed. But the true thing is that it’s an ongoing change until this very day. I’m a human being, not a robot, and sometimes I get upset. But I’ve learned to see it with true eyes of love and peace. So what happened was thousands of thousands of books were read, thousands of hours of introspection, and meditation, and many seminars attended. I’ve been going through a constant search for self-improvement of my intellect. In truth, this current reincarnation of James Lambert as a peaceful person is just the true evolution of a man.
As time goes on, my fighting history has blurred into one ugly, staged, beautiful mess. I say ugly and beautiful cause although the fighting was very ugly, I managed to transform it into the person I am today, so there is also a beautiful element to it.
I no longer identify with the angry person that I was, but I also recognise that it’s just one side of the story. Before, I used to over-identify with the emotion of anger- I was Mr. Angry every day. Today, I can feel anger, but it’s like the clouds in the sky – I understand that the clouds can disappear. But what’s always going to be there is the sky, and the sky represents my joy. It’s just one emotion of many and I will never again over-identify with it because that unhappy person is gone now.
Today, I can feel anger, but it’s like the clouds in the sky – I understand that the clouds can disappear.
In five years time, I could see myself as a leader for the new generation of transformational and motivational speakers. I want to help millions of people around the world live healthier and happier lives, particularly a new generation, since everyone within the self-help industry is getting older. I could be a new leader for the young, angry, unhappy generation. I see expansion, more book sales and more book tours, more motivational tours around the world, speaking in every country on the globe. This is very important to me, since my motto is “To spread miles and miles of smiles around the world”.