Happy Happiness Happens Month!

3 08 2010

“Happiness is a Swedish sunset – it is there for all, but most look the other way and loose it.”
(Mark Twain)

August is the 11th annual “Happiness Happens Month.”  The Society of Happy People, who began the celebration, say that there are 3 purposes of the month:

· To recognise and express happiness
· To listen to others talk about their happiness
· And “Don’t rain on other people’s parades.”

Given that this is the first week in August I thought that it was appropriate that today’s message should be about happiness.

As I sat down to write this I glanced at my bookshelves to see several books devoted just to the topic experiencing more happiness in your life. It’s a topic where much can be written about so I will just cover a part that I find often comes up when I am talking with clients and potential clients.

I work with individuals who want more success so very early on we have a conversation about what that means for them and how they’ll know they’ve got it. While I get a variety of answers ranging from financial amounts, where they are living (and who with), it often boils down to the fact that they think that they will be happy when they have that success.

At some stage they have started to follow a belief that when they are successful then they will be truly happy. While I have no objection what-so-ever for someone to have the bank balance, business, relationship and living conditions that they’d love and being happy I think it’s a great shame to postpone feeling happy until that time!

This week I invite you to consider the possibility that

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.”
(Albert Schweitzer)

If that was true, what would you do different?

Have a week full of recognising happiness




Honesty and Positive Thinking

13 07 2010

“That voice inside your head is not the voice of God. It just sounds like it thinks it is.”

 (Cheri Huber)

Last week I spoke briefly about the connection between honesty and “thinking positively.” As promised, this week I will expand further on that and how you can combine both without having instances where it feels that one is fighting against the other – because that can be particularly tiring.

When I first left education I worked in hospitality management and we would have music playing in the background. Occasionally I would notice the specific tunes that were playing. If it was a song I liked I may notice it was playing and hum along to it and sometimes it may be a tune I didn’t like I noticed, normally inwardly groan and go get on with something else. However, most of the time I didn’t pay any attention, I knew it was on and noticed if it stopped for some reason but it was just part of the background noise.

When it was pointed out to me that it was possible to have the same relationship with my thoughts I was initially sceptical. Mainly because most of the thoughts I was aware of were the ones I was engaging with and “humming along” or “inwardly groaning at”. I hadn’t registered there were many, many others that were passing by without me paying much attention to them – things like “oh that cloud looks like Aladins lamp”, “looks like rain”, “what times lunch?” etc. Most I chose not to dwell upon, pay much attention to or even engage with at all. Yet there are other thoughts I may choose to dwell on further.

As Michael Neill says in his book Supercoach:

“A thought without your personal investment is no more powerful than a teabag without boiling water. It’s only after you add the water that the tea begins to infuse and add flavour, and it’s only after you add your agreement and energy to a thought that it begins to impact your life.”

At the time I was amazed at the concept that I could choose which thoughts I could interact more with. Yet when I thought about it there were already times when I picked not to dwell on something – if I was fully engaged on the phone with someone and a random thought popped into my head I knew I could pay no attention to it and carry on with the conversation. I also knew that I could have a thought about noticing something and not engage any more with it other than a “that’s interesting”.

This new idea of selecting which thoughts to interact more fully means I can pick to let any “negative ones” pass me by with no more than a “oh yes” or “that’s interesting” response. I can also choose to interact more fully with those “positive thoughts.”

There are times that I can get caught up in a thought unintentionally. Eventually I will recognise that the reason I may not be feeling particularly brilliant is because I am engaging with a particularly negative thought. At that stage I can remove my personal involvement from it.

The reason that this is different to just thinking positively is that the key part is about which thoughts to engage with and which ones you just let float by and carry on their way.

This week I invite you to notice the thoughts that you are engaging with and explore choosing which ones to engage more with.

  1. Pick a subject to explore the impact this can make.
  2. Notice the thoughts that come into your head about that subject. You’ll probably find that there are ones that you are used to engaging with and some that you haven’t noticed before.
  3. Give each one a shorthand title and make a note of it on a piece of paper
  4. As you go throughout your day notice when each thought pops into your head and keep a tally of it on your paper. 

When I did this around writing this weekly piece I noticed thoughts that were variations of:

  • You’ve nothing to say of any interest,
  • This is useless,
  • Who are you to write this?
  • That would help a lot of people,
  • Good point.

Because I know that I can choose to interact with these or not I choose not to interact and just let them keep going as background while I got on with actually writing.

If at any stage you find yourself noticing that you have got caught up in a thought that isn’t useful then congratulate yourself for noticing and let it go – If you let it, it’s just a thought.

Have a week full of engaging choice




What haven’t you seen?

12 05 2010

“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.”
(Galileo Galilee)

As part of re-arranging my home recently I was sorting and moving belongings from one room to another. As some of the belongings had been boxed up years I had completely forgotten the existence of some things.

One of the things I unearthed was a lovely small cloth bag, with my name stitched on the front, full of post it notes. It was from an exercise loosely based on Johari’s window I’d done on a development day that I’d attended several years ago with a team of colleagues.

If you’re not familiar, Johari’s window is a model devised by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham, published in 1955. Apparently named as a combination of the authors’ first names it’s a model about personal awareness.

To paraphrase their original work, an individual is asked to select words from a list that they feel apply to themselves. The same list is then given to others who know also that individual and they are also asked to select words that they feel best describe that individual.

Once each has 5 or 6 words they feel is a good description the lists are compared. Each word will fall into one of 4 categories:

1. Words selected by both the individual and others as a good description

2. Words selected by others only

3. Words not selected by others or the individual (NB: this doesn’t mean it’s not something that applies to that individual, just that other words were felt to be a stronger description.)

4. Words selected by the individual only.

An analogy that is often used is to imagine that an individual’s behaviours, motives, qualities are being stored in one of 4 rooms inside a building. The rooms are laid out in a square but there are no conventional windows. Instead one of the horizontal walls and one vertical wall is made entirely of glass. This means that 1 room can be seen from anyone looking through the vertical or the horizontal glass walls, 1 room can only be seen by looking through the horizontal wall, 1 room can not be seen by looking in through either glass wall and 1 room can only be seen by looking through the vertical glass wall.

If you imagine that the individual is looking in through the vertical glass wall, and others use the horizontal glass wall then you end up with a diagram that looks like this:

Johari's Window visual
It is possible for things to change “rooms”, for example, something only recognised by others can become to be recognised by the individual as well.

While the exercise we’d done several years ago was a variation on the theme, I still had a bag of feedback/ compliments from colleagues. As I flicked through there were comments in there that I had no recollection of receiving at the time but had come to see for myself in the time that’s passed since.

You may be asking, “how can I use this awareness to make a positive difference when I’m stuck?” Often when someone is stuck for an idea or a new way of behaving etc in a situation they don’t automatically think of some possible solutions because they don’t think that they have a particular quality or behaviour in them.

If you are open to the possibility that sometimes others are in a situation where it’s just easier to see what you haven’t yet, other possibilities can occur.

This week I invite you to play with this for yourself and see what new possibilities occur to you.

1. Notice any compliments and acknowledgements you get this week – even if you think that the other person/people have lost their marbles if they think that’s true!

2. If you’re willing to play further, ask someone you trust to share with you some of what they see as your qualities and/or skills.

3. Notice any answers from 1 or 2 that you don’t believe are true.

4. What if you were wrong? What if this other opinion is right?

Consider a situation where you’re stuck, or would like a new insight. What would you do differently if this other opinion is right?


You may be aware of an adoring look that a dog can give its owner or how a small child can idealise a parent. You may want to repeat step 4 using this perspective.

5. You may find that, if you choose to, some of your answers are actually something that you could easily do now.

Have a week full of moving rooms and possibilities





11 08 2009

“Life is a process of working out what’s not working for you and disentangling yourself from it and trying then not to walk into the same thing again. Watching your patterns and correcting them if you can.”

(Siobhan Fayey – Musician)

I was rummaging through some old boxes the other day looking for something and discovered a box I had forgotten all about. It was a box that held bits and pieces that I had created as a child including 1 school project that even had the pattern I used.

I flicked through the detail of the pattern, with the order steps were to be taken and the overall design. I recall that even though the class were all given the same brief we had all produced different patterns to get to the end result.

It reminded me a lot of what I do now when working with someone. I look at what they are doing and in which order and we then potentially alter those patterns so that they create something new and improved.

Sometimes it may be using a model of something that has worked elsewhere – either when someone else has used that approach or it’s something that has worked in other parts of this person’s life.

Other times it is about just tweaking what they are already doing to make an adjustment to the final outcome.

This week I invite you to notice the patterns that crop up in your life.

Sometimes all it takes is for you to become consciously aware of this so that you can choose to do more (or less) of an activity or thought so that you can influence your own life.

If you don’t already set some time aside each day, this week make a written record of what you have done that day and the impact that it had on you. It can be things you’ve physically done (i.e. I felt much more energised after a 15 minute walk) or it may be a thought (i.e. I imagined what could go wrong with the work presentation next week and felt really unconfident about it all).

Spot any patterns and then you can make a choice if you want to do more or less of that pattern. Alternatively you could always start altering that pattern. For example, if you really must imagine everything that can go wrong with a work presentation use that to have contingency plans for each situation and also imagine everything going right as well

Have a week full of fun patterns



Is opportunity knocking?

28 07 2009

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
(Thomas Edison, who patented 1093 ideas – including his invention of the light bulb)

Have you ever had the occasion when your attention is drawn to something and all of a sudden it’s everywhere?

Perhaps you’re looking to buy a particular type of car and all of a sudden there seems to be an influx of that model on the roads. Maybe either yourself or close friend/ family member becomes pregnant and you are suddenly aware of an increase in the number of pregnant ladies that you see.

It’s highly unlikely that in reality there has been an influx, it’s just that you happen to be more aware so notice them even more. (Unless you’ve suddenly moved next door to that type of car show room or a maternity unit!)

Play with the following: take 30 seconds to look and notice everything that is behind you that is the colour brown. When you’ve had 30 seconds turn back to facing forwards and read the next paragraph.

Done that? So without looking, how many things can you name that are behind you that are the colour blue?

If you haven’t already turn round and have a look to see what you missed when you were purposefully looking for brown things.

The blue things were still there it’s just that most people don’t notice them in as much detail.

So what are you noticing about your life at the moment? Are you noticing lots of opportunities, or do you notice things to complain about or get exasperated by?

Just because you are noticing certain things in your life, it does not mean that there are not others there that you could choose to notice either instead or as well.

For example, what do you do if your train is delayed or a flight cancelled? Complain to anyone and everyone who will listen, sigh and do nothing or something else?

J K Rowling, who at the time was a single Mum on benefits, is suppose to have used a 4 hour train delay to put pen to paper for the first time about a boy attending a school for wizards. Several years further on and the 6th Harry Potter film is just opening around the world with much fan interest.

Upon hearing that his flight had been cancelled in 1984, Richard Branson chartered a jet and invited the other stranded passengers to fly for free. Several of those fellow passengers became investors in what was to become the airline Virgin Atlantic.

In those examples J K Rowling and Richard Branson may have been in two very different situations, with different resources available to them, but they both choose to use the situation as an opportunity to do something different.

I happened to catch a bit of a movie on one of the TV movie channels this week that was based upon the real life story of an award winning and nationally recognised teacher Brad Cohern. Diagnosed with Tourette syndrome at the age of 6, the tics and noises were often misunderstood as he was growing up and yet he turned this into an asset. He uses what he has learnt with his condition and his experiences to make a difference with what he does now.  Brad says that Tourette syndrome made him the teacher he never had.

This week I invite you to notice what you are focusing upon.

Remember you don’t have to do anything different, just notice and then make a choice of what you then want to do.

How would you live your life if you knew that there was a possibility that something you did today would lead to all sorts of opportunities in the future? Would you approach something apparently mundane with more enthusiasm or renewed interest?

Have a play and find out the difference it makes for you.

Have a week full of opportunities



PS I’ve spent the month of July particularly looking for fun new ways to add value and service to what I offer. If you have something you’d like me to get involved with by all means get in touch and we can have a chat about how it can work.


What are you making a drama out of?

17 06 2009

Those who “follow” me on twitter may have watched the following clip I posted at the start of the week.

It’s a clip that appealed to me partly because I find the idea of a song and dance routine breaking out in such a normal every day setting somewhat amusing.

However, as I sat and watched a drama unfold all because of the need for a napkin it also occurred to me that the story that we tell ourselves about an event can have a big impact.

You may have noticed for yourself that the same facts can happen to 2 different people and you can get two different response. You may even have noticed that exactly the same thing can happen to the same person and they respond differently on any different days.

There can be many different causes and reasons for that reaction. The story that we tell ourselves about that can play a big part in our response, either with what action we choose to take and/or how we feel.

This week I actually invite you to play and make a drama out of something in your life. See the difference each of these stories makes for you, if you then decide to do something different then by all means do so.

1. Pick something or an area of your life that you’d like a new perspective on/ something you were stuck on and/or you’d just like it to be different.

2. Write a drama (it can be as short or as long as you like but a paragraph or two is plenty) where you play the victim role in this situation.

3. Using the same situation write a drama, (again a paragraph or two can be enough) where you play the hero role.

4. Next, using the same situation write a drama where you play villain.

5. Notice which of those stories is closest to the story you normally tell yourself.

6. Who would you be without that story?

Have a week filled with the drama of your choosing



PS Follow me on Twitter by visiting here, and then click on follow


Taking time to use what works

10 02 2009

If you prefer to listen to this weeks Your Changing Direction message, “Taking time to use what works”, then you can now by clicking here.

making time to use what works

I was taking a break from something I was writing the other day, when I caught a snippet of some sort of historical reality show. It involved the participants living in Victorian conditions and those taking part in the show were learning lots of new ways of doing things. One of the participants commented that the one thing that struck them most is how revolutionary they found the various resources we have in the modern day as they provide us with so much more time.

As I watched, I was reminded of the quote “Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.” (Churchill) So often people learn about history and not from it. Prior to my break from the writing I had been struggling to word a particular section. Recalling days gone by and the various time saving resources I already knew I realised that I wasn’t actually using what, for me, makes creating writing easier.

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