The Blog

Trophy Board 2016

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Phew! Done it! I finally got around to clearing down my Trophy Board. Why finally? Because, for the first time in two decades, my A2 board wasn’t enough to hold all my ‘trophies’, and so back in October or November I added an A3 extension! To put it another way, whilst 2016 wasn’t the best year for a lot of folks, for me it was my busiest, ‘funnest’ (if that’s a word), year – EVER!

If you’re not really sure what a Trophy Board is, take a look at this earlier post (and extract from How To Do Everything And Be Happy) by clicking here.

Of course, a pin board isn’t the only way to capture memories. How about a Memory Box?memory-box

This one is available on Etsy here

 

Have another ‘trophy board’ idea? Share it in the comments. Or share your Trophy Board with other readers on the How To Do Everything And Be Happy facebook page – here.

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Fabulous Last Minute Christmas Gifts

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I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find gift shopping can be something of a challenge.

It’s not the ‘buying’ of the gift that I find challenging, or the wrapping, or any of that malarky, it’s coming up with an idea in the first place. Just what do you buy your cousin Edwina, the woman who seems to have absolutely everything?? It’s the stuff of nightmares. Many sleepless nights. Perhaps both.

If you’re anything like me the days roll past and before you know it, you’re roaming the aisles of your local shopping centre, desperately hoping inspiration will jump out, shake you by the shoulders, and end it all.

Well relax. This year inspiration has chosen to send you an email. Or a tweet. Or however the heck you stumbled across this blog post. Consider the following…

Books make excellent gifts

You see! And I know what you’re thinking – it’s so obvious now I’ve come to mention it! And here’s something else, books signed by the author are even more special. Ha! No more crappy I-didn’t-know-what-to-get-you-so-I-got-you-this-voucher from you! You’ve just become a master of ‘thoughtful’ gifts.

Now where on earth can you lay your hands on a signed book or two?

Right here is where!

With just a click of your mouse, or a tap of your finger, any one of the six books I’ve penned could be winging their way to you with a personalised greeting inside, or a simple ‘Best Wishes’ if you want to keep your options open. Simply select the book, or books, of your choice, by clicking the links BELOW.

The Truth About This Charming ManTTATCM kindle

My second novel… yes SECOND! Where have you been. If your Aunt (Dad, Sister, Wife, Husband, Niece… delete where applicable) enjoys a good rom-com comedy with a bit of a heist thrown in, this could be their bag baby.
RRP £8.99

Buy it signed here £7.99 + £2.80 postage

Buy unsigned from amazon here

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The Good Guy’s Guide To Getting The Girl

My debut novel… if your gift-recipient likes Chick Lit Rom Coms in the style of Nick Horny or Mike Gayle, this could well be right up their street.
RRP £8.99

Buy it signed here £7.99 + £2.80 postage

Buy unsigned from amazon here

cover with drop shadow

How to Do Everything and Be Happy

The book that started it all: ‘How To Do Everything and Be Happy’ is a book for ordinary people. With ordinary lives. It’s for people who have been ambling along and wondering why they’re not – well – just that little bit happier.
RRP £8.99

Buy it signed here £7.99 + £2.80 postage

Buy unsigned from amazon here

SDSW drop shadow colour small

How to Start Dating and Stop Waiting

If they need a real guide to getting the girl, or guy, this is it. Written for everyone who’s ever found dating a challenge, dating websites to be less than fulfilling, or ‘first dates’ terrifying… How To Start Dating And Stop Waiting will help them dodge the liars, & Lotharios, and have
them dating Mr or Ms Right in no time.
RRP £8.99

Buy it signed here £7.99 + £2.80 postage

Buy unsigned from amazon here

FITI kindle

From Invisible To Irresistible

The smaller, quirkier, companion guide to the previous title. Let me fix those underlying problems that make your otherwise attractive charming gift-recipient seemingly invisible to those they’d like to date.
RRP £8.99

Buy it signed here £7.99 + £2.80 postage

Buy unsigned from amazon here

 

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How to Eat Loads and Stay Slim

And finally.. How To Eat Loads and Stay Slim. It isn’t a diet book. Not in the traditional sense. It’s a book packed full of thought provoking, scientifically-provable, ideas and changes you can make to your life to increase your chances of being slim. Now that’s a gift that keeps on giving!
RRP £8.99

Buy it signed here £7.99 + £2.80 postage

Buy unsigned from amazon here

Looking after my heart – WTFHIBD episode 7, part 3

boxing day

This week I’ve been telling you how I’ve been applying my ‘happy’ principals to my life, in a feature that I like to call What The Flippin’eck Have I Been Doing…

Yesterday I talked about my NOW List, the day before that GOALs – but today let’s talk about Boxing Day…

(If you’ve got no idea what I mean by Boxing Day, other than assuming it’s got something to do with the day after Christmas – it hasn’t, at least not in this case – click here.)

Boxing Day

Up until March I was still having a Boxing Day every four weeks or so, not necessarily on the 26th, but usually around the end of the month. Then for reasons that I went into earlier in the week (see here) it didn’t seem right to take a day off from trying to find gainful employment. I couldn’t afford the time. At least that’s what I thought.

In retrospect, that was probably a mistake – because those two months of solid stress (whilst simultaneously trying to give the appearance of being a laid back relaxed kinda guy) took it’s toll. At times I felt very ill indeed, including one incident when inexplicable chest pains made me wonder whether I might be having a heart attack.

Turns out I wasn’t.

Still, it was enough to make me sit up and think, and this month I’ve had not one, but two Boxing Days – and boy howdy do I feel better for having them.

There’s something about waking up with an entire blank day ahead of you – a day when you can do whatever you like, given the opportunities available – that can revitalise your spirit in a way that a planned day of recreation just can’t. It’s the spontaneity I think, or the freedom. Maybe both. And the less spontaneous a person you happen to be (or the less free), the more powerful that effect seems to be.

So for instance, on Saturday I got up late, took a trip to the local petting zoo, then drove into London and had dinner in South West London with Felicity Kendall sitting at the next table, before coming home and opening a bottle of Champagne. I woke up on Sunday feeling lighter than I have done in a very long time. And Saturday was a day that I will remember for a very long time.

But enough about me

How about you? Are you still having Boxing Days? Care to tell me what you’ve been getting up to? Feel free to drop me a line, here or on facebook, or post a comment below.


TTATCM sidebarFor just TWO more days my SECOND novel, The Truth About This Charming Man, is only 99p for your kindle, smart-phone, tablet, or computer. If you like the way I write, chances are you’ll like this. Visit BuyTheBook.TODAY to find out more and buy the book… today.

 

NOW that’s what I call WTFHIBD episode 7… part 2

nicole kidman

This week I’ll be telling you how I’ve been applying my ‘happy’ principals to my life, in a feature that I like to call What The Flippin’eck Have I Been Doing…

Yesterday I talked about GOALs – click here to read that post – but today let’s find out what I’ve managed to tick off my NOW list over the past year.

My NOW List

So, since the last WTFHIBD post, it’ll probably come as no great surprise that most of my energy has been spent concentrating on goals, rather than my NOW list. Or to put it another way – I’ve been desperately trying to make a living, and ‘enjoying myself’ hasn’t been my primary focus. Which I admit is probably a mistake, and one that I’m endeavouring to rectify going forwards – because even if making a living has to be the primary focus, I’m firmly of the belief that it too should be FUN, and anything but desperate.

That said, somehow I have managed to tick a handful of items off the NOW list in the past twelve months. Let me walk you through the highlights…

Theatre

I love theatre. I get as excited about the theatre as most people do about going on holiday. For me, going to the theatre feels like a holiday! Unsurprising then that I made it the theme of my latest novel, and about two years ago I made the conscious effort to see at least one item of live theatre every single month.

Now that’s easier said than done – and somewhat expensive – but in the last twelve months I have managed to see at least one production a month, sometimes more, and all without breaking the bank.

(Very occasionally I blog about the shows I’ve seen – as well as movies and books – over on my other blog)

dawn french

Nell Gwynne

 

private lives

“A different wine with every meal”

This has been on my NOW list for the longest time. I’m not even sure how it got on there in the first place, or why the idea appealed to me so much, but at the back end of last year I got treated to a five course dinner, with matching wines, at the Jugged Hare near the Barbican. And it was everything I hoped it would be. Despite having a stinking cold, we rolled out of the restaurant satiated and very merry.

Well worth adding to your list if the Jugged Hare are still running the promotion.

Hidden London

It’s well known that beneath our capital city are numerous tunnels and tube stations which for one reason or another have long since been abandoned. Every now and then I’d come across pictures of these eery places on the internet, and eventually decided that I didn’t want to look at pictures… I wanted to see it for myself.

After a bit of googling I discovered that The London Transport Museum very, very occasionally do tours to the abandoned sections of London Underground network, and so three weeks ago I donned a fluorescent jacket, and disappeared under Euston station for an hour or so.

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Going forwards

 

In a few weeks I’m finally going to have a go on a segway, but in the meantime you can keep track of my NOW List adventures by LIKING the How To Do Everything And Be Happy facebook page.

But enough about me

How about you? What NOW List items have you checked off? Feel free to drop me a line, here or on facebook, or post a comment below.

And pop back tomorrow to find out whether I’m still having a Boxing Day once a month.


TTATCM sidebarFor three more days my SECOND novel, The Truth About This Charming Man, is only 99p for your kindle, smart-phone, tablet, or computer. If you like the way I write, chances are you’ll like this. Visit BuyTheBook.TODAY to find out more and buy the book… today.

 

Faith, Hope & Clarity (The Truth About Peter Jones) – WTFHIBD episode 7

piggy

Yes folks, it’s time, once again, for your favourite self-help ‘guru’ to fess up and tell you how I’ve been applying my ‘happy’ principals to my life, in a feature that I like to call What The Flippin’eck Have I Been Doing…

I’m going to break this into three parts, so come back tomorrow and Wednesday to find out about my NOW list, and BOXING days, but for now let’s start with GOALS.

My GOALS

Since I last penned the last WTFHIBD post, I’ve spent most of my goal-related energy concentrating on just one of the three goals I set myself (so much so, that I can’t actually remember what the other two goals were). That goal was this:

My total writing income exceeds my outgoings
Deadline: June 2015

So how’s that going, I hear you ask.

Let’s put it this way… not as good as I’d like.

Now that’s not entirely surprising. My potential for disappointment really knows no bounds. I’m the kinda guy who having found a £10 note on the floor, would be wishing it could’ve been a £20 instead… I’m definitely a glass half empty kinda guy. The first time I got a major book deal, my agent – having told me it was a generous offer for a first time author – was (rightly) appalled when I threw all my toys out the pram and declared the offer an insult! So, even if my latest novel was sitting somewhere near the top of the charts (any charts!) chances are I’d still not be satisfied. But it’s not at the top of the charts. Nowhere like it. And my income consistently falls short of my monthly outgoings – worse still ‘writing’ makes up only a fraction of that insubstantial income.

I’ve been in this situation for a while. Six years in fact. That’s the last time I raised an invoice in my previous guise as banking consultant. I walked out of a corporate office with a years money in my savings account, and hoped that would be the very last time I donned a suit and tie. But now that pot of money has all but gone. And a few weeks back, faced with this grim reality, I stopped writing my third novel… and started looking for full time work.

Here’s what I quickly discovered about job-hunting; it’s horrible. 

In many ways Job Hunting in the 21st Century is very similar to Online Dating. My life became one long dull routine of signing up to websites, completing profiles, uploading my CV, searching for jobs, and sending out messages. And just like my dating experience, I soon discovered that today’s online job market has it’s equivalent of Cam Girls (agencies), Scammers (agencies) and Spammers (agencies). There’s even a job hunting app where you swipe right for interested, and left for not-interested! And just like my dating experience (and the dating experience of most men) it seems to make absolutely no difference whether you actually have what the job poster is looking for because (just like the dating experience of most women) their mail server has probably collapsed under the deluge of applications thereby making it extremely doubtful that an actual human being will ever see your message… let alone reply!

I’d like to say that just like my dating experience I figured out what actually works, and became a master at online job hunting – there’s probably another self-help book in there somewhere. But the reality is I became very depressed, and pretty difficult to be around. Every day was a constant reminder that in the only way that really counts (ie. being able to pay the bills), I’d failed my goal. Which means I’d failed as an author. I was being forced to give up on that career. Worse still, I was already failing at being able to be anything else.

Well-meaning friends tried to cheer me up. They pointed out that it was pretty impressive that I’d “lasted this long”. They said phrases that included the words “a good innings“. You can probably imagine how much better that made me feel.

And then – just when I was at my most desperate, when I had begun to pick and choose between which bills I absolutely had to pay, and which I would have to let slide into arrears – a miracle happened. Or, to be more accurate, a cluster of mini-miracles; minicles you might call then, or miraclets – whatever they’re called, they saved the day.

Firstly, after making a silly sixty second video-promo for my latest novel – The Truth About This Charming Man – Amazon decided to put the book in their June Summer Promo. Financially it probably won’t make a huge difference, but it was nice to know that someone, other than me, thought my book was worth plugging (and if it’s June 2016 as you read this then it’s still only 99p if you fancy taking a punt. You can watch the sixty second video below (or here)).


Secondly, thanks in no small part to other friends and fellow writers, odd bits of freelance work started to land in my inbox. Not huge amounts, but enough to give me a paid-break from the hell of job hunting. My sanity started to return.

And finally, the phone started to ring: Someone had heard me speak at so-and-so event, would I be able to come to their group? XYZ Society had been let down by a fellow speaker – would I be able to fill the slot? {Insert name of WI group here} was celebrating their birthday in July / August / Sept… and they’d like me to come and entertain them…

Word of the 45 minute talk I give telling the story of how I came to write four self-help books, and the follow talk up explaining how I met Kylie Minogue (sort of), had reached some sort of tipping point. At the start of this month I found myself doing not one talk a week, but two, or three, sometimes two in one day.

facebook cover photo 2016

I always knew the talks were popular – after speaking I’d generally sell more physical books for £7 than I’d ever sell in a week on amazon for £1.99, but still the penny didn’t drop. Not until an out-spoken, feisty white-haired lady, walked right up to me a week or so ago and told me straight; “why are you bothering with the writing,” she said, “you should be putting all your energies into doing this.”

I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it earlier.

Going forwards

So does this mean I’m giving up on writing? Not even slightly. My talks are about my writing journey – so starting next week I’m picking up that third novel again and I’m going to have it finished by the end of the year. But, the lion’s share of my energy is going to be spent moving the thing that I’ve always thought of as a ‘side-stall’ (ie. public speaking) front and centre.

You’ll already find a page on facebook dedicated to my speaking-adventures – if it looks like the sort of thing that might amuse you, or others, click the FOLLOW or SHARE buttons… maybe BOTH!

And if you belong to a group or society and you’d like me to come along and amuse you for an hour with tales of my writing adventures then drop me a line – either here or on facebook – but for the first time in a long while I’m going to take my own advice; I’m going to do the thing that actually works, in preference to the thing I’d like to work. Wish me luck.

But enough about me

How about you? What GOALS have you been working on? How’s that going? Feel free to drop me a line, here or on facebook, or post a comment below.

And pop back tomorrow to find out whether I’ve ticked off any items on my NOW List, and whether I still have a Boxing Day once a month.


TTATCM sidebarFor three more days my SECOND novel, The Truth About This Charming Man, is only 99p for your kindle, smart-phone, tablet, or computer. If you like the way I write, chances are you’ll like this. Visit BuyTheBook.TODAY to find out more and buy the book… today.

 

How to talk to Michelle Ward about Boxing Day and Everything

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Almost exactly a year ago I popped into Phoenix 98 FM, to chat to the lovely Michelle Ward.

If you’re a regular visitor to the blog you already know that I’m a regular guest on the show, and together we present a slot called ‘Happy Club‘, whereby I dispense some tips and hints on happiness, and related subjects (for instance; here’s a show that we did on how to survive Christmas).

This particular time we were supposed to be talking about Boxing Day, but instead we ended up talking about, well, me – specifically, how I became an author and my tendency to get totally wrapped up in building a career, unfortunately at the expense on my own happiness.

We do eventually get around to discussing Boxing Day.

Eventually.

Anyway, if you’ve got a few moments, have a listen. Click the PLAY button in the image below, or click here to open YouTube. The last couple of minutes of the interview went a bit screwy, so I’ve just faded it out on this version – you haven’t missed much, honest.

If you’re not able to listen to audio at the moment, you can read a blog post about Boxing Day here.

Do you already have Boxing Days? Why not tell me (and other visitors to this blog) about them in the comments below, or over on facebook.


The Good Guy’s Guide To Getting The Girl (mentioned in the show) has been out a year now – get your copy for mere pennies from your local amazon store.

For other happiness tips, like Boxing Day, check out How To Do Everything And Be Happy, available everywhere in all formats… but also on amazon (.co.uk | .com)

And remember, Christmas is just around the corner and books do make incredibly good gifts!

3 Simple Rules for a Successful Boxing Day

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BOXING DAY IS DRIVEN BY THE MOMENT,
THE HEART, AND THE OPPORTUNITY.

Re-read that last sentence because the success of your Boxing Days, should you choose to have them, relies heavily on how well you understand the concept and implement the principles. To boost your chances of success, however, there are some special Boxing Day rules, and they are…

  1. No Pre-Planning
  2. Book Boxing Day in Advance
  3. You can move Boxing Day, but you can’t cancel it.

I’ll be discussing each of these rules in subsequent blog posts over the next couple of days (although if you can’t wait til then, you could always buy the book! Now’s there’s an idea!). Subscribe to this blog for free (details over on the right) if you’d like to see those posts in your email inbox.

Rule Number 1: No Pre-Planning
Everything you do on Boxing Day should be decided on the day, and determined by what you feel like doing, what’s possible, and what opportunities present themselves. Do not plan your Boxing Day in advance.

Now you might say to me, ‘But I really need to finish decorating the spare room – taking a day to do that would be very useful.’ Well, fine. If you wake up on Boxing Day and you really feel like decorating the spare room – if that’s the one thing that would really make your day – then go for it. Knock yourself out. Personally I hate decorating with a passion but there have been Boxing Days when I’ve decided to ‘work’, when that’s the thing that I want to do more than any other choices that are available to me. The rule here is to not, under any circumstances, plan in advance to spend your Boxing Day up a ladder with a paint brush. If you know that spare room needs to be decorated then my advice to you is to set aside another day to do that, and keep Boxing Day separate. And if decorating the spare room is really that important, write it down on a piece of paper and come back to it when we discuss Goals later in this book.

But then you might say to me that your wife / husband / significant other won’t stomach the idea of you taking a day off ‘to do nothing’. To which I would say, you’re not going to do ‘nothing’. You’re going to do lots. You’re just not going to plan it in advance, and you’re not going to let anyone else determine what you choose to do.

Now having been married I appreciate that this might be challenging. So, one way to get buy-in from your significant other is to have a Boxing Day together or, better still, individual Boxing Days, albeit on the same day. This would avoid a day spent negotiating what the two of you are going to do – or, worse still, one partner dictating or submitting to the other – but I’ll leave that for you to decide.

You might also say to me, ‘But I’d like to take the kids to this or that attraction and we need to book tickets in advance.’ Great. Jot that idea on a piece of paper and we’ll come back to it in a few pages time when we discuss ‘Now Lists’, but pre-planning a trip to an attraction isn’t a valid Boxing Day activity. Waking up on Boxing Day and saying, ‘Hey, let’s all go to the zoo’ – that’s fine. Deciding to do it the day before and booking your tickets online – that’s not allowed.

And stop stamping your feet on the floor and pulling that face. How old are you? Five? These are the rules and they’re there for a reason.

Finally, you might whine, ‘But I can’t afford all these days off! Mega Corp Ltd only gives me x number of vacation days per year. Blah blah blah.’ Oh, for goodness sake! Then allocate one Saturday or Sunday per month to be your Boxing Day! There’s no reason to start using up your holiday allocation.

Having said all that, whilst you’re not allowed to plan what happens on your Boxing Day, it’s still necessary to do some preparation so that Boxing Day actually takes place! Let’s not get Planning Boxing Day (a big ‘no-no’) confused with Planning to have a Boxing Day (a big ‘yes-yes’).

For example, if you’re a busy mum with numerous people relying on you to wake them, feed them, clean them, dress them, listen to them, advise them, help them, sympathise with them, transport them … and all the other countless things that come under the Mum job description, standing at the top of the stairs and declaring to the rest of the household that ‘today is my Boxing Day’, in the vain hope that they’ll be able to ‘muddle through without you’, isn’t going to work. You’ll probably need to consider at least some of the following:

  • What’s the best day to have my Boxing Day?
  • Should I arrange child care?
  • Shall I prepare some microwaveable meals in advance for the family?
  • Do I need to warn anyone that I’m ‘out for the day’?

You might even need to strike a deal with yourself that whatever you decide to do on Boxing Day – and remember, you can’t decide that until the day – will involve ‘leaving the house’, so as to avoid that temptation to answer the call to Motherly Duty.

Rule Number 2: Book Boxing Day in advance
This might seem to run contrary to rule number 1, but the only element of Boxing Day that should be pre-planned is deciding when your Boxing Day is going to take place.

If, like me, you use an electronic diary then I recommend you create a monthly Boxing Day appointment. Make it the 26th of each month if you like, especially if you intend to treat the official Boxing Day (the 26th of December) as a Boxing Day. In reality, it doesn’t matter when your Boxing Day takes place, so long as it’s regular and booked in advance.
You might have thought that given the spontaneous nature of Boxing Day activities it would make sense for Boxing Day itself to happen spontaneously – wait until you wake up one morning and if you’re in a Boxing Day mood, declare that day Boxing Day.

There are two problems with this approach.

Firstly, if you’re a workaholic, a ‘busy’ person, or you work at least five days a week and have commitments most weekends (i.e. someone like me), spontaneity might be something that you struggle with. Therefore a spontaneous Boxing Day would inevitably involve cancelling whatever you had planned. Faced with a lot of last-minute diary shuffling, a task that no one enjoys, it might be easier to be spontaneous another day. Pretty soon Spontaneous Boxing Day would become something that you intend to do, someday, but keep putting off. ‘I’ll have a Boxing Day tomorrow,’ you’ll say. ‘There’s just too much to be done today.’

Secondly, if you’re the total opposite of the person above (How do you live? Seriously – how?) then there’s an equally good chance that you won’t have any problems cancelling work, or anything else you had planned. Assuming, of course, that there was anything planned in the first place. Pretty soon you’ll be having Boxing Day on a fortnightly, weekly, twice weekly, almost daily basis which will probably have two knock-on effects:

1. The rest of your life won’t work, as the stuff that really needs to get done sits in the corner and gathers dust. Worse still, when you eventually get cut off by the electricity board you’ll blame me and my stupid Boxing Day idea, and that simply won’t do.

2. Boxing Day will lose its potency. Yes, whilst you’re sitting there in the dark, with the bailiffs knocking at the door, you’ll cast your mind back to the day before, and the day before that, and the day before that, and realise that Boxing Day just ain’t what it used to be – a week or so ago.

The only way to safeguard against these two scenarios is to book Boxing Day in advance, and make an appointment with yourself.

But, you might be saying, what if I desperately need a Boxing Day? Or what if I’m due to have a Boxing Day but I’m not in the mood, or it’s just not convenient? Well, that’s why you need Rule Number 3.

Rule Number 3: You can move Boxing Day, but you can’t cancel it
It’s a fact of life that no matter how much you try and schedule your time, ‘stuff happens’. So if today was supposed to be a Boxing Day but you’ve just had an echoey conversation with your best friend who rang you from an underground sewer after a freak manhole cover incident, open your diary (planner/calendar/wall chart …), reschedule Boxing Day to another date, then throw a length of rope over your shoulder, jump in your car and go rescue your friend.

Equally, should you wake up desperately in need of a Boxing Day, open your diary (planner/calendar/wall chart …) and see if you can swap whatever you had planned for today with your next scheduled Boxing Day.

Believe me, this strategy works well. I’ve been known to postpone Boxing Days several weeks when Life is throwing everything it can in my direction, and similarly I’ve been known to have two Boxing Days within a few days of each other if I’ve deemed it necessary. This rule allows me to respond to the pushes and pulls of daily life whilst still getting an average of 12 Boxing Days a year.


Find out more about Boxing Day and other ‘Happiness’ ideas in How To Do Everything And Be Happy – published by Harper Collins and available from all good book stores including amazon (.co.uk | .com)