How To Do Everything And Be Happy

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The Trophy Board 2011

business cardsSo that was 2011, and I have to say my Trophy Board has never looked so impressive!! I’m quite amazed that the thing stayed on the wall under the sheer weight of the stuff pinned to it.

(If you have no idea what I’m talking about you can get up to speed here – opens in a new window).

Click any of pictures at the bottom of this post and use the arrows to see how the board grew during the year (or click here to do that on facebook if you’re reading this in an email).
If I were a more patient man it would have been fun to create some sort of stop-motion animation but… hey, you have to draw the line somewhere!

It being December 31st it’s time to take all the items off, carefully slide them into a padded envelope, then throw that in the loft to join the other twenty or so envelopes.

Here’s what I’ve carefully squirrelled away for my relatives to go through in many years to come.

54 x business cards
33 x tickets
14 x postcards
12 x thank you cards / notes
6 x clothes tags
5 x intineraries / programmes
4 x badges
4 x bank cards
3 x photos
3 x hotel passes
2 x city maps (Rome & Paris)
2 x “certificates of achievement”
2 x party invites
2 x leaflets
2 x pieces of paper cut into heart shapes
2 x packets of chili seeds
2 x key rings
2 x odd things my niece has given me
2 x membership cards
1 x bookmark
1 x lottery ticket
1 x gift tag
1 x playing card
1 x gift bag
1 x valentine card!!

It would be great to see how your Trophy Board develops during 2012.  Feel free to share pics of your Trophy Board on the facebook page.

Here’s the story of my 2011 Trophy Board.

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New Year – New Goals!

faq

So, in three days it’ll be 2012. And for the fifth year running I’ll be setting myself personal goals.

A lot of my friends dislike the idea of setting personal goals, like it somehow takes the ‘private’ part of their life – the part that is supposed to be about relaxing and having fun – and turns it into ‘work’. And work, as we all know, is the mortal enemy of fun and relaxation.

Perhaps you feel the same way? I know I did. Having read and listened to more than my fair share of self help books I thought I knew all that I needed to know about Goal Setting – enough to know that it wouldn’t work for me. And as I sat in traffic on the M25, morning after morning, listening to those Tony Robbins CDs, I’d start to wonder whether I’d enjoy them more if I wound down the window and tossed them, Frisbee-like, over the edge of the bridge and into the River Thames far below me.

That was, until I went out for a curry with my old friend Denny.

“I’ve set myself 5 goals for next year,” she told me one winter’s night in January.

“Goals?” I said

“Yeah,” said Denny as she mopped up some sauce with a strip of naan bread. I was stunned.

“Why?”

“Because I’m fed up with my life being like it is.”

“But, setting yourself goals – it’s a little extreme though, isn’t it?” She shrugged.

“Not really,” she said.

“But what if you don’t achieve them?” I asked.

“Then life will stay pretty much as it is, I guess. From that perspective I can’t really lose.” I thought about this for a second or two.

“Maybe I should set some goals,” I said.

“Maybe you should,” said Denny. “What would they be?”

And that was five years ago.

I like to set my goals at the start of each year, and review them at the end. This might make them sound a little like ‘resolutions’ but resolutions are something entirely different. “I will give up smoking” – that’s a resolution. “I have given up smoking (December, 2012)” – now that’s a goal.

Take for instance one of my goals for 2010:

My Happiness Book is published
(Dec 31st 2010)

At the time I set that the Goal I’d hardly started writing How To Do Everything and Be Happy, let alone given much thought to how I would publish it. I didn’t even have the title.

Did I achieve the goal?

No.

That’s the not so funny thing about setting goals – some of the time, perhaps even most of the time, you fail!

But then I’m not particularly motivated by ‘easy goals’ – goals that I know I have a good chance of achieving. They don’t even feel like goals – more like boring items on my to-do list. I had a friend who, on January 1st, set herself the goal of joining a gym. By the end of the first week she’d achieved it. Was that really a goal? Shouldn’t joining the gym have been part of a much larger goal to improve her health and fitness? In my mind a goal should stretch you. A goal should be ever-so-slightly out of reach. With most of my goals I know that my chances of success are extremely slim, though the chance is there.

So my revised Goal for 2011 looked like this:

“How To Do Everything and Be Happy”
is available in three formats,
and selling really well (to be defined),
whilst I bask in the success (to be defined)
of the seminar(s)
Dec 31st 2011

And will I achieve that Goal??

No.

But I’ll come darn close. The book was released as an ebook back in March, and as a paperback a few weeks later. Both are selling better than I could have ever hoped. An audio version is planned for this coming year, and whilst I’m not exactly basking in the success of my one workshop, two more are being planned for the coming weeks.

Most important of all though, by identifying why I achieved or failed my goal I’m equipped to write smarter, more specific, or maybe utterly different goals.

Working with goals – that is, having them in your life – is something that gets easier the longer you do it. You develop a habit, or a mindset – after a while you start to look at everything you’re doing in relation to how it sits with your goals. In a very real way, your goals force you to decide what’s important to you and move you in that direction. They give you purpose and vision.

And it’s true what they say:

“Without vision the people perish.”

So, people of the interweb – what are your Goals for 2012. Drop me a line or use the comments box below – I’d love to hear from you.

Wishing you a very happy New Year

Peter Jones


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I’m looking forward to #BoxingDay. Here’s why.

Why I’m looking forward to Boxing Day, and why for me, and many other people, it’s no longer the day after Christmas.boxing day

Of all the ideas in the book the one people like the most, is Boxing Day.

But isn’t Boxing Day the day after Christmas Day? A slightly down-beat, re-run of the previous days festivities? More Turkey. More Christmas Pud. Perhaps a change of venue and/or relatives?

That’s certainly how it used to be in my family, but then my wife Kate came along and Boxing Day became ‘our’ day. We’d get up around midday, open a bottle of champagne, play with our presents from the day before, roast chestnuts in the oven, play silly board games, watch Christmas movies, and eat posh nibbles. It was, quite simply, a fantastic day. Our first Boxing Day together (before my wife was even my wife) I even ended up proposing. That gives you some idea how good Boxing Day made me feel about life, and there hasn’t been a Boxing Day since that hasn’t given me that same inner glow, that same joy for life. And I can speak with some authority here because in the last five years I’ve celebrated Boxing Day approximately sixty times.

That first Christmas after Kate passed away my mother, concerned for my welfare during the festive season, asked if I’d like to spend Boxing Day with them. It was a generous offer but, call me sentimental, I decided to spend it just as we always had.

I got up late, I opened a bottle of champagne, I sat in bed and browsed my collection of gifts from the previous day. Then I took the Brie from the fridge, a box of posh crackers (the edible kind) and worked my way through the whole lot whilst I sat in front of the telly and watched “The Santa Clause”. A little later I emailed friends I’d been meaning to catch up with, and followed that with a walk down to Old Leigh. I looked out at the boats resting in the mud, and then I went home, wrote down some thoughts, and did some planning.

By the time I went to bed I felt like I’d had a week’s holiday, and all I’d done was get out of bed and see how the day unfolded. It was such a good day that I caught myself wishing that Boxing Day happened a little more frequently than once a year, at which point I had the following crazy thought:

Why can’t it?

What was to stop me replicating the same structure – or lack of structure – on any other day of the year?

Answer: nothing.

From that day on I decided to have a “Boxing Day” once a month. Once a month I’d get up with absolutely no plans whatsoever and see how the day unfolded. And that was almost five years ago.

Principals of Boxing Day

boxingdayLet’s cover some basics here: Boxing Day isn’t a ‘day off’, it’s important to get that concept out of your head immediately. Boxing Day is a day when you get to live totally in the moment. And why is this important? Because living in the moment takes a lot less energy!

As adults we expend a huge amount of energy just juggling the day-to-day. Young children, on the other hand, don’t. They live utterly in the moment and the job of structuring their day is handled by (hopefully) a responsible adult. Within the confines of whatever structure is imposed on them their day is totally driven by what they want to do, at that moment, and what opportunities exist. They don’t have to expend any energy on thinking past the next few minutes, and as a result they seem to have bucketfuls of the stuff. You could probably power an entire city on half a dozen four year olds and a ball pool if you could just keep them in that ball pool long enough.

And four year olds never seem to suffer from that Monday morning feeling, they never seem to worry about how they’re going to make it through the week, and they never pace themselves. They throw themselves at life, and when they run out of steam, they’re done. Have you ever seen the way a four year old sleeps? They’re so out of it you can pick them up without waking them.

Boxing Day is a little like being a four year old for a day. It releases you from thinking about the future or the past. For twenty four hours everything else is on hold. If you do Boxing Day properly you should feel like you’ve had a mini holiday – by the end of a Boxing Day you should feel rested, and energised, and happy.

So, let’s reiterate how Boxing Day works in one concise sentence:

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 the book contains some very special Boxing Day rules, and those rules are yours along with all the other goodies that the book contains. And being the festive season it goes without saying that the book (currently number one in two of amazon’s book categories), would make a fabulous gift for a loved one, co-worker, best-friend, boss, or any member of the national press.

In the meantime let me take this opportunity to wish you a very Happy Boxing Day.

Peter


Competition results

We asked you to ‘tweet’ out the above post to be in with a chance of winning either the paperback or one of ten copies of the ebook.
And the winner is…

Gillian Holmes from Nottingham

A copy of the book is winging it’s way to you via Royal Mail, Gillian. Hope you enjoy.

The following lovely people also won a copy of the ebook and have already been contacted via twitter direct message.

Sherieann (RedRoses4)
Victoria (sugarplum70)
Lilly (LillyLoveYou4)
Phyllis & Gerry Ellett (phyllgerry)
Tracy Nixon (tracyknixon)
Sara Wilson (tinkerbell34)
Tammie (ukusa1)
Jane Willis (janesgrapevine)
Barbara (babz229)
Julie Kenny (relisys222)

Many thanks to everyone who took part.
Subscribe to this blog (top of this page in the top right hand corner) to be notified of future competitions and giveaways.


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What makes us happy? It’s the simple things!

take a smileAccording to an article in the Daily Mailfinding a £10 note in an old pair of jeans came top in a study of 3,000 people and the things that make them happy. Other items in the top thirty included getting into bed with freshly washed sheets, hearing a baby laugh, and finding a bargain. Which prompted me to wonder what would be on my list. And you know me – I can’t resist an opportunity for list making.

Here then, straight off the top of my head and in no particular order, is a my list of happy-triggers – and sure enough they’re more ‘simple‘ than I would have thought.

  • chocolate
  • Great food
  • Sunny days
  • CJ behaving like a kitten
  • Growing my own food
  • Good movies
  • Good wine
  • The sound of the sea
  • Reading to someone
  • Being read to
  • Good, easy going, pub nights out with pals
  • Taking photos
  • Flap jacks
  • The Kids (my niece & nephew)
  • Early summer mornings
  • The Theatre
  • Great music
  • Audio books
  • Writing something I suspect might be pretty good  – and then finding out it is!
  • Baths
  • Being surrounded by trees
  • Animals
  • Expresso coffee
  • Italy
  • Teaching
  • Close friends
  • Creative people
  • Being warm
  • Getting loads done
  • Spices
  • A really amazing night’s sleep
  • Coming home
  • Making Lists
Would love to read your lists. Feel free to share them with the world using the comments box below.


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UPDATE – the first ‘How To Do Everything and Be Happy’ workshop – 24th Nov 2011, Southend-on-Sea

IMPORTANT! You’re currently in the archives! All sorts of exciting things have happened since this post was originally released, click here to read the latest posts. Click here to find out about current events and workshops.

Good grief – it’s actually happening!

It’s been just over a year since I first put finger to keyboard to write How To Do Everything and Be Happy. And today (some 3,000 book sales later), I’m pleased to announce that THIS THURSDAY (24th November 2011) will see the first How To Do Everything and Be Happy workshop, here in sunny Southend-on-Sea. Just a few doors down from Southend General Hospital, the workshop is being presented as one of ‘Karen’s Evening Lectures‘ at the newly opened Therapy Life Centre, and there are only a few places left.

A workshop you say?

If you’re a big-reader of self-help then you’ll probably be familiar with workshops, seminars, and the like. Large halls packed with badge wearing delegates, all facing the stage and podium in readiness for a motivational speaker who will cause you to question everything you believe, shake the foundations of all you hold dear, and force you to reconsider every assumption you’ve ever made.

This isn’t going to be one of those workshops.

‘How to Do Everything and Be Happy’ is workshop for ordinary people, with ordinary lives. It’s for anyone who may have been ambling through life and wondering why they’re not – well – just that little bit happier. It’s a workshop for most people. It’s a workshop for you!

So what will we be doing?

We’ll briefly cover the three causes of unhappiness, make ourselves feel better by identifying and blaming the culprits, then move right along for an evening of brainstorming and happiness planning. By the time you leave you’ll be armed with everything you need to start creating a happier life INCLUDING the paperback version of my book (because even with two hours we can’t cover everything).

If you’ve got a brain in your head, if you can pick up a pen, if you’ve got half an inkling about what makes you smile, this evening will show you how to fit those things into your life and, as a consequence, feel much, much happier.

Click here (or the youtube link below) to listen to a BBC interview about the book that the workshop is based on

The lecture is on Thursday the 24th November. Starts promptly 7.30pm (so aim to turn up around 7:15pm) and will continue to 9.30pm (with a break for tea or coffee along the way).

It costs just £18.00. To book simply call the Therapy Life Centre direct on 01702 433959.
Any other questions, feel free to drop me a line or post them in the comments below.


The Therapy Life Centre is located at 11 Prittlewell Chase, Southend-on-Sea, SS0 0RX (the old driving test centre) – there is reasonable parking.

The nearest station is Prittlewell (just fifteen minutes walk away) which is on the Liverpool Street – Southend Victoria line.

More about Karen and the Therapy Life Centre
Therapy Life Centre on facebook
The Therapy Life Centre’s website


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Now List – The Importance of Being Earnest

mr earnest worthing

If you’ve read the book then you may remember that

  1. playing a part in The Importance of Being Earnest was on my original Now List, and
  2. near end of the book (page 209 if you have the paperback) there’s a throw away remark that could suggest that I had achieved that item.

Indeed I had.

This time last year, almost to the day, two things dominated my life. I was finishing up the first draft of How To Do Everything and Be Happy, and I was preparing to play the character of Jack Worthing in Oscar Wilde’s most famous play.

I first read The Importance of Being Earnest at the age of twelve or thirteen, in Miss Pyrah’s English Literature class. And when I say read, I mean out loud,  in front of thirty or so other kids. Back then reading out loud was possibly the worst experience I could imagine. Second only to having a love-note intercepted by someone other than the intended recipient. As Miss Pyrah handed out dog-eared copies of the script she proceeded, tyrant that she was, to allocate parts seemingly at random, and of course she picked on me. I realise now her casting wasn’t random at all, and though I, along with my class mates, feared this woman who we all assumed ate small children for breakfast, she was actually showing a huge amount of favouritism by casting me first as Algernon, and later as Jack.

By the end of the first act I had fallen in love with the play. I suspect Miss Pyrah always knew I would.

So, some thirty or so years later it was kind of inevitable that it would end up on my Now List.

Saying those words again, but without the script in front of me, and as if Jack’s words were my very own thoughts – I think it’s safe to say I’ve never been more nervous about anything in my entire life. Nerves that were both eased and aggravated knowing that I was performing alongside professional actors and actresses for whom I have a great deal of awe and respect. And whilst to you it might not seem as impressive as, say, mountain climbing or hand-gliding, when I was stood in front of that audience, made up of paying members of the public, the air felt just as thin, and the stakes just as high.

It was exhilarating. Terrifying. Wonderful.

Would I do it again?

No. Never. Ever.

What about a different play?

No.

Although… Miss Pyrah did manage to instil in me a similar love of Shakespeare. Hmmmm.

Anyway, sadly I don’t have any pictures of me actually on stage, but below are a selection of back stage photos.

If you have any acting ambitions lurking on your Now List, or if you know the whereabouts of Miss Pyrah, I’d love to hear from you. You can use the comments box below.


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For the love of flapjacks

flapjacks

If you’ve read the book, follow me on twitter, or look at my facebook page you’ll know that I have something of a passion for flapjacks. More than one Boxing Day has resulted in a truck load of flapjacks that keep me and my assistant going for
hours
, sometimes even a whole day. And believe me, that’s a lot of flapjacks.

All this flapjack activity prompted my friend Slav to suggest that I should give-away flapjacks, rather than badges. Whereas another friend (Hello Lynn) just asked me for the receipe.

So here it is.

Ingredients

Rolled Oats – 1 kilo
Butter – 600 grams
Golden Syrup – 300 grams
Sugar (preferably brown, or golden granulated, anything but white! Bleugh!) – 300 grams

Equipment

Oven
Hob
One huge saucepan
Knife
Wooden spoon or similar (to mix ingredients with)
Scales.
Square shallow baking tin about 20 cm sided
Greaseproof paper

Instructions

  1. Put the butter, golden syrup, & sugar in saucepan and heat until it is all liquid.
  2. Meanwhile line the baking tin with greaseproof paper.
  3. Turn off hob. Mix all the oats into the liquid.
  4. Put the mixture into the baking tin & press flat.
  5. Bake at 175 °C (Gas Mark 4) for 25 to 30 minutes. Warning: the timing is tolerant but accuracy in temperature is critical – I find that I actually need to set my oven at 170 degrees. If recipe doesn’t quite work, this’ll be where you need to tweak it. Too hot and the flapjacks will be crunchy, too cold and they’ll be so gooey you won’t be able to get them out of the tin in slices.
  6. Slice before it sets but leave in place in tin.
  7. Leave to cool and set.
  8. Serve with a cup of tea and friend.
Sometimes I like to add dried fruit to the mix. That works well. Or top with chocolate whilst it’s setting. I tried adding rum once – that doesn’t work.
Let me know how you get on.

Based on a recipe from http://duramecho.com.