How To Do Everything And Be Happy

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The Trophy Board (updated for 2014)

Trophy Board dec me 2013Andy Warhol, so it’s said, never opened any of his post. He merely collected it up, put it in a box, and when that box was full he sealed it and wrote the year on the top. When he died they found boxes and boxes of unopened post.

I’ve never taken the time to find out just how true this story is, but I do know that the first time I heard it, it had a profound effect on me and I wanted to do the same. However, being a somewhat deluded individual, I was fairly certain I could improve on the concept. Who, after all, would want to go through boxes of my unopened post?! Particularly when most of it would either be bills, red bills, final demands or letters from the utility companies informing me that I’d been cut off. I wanted my boxes to be full of interesting stuff.

And so I started to collect things. Ticket stubs mainly. Be they cinema or theatre tickets, raffle tickets, train tickets, plane tickets, pay-and-display parking tickets. But also postcards, greeting cards, thank you cards, business cards, labels, badges, old credit cards, menus, anything that was evidence of somewhere I’d been, something I’d done, or someone I’d seen or met.

I can’t remember what I did with all this junk to start with but eventually (probably in an effort to retain some sort of control over the growing mountain of rubbish) I decided to get a really large cork notice board and pin this stuff to it. And there it hung in my living room – a huge messy board packed with memories. I loved it!

A few months later, on New Year’s Day, I completed the last stage of my ‘Andy Warhol’ project by removing everything from the board, stuffing it in the largest envelope I could find, writing the year on the front in huge letters, and tossing it in the loft. A few days later I started the process again, pinning items to the board as I accumulated them.

Now, many, many years later, I have approximately twenty huge envelopes in the loft, each one with a year written on the front, and each one packed with papery mementoes. Do I ever look in these envelopes. No. Will I? No. What’s the point then?

The point isn’t the envelopes. The point is the board.

It’s a visual reminder of all the things I’ve done this year, and the space between the items is an opportunity to be filled with something else. When visitors come round they stand and admire the board. It’s a conversation piece. Sometimes people ask me to explain an item. Nobody ever tells me it’s a bad idea.

And when I’m tired, or feeling low, or I’m feeling a little like a hamster on a wheel, and that nothing I do ever amounts to anything, I look at the board and I realise that it’s not true. Twenty fat envelopes in my loft say otherwise.

Above is 2013’s board – just before I take everything off and get it ready for 2014 – but click here to see how it evolved over the year.

It would be great to see how your Trophy Board.  I’ve created a gallery for Reader’s Trophy Boards.  Tag me in your photos or send me your pictures via facebook messaging (there’s an ‘add files’ option just under the box where you write your message).


Check back in a day or two to kick start 2014 and make it your best year yet – or subscribe to this blog (for FREE) and receive new posts in your email. Simply pop your email address in the box in the top right hand corner of the website.

Read about what got pinned to my 2012 board here

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The Wisdom Of Marty McCormick

MartyI think I’ve probably said this before, but the very best part of being an author – more so than even putting the words down – is interacting with readers and hearing how so many of you have taken some of the simple ideas I write about, and used them to make huge changes for the better.

With that in mind let me introduce you to my new best pal; Marty. He’s currently in India somewhere, ticking things off his Now List long before those ideas even make it out of his head and onto a piece of paper – and I can’t claim any credit!

Hi Peter. My name is Martin McCormick, and two and a half years ago I started a journey that I thought you’d find interesting.

I was a normal teenager, but in my case things didn’t always work for me. Apprenticeships came and went, jobs didn’t work out. Also I didn’t have a girlfriend and never had. So similar to your book, I woke up one Monday morning wanting to get away from this pointless life off mine, and the never ending disappointment of dead ends and missed opportunities. I packed up my bags, said my goodbyes, and tried to start a fresh.

I moved to the middle of England with no plan, no job prospect – just me and my suitcase. But ever since that day my life went from nothing to everything. Just by taking that leap into the unknown and by using techniques similar to your book. I too met the perfect blonde, and found a job which made me feel good about getting up in the morning. My life changed dramatically!

I used England as a stepping stone and now me and my girlfriend are currently in India exploring the world. I really couldnt be happier. Just by using simple things that you suggest for people in your book made the world of a difference. And believe it or not, your book – which I found for sale in South India (Bangalore) – will be the first I have ever read. A new goal achieved! (I was never the best at school, lol). It’s probably a bit strange for a man to read his first book at 23 – and this kind of book too – but I just wanted to say, on behalf of all the people in a dark place right now, thank you for writing it.

Marty2P.S. here’s a pic of me and your book in a small cafe in India. And my first ever bookmark made for me by my girlfriend.

All the best
Martyboy!!!

If you have an inspiring tale to tell, drop me a line – if you have a photo to go with it, even better!

And if you’re sitting there wishing you had an inspiring story of how your life changed for the better after making a few crucial changes – well, what’s stopping you? Why not make 2014 the year that everything changes?

Pop back this time next week for the first in a series of weekly NEW YEAR NEW YOU blog posts. Next week; Goals and Goal Setting!


Subscribe to this blog for free and receive new posts in your email. Simply pop your email address in the box in the top right hand corner of the website, and click SUBSCRIBE. I promise promise PROMISE your email address is safe with me.


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Phoenix FM ‘Happy Club’: Dealing With Christmas / Stress List Day

If you’d prefer to ‘listen‘ to this post (rather than read it), scroll down to the bottom and click the big play button in the centre of the video box, or click here if you’re reading this in an email

johnny

Yes folks, it’s that time of year again; it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

For some that means mince pies and merriment, for others it’s mayhem and madness, but regardless of how you feel about the festive season one thing cannot be denied. It can be a tad stressful.

In addition to our usual busy lives, for one month, maybe more, most of us have to contend with (at least some) of the following:

  • Christmas preparation (presents, cards, etc. etc)
  • Other deadlines (“this must be finished before xmas”, “…before the end of year” etc)
  • Yet more deadlines / restrictions! (last posting day, office close down, system change-freeze, ‘Sunday’ service)
  • Adverse weather!
  • Rubbish driving conditions!! (more traffic, less daylight, adverse weather)
  • Extra social events (office party, clubs, kid’s panto)
  • Hang overs!
  • Colds and flu

Is it any wonder that some of us wish that Christmas only came around every other year, or every four years, or maybe once a century.

A few years back I came up with a solution to all this nonsense. Behold STRESS LIST DAY

Step 1: Make a List

Make a list of all the stuff that stressing you now

  • Not a general list; this is not an ‘Ugh List’
  • Only stuff that absolutely has to be sorted
  • Only stuff that keeps popping into your mind

There’s some very interesting research that shows that if you keep thinking about something other than the thing you’re supposed to be thinking about right now, you’re pretty much hard-wired to feel unhappy.

Here’s my stress list..

  • Christmas!
    • Cards
    • Presents
      • Niece
      • Parents
      • Brother in law
    • What does my sister want me to take on Christmas Day?
  • Clients
    • Client 1
    • Client 2
    • Client 3
  • Next book(s)
    • finish edits
    • agree cover
    • audio?
    • launch in January!

Step 2: Prioritise

Re-sort your list with the following in mind

  • Importance (how much trouble would I be in if this didn’t happen?)
  • Deadline dates (last posting date, event date, last working day)

 Step 3: Schedule Stress List Day

Take your diary and schedule 4 to 5 Stress List days / mornings / evenings (or however many days you think you’ll need) between now and a week or so before Christmas.

  • Better too many than not enough
  • Make the time! Cancel other things if you have to!

Just knowing you’ve set aside time to sort these things should make you feel better

Step 4: Work The List

On Stress List Day, work your list in order. You probably won’t feel much better after the first stress list day, but by the end of the second, and the third, when you’ve started to make a dent in that list, your overall stress levels should start to fall.

If it works for you schedule next years Stress List days now, a little earlier than this years.

By the way, books make GREAT Christmas Presents! Why not order a signed copy of How To Do Everything And Be Happy – only £6.00 (plus postage)

Listen to me discussing the Stress List on ‘Happy Club’ (Phoenix FM)

Last week I met up with the delightful Michelle Ward of Phoenix98 FM to discuss the Stress List and other happiness concepts. To listen to the show click the big play button in the image below – or if you’re reading this in an email, click here)

If you have a question for next month’s show feel free to drop me a line, post a comment below, tweet either myself or Michelle, or send me a message on facebook.

The theme for January will be ‘New Year – New You!


Michelle’s live on Phoenix FM every weekday from 10am.


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6 tips for Happiness

Earlier this year the Huffington Post asked me for my six tips for happiness. Here then are half a dozen ideas taken from How To Do Everything and Be Happy. Have a read. Make some lists. Then create your own plan. Tip 1: Manage Your Time

“Time,” so they say “is money.” But imagine that as if it was the hours and minutes of your life, managed by a “Universal Bank of Time.”Under their strict account usage terms, the UBT would mandate a compulsory daily withdrawal of 24 hours. The hours would be automatically transferred to you at the start of each day. But you could never make a deposit, you could never put back what you didn’t use – unused hours would be taxed at 100%. Worse still, there’d be no online banking with the UBT. No paper statements. You couldn’t even get a balance – you’d never be sure how much time you had left.

If real bank accounts worked this way you’d make sure you spent every penny of your daily withdrawal limit on something worthwhile. Pretty soon you’d probably start to plan your spending – you might even keep a book of items you wanted to spend your money on. So with that in mind…

Tip 2: Make a “Now List”

Most folks have heard of a Bucket List (taken from the movie of the same name), a list of all the things you’d like to do before you die (“kick the bucket”). It’s a fabulous idea – except for the built-in assumption that we’re going to be doing all these marvelous things at some far flung point in the future, probably when we’ll be far too old and frail to do anything more than regret each and every item on the list as a missed opportunity.So let’s dispense with the term Bucket List. What we want is to “Live Life Now” list – or a “Now List” for short. Write down everything you’d like to do, then start making it happen. And when you do…

Tip 3: Collect “Trophies”

Andy Warhol, so it’s said, never opened any of his mail. He merely collected it up, put it in a box, and when that box was full, sealed it and wrote the year on the top.I’ve never taken the time to find out just how true this story is, but I do know that the first time I heard it, it had a profound effect on me. I wanted to do the same. However, being a somewhat deluded individual, I was fairly certain I could improve on the concept.And so I started to collect things. Theatre tickets, raffle tickets, train tickets, plane tickets, postcards, greeting cards, thank you cards, business cards, labels, badges, anything that was evidence of somewhere I’d been, something I’d done, or someone I’d met. And something I could pin to a board.This is how my “Trophy Board” looked at the end of 2012. How’s yours coming along?
slide 3 - trophy board

Yet More Trophies

Not all mementos can be pinned to a board. Every now and then you’ll pick up something altogether more three dimensional. Maybe a pebble from the beach. A pocket full of Lipa (Croatian pennies). A finger puppet your niece made for you. A cork from a bottle of champagne. The security pass from that time you did a radio interview. Don’t throw these items in a drawer. Instead, get yourself an old fashioned glass sweet jar and start filling it with this kind of stuff. Or how about this – an old fashioned printer’s tray available for just a few dollars from your friendly local eBay seller.

Here’s mine.
printer's tray
 Tip 4: Decide What’s Important
Most people I encounter haven’t actually got a clue what they really want. They might wake up in the morning and want to go back to bed. They might flick through a magazine and want those shoes. They might even want the person in the magazine wearing those shoes. But these desires come and go. Few of them seem to stick around and become important – and that’s a mistake.Knowing exactly what you want is hugely important. Merely knowing has the power to change everything. Not convinced? Then allow me to introduce you to the incredible, completely automated wish-fulfilment machine you have inside your head…

Tip 5: Use The Power of Focus

Brains are amazing. Especially yours. Even mine has its moments. And one of the most fascinating mechanisms of the human brain is how it deals with focus. Have you ever noticed how when you buy a new car, or even when you’ve merely decided what type of car it is you want to buy, you start seeing that same car everywhere?! That’s the power of focus. It happens because in order for our brains to cope with the extraordinary amount of information coming in through our five senses from the world around us, we’re programmed to concentrate on what’s “important,” and more or less ignore the rest.
Unconvinced? Excellent! Pick a card from the six shown here. Don’t tell me which one it is, just pick one, and remember which card you’ve chosen. Then continue reading.
slide 6 - cardsbefore
Now click on this link and look at the cards again and then come back.

…And It’s Gone!

So, how did I do that? The answer, of course, is focus. Your mind was concentrating on the card you’d chosen, and its apparent disappearance, and failed entirely to notice that all the cards had changed. The other cards weren’t “important.”You might be asking yourself how does the brain determine what’s important? And the answer is: you tell it! And this mechanism isn’t just taking place during card tricks; this happens all day, every day. Your brain is continually filtering the information coming in based on what you’ve decided is important.
Strange then that we quite often focus on entirely the wrong things, or nothing at all.

Tip 6: Remind Yourself Of The Important Things

Most people own a wallet, a purse, or some other item to carry around their credit cards, dog-eared receipts or (if you’re really retro) cash.If your wallet is like mine then it might have a small see-through pocket where you’re supposed to put a photo of a loved one. Ditch it. Not the loved one, just the photo.
On a small piece of card, just big enough to fit that space, write down what you really want in life – your “life vision” if you like – and place it in your wallet. What we’re doing here is utilizing that Power Of Focus on a daily basis by creating something that will remind you of those important things, each and every time you look in your wallet.
slide 8 - wallet


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Phoenix FM Happy Club: We answer your happiness related questions

Earlier this month I joined the delightful Michelle Ward of Phoenix98 FM to discuss ‘happiness’, and to answer your happiness related questions.

This month’s questions were…

  • How do I control my uncontrollable rage when people do not follow my legitimate instructions?
  • How do you achieve a healthy work/life balance? As in, how can you effectively balance work and home life, especially when you work from home?
  • How can I be happy with my diet when I can’t afford lobster and fillet steak each day?
  • I want to change my life completely; my job, my looks, etc. Where do I start on such a monumentous task?
  • How do I get an octopus into a paper bag?
  • I would like to know Peter’s tips for staying focused on goals, and for being organised when the path is full of obstacles.
  • Why is Peter Jones’ name a mash up of the names of two of the band members of The Monkees?

To listen to the show click the big play button in the image below (or if you’re reading this in an email, click here)

How To Start Dating And Stop Waiting (mentioned throughout the show) is due out February 2014, How To Eat Loads And Stay Slim is available, now, in three formats.

If you have a question for next month’s show feel free to drop me a line, post a comment below, tweet either myself or Michelle, or send me a message on facebook. We’ll get through as many as we’re able.


Michelle’s live on Phoenix FM every weekday from 10am.

To listen to other radio interviews (and audio content) about How To Eat Loads And Stay Slim click here

 


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Words of Wisdom

lennonYou’ll remember that one of my favourite quotes is this:-

Everything will be all right in the end.
If it’s not all right,
it’s not the end.

I’m quite fond of quotes. Here are some others that strike a chord with me.

  • We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.
  • War does not determine who is right — only who is left.
  • Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • I thought I wanted a career. Turns out I just want pay cheques.
  • You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive more than once.
  • Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
  • Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
  • A diplomat is someone who tells you to go to hell in such a way that you look forward to the trip.
  • Hospitality is making your guests feel at home even when you wish they were.
  • Always take life with a grain of salt. Plus a slice of lemon, and a shot of tequila.
  • When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water.
  • The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
  • Never let a fool kiss you and never let a kiss fool you.

and finally

  • To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit ‘the target’.

Feel free to share some of your favourite quotes in the comments below or on the facebook page.


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Four Fab Songs – What Are Yours?

music that makes you happy - share your fave songs

A while back I made a list of all the little things that make me happy. List making was one of the items on that list.

I’m not the only one for whom list making has this peculiar effect. Almost a year ago now, reader Annie asked her facebook friends (of which I am one) to make a list of four songs along these lines:

1. a song that makes you happy
2. a song that gets you on the dance floor
3. a song that makes you cry (when no one’s watching)
4. a song that reminds you of being 18

It turned out to be quite a popular game, such that I thought it was high time we repeated the exercise!

Don’t spend hours and hours giving it too much thought (unless you really want to of course – hello Karen Harris), just dive in and pick the first four songs that meet the criteria.

If you think of more songs later – come back and have another go!

Jot your answers in the comments below, or on facebook where some people have already posted some great tunes!

Feel free to share the image your own facebook timeline if you’d like your friends to join in. Tweet at me if you prefer.  Pin the image on pinterest. Instagram. Whatever you like. It’s all good.


This Wednesday I re-join the delightful Michelle Ward of Phoenix98 FM to discuss ‘happiness’, and to answer your happiness related questions. Last month’s questions covered weight loss, hypothyroid syndrome, and what to do if you feel you have to choose between your own happiness or someone else’s. To listen to the show click the big play button in the image below (or if you’re reading this in an email, click here)

If you have a question for this month’s show feel free to drop me a line, post a comment below, tweet either myself or Michelle, or send me a message on facebook. We’ll get through as many as we’re able.


Michelle’s live on Phoenix FM every weekday from 10am.

To listen to other radio interviews (and audio content) about How To Eat Loads And Stay Slim click here

How To Eat Loads And Stay Slim is available, now, in three formats. Find out more at howtoeatloadsandstayslim.com