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3 Simple Rules for a Successful Boxing Day

rules

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)

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Opening Chapter: How To Start Dating And Stop Waiting

This month saw the launch of my new book How To Start Dating And Stop Waiting. It’s available now in paperback, as an ebook, and (once I’ve finished recording it), as an audio download from audible. Pop along to amazon and select the format of your choice. In the meantime, here’s an excerpt from the opening chapter…

To Begin With

On my thirty-second birthday, as I sat at my mother’s dining room table in front of a large cake, thirty two candles threatening to ignite my beard should I lean too far forward, I realised that the only ambition I had left in life – the only dream I hadn’t given up on – was to be married.

Or at least in some sort of steady, loving relationship.

A long term partnership with someone whose ying was a close match to my less than melodic yang.

But even this, this last naive expectation of life, was looking increasingly unlikely. Every candle on that cake was some sort of burning epitaph to just how utterly rubbish I was when it came to affairs of the heart.

There had been relationships in the past – of course there had – but I’d kind of ‘fallen into them’, by accident. And after the ladies in question had tried, and failed, to mould me into the kind of man they actually wanted, those relationships had withered and died. There hadn’t been an ‘accidental relationship’ for a while. Colleagues no longer described me as an eligible bachelor. Some had started to question my sexuality.

So as my family launched into a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ I decided there and then that the prospect of being single for the rest of my days was unacceptable.

Something had to be done.

Around that time there was a BBC TV show called ‘Would Like to Meet’ where a team of experts (a flirt coach, an actor, and an image consultant) would take some hapless individual and turn them into a heartthrob or a man-magnet. It very quickly became my favourite TV show. I’d watch it avidly from one week to the next hoping to pick up some tips. And the conclusion I came to was that I too could do with a similar makeover – albeit without the entire viewing nation of the United Kingdom looking on.

So over the next few weeks I tracked down Image Consultants, and contacted one. Back then, Image Consultants mainly worked for corporations, re-styling senior corporate executives who might otherwise look less than sharp in the boardroom, but I had surprisingly little problem persuading my consultant of choice to broaden the scope of her client base to include one sad and lonely thirty-something guy. She took one look at me, threw away every item of clothing I’d acquired in the previous decade, and in an afternoon gave me some much needed va-va-voom, in the wardrobe department.

And once I’d been completely re-styled, I looked around for a flirt coach.

These days, you can barely move for self-styled relationship experts and flirt coaches – heck, I’m just about to tell you why I’m one of them – but back in 2003 I could find just one. And she ran courses.

I took several hundred pounds from my savings, and booked myself on a ‘flirting weekend’. Nervously, I took my place in the front row, and when instructed I turned and introduced myself to the stunning blonde sitting next to me.

“I’m Peter,” I said.

“I’m Kate,” said the blonde.

Then she smiled.

And I was smitten.

The course wasn’t that much of a success, in that it didn’t teach me how to flirt. Not that it mattered. My strategy had worked, somewhat differently but infinitely better than I’d hoped. On the Monday evening Kate and I had our first date. By the Tuesday I’d officially found myself a girlfriend. A few months later I found myself on one knee. And a year to the day after we’d first met, I found myself married.

It didn’t last.

Two and a bit years later I lost Kate. To a brain haemorrhage. At Stanstead airport.

And when the dust settled – when I adjusted to a world without my wife – I was single again. The loneliness returned. And though I’ll never be able to replace my beautiful blonde, I needed to fill the space that she’d left.

Something had to be done

It’s my considered belief that ‘dating’ – whether that be online dating, speed-dating, “hey – what’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?” dating – is similar to job hunting; it’s just as brutal, many times more frustrating, and potentially far more heartbreaking.

And just like job hunting nobody wants to become ‘good’ at dating. To get good you have to do lots of it, and the very fact that you have to apply for a lot of jobs – or go on a lot of dates – raises more questions than it answers. It’s not really something you want to shout about. Never the less, I was determined. There was no way I wanted to return to the way things were, before Kate, life’s just too damn short. So date I did.

Many, many, many times.

And finally, after years and years of being completely useless at finding romance, I cracked it.

There’s love in my life again.

Just as there can be in yours.

Welcome to How To Start Dating And Stop Waiting.

If you’ve been sitting around, on your own, telling yourself you should really make an effort and ‘get out there’, this book might be for you.

If you’re already dating – or you’ve tried it – and you’ve encountered nothing but liars and Lotharios, started your own personal collection of dating disaster stories, all whilst beating off people you wouldn’t normally look twice at, this book is probably for you.

And if you’d rather fast forward through the dating stage as quickly as possible, and find someone you’d like to have a relationship with – whatever type of relationship that might be – this book is most definitely for you.

But before you get too excited, let’s establish some ground rules. Buckle up and prepare to learn the hardest lesson this book has to give.


‘How To Start Dating And Stop Waiting’ is available NOW in paperback, as an ebook, and shortly in audio from audible.co.uk & .com
Visit amazon to purchase the book.

You don’t need a Kindle device to read a Kindle book. Download the FREE kindle app for your computer, smart phone or tablet from amazon (.co.uk | .com)


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Start Dating, Stop Waiting. 5 Dating Tips

heart-love-romanceBefore I started on my quest for happiness, I was using my problem solving skills to figure out what actually works when it comes to courting the opposite sex. From the pen-pal clubs of the early eighties, to the lonely heart newspaper ads of the nineties, from postal dating services to the more formal introduction agencies – there hasn’t been a dating service that I haven’t tried!

And after many, many years of seemingly making every dating mistake there is – scouring every scrap of scientific research I could get my hands on – I finally cracked it. There’s love in my life. And it wasn’t an accident.

If love, lust or romance feature in your goals for this year let me see if I can impart some of my dating prowess to you now. Here are my top five tips for dating success.

Dating Tip Number 1: What do you want?

Figuring out who it is you’re looking for is probably the most effective thing you can do to kick start your love life. You might think (as I used to) that you can’t afford to be picky, that finding someone who doesn’t repel you too much and is content to remain in your company might be the best you can hope for. I’m here to tell you that the reverse is true.

After months, possibly even years, of less-than-satisfactory relationships with long periods of nothing in-between, I sat down and wrote out what I actually wanted. A list of qualities that I hoped for in my ideal person. And about six weeks later I met my wife, Kate.

Now – that’s not the whole story, obviously. There were a few stages between writing my ‘perfect woman shopping list’ and choosing to sit next to this beautiful blonde I spied from across the room, but a few months into our relationship I looked back at that list and I was amazed at just how many of the criteria Kate met. Coincidence? Perhaps. But for the time it would take you to create your own list isn’t it worth the effort?

Dating Tip Number 2: Go online!

By my calculations online dating websites are responsible for one in five marriages. Include relationships that haven’t got as far as the altar, throw in the likes of facebook and other social media websites, and I estimate 50 percent of all romances probably start on the internet. Which means that simply using your computer to meet people could double your chances of dating success.

Dating Tip Number 3: Pick a good dating website

There are a LOT of dating websites out there – finding a good one can be a challenge. My current feelings are the free-ones can be just as good, sometimes better, than the paid-ones. For extra oomph pick a site that does some form of compatibility matching!

Dating Tip Number 4: To meet ‘the one’, you must first meet ‘the many’

Very, very few people go on one date and hit the jackpot first time. In fact, in the years I’ve been chatting to people about this stuff I’ve never met anyone who has. Dating is a numbers game. If you find someone you like online send them a message. If they respond toss a couple more messages back and forth. If you still like them arrange to meet. Meanwhile; continue to browse the dating sites, continue to send messages, continue arranging dates. Exclusivity should be reserved for that special someone you’ve dated more than once, in real life, and even then only if you want to.

As well as a numbers game, dating is a skill. The more dates you go on the better you’ll get.

SDSW drop shadow colour smallDating Tip Number 5: Have fun!

Dating is tough. It has to be said. Some days it can feel like a slog. But if it always feels like a slog, if it’s tough without being the slightest bit pleasurable, well, then you’re doing something wrong!

Try changing your mindset. Dating can be a fun. An adventure. Exciting. It’s a little like a lottery; Sometimes it’s just OK. Sometimes it’s better than OK. Occasionally it’s a total disaster, but every now and then it’s magical. And those moments make up for everything.

Secondly, make sure you’re doing things you actually enjoy. For me, a good first date takes place in a coffee shop, if it’s going really well I might suggest wandering across to the pub over the road. Dinners and first dates don’t mix well. But that’s just me. Maybe you’re into bungy jumping, or white water rafting or long walks in the countryside. Picking an activity you enjoy will significantly increase the chances of your first date going well.

Want More Tips?

If you want to delve into the detail behind the five tips above, pick my brain for more nuggets of dating gems, or need a little more hand holding, then I have some very good news. How To Start Dating And Stop Waiting, my third self-help book, is available today in paperback and as an ebook. An audio version – which includes the companion guide From Invisible To Irresistibleis also available at audible (co.uk and com)

You don’t need a Kindle device to read a Kindle book. Download the FREE kindle app for your computer, smart phone or tablet from amazon (.co.uk | .com)


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Opening Chapter: From Invisible To Irresistible

FITI kindle
To Begin With…

Not that long ago, I walked into a crowded lecture theatre and sat myself next to the prettiest girl in the room.

If you’ve read any of my other books, or ever heard me speak, then you’ll know this was how I met my wife, Kate – at a flirting course, some ten years ago. But this was a different lecture theatre. This was much more recent. And the subject being discussed wasn’t flirting, it was poetry.

I ought to state for the record that I have absolutely no interest in poetry whatsoever. I have exactly one book of poetry in my house. It’s currently helping to prop up my computer monitor. But as you’ve probably already guessed, I wasn’t there for the poetry. I was there for the girl.

But what I didn’t realise at the time – couldn’t possibly realise – was that the girl I so casually sat myself next to, as though that were the only available chair in the room, had no interest in poetry either. She was there for me.

I’ve never been all that lucky in love. ‘Luck’ and I parted company long ago. Other people get lucky. I don’t. ‘Fingers crossed’ has never really worked for me. Chance is not my friend. I prefer to leave nothing to it.

I realised long ago that if I wanted my life to be anything more than bearable, then it was necessary to figure out what I wanted, followed by a way to get that thing, all without relying on probability.

One of those things was ‘love’.

So what of the girl in the poetry seminar? What became of her? That perhaps is a story for another time. For now I’d like you to concentrate on how we met.

You might think that we had very little say in the mutual attraction we felt. And whilst I would agree with you to a point, I, for one, had done everything I could to become a stunning specimen of poetry-hating manliness. My appearance, my wardrobe, my attitudes – even my apartment – they’d all undergone a series of self-imposed makeovers so that this special poetry-infused opportunity (and the moments that followed), could actually happen. Had I walked into that room two, maybe three, years earlier, I’m not so sure the lady in question would have given me a second look. Let’s face it, she wouldn’t have been there in the first place.

Welcome to From Invisible To Irresistible.

If you’ve ever stood on the sidelines and watched people pair off, whilst wondering why no one seems to look at you twice, this book might be for you.

If your dating exploits only seem to get so far, or it feels like you’re always the one doing all the chasing, this book is probably for you.

And if you’re open minded, prepared to take a good hard look at yourself, make a few changes – if the end result means a more attractive you – then this book is most definitely for you.

Now then, could I interest you in some poetry?


From Invisible To Irresistible is available, right now, in paperback and as an ebook. Visit amazon.


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Advanced Boxing Day – Extra Tips!

Why not post this image on facebook or twitter when you have your next Boxing Day?So, you recently had a Boxing Day. You obeyed all the rules, took all the advice – and yet somehow it still didn’t rock your world. Maybe it was a little dull.

That can happen.

It’s happened to me.

In fact the more Boxing Days I’ve had, the more it’s happened. And when I came to analyse it (because sadly that’s the sort of thing I do) I came to the conclusion that Boxing Day might need some tweaking.

Here are a couple of new ideas that I’ve been experimenting with since the first edition of this book, and are really working for me.

Avoid hedonistic habituation

Once you’ve had a few Boxing Days it becomes surprisingly difficult to keep your Boxing Days totally spontaneous. I got into a bad habit of always having a bottle of champagne, and always making a truck load of flapjacks. Not only was this a tad expensive, but after a while Boxing Day started to lose its magical powers.

What I hadn’t realised at the time was that I was experiencing something that scientists refer to as ‘Hedonistic Habituation’. Regardless of how pleasurable an activity is, much of it’s pleasure is actually derived from its ‘newness’. So whilst I thought I was relying on activities that had worked on previous Boxing Days, I had, in fact, got myself into a boozy, flapjacky rut.

This seems so obvious now. Though it’s also a little annoying. It means that even when I eventually emulate get to my hero Julio Casi Amoreo, my days spent sitting around the pool of my villa in southern Italy, admiring my scantily clad ‘friends’, will get progressively less and less pleasurable the more familiar it becomes.

Fortunately there’s an antidote:

Do Something New

To avoid Hedonistic Habituation, when your Boxing Day arrives try to do at least one ‘new thing’, and if possible, make that the first thing you do.

Now come on.

Don’t be like that.

I know how hard that sounds and I realise I’ve made Boxing Day a whole lot more difficult. Not only have you got to pre-book Boxing Day, arrange for baby sitters and the like, tell friends and family that you’re doing something else, and avoid the temptation to plan something for the day, but when the day actually arrives you’ve somehow got to conjure a new activity out of thin air? Just what kind of self-help book is this!? But bear with me for a moment, because I have two simple techniques that will enable you to do just that.

Tweak previous activities

An astonishingly simple way of coming up with new Boxing Day activities is to think back to past Boxing Days and things you did that were a real hit, and tweak them!

Take me for example. Last Boxing Day, rather than reach for a kilo of oats and a tin of Golden Syrup, I decided to make Chocolate Brownies. Have I ever made Chocolate Brownies before? No. Were they any good? Mmmm… not really. Did I enjoy myself. Absolutely.

So, if you’ve got into the habit of going to the gym on your Boxing Days, try a different exercise class, or a different gym. If you find you always go fishing, try a different lake or river. If you find yourself painting watercolours, experiment with charcoal sticks or oil pastels. If you usually end up on the sofa watching rom-coms, download a rom-com to your e-reader. Or go to the cinema. Or watch an action movie instead. You get the general idea.

The interesting thing is that most activities only require the smallest bit of tweaking in order to activate that part of your brain that gets enjoyment out of ‘the new’. And once it’s activated it’s amazing how little effort the rest of the day needs to be a success.

Let me know how you get on.

Potential Boxing Day Activities List

A second way to ensure that you can always think of something new is to keep a ‘Potential Boxing Day Activities’ List.

You’ve probably realised that I’m a bit of a list maniac. ‘Lists’ are my solution to everything. And when it comes to potential Boxing Day activities it really works. Where and how you keep your list is entirely up to you but personally I like to keep a ‘notepad’ document on my computer’s desktop so that I can open the list, add to it, save it, and close it again, all within a few seconds. You might be able to keep a list on your phone. Or in the back of your filofax. Or in a small notepad in your handbag. But whatever you do it’s important that the list is usually close to hand so that when inspiration strikes you can add to the list right away.

Remember too that to be true Boxing Day potentials, all the activities on the list must be things that require no pre-planning. The only time you’re going to consult this list is either when you add to it, or when you bound out of bed on Boxing Day morning.

I can’t claim 100% credit for the Potential Boxing Day list. Within days of me mulling the concept over in my mind, reader Emma posted a comment on this blog suggesting much the same thing.

On her list of Potential Boxing Day ideas were the following:

  • Get the tattoo I’ve been wanting for a while
  • Visit the zoo/cinema/theatre
  • Get a massage/manicure
  • Go shopping at Manchester/Newcastle or anywhere within a 3 hour radius
  • Go walking/gym/swimming
  • Bake something
  • Horse riding

Emma says that having the list there meant that she actually got excited about the idea of Boxing Day – which can only be a good thing.

Timing

Like good comedy the success of your Boxing Day might rely heavily upon timing.

Though I don’t make it a hard and fast rule I have been known to move Boxing Day to avoid bad weather, or times when I’m particularly tired. And whilst you’d think that a Boxing Day might be a good way to lift your spirits if you’re feeling a bit low, personally I’ve found the complete opposite is true.

Boxing Day seems to have the ability to make good days even better – but also bad days significantly worse.

You’ll probably already know if there are certain times of the month when a Boxing Day might be doomed to failure. I suspect it’s a very personal thing, but I have readers who avoid the following times of the month:

  • “The end of the month – I get paid at the start!”
  • “My menstrual cycle, There’s nothing worse than feeling yuk on a Boxing Day”
  • “A week or so after a full moon – when the moon is waning.”

Cut yourself some slack!

Though it pains me to admit it, despite all the rules, tips and advice I’ve given you, I can’t guarantee that Boxing Day will work each and every time. Occasionally, as I said a little earlier, you’re bound to have a duff one. It took me a long time to accept this fact but I’ve learnt that when this happens it’s best just to shrug, and move on. For when it comes to creating happiness whilst Boxing Days are great, they’re not the whole answer. Well, of course they’re not! Otherwise it would be a very short book, and a very small blog…. 

Thoughts?

If you have any tips for ensuring your Boxing Day is a success feel free to post them in the comments below, on twitter, or on the facebook page.


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Chapter One: To Begin With – Audio Sample

We’re big listeners of audio books in our family (‘talking books’ as my mother calls them), and I’m particularly proud that audible (.co.uk | .com), the world’s largest provider of audio entertainment, was keen to put out How To Do Everything and Be Happy as one of it’s titles.

You can listen to a preview of the first chapter by clicking the play button in the image below (or click here if you’re reading this in an email)


Purchase the rest of the book directly from audible (.co.uk | .com)


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The Trophy Board (updated for 2013)

business cardsAndy 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.

So how is my 2013 Trophy Board progressing?

(If you’re reading this post in an email, click here to visit facebook to view the trophy board photos)

It would be great to see how your Trophy Board develops during the year.  I’ve created a gallery for Reader’s Trophy Boards.  Tag me (or the page) 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).

 


Read about what got pinned to my 2012 board here