How To Do Everything And Be Happy

Official website and blog

Boxing Day Mugs

Leave a comment

mug-and-flapjack

The eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed that a rather fetching ‘Boxing Day’ Mug often features in my posts on twitface. I love it, it’s my favourite mug, makes me smile every time I use it and I just love how it’s white (and red, obviously) on the outside and black on the inside.

Anyway, having been asked where I got it from a few times now, I decided maybe it was about time I made it available to the rest of the world (or other fans of Boxing Day). So here’s the ‘sales spiel’……..

There are actually several versions.

  • There’s a simple mug that says KEEP CALM AND HAVE A BOXING DAY on both sides (the perfect gift for that stressed out individual in your life) {£11.60}
  • For right handed people there’s a mug that says KEEP CALM AND HAVE A BOXING DAY on the side facing you and KEEP CALM I’M HAVING A BOXING DAY on the side facing everyone else! {£11.60}
  • Then there’s a left handed version of the same mug – I know, I know – I have literally thought of everything! {£11.60}
  • And for those who want to save a couple of quid, there’s a moderately cheaper version, but without the black interior. {£10.90}

The mugs are expensive. There’s no denying it. And I only make a quid or two on each one that gets sold. But they are beautiful. The design is lovely, of course – I did that – but the mugs themselves are really good quality. I’ve had mine well over a year, use it almost every day, and put it through the dishwasher several times a week, and it still looks like new.

To get a mug for yourself or a loved one, hop over to my Zazzle shop front at zazzle.co.uk/peterjonesauthor

mug-and-pen


TTATCM sidebarIn other news… 

The Truth About This Charming Man (my second NOVEL) is one year old this week and to celebrate it’s just 99p for the next 48 hours. Download the book for your smart phone, tablet, or kindle, today.

Visit BUYTHEBOOK.TODAY to buy the book… today!

(The FREE kindle reading app is available for everything. Seriously; EVERYTHING.)


Leave a comment

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.

 


Leave a comment

How to talk to Michelle Ward about Boxing Day and Everything

keep-calm-today-is-boxing-day
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!


Leave a comment

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)


3 Comments

How I Re-invented Boxing Day And Found Happiness

paris20051

For most people, Boxing Day is a slightly downbeat, 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 when my wife Kate came along Boxing Day became ‘our’ day. A chance to finally be alone together, to declare Christmas well and truly ‘done’, and to bask in the healing power of the unplanned moment.

I remember our first Boxing Day together. We got up around midday, opened a bottle of champagne, looked at our presents from the day before, roasted chestnuts in the oven, played a silly board game, watched “Ghost Busters” in our bath robes, and stuffed ourselves on posh nibbles. And as the sun gave up its fruitless attempt at breaking through the grey December sky, and the lounge was once again lit by tree lights and candles, I found myself giving Kate a chair to sit on, whilst I went down on one knee.

“Marry me,” I said.

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 seven years I’ve celebrated Boxing Day approximately eighty three times.

* * *

Not that long ago, before the days of conjuring words out of the air and rearranging them into an entertaining order, I worked in banking. Credit Card Banking.

I was a fix it man. An ideas man. Wealthy men would ask me how to make even more money with the tools they had at their disposal, and I would tell them. Though it pains me to admit it the ‘credit crunch’ is partly my fault – not my idea, but I was there, pulling the levers and pressing the buttons that made it happen.

I hated banking. It was about a million miles away from what I’d always hoped I would be.

Other than usual childhood dream of being a fireman or an astronaut, my earliest ambition was the desire to create books. I remember taking as many sheets of paper as I was allowed, folding them in two, and using my grandmother’s stapler to create a spine. I’d then proceed to fill the pages with illustrations and narrative, until I ran out of space, which is when the story would – sometimes quite abruptly – end.

These books were distributed on a strict ‘read and return’ basis. I don’t remember the stories I wrote and I have no idea what happened to the manuscripts but I remember it used to make me happy. I remember that.

But you know how it is. You grow up. Put aside childish things. Get real. And all the dreams you had – becoming James Bond, becoming an actor, working in a job that you enjoy – they all get compromised. Down to nothing.

On my thirty-second birthday, I finally realised that there was a distinct possibility that the last of my ‘dreams’ might also never come to pass.

At the time I hadn’t even realised that it was a dream – I just hadn’t had a proper girlfriend for a while. A long while. A really long while. But I’d always assumed that things ‘would work themselves out’. Eventually. It appears I was the only one who thought so.

Colleagues had long since stopped describing me as an eligible bachelor, and some had even questioned my sexuality, which wasn’t helping the situation.

The thought of being single for the rest of my days was unacceptable.

Something had to be done.

* * *

So in order to avoid a life of bachelorhood, I started to plan. I made lists. I came up with a strategy. I took all the problem solving skills I was developing to make rich men richer, and applied them to my own life.

Around that time there was a TV show on the BBC 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 heart-throb or a man-magnet. I’d watch it avidly from week to week hoping to pick up some tips. And quickly came to the conclusion that I too could do with a similar makeover, albeit without the entire viewing nation of theUnited Kingdomlooking on.

So over the next few weeks I ordered a truck load of ‘dating’ books and stacked them by my bedside ready for those evenings when I found myself alone. ie. all of them.

I also tracked down an Image Consultant, picking the one I fancied the most on the grounds that any woman I found attractive would probably dress me in a manner she’d find appealing. Of course, back then Image Consultants really only worked for corporations but I had surprisingly little problem persuading her to broaden the scope of her client base to include one sad and lonely thirty something guy. And once my wardrobe had been completely replaced I went in search of a flirt coach.

At the time Channel 4 regularly hired a lady called Peta Heskell whenever they needed a relationship or ‘flirt’ expert, and as luck would have it Peta ran weekend flirting courses. I sent myself on one, took my place in the front row and when instructed, nervously 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 anything new, not that it mattered. My strategy had worked, albeit somewhat differently but infinitely better than I’d hoped. Kate and I were married exactly a year later.

* * *

Kate was a wonderful person. A true entrepreneur. A real visionary. When we met I had vague notions of settling into a rather typical domestic life-style; putting up with a job that I didn’t care for five days a week, in return for the company of a loving woman in the evenings and at weekends.

Kate had very different ideas.

Life wasn’t about ‘settling’ for things. To her there was a world of possibilities out there. We could go anywhere, do anything, have everything, all we had to do was put our minds to it.

When my wife wasn’t trying to convince me that we could escape the ‘rat race’ – or at the very least change races – she was reading. I’d lay money that a copy of every self-help book published around the millennium somehow found it’s way onto my wife’s bookshelf, where it would wait in line to be digested, scribbled over, highlighted, deconstructed and eventually incorporated into ‘Kate’s big theory of everything’ – a kind of pseudo social-science technical manual as to how the world works, and the people in it.

During the two and a bit years of our marriage Kate became more than my wife, she was also my teacher.

And when she died in my arms I was heart-broken.

* * *

People rarely ask me how Kate died. It’s just not the sort of question they feel comfortable asking. Most assume she must have had cancer – that we’d have had some warning. We didn’t.

I’ve learnt since that sudden deaths like hers (a sub-arachnoid haemorrhage) are surprisingly common. Kate had a weak part in her brain, probably since birth. It could have happened at any moment. It was almost inevitable.

I learnt too that after the shock comes the guilt. Every cross word, every nasty thought, every lie – they all come back to haunt you. And amongst the demons that were queuing up to torment me was the realisation that I still wasn’t happy, and maybe I never had been.

There had been happy moments, of course. Quite a lot of moments. Most of them in the previous three years, and most of them down to Kate, but they were moments none the less. And I wanted to be happy all the time. Not just occasionally. Not just for a moment.

Something had to be done.

* * *

And so I decided to tackle the problem in the only way I knew how: by making lists, and coming up with a strategy.

One such idea was Boxing Day.

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 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 get up with absolutely no plans whatsoever and see how the day unfolds. And that was almost seven years ago.

* * *

Though the ‘Boxing Day rules’ expressly forbid pre-planning, my Boxing Days definitely have themes.

I’ve made chocolate brownies, treacle tart, many many pizzas (base included), and truck loads of flapjacks.

I’ve ‘dropped in’ on friends, my family, visited junk shops and museums that I’ve always wanted to go inside.

I’ve set off in the car forCambridgeor other far flung places I can get to, and back, in a day.

And I’ve worked – working is a completely valid Boxing Day activity if it’s what you really want to do, and it isn’t pre-planned. I’ve written whole chapters, spent a day blogging, caught up on all my post and emails.

I’ve had plenty of successful Boxing Days (in that I achieved that holiday feeling by the end of the day), but I’ve also had less successful Boxing Days (when I didn’t). 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 its 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 Cambridge-based flapjacky rut. The trick, it seems, is to think of something you enjoy doing – then tweak it enough to make it ‘new’.

* * *

Of all the ‘happiness’ ideas I’ve had over the years, Boxing Day has been without a doubt one of the easiest to implement. It’s also the one that raises the most eyebrows.

“That’s bonkers,” my friends say. “Brilliant, but bonkers. But don’t you ever feel lonely? Or at a loss to know what to do?” And the short answer to both questions is, yes, of course. Though it pains me to admit it, I can’t guarantee that Boxing Day will work each and every time. But I’ve learnt that when this happens it’s best just to shrug, and move on. When it comes to creating happiness whilst Boxing Days are great, they’re not the whole answer.

“So what is?” They ask. “What else is in this… ‘happiness strategy’?”

At this point I usually tell them to get another round in. And then, over the noise of our fellow festive revellers and ‘Now That’s What I Call Christmas’ thumping out of the juke box, I tell them about my ‘Now List’,  my ‘Wish List’, how I set myself yearly goals, and how I make sure I actually achieve them.

I tell them how I’ve taken back control of my life, decided how I want it to be, pointed it in that direction, and given it a kick up the backside.

I tell them how I’m having more fun than I’ve ever had. Smiling more than I ever did. How there’s love in my life again. How I think Kate would be proud of me. And that I can finally say, I’m happy.

“Those ideas are too good to be kept to yourself,” they say eventually. “You ought to write those things down.”

And so I did.

Thirty something years later I am finally doing something that I wanted to do. I’m realising a childhood ambition. I’m making books.

And I remember now, how happy this makes me.



The Guardian Dec 2012Originally written for the Guardian, December 2012

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)


Leave a comment

Doing absolutely nothing

So last Sunday was a Boxing Day.

As per the Boxing Day Rules it had been booked out in my diary for some time, and also as per the rules I had no plans whatsoever. So what did I do with my day of unscheduled free-form fun?

Absolutely nothing.

There was a little facebook activity, a half hearted attempt at sorting through the edits for my novel, but other than that I pretty much spent the day sleeping, or sitting in front of the TV. And blimey-o’riley did it feel good.

I’d spent much of the previous day travelling back from Devon in horrendous bank-holiday traffic, and when I eventually made it home home, Essex was in the midst of a freak monsoon. Seriously. We had two inches of rainwater in thirty minutes, and it didn’t stop raining for another thirteen hours.

Whether any of this was responsible for the way I felt on Sunday morning I’m not really sure. All I knew is that once I’d dragged myself out of bed I didn’t really want to do anything more taxing than make a cup of tea, and sit in front of the tube. And as per the Boxing Day Rules that’s absolutely fine.

I pass this on because I had a ‘happy talkie’ session the other week with a reader who was beating herself up for not having enough items on her ‘potential-Boxing Day‘ list. She’d somehow got it into her head that although Boxing Day isn’t planned, it’s still a day when LOTS happens (hence why it requires a list). But that’s not the case at all.

Boxing Day is a day for you. It’s a day to recharge. Be in the moment. Do whatever you fancy. The list is there simply to safe guard you against boredom, or in case you’re not feeling particularly inspired, but it’s by no means essential. If all you want to do on Boxing Day is chillax – as my niece would say – then that’s fine too.

Which reminds me very much of this daft song from Bruno Mars, which you can view by clicking the big play button below (or by clicking here if you’re reading this in an email)

And if you enjoyed that you might find this version (by Megan Nicole) equally entertaining. I particularly like the way she ‘cleans up’ some of the lyrics whilst her Mum’s sitting in the background reading a self-help book.

Feel free to share your Boxing Day experiences, questions, or observations in the comments box below, or over on the facebook page.


Leave a comment

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.