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.

Kick Start 2013


poster 2013Happy New Year!

So how’s it going so far? Is it all lovely and exciting? Or is it pretty much like last year? Perhaps even a little bit dull? Would you say that, aside from joining hands with friends and family on the stroke of midnight and mumbling the words to a song you only sing once a year, it’s actually quite difficult to know where 2012 came to an end, and 2013 began?

I know how you feel.

Which is why, in a few days time, I will be hosting the first of this years Happiness Clubs, here in Southend-on-Sea.

Happy Club – starts Thursday 24th January 2013

If you’re a long time visitor to this blog you’ll know that this year I’ve run numerous How To Do Everything And Be Happy workshops in various parts of Essex.

I think it’s safe to say that the workshops went down a storm, and I’m delighted to announce that using the invaluable feedback I received, Southend’s Therapy Life Centre and I will be running a series of monthly Happiness workshops – starting Thursday the 24th January – to coincide with the re-launch of the paperback.

What’s covered?

Each month we’ll spend the first hour looking at a different idea from the book How To Do Everything and Be Happy and how to implement it into your life, whether that be Boxing Day, Wish List, Now Lists, Focus, Trophy Boards, or Diaries. Then after a short tea-break (biscuits provided – probably, if I remember) we’re back, looking at your Goals, how far you’ve got with them and how you can take the next step towards achieving them.

Next Thursday we’ll be concentrating on how to eliminate unhappiness, and working out exactly what we want for the coming months. It’ll be fun! I can definitely promise you that. But I have a feeling it’s also going to be the start of something special.

Is it a workshop? Or a course? It’s a “club”.

Technically it’s a series of six stand-alone, related, repeating, workshops (when we get to workshop number six we’ll start afresh the following month). You can come along to just one, a series of six, or every month, it’s totally your choice.

The evening will have more of a club-feel to it making the whole experience less “rushed”, more intensive, and introducing a strong focus on helping you achieve your goals as the months roll by.

It’s a fun way to get motivated and fired up about making changes in your life, whilst being practical, realistic and keeping your feet firmly on the floor.

How much does it cost?

The cost is just £60 for six sessions (if you pay in advance – see below), or £12 per session if you pay on the night.

Where and when?

The club starts on Thursday January 24th 2013
Subsequent clubs are on the last Thursday of each month and last two hours (including a ten minute break around half time).
We start promptly at 8pm (so maybe get there about 7:45? Put that in your diary).

We meet at The Therapy Life Centre, in Southend On Sea, Essex. (the old driving test centre) – there is reasonable parking.
The address is 11 Prittlewell Chase, Southend-on-Sea, SS0 0RX
The nearest station is Prittlewell (just fifteen minutes walk away) which is on the Liverpool Street – Southend Victoria line.

Sign Up and Pay!

The cost is just £60 for six sessions (if you pay in advance), or £12 per session if you pay on the night.

There are three ways to pay in advance

  1. In person at the Therapy Life Centre. Click here for opening hours. 
  2. Over the phone with a credit or debit card. Call 01702 433959. Click here for opening hours. 
  3. Pay here via credit / debit card and/or paypal!

Refunds & General Terms

  • Workshop credits can be carried forward – you do not have to attend six concurrent workshops
  • If you wish to transfer your credits to another person please let us know first
  • Payments via the internet will appear as “soundhaven” on your statement
  • Refunds will not be issued at a workshop and must be requested in the manner the original payment was made (ie. in person, over the phone, or via this website)
  • We reserve the right to charge a £2 admin fee to cover the cost of processing refunds
  • In the event that you cannot make six workshops we reserve the right to retain £12 per workshop you’ve attended, and refund the balance
  • We require five working days notice (via the contact form on this website) process a paypal refund

Any questions?

Drop me a line via the contact page if you have any questions. Operators are standing by.


Visit the Therapy Life Centre’s website
More about the Therapy Life Centre

Della Galton interviews me on / about ‘Boxing Day’

DellaEarlier today (well, yesterday by the time you read this), Della Galton – author, journalist, women’s magazine fiction legend, and all round lovely person – interviewed me, via the awesome power of twitter, about Boxing Day. Readers Vikki & Jayne chimed in too.

In case you missed it, here’s the transcript:

DellaGalton: So Peter @doitallbehappy are you ready to be interviewed about #boxingday
11:58am, Dec 26 from Web

doitallbehappy: @dellagalton Ready and waiting! Shoot! #boxingday
11:58am, Dec 26 from HootSuite

DellaGalton: @doitallbehappy I have it on good authority that you invented #boxingday is this true?
11:59am, Dec 26 from Web

doitallbehappy: @dellagalton I may have RE-invented #BoxingDay 🙂
12:00pm, Dec 26 from HootSuite

DellaGalton: @doitallbehappy So tell me about this re-invention?
12:01pm, Dec 26 from Web

doitallbehappy: @dellagalton It’s a kind of a chillout day, and I have one, on average, once a month
12:03pm, Dec 26 from HootSuite

DellaGalton: @doitallbehappy So you have a day exactly like today once a month. Is this right? Would you have Christmas Day and turkey the day before?
12:04pm, Dec 26 from Web

doitallbehappy: @dellagalton LOL. For me #BoxingDay isn’t anything to do with xmas. It’s only called Boxing Day because that’s when the 1st one happened.
12:07pm, Dec 26 from HootSuite

DellaGalton: @doitallbehappy So, are you saying anyone can have a #boxingday at any time of the year? What gave you this idea?
12:09pm, Dec 26 from Web

doitallbehappy: @dellagalton Yes. That’s the idea. I pre-plan my Boxing Days – one a month.
12:11pm, Dec 26 from HootSuite

DellaGalton: @doitallbehappy So what did you do on your last #boxingday, apart from this one that is 🙂
12:13pm, Dec 26 from Web

doitallbehappy: @dellagalton Gosh! I can’t remember exactly – I do so many things. But my Boxing Days definitely have themes
12:14pm, Dec 26 from HootSuite

DellaGalton: @doitallbehappy what kind of themes exactly?
12:15pm, Dec 26 from Web

doitallbehappy: @dellagalton Cooking is one; I’ve made chocolate brownies, treacle tart, many many pizzas (base included), and truck loads of flapjacks.
12:16pm, Dec 26 from HootSuite

DellaGalton: @doitallbehappy Are there any rules for #boxingday activities then?
12:17pm, Dec 26 from Web

doitallbehappy: @dellagalton @vikkithomp Rule 1: No-pre-planning! Rule 2: Book BD in advance. Rule 3: You can move BD but you can’t cancel it!!
12:19pm, Dec 26 from HootSuite

vikkithomp: @doitallbehappy @dellagalton So “planning” to have a day where I don’t go online is a no no? #BoxingDay (which I’ve now broken anyway lol) x
12:23pm, Dec 26 from Twitter for iPad

DellaGalton: @vikkithomp @doitallbehappy absolutely. you can do anything I reckon – and it would qualify.but let’s ask Peter 🙂
12:24pm, Dec 26 from Web

Jayne_A_Curtis: @DellaGalton @vikkithomp @doitallbehappy Im having a large Tia Maria on Ice, I definitely didnt plan it, honest.
12:29pm, Dec 26 from Web

DellaGalton: @Jayne_A_Curtis @vikkithomp @doitallbehappy Now, that sounds like a fine plan Jayne. Peter is this a valid #boxingday activity?
12:31pm, Dec 26 from Web

doitallbehappy: @dellagalton @Jayne_A_Curtis My first #BoxingDay I opened a bottle of champagne – so I guess that answers that! 🙂
12:32pm, Dec 26 from HootSuite

DellaGalton: @doitallbehappy @Jayne_A_Curtis Were you celebrating anything specific or just #Boxingday
12:33pm, Dec 26 from Web

doitallbehappy: @dellagalton I guess I was doing what Kate (my late wife) and I used to do on our Boxing Days.
12:35pm, Dec 26 from HootSuite

DellaGalton: @doitallbehappy Ah, so Kate was the reason you reinvented #boxingday?
12:38pm, Dec 26 from Web

doitallbehappy: @dellagalton In a way. BD was ‘our’ day. The 1st year without her I replicated what we’d done. After that I decided to do it each month.
12:40pm, Dec 26 from HootSuite

DellaGalton: @doitallbehappy Ahhh, that is so romantic. Have you had any other romantic #boxingdays? Romance sounds like a fine theme.
12:41pm, Dec 26 from Web

doitallbehappy: @dellagalton Is that an offer 😉
12:42pm, Dec 26 from HootSuite

DellaGalton: @doitallbehappy Right, Mr Jones, getting back to your book. Tell us where we can buy it again 🙂
12:42pm, Dec 26 from Web

doitallbehappy: @dellagalton It’s available as an ebook and audio right now – and @HarperCollinsUK are republishing it Jan 17th
12:44pm, Dec 26 from HootSuite

DellaGalton: @doitallbehappy @HarperCollinsUK Thank you so much Peter. I will let you get back to the official #boxingday. Have fun 🙂
12:46pm, Dec 26 from Web


Follow me on twitter @doitallbehappy and Della @dellagalton

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 for Cambridge or 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’.

* * *

HowToTakeControl-drop-shadowOf 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.


Originally written for the Guardian, December 2012 – find out more about Peter Jones, his books, and other exciting stuff at peterjonesauthor.com

Goals, Ghosts, & Supper Club Hosts; WTFHIBD Episode 3

With barely 10 days left of 2012, I figured it was about time I gave you a What The **** Have I Been Doing update. This is the ‘regular’ feature – well, sort of – where I come clean on what I’ve been spending my time on and show you how I’ve gone about applying the concepts in the book to my own life.

Boxing Day

I’ll confess that I’ve built up a bit of a Boxing Day backlog these past couple of months. I did manage to squeeze one in a couple of weeks back and it was bliss.

I didn’t do much really – quite a lot of it was spent larking around on facebook – but the sun suddenly made an unexpected appearance so I wandered down to beach and rearranged some of the pebbles. I also jotted down some ideas for what could, one day, be a novel. Whether anything will come of that you’ll just have to wait and see.

Anyway, I have two Boxing Days ‘in the bank’ so I suspect I might be using those over Christmas. It would be nice to have a Boxing Day on the 26th of December (a Boxing Day on Boxing Day!) … but my publishers (Harper Collins) tell me I’ll be busy giving interviews that day!!

My Now List

You will be pleased to know that since my last WTFHIBD update I have managed to tick several things off my Now List!

In September I spent a few days in Cornwall, and whilst I didn’t manage to make it to St Michael’s Mount, or the Minack Theatre, I did make it back to Fowey. On the way back I drove through Devon and decided that I really ought to add that to the Now List.

IMG_1079I finally managed to visit a pop-up restaurant. Our host, ‘Food Urchin‘, treated us to pit roasted lamb. He quite literally dug a massive hole in his back garden (a few days earlier I hasten to add) and created a kind of rudimentary oven in which he roasted a whole lamb for several hours.

The rest of the menu looked like this:

Cold mezze consisting of
homemade Taramasalata, Baba Ganoush,
Hummus and Tzatziki
with Grilled Haloumi and Flatbreads.

Kleftiko, Roast New Potatoes
with Capers and Red Onions, Greek Salad.

Palate cleanser (of some description)

Poached Pears
with Filo, Praline, Pistachio and Vanilla Ice Cream.

It was fabulous!

twibAnd last week I finally saw the stage production of The Woman in Black – a play that I’ve wanted to see for the longest time. And Blimey O’Reily it was jaw droppingly fabulous. I’d go back tonight if it wasn’t sold out already. Easily the best play I’ve seen this year – possibly this decade. Possibly ever.

And as I sat there marvelling at the ingenuity of the story telling, whilst at the same time keeping an eye out for anything that might make me jump three foot in the air, I remembered why I started a Now List, how doing this stuff is the ice cream sundae of life, and how I skip dessert way too often in preference for a slightly larger main course. Madness.

Next year I’m making way more of an effort to work my Now List.

My Goals

After my last update I had a bit of a melt down.

Things were moving in the right direction – generally speaking – but it felt a little like I was on a runaway train – thundering down a track, without anyone at the helm. Do train’s have helms? Anyway. Life seemed to be getting away from me. So I booked a Goals Day, sat down with my Goals and my master to-do list and reviewed everything.

By the end of the day I’d re-written my three primary Goals and re-structured the list. To give you an example here’s how my primary goal used to look.

“I am supporting myself
doing the things I love & enjoy,
and no longer worry about bills.”
December 2012

And here’s how it looks now

“I am supporting myself
doing the things I love & enjoy.”
December 2013

I know what you’re thinking, it’s virtually identical to the previous goal. Except that it isn’t. That line in the original goal (‘worrying about bills’) was impairing my ability to focus properly.

If you’ve read How To Do Everything and be Happy then you’ll know that it simply isn’t possible to not think or worry about something. The very act of NOT thinking about something requires your brain to conjure up images of the thing you don’t want to think about, so you can ignore it. It was as if I was constantly reminding myself to worry about the damn bills whilst I attempted to earn a living out of the things I love and enjoy. Way to go Jonesy. Talk about putting myself under pressure. I can’t believe I didn’t notice it before.

Since re-writing that Goal things have got significantly easier. Or they seem significantly easier, which I’m pretty sure is the same thing. I’m back in control.

audible coverThe new paperback version of How To Do Everything and Be Happy is printed and should be in shops everywhere on the 17th of January. There should be a feature in about me and the book in tomorrow’s Guardian newspaper, and Harper Collins tell me that I have no idea just how much publicity I’ll be doing this time next month. And when it’s all done I’m going to celebrate. You did get the invite didn’t you?

I had a nice chat with Harper Collins in the USA. They’re publishing the paperback in June 2013. The ebook is available now of course.

My second book (How To Eat Loads And Stay Slim) has been finished for a while and is sitting with my agent whilst I put the finishing touches to my third book (How To Survive Online Dating). Both should be available, in some format, next year.

A new monthly version of my Happiness workshop starts in January (I’m calling it Happy Club – why not come along) and my assistant is booking me talking gigs up and down the country. It’s all good.

But enough about me. How’s life with you? Drop me a line or post a comment below. I really want to know.

Win Yourself a Signed Copy of The New Paperback!

The competition is now closed, and we’re just contacting the last of the winners. Thank you to everyone who took part.

And The Winners Are…

  1. Tracy Hanson (@iansmic) from West Yorkshire – congratulations!
  2. Judith Eddington (@hey_jude_67) from Cardiff- congratulations!
  3. Sarah Walters (@sarahwalters99) from Cheshire – congratulations!
  4. Cheryll Hastie (@pipersky1) from Peterborough – congratulations!
  5. Midge Greentree (@wildwomanwithin) from Oregon – congratulations!
  6. Greig Spencer (@greigo_uk) from Leicester – congratulations!

Your books will be dispatched to you sometime next week (so you might have them ahead of the official publication date)

‘Go With The Flow’ Day

pocketful of smiles_smlOne of the things I love about ‘Boxing Day’ is how people have taken the idea, and made it their own. This week, to mark the launch of her latest book – ‘A Pocketful of Smiles’ – author Wendy Steele tells us about ‘Go With The Flow’ Day.

With the evenings drawing in and less sunshine to brighten our days, I can feel lethargic and unmotivated. For me that suggests I need to book a ‘Go With The Flow’ day.

Do you sometimes get tired of the same routine? Do you find that your weekends feel just like working days? Do you sometimes wish you could do just what you feel like doing right now? You need a Go With The Flow Day.

This day is easy to achieve for some, requires forward planning by most but is impossible for very few of us. In order to make this time, you need to book a day in your diary to do it. For those with small children, this may need to be when grandparents are available to babysit, or with partners, decide if you’re going to ‘go with the flow’ together or separately.

A possible Go With The Flow Day for me would be when my children have plans where they are staying over, I’ve seen my mum the previous weekend, there is tasty home made food in the freezer and I’ve worked hard to get washing, shopping, chores etc relatively up to date. Upon waking, I might decide to have my first cup of Rooibos in the garden or the summer house. A leisurely bath with essential oils gives me time to think; a walk in the woods feels like a good idea. Wrapped up warm while walking, I remember the book I bought about spirals on ancient monuments and I indulge that feeling on my return home and curl up in front of the fire with my book. A cat or two comes to join me and I relish their warmth and their company. Before the light fades, I retrieve dahl and rice from the freezer and as I decant it into oven proof dishes, I remember the cooking apples in the cupboard, wash them, de-core them, fill them with brown sugar and sultanas and pop them in the oven with the curry. I return to my book but my mind recalls that I haven’t read one of my favourite books, ‘Moon Magic’ by Dion Fortune for a while and I abandon one book for another.

Everyone’s Go With The Flow Day will be different but try not to get distracted and fall into everyday mode. If you want to work, then please do so. Sometimes I write on these days but don’t feel you have to or you should. If you want to paint the spare room, go ahead, but only if you want to. Treat yourself to a day of doing what you feel.

Book a Go With The Flow Day in your diary now. After one of these days, I return to my routine refreshed. Even the chores seem less tiresome and I feel more in tune with my surroundings.

You can find 100 more ideas to bring happiness to your days in my new book ‘Wendy Woo’s Year – A Pocketful of Smiles – 101 ideas for a happy year and a happy you.’ Just visit amazon all the books