How To Do Everything And Be Happy

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FAQ: Potential Boxing Day Problem #2 – Not knowing what to do

damien_canderle_gremlins2

Ideally here’s how Boxing Day should work: You wake up, you ask yourself what you fancy doing at that precise moment, then you go and do that thing. And when you’ve done that, or you’ve had enough of whatever it is, you go do something else. Easy?

Not necessarily.

Once you’ve decided (in advance) when your Boxing Day will be, Gremlins immediately take up residence under your bed, ready to thwart you.

The first gremlin is ‘your usual daily routine’. Unless you begin Boxing Day right away it’s incredibly easy to start the day pretty much as every other and before you know it you’re checking emails, opening post and oh, the laundry basket’s looking a little full I’ll just put on a load of washing.

The second is a ‘general lack of inspiration’. There you are. Sitting in bed. Ready for the Boxing Day euphoria to kick in just as soon as you can decide what it is that you’d like to do… and you just can’t think of anything.

I’ve been there.

Here then are some top tips should you find yourself in a similar situation:

  1. Start Boxing Day from the moment you open your eyes – Try and break from your normal daily routine from the moment you wake up. A couple of times I’ve come downstairs and as I’ve reached for the milk in the fridge I’ve seen those eggs, sitting there, quietly doing nothing, and thought to myself – sod it – let’s cook breakfast. And other times, as I opened the cupboard to take out the Weetabix, I’ve noticed a kilo bag of oats and thought to myself, “You know, what I really fancy right now are flapjacks.”
  2. Perform the Boxing Day Dance – Flushed with the success of the first Boxing Day (which you’ll remember was an accident) I was quite excited when, having made an appointment with myself, it was time to have the second one. I was so excited that I danced round the flat in my dressing gown making up a silly Boxing Day song as I went, much to the bemusement of my cat. Strange thing is though, I’ve since found that if I’m having a Boxing Day which feels a little flat, a few bars of my Boxing Day song will be all I need to get the Boxing Day juices flowing. (No you can’t hear my Boxing Day song – make up your own!
  3. Do the first thing that comes to mind – Sometimes it’s difficult to decide what to do with your Boxing Day because you’re over thinking it. If you’re struggling to feel inspired, stop, and ask yourself “What do I want to do RIGHT NOW?” The thing that comes to mind, usually before you’ve even finished the sentence, is very possibly the thing you should do. It doesn’t matter how silly it may seem, or how simple – if it can be done, now, and you like the idea – do it!
  4. You can work – Working on Boxing Day is a completely legitimate exercise if that’s what you really want to do. And let’s broaden the definition of work to include any activity that you might not consider typically “fun”. Decorating, for instance. Balancing your cheque book. Filling out an application form. Don’t put yourself under pressure to fill your Boxing Day with “fun” activities. If it’s what you want to do (want to do – not need to do) then it’s a legitimate Boxing Day activity. For instance, I am writing this paragraph on Boxing Day! That’s the absolute truth, and I can honestly say that right now, given the moment, the opportunities available to me, and how I feel, writing this is what I really want to do.
  5. Make a list – Pre-planning Boxing Day is utterly forbidden, but if you’re a planner at heart (as I am), there’s nothing to say you can’t do a little brainstorming at the start of the day. If I don’t wake up and feel instantly inspired I often grab a piece of paper (rather than sit at my computer) and jot down ideas – things that I could do. I try and write my ideas all over the page and at weird angles so that it’s as un-list like as possible (otherwise I might be tempted to start at the top and work through the items). And then, when I’ve finished brainstorming, quite often I’ll toss the list to one side and do something entirely different.
  6. You can be dull – If you want to do nothing but sit on the sofa and watch TV, or go back to bed, or read a magazine cover to cover, or play computer games, that’s perfectly acceptable. If it’s been a while since your last Boxing Day (perhaps you had to postpone it) then maybe this is the first opportunity you’ve had in a while to rest. So do it. Rest. However, I encourage you to rest with gusto – if you want to go back to bed, put your PJs back on, close the curtains, put on some soothing music, maybe download some “ocean sounds” to your iPod, sprinkle lavender on your pillow – really go for it! If you want to watch TV, grab some snacks, then sit down and watch an entire season of Lost, or 24, or the Gilmore Girls, or Doctor Who, or whatever floats your boat.

Towards the back of the book, under the section ‘Putting It All Together’, you’ll find an example of what a typical Boxing Day looks like (for me).

 


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

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

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

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


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For the love of flapjacks

flapjacks

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

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

So here it is.

Ingredients

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

Equipment

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

Instructions

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

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