How To Do Everything And Be Happy

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Lighting My Life – WTFHIBD episode 8 (part 2)

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Last week I started to tell you What The Flippin’ Heck I’ve Been Doing with my life, and I talked a little about how I’ve rediscovered the joy of Boxing Day. You can read that post here.

This week I’d like to talk about…

My NOW List

For those of you who don’t know (where have you been??) a NOW List is basically a Bucket List, but you’re not going to wait until the end is nigh before tackling the items on the list. (If you don’t know what a Bucket List is, go have a listen to this radio interview).

I think I’ve confessed this on a previous blog, but whilst so many people love the idea of a NOW List I actually find it a struggle to tick things off.

Part of the problem is that most of the things I’d really like to do require either time and/or money – and like many people, I’m short on both!

HOWEVER, a few weeks back I FINALLY got to check off an item which has been sitting on my NOW List for YEARS!! (So long in fact, I thought it might have been mentioned in the book… that really would have been embarrassing)

The item was this: GO INSIDE A LIGHTHOUSE.

Quite why it took me so long to get around to it is a bit of a mystery; of all the things I’ve done over the years, this was probably one of the cheapest (£4 a head, plus petrol) and easiest to organise.

And was it worth it? You betcha. You can see from these pictures that I had a stupid grin plastered all over my face, and a week later it was still there.

It was such a successful trip that it renewed my enthusiasm for the old NOW List. I grabbed my diary and set aside an afternoon to plan my next adventure, which resulted in me adding two new items, and booking them, for the coming weeks.

               

But less about me.

Have you ticked anything off your NOW List recently? Why not let me know in the comments (if you’re reading this on the blog or social media).

Come Back Next Week…

…When I’ll be telling you about my Goals. Until then…


Click or tap here, to visit amazonHot news! 

My third novel, My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend, is just 99 pennies for a limited period. Yes, novel! I write fiction too. Perfect if you’re looking for a light, laugh-out-loud entertaining read.

Click or tap here to visit amazon or type BuyTheBook.TODAY into your web browser.

 

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Trophy Board 2016

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Phew! Done it! I finally got around to clearing down my Trophy Board. Why finally? Because, for the first time in two decades, my A2 board wasn’t enough to hold all my ‘trophies’, and so back in October or November I added an A3 extension! To put it another way, whilst 2016 wasn’t the best year for a lot of folks, for me it was my busiest, ‘funnest’ (if that’s a word), year – EVER!

If you’re not really sure what a Trophy Board is, take a look at this earlier post (and extract from How To Do Everything And Be Happy) by clicking here.

Of course, a pin board isn’t the only way to capture memories. How about a Memory Box?memory-box

This one is available on Etsy here

 

Have another ‘trophy board’ idea? Share it in the comments. Or share your Trophy Board with other readers on the How To Do Everything And Be Happy facebook page – here.


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Phoenix FM Happy Club: How to make your Bucket List work!

Over the next few weeks I’ll be playing catch up with some of the radio interviews I’ve given over the past few months, including my ‘Happy Club’ slot of Michelle Ward‘s show on Phoenix98 FM.

This week we rewind the clock to April of this year when Michelle and I talked about Bucket Lists – and more importantly how to make them work. Click the big play button in the image below, or here if you’re reading this in an email.

We chat about the film ‘The Bucket List‘, how I decided to write a Bucket List of my own, and why I call mine a ‘Now List’. We also talk about the importance of starting your list even if you have no idea what you’d put on it, and how having a blank, ‘ready-to-go’ list seems to be a magnet for Bucket List ideas.

If you’ve already written a Bucket List then you might be interested in a couple of my other posts such as…

Want More Tips?

All four of my How To books are available in paperback, audio and for your kindle enabled device. In most cases the kindle versions are less than the price of a cup of coffee! Jeepers! Click here to find out more.

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)


TGGGTGTG drop shadowDuring the show Michelle briefly mentions my debut novel, The Good Guy’s Guide To Getting The Girl, and I casually forget to tell her that it wasn’t actually published. Well the good news is it is finally available!

The official launch is September 12th 2014, when the ebook will be less than a quid for a very limited period, and I’ll be personally delivering copies to anyone who wants one (that last bit might not be true). Subscribe to this blog to be reminded of the launch nearer the time, but if you can’t wait to flick through the contents of my imagination, click here now.


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The Wisdom Of Marty McCormick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All the best
Martyboy!!!

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

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

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


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


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6 tips for Happiness

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

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

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

Tip 2: Make a “Now List”

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

Tip 3: Collect “Trophies”

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

Yet More Trophies

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

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

Tip 5: Use The Power of Focus

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

…And It’s Gone!

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

Tip 6: Remind Yourself Of The Important Things

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


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Meeting Your Heroes

steve wright

Things have been a tad crazy round here lately.

For instance, on Wednesday I was supposed to be writing a new WTFHIBD post for this blog but instead author Della Galton and myself were special guests on ‘Steve Wright In The Afternoon‘, on BBC Radio 2, talking about our book How To Eat Loads And Stay Slim

It was kinda momentous! I’ve listened to Steve for more years than I care to mention – in fact there was a period in my late teens where Steve inspired me to consider pursuing a career in broadcasting. This in turn led to me torturing hospital patients  in various Essex hospitals via hospital radio. If you happened to be in St John’s hospital during the late 80s, or Basildon Hospital in the early 1990s, I apologise profusely. Fortunately for everyone, like my ambitions of becoming an astronaut, a train driver or a fireman, I gave up on those dreams – Steve Wright on the other is still going strong.

Apparently Steve was keen to get us onto the show after reading the title of our book, and though the interview is quite quick – just over five minutes long – we still manage to discuss the concept of the book, how hunger really works, the mysterious oil diet, Della’s fat-free cooking principles, how to survive social eating, why diets don’t work, and why making lots of small changes does. Phew! But I’d have been happy just to shake the man by the hand.

If you’ve examined my Now List in any detail you’ll notice I have a section entitled ‘Sometime, maybe’ for those things that seem incredibly out of reach, but after Wednesday my dreams of having dinner with Imogen Heap, working with Steven Moffat, or appearing on Saturday Kitchen seem just a tiny bit more obtainable.

You can still listen to the interview over on the BBC website (or click the image below).


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

How To Eat Loads And Stay Slim is available, now, in three formats.


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Brain Farts (& the return of Bob)

brainfartLast week – ish – I introduced you to Bob and his wish list which was, I don’t think he’ll mind me telling you, made up of quite a lot of stuff you wouldn’t ‘wish’ on your worst enemy.

Actually that’s not quite true. You probably would wish quite a lot of this stuff on your worst enemy. In fact viewed in this context, Bob’s list makes a lot more sense. I can see my enemy’s now, miserably cleaning their cookers, painting their wardrobes, and spending long hours on the phone to various banking institutions, all whilst I sit in the sun…

Anyway. After giving Bob the benefit of my advice I received the following chirpy response:

Not long after I’d sent you the email I was reading your book again and got to the page about Wish List items leading to Happiness and thought – oh my that’s it.  Lots of things on that list aren’t wish list stuff at all.  But I’d already sent the email.  I think what I presented to you isn’t my Wish List, its my list of Brain Farts.  Another book calls them pop-corn thoughts because they POP into your head.  I prefer Brain Farts.  I am a master list writer and I write all these brain farts down.  This leads to a big list that I don’t know what to do with.  Which is what I sent to you.  Its actioning the items on those lists that’s a problem.  I think what would make me happier (I’m not unhappy) is to become someone that can get those nagging jobs just done to make more space for Live Life Now Lists and Wish List stuff.

Ah Bob. I feel your pain. I’ve been there. Making endless lists of chores which if I can just get some of them completed, will free up so much time, and relieve me of all those niggles I feel through out the day.

So let me spare you some torment and make life considerably easier for you. It ain’t ever gonna happen. You’re never, ever, going to clear your brain fart list. Ever.

Have you ever noticed how it doesn’t matter how big that suitcase is, when it comes to holiday packing it’s never quite big enough?  Or how your wife manages to fill her handbag with all kinds of rubbish regardless of whether it’s the size of a small purse or large enough to comfortably hold a small child and a three volume novel. So it is with brain farts, and chores, and all those annoying things that seem to stand between you and a smile. They fill up whatever space you allow them to have. And therein is your solution. Take back control and give those farts no space whatsoever!

Now I’m not saying ignore them. That won’t work for you. Not unless you’re one of those people who are blessed with the amazing ability to live life totally in the moment, never worrying about what might happen next week, or tomorrow, or in the next five minutes, and instantly forgetting anything that happened longer than a moment ago. But chances are if you were one of those people you wouldn’t be reading this now. No – you need a way to manage those brain farts. I accept that.

Here then, is what I do.

1. When I get a brain fart I text/email myself, or write it on a scrap of paper. Anything, just to capture it and get it out of my head.

2. I have a text file on my computer desktop. You could use a pad or something equally low tech, but you need a dumping ground. As a new brain farts arrives (or you come across the ones you captured at stage one) transfer them here.

3. Once a month review this document, and group the farts together into subject matter – WRITING, FUN, NOW LIST, CHORES, FINANCES, BUSINESS TASKS, COMMITMENTS.. things like that.

4. Transfer all these items to a master to-do list, and then review it – deciding which THREE of all the brain farts under that section (including the ones from previous months) should get your attention, which can be dumped, and which should just stay in pending. Picking just three farts focuses me on what’s actually important. Often I check to see how the three things I’ve chosen relate to my Goals.

5. Having decided which three items (they’re not farts any more) I’m going to work on I then decide what the next action is for each of them (do I need to call someone? Do some research? Read a book? Buy a widget? Talk to my assistant?) and when I’m going to do that (take a look at the Advanced Diary Tips at the end of the book for more on that).

And that’s it. It’s actually a lot less onerous than it might seem, and in doing this I  prevent brain farts from taking over my life. True my oven could still do with a clean. True my wardrobe could also do with a lick of paint. True, at some point I still need to call the bank and have my sanity gradually erased by someone who has no intention of actually helping me, but… not today. Today I’m busy being happy.


Hot news! Today ‘How To Do Everything And Be Happy’ is available, in paperback, from selected US bookstores and from US cover with drop shadowamazon.COM – hurrah! 

To mark this auspicious occasion, my US publishers (Harper 360) have decided to give the US-printed paperback a brand new, all-yellow cover.

Of course the inside of the book remains exactly the same – this isn’t a new edition – so there’s no need to rush out and buy a new copy of the book if you already have one. Although I would certainly understand if that were the case. And can one ever have too many copies? Plus – one imagines – there might be those amongst you who might see a market for importing the US branded copy of the book, and selling it here in the UK as a collectors edition. I’m just saying.