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Category: BE HAPPY

  1. Why I'm Wishing You a Merry Imperfect Christmas...

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    I do love Christmas. I love spending time with family and friends, I love hearing Christmas songs and seeing all the lights and decorations and I love the magic that is around at this time of year.

    But it can also be a stressful and overwhelming time of year too. Especially if you're a people-pleasing overthinker like me! It is easy to drown in a never-ending to-do list as you strive to deliver the perfect Christmas, as you constantly worry that the kids won't be happy, that people won't enjoy their dinner and that your bank balance will never recover.

    Every year, the 'Christmas Thing' seems to get bigger – and last longer. Increasingly impressive TV adverts paint full-colour images of the perfect Christmas, there seems to be a growing list of things that we feel we should do, like Christmas Eve boxes and Christmas pyjamas and even advent calendars just keep getting bigger and more impressive (and expensive!). It is so easy to get swept up with the idea that it is all these things that are vital for a successful Christmas – that Christmas is about a flawless dinner, giving a mountain of gifts you can't really afford to buy and skipping your way through the festive season with a smile on your face whilst belting out your best Mariah Carey impression.

     But when we stop, step off the commercial Christmas machine and remind ourselves what Christmas should mean for us then we realise that all these things are lovely – but they're not vital. If we allow ourselves to have the Christmas that we want, that is about the things that are really important to us, then it really doesn't matter if the gravy is lumpy, if the star falls off the Christmas Tree or indeed, if there are days when you want to punch Noddy Holder in the face because you're really not in the mood for Christmas cheer.

     dr seuss xmas quote

    And this is why I am wishing you a very Merry Imperfect Christmas this year.

    I want you to really think about what Christmas is about for you this year. Is it about having the best Christmas Tree in the village or is it about spending quality time with your family? Is it about hosting a perfect event or making precious memories? As soon as you pause and reflect on why you get swept up in all this madness, you will also hopefully realise that we can put so much pressure on ourselves to make the unimportant stuff perfect, that we miss out on the really valuable stuff.

    So to help keep us all focussed on what is important this year, and help stop us getting swept up in the craziness, I am running the Happy Mind Army Imperfect Christmas – and I want you to join me, and spread the word so that more people can join us and lift some of the stress and anxiety out of the holiday season. And there will be 3 main ways you can join in:

     

    1) The Happy Mind Army Advent Calendar

    Every day from 1st December through to Christmas Day, I will be doing a post in the HMA Facebook Group to help keep you focussed on YOUR Christmas, not the Christmas you think you should be having! These posts will be a mix of stuff including inspiring quotes, ideas for homemade gifts, time-saving tips and plenty of reassurance that you don't have to fit in to anyone else's version of Christmas.

    Life also still has the same challenges at this time of year – you could be grieving, having financial difficulties or struggling with illness – so feeling that you still have to live up to this idea of a perfect Christmas can be too much to bear. So HMA is here to remind you that you don't.

    Steering your way through the festive season with clear focus on your goal, YOUR Christmas, can really help take some of the anxiety away from trying to be everything to everyone. You might love all the lights, tinsel and trimmings and have a Christmas jumper for every day of the week, or you might find it all a bit too much and want a quiet understated Christmas – either way, you can make sure you enjoy and find joy in your festivities, not feel you have to survive them! There is no such thing as a 'perfect Christmas' so you shouldn't put pressure on yourself to deliver one!

    Rules for a Happy Christmas

     

    2) The Happy Mind Army Imperfect Christmas Photo-A-Day Challenge

    Hosted mainly on Instagram, but running across Facebook and Twitter, there will also be a photo challenge running during this advent period. Life gets pretty hectic at this time of year, so the idea of this challenge is to get to you be more mindful, to stop every now and then and be in the moment, and enjoy some of the things that are easy to miss when you're hurtling around at a million miles an hour.

     It's about slowing down the pace, having a moment and giving yourself the opportunity to be present and enjoy the festive season – not miss it all with your head buried in a to-do list!

    Each day will have a prompt word which you can use as a springboard for ideas for an image that you post on social media that day. A list of all the words, and more details about what it involves, will be posted on instagram and in the HMA Facebook Group very soon.

     

    3) My weekly Monday Mindset Manouvres Email

    If you haven't already signed up for my weekly Monday email you can do so here. These emails take just a few minutes to read, but help set you up in the right frame of mind for the week ahead. During the festive season my emails will also tie-in to the #HMAImperfectChristmas to help make sure you remain calm and in control throughout the pre-Christmas madness.

     imperfect christmas intro pic

    So, make sure you sign-up for the emails, follow me on Instagram and join the HMA Facebook Group so you too can embrace an imperfect Christmas and paradoxically discover just how perfect it can be!

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  2. Don't Ignore Your Niggles!

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    The core theme in all my current work comes back to one strong message – be who you are, love who you are.

    Working towards this one main aim covers all the topics I include in my painting and talk about on this blog and over in the Happy Mind Army facebook group – self confidence (and self-doubt!), overthinking, stepping out of our comfort zone, developing positive mental health, being kind to ourselves – all the things that can help, or hinder, us building a marvellous mindset and staying mentally healthy.

    And I think one crucial factor in us 'being who we are', is listening to our whispers, our niggles – those feelings deep down which tell us what we want to do and strive for in this one life we get. On paper, being who you are seems like the simplest thing in the world. Surely, just by waking up and breathing you are being you – but in reality, I think many of us get so trapped in the rat race of jobs, careers, paying the bills, even sometimes keeping up appearances, that often the 'real you' can get lost along the way.

    sail away quote

    I truly believe that ignoring these niggles can lead to a life of frustration – perhaps on a scale big enough to have an impact on mental health. And I believe that we can become so used to ignoring our own 'callings', burying them deep, that we even become frustrated with our own sense of frustration! We may feel unfulfilled or unhappy and we're not quite sure why. And unless we start listening and tuning into these niggles again, we can't do anything about them.

    So, my challenge to you is to start listening out for your niggles. You may already have a strong calling towards something, but feel it is so far-fetched that you try and hush it up – maybe it would call for a change of career, returning to education, a shake-up of relationships or even just a change of routine that would cause a few problems. Maybe you have been following the same old routine for so long that you can't even remember the last time you stopped to think about what you are here for, what would make you feel alive.

    But it is never too late to do it. Over in the Facebook group and in my social media this month I have been talking a lot about self-care and a big part of this is giving yourself permission to be who you are and to pursue things which fire you up. We are only here once (and who knows for how long) so we all deserve to live the life we are here to live – not someone else's version of life, but ours, no matter how different it is to everybody else's.

    Ask yourself, if you didn't have to worry about money, time, childcare or anybody else's opinion what would you do? Don't try and edit it or tone it down, answer honestly (you don't have to tell anyone else!) – and also allow yourself some time to find the answer. As I said, we can become so used to burying our niggles that we become numb to our own passions and interests. But when you do start to find some answers, free of limits and anyone else's opinion, somewhere within there might be a spark of something, a spark that can be the beginning of you coming back to life, or even just feeling back in control of life a bit again.

    just do it

    It might possibly be something that makes you reflect on huge areas of your life such as family, career, where you live, where you work - life-changing decisions can be made even when you think you are firmly embedded in a certain way of life. If who we are deep down, isn't in tune with the life we are outwardly leading then I really do believe this can be the source of deep unhappiness.

    But it doesn't have to be huge, life-changing decisions your niggles lead to. You might enjoy your job, be in a happy relationship and you may just uncover some small things, but small things that can have a huge impact on your happiness and sense of fulfilment. Maybe you will remember how much you loved performing when you were younger and it leads you to look at local Amateur Dramatics groups, maybe you acknowledge the frustration that you and your partner used to spend lots of time cooking together and now with work and family life you never do – so you vow to introduce a monthly evening where you bring masterchef back into the household! It could be that you remember how much you love reading, or that you've always wanted to learn to paint, to ride a motorbike or run a marathon! Whatever those niggles are, we need to stop hushing them up because life gets in the way and we need to start listening to them because they are in fact what makes us come alive.

    We owe it to ourselves, and our short time on this planet, to live our fullest life. To do the things which make us come alive and in turn make us more the person we were put here to be. Doing things which light us up is not selfish – ignoring them is to miss out on being who we are and loving who we are – and you know how important I think that is!

    So, turn up the volume on your niggles, get in tune with them and start having more than just any life, start living YOUR life!

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    MY QUOTE

     

     

  3. 3 Reasons Why You Really, Really Don't Want To Be Happy!

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    I've said this before, and I don't apologise for repeating myself – choosing to be happy doesn't mean always feeling happy. Life will still throw stuff at you that makes you tired, sad, guilty, excited, distraught, overwhelmed, giddy, forlorn, lost, apathetic (you get the idea) but by choosing to 'be happy' you retain a core of being grateful and an approach to life that remains positive. (This blog post explains this is much greater depth!)

    But not everyone is ready to choose happiness, and here are 3 very good reasons why you really don't want to be happy:..

     

    1) IT IS REALLY HARD WORK

    Keeping a positive mindset and being happy isn't a case of taking a magic pill and never having to worry about anything ever again. Your life will still have as many challenges and tough times as it always has and it takes strength and determination to get through them in a positive way. Choosing to be happy and stay happy takes daily mindset work – constant positive self-talk and practices of being grateful and not taking things for granted. They'll be days when you've had enough and you need a wallow – but then it takes more mind work to kick yourself back into a more positive place.

    Choosing to be happy is like enrolling on a long term course in mindset training – it's a commitment to small steps, taken every day to keep your outlook positive and your mindset a happy one. Like I said, it's hard work!

    happiness mindset quote

     

    2) NOBODY REALLY CARES IF YOU'RE HAPPY

    Think of all the posts you see on social media that get lots of attention, or the stories that make the newspapers and magazines. They're the ones that feature heartbreak, drama, sadness and upset. No-one reports a nice calm day, a mundane Tuesday with no drama or makes headlines with a happy marriage. People court attention with dramatic emotion – and we seem primed to react to it. So to be happy, means you will become, well a bit invisible really. No-one else will really notice.

    You have to live a life that is for yourself and your own satisfaction – not one that is lived out for the entertainment or judgement of others. There is no doing or saying things to cause drama and gain attention – you have to be satisfied and happy with your lot in such a way that you don't need the approval or attention of others to make you feel worthy. You have to step away from the dramatically vague facebook statuses and instead embrace your invisibility cloak of happiness.

    choose wisely quote

     

    3) YOU CAN'T BLAME ANYONE (OR ANYTHING) ELSE ANYMORE

    Now this is a big one. Choosing to be happy means taking full responsibility for ALL your emotions and how you use them! It means accepting that you have no power over how anyone else behaves or indeed over a lot of what happens to you but you do have full control over how you behave and how you feel – and that means you can't shift responsibility for your feelings anywhere else.

    You can't blame your childhood for holding you back, or your bitchy friend for making you feel sad. A bad boss, an aggressive driver, the bank manager, your selfish partner or the woman on the till at Aldi – none of them have any responsibility for your happiness (or lack of it). Only you do. I repeat. Only you do. By all means react to any of these people or events in a natural and emotional way – but then you decide to stay in that negative space or move your way back to a happier one.

    And this involves the hefty stuff too. Big trauma, past tragic events, life changing moments. To be happy, you have to call a truce with them. And I don't say that glibly – doing this can be huge and involve help and professional support if needed (I did say in number 1 that being happy is hard work!) but blaming other people and life events for how we feel is again handing responsibility for our emotions to someone or something else – but we need to grab hold of all our emotions ourselves. Only when we own them, completely and utterly, can we take control of them and make choices over how we use them. And this won't happen overnight – in fact, it could take years – but it starts in an instant with the choice to take responsibility and the decision to choose happiness.

     voltaire quote

    So as you can see there are some very good reasons why you really don't want to be happy. It's hard, it takes effort to get there and stay there and you have to actually take responsibility for yourself to do it (which is by far the hardest part). But you know what, if you do chose to be happy, and take the necessary steps to get there, my word, it'll change your life.