Monthly Archives: May 2016

Wrapping up a week of tailored mood nudges.

OK, so today’s the last of four days when I’ve presented you with a different way of getting your mood nudged, by directing you to one of three possibilities tailored to how you’re currently feeling.

It’s a little like the approach in “Nudge Your Way to Happiness,” although in the book you take a short test to work out your current emotional state rather than having to evaluate it off the top of your head.

However, if you pause for a few seconds, it’s certainly possible to quickly take stock, so why don’t you do that right now?


Then, if your current mood is:

* Not that great to be honest – Read Nudge 1

* Not over the moon, but not too bad really – Read Nudge 2

* Actually pretty good, considering – Read Nudge 3

+ + + + + + +

Nudge 1

On shabby days it’s common to slip into what you might call “black and white thinking” when your mind only works at the very extremes of the emotional spectrum, and, if we’re honest, probably mainly towards the blacker end.

If one thing goes wrong, you may end up thinking—even saying—that everything is a total disaster.

But that’s almost certainly not true, is it? If you find yourself falling into this behaviour today, try to stop, and think in shades of grey instead.

When you do that, you’ll probably understand better that the sky isn’t completely falling.

Nudge 2

Since you’re feeling kind of average at the moment, it’s sensible to keep an eye open to the possibility of doing a little better.

When that happens, it’s almost always a gradual process rather than an overnight thing.

Laughter can help.

When we laugh, it relaxes us, and releases the body’s own feel-good chemicals.

It’s even better, of course, when you laugh in the company of others.

So today’s a perfect day to ask yourself who you know who has a great sense of humour.

Who’s the person with the uncanny knack of being able to make you laugh?

And what can you do to seek out their company?

In person is best, but a phone or Skype call can work almost as well.

Nudge 3

Do you ever stop to think about the things that make you happy? If you’re like most people, you might not do that nearly often enough.

It’s therefore likely that happiness happens for you in a random kind of way, more or less by accident.

Since you’re going through a better spell right now, do your best to maintain these higher spirits by scheduling something you know will make you feel good.

One suggestion, if you’ll excuse the frivolity, is to be a little silly.

Frankly, life can get a bit serious, and a serious life can easily become rather heavy.

So let your hair down today, and you really won’t regret it.

+ + + + + + +

Tailored nudges like these form the basis of “Nudge Your Way to Happiness,” available now…


And on


A third day of three tailor-made mood nudges.

Today’s the third of four days when I’m experimenting with a different way of getting nudges to you, inspired by the approach in “Nudge Your Way to Happiness”.

The book helps you work out how you’re feeling using a daily test, then directs you to a tailored nudge, appropriate to how you’re doing.

Although we’re not using the test in these posts, you can still stop for a few seconds to ask yourself how you are.


Then when you’ve done that, if your current mood is:

* Not that great to be honest – Read Nudge 1

* Not over the moon, but not too bad really – Read Nudge 2

* Actually pretty good, considering – Read Nudge 3

+ + + + + + +

Nudge 1

When a team of mountaineers gathers at the foot of Mount Everest, their objective is clear.

Having goals and things look forward to can feel good, but we all know how hard it is to set these when, unlike a successful Everest climber, you don’t exactly feel on top of the world.

So the trick, if you can pull it off, is to still make plans, but just make them modest.

What’s most important is that they should be achievable.

Even if you do something like promise yourself fifteen minutes with a favourite book after you’ve had a shower, looking ahead can really help.

Nudge 2

Some days it’s easy to believe nothing’s gone right, but seeing that you’re feeling kind of average at the moment, it is unlikely that every little thing has gone wrong.

You can put this to good use at the end of the day by celebrating your successes, even if they were just small ones, right before you go to sleep tonight.

When you’re tired, it’s easy to dwell on failures, but it’s much more helpful to quickly recap the things that went well.

So watch out for them during the day, and remember them for tonight.

Nudge 3

When you feel good, as you do right now, you can help keep things that way by making sure that the people around you react positively to you.

This way they’ll help keep you swimming rather than pulling you under, even if they don’t mean to.

A helpful way to flag up your upbeatness is to “dress for your mood.” Put on something that makes you look good, and you’ll feel good to.

You may notice other people complimenting you or at least paying attention to you.

Those clothes that you keep for best?

Today’s the day to put them on.

+ + + + + + +

This tailor-made approach to mood-nudging is a simplified form you will find everyday in “Nudge Your Way to Happiness”, available now…


And on


Three mood nudges, one just right for you.

I’m taking a slightly different approach to your Moodnudges this week.

Rather like the process in “Nudge Your Way to Happiness,” this post contains three nudges, one of which is tailor-made for you.

With the book, you can rate your mood accurately, but for the sake of brevity, I’d ask you to pause for just a few seconds to think about how you’re feeling right now.


Then if your current mood is:

* Not that great to be honest – Read Nudge 1

* Not over the moon, but not too bad really – Read Nudge 2

* Actually pretty good, considering – Read Nudge 3

+ + + + + + +

Nudge 1

In the past you may have experienced feeling good after doing some kind of vigorous exercise.

When you work your body, it produces feel-good chemicals called endorphins.

But this is a fat lot of help if a general state of glumness makes it hard to even get out of bed in the morning.

The thing is, any exercise is better than no exercise at all.

So if you can’t get out of the house, try walking up and down stairs a few times, or run on the spot, or even put on some music and dance.

Get just a little active today.

Nudge 2

Our ancestors spent a lot more time outdoors than we do.

It’s only relatively recently that humans have become mainly indoor-dwellers.

You’ve felt better than you do right now, but also – it must be said – worse, so aim to give yourself a boost by getting out in nature, to whatever degree that’s possible.

Although a full-on expedition is probably not on the cards, the natural world is always around us, at least to some extent.

So even if it’s only watching out for miniature plants growing out of cracks in the paving stones, look for opportunities to appreciate flora and fauna today.

It’s nearly always there if you look hard enough, and our brains are programmed to appreciate it.

Nudge 3

Just like measles and other people yawning, moods can be contagious.

Hanging around with positive people can rub off on you, but the same can also be true when you spend time with others who are gloomy.

You’re feeling pretty good right now, and probably want to keep it that way.

But this doesn’t mean you must shun anyone who’s currently under a cloud.

Avoid being pulled down, by keeping yourself a bit disassociated from other people’s problems.

Tune into them as though watching a TV show.

Empathise, by all means, but don’t carry their weight on your own shoulders.

+ + + + + + +

There are tailor-made nudges rather like these in “Nudge Your Way to Happiness,” available now…


And on


A mood nudge that’s tailor-made for you.

Something a little different for you in this coming week on Moodnudges.

To mark the publication of “Nudge Your Way to Happiness” (see below) I’d like to help you get a nudge that’s tailor-made for the way you’re feeling right now.

The book does this systematically, by rating your mood with a brief daily test, but for the sake of this post, let’s speed things up.

So just stop for a few seconds to ask yourself how you are.


Then if you’re feeling:

* Not that great to be honest – Read Nudge 1

* Not over the moon, but not too bad really – Read Nudge 2

* Actually pretty good, considering – Read Nudge 3

+ + + + + + +

Nudge 1

It’s hard to motivate yourself to do the things you know might perk you up when you feel low, so it may be helpful to remember that learning something new nearly always gives you a boost.

Come on, today of all days, you’re hardly likely to sign up for a university course, but you can nearly always pick up new knowledge simply by picking up a book or magazine that’s not your usual thing.

Browse through something a bit different, and allow yourself to feel a tiny bit better as you uncover some new nugget of knowledge.

Nudge 2

Psychologists say we can change the way we feel by acting “as if” we’re already experiencing that emotion.

Make a sad face, and you’ll feel sad.

But smile, on the other hand, and you’re likely to give yourself a lift.

You’re feeling kind of average today, so why not take advantage of this phenomenon to boost yourself up a bit?

It might feel odd to begin with, but try wearing a smile as you walk somewhere.

If people give you funny looks, let them.

Actually it’s more likely they’ll smile back, though, even if you only catch this out of the corner of your eye.

Nudge 3

It’s your kind of day.

Things are good.

Not to rain on your parade, but when times are better, it’s easy to forget the importance of taking care of yourself.

Good sleep, for example, is incredibly important and restorative.

But maybe feeling good will result in your bedtime being put back a little?

Don’t allow this happen, as you may regret it tomorrow.

Consider setting an alert on your phone to remind you when it’s time to hit the hay, therefore.

Alarms can work at both ends of the night.

+ + + + + + +

If you like the idea of tailor-made nudges, and haven’t yet checked out “Nudge Your Way to Happiness,” why not take a look?


And on


To get creative, get prolific.

The trick, for me, when I needed to produce creative work in my advertising days was to be prolific.

The answer was nearly always to come up with half a dozen ideas rather than just one.

Sometimes, but not often, the first concept was the best.

More often, however, it was the sixth, or the second or the fourth.


It’s not always easy to come up with ideas on demand, but I think that once you accept you’re going to need several on the table, it stops you fretting so much about the first.

It’s probably not going to be right, so let’s just get it down on paper so we can move on to the better stuff.

What did I do, however, if I needed to kick-start the process when exhausted or, perhaps, a bit down in the dumps?

I often found it helpful to head for a bookshop or library and browse a non-fiction section or subject which generally had absolutely no connection with the brief.

It seemed to me that opening my mind to sometimes really quite random knowledge was a good way to persuade my grey matter to begin assembling new thoughts of its own.

I often refer to the principle that keeping learning new things can be good for your mental wellbeing, but it might be the case that you’d assume this suggests that only ‘relevant’ learning is of value.

I’m sure that’s not the case, however.

Picking up new knowledge about anything that attracts your interest is good for you, in part because it can act as a catalyst to trigger other thoughts and ideas.

Read a new recipe for a tasty dessert, and you may well end up seeing how to resolve a relationship issue.

Watch a documentary about prehistoric cave art, and you could easily suddenly work out what you could do about a money problem.

These (very) random ideas simply serve to show that getting your mind to work in one direction, may be helpful in other ways, too.

Need some ideas today? Get curious.

At last. My book is published today.

I can scarcely believe I’m typing this.

I’m delighted to tell you that my book has finally been published, and it is now on sale through Amazon.

In the UK:

And in the USA and internationally:

“Nudge Your Way to Happiness” is a pretty different kind of book, that has only come about through the posts that I write, and you read, here at

In fact 30 readers were kind enough last summer to test an early prototype of the book. Hundreds of readers helped choose the book’s cover.

Now, I’d be honoured if you’ll take a look at its page on Amazon, please, and over the moon if you’d consider buying a copy.


Let me quickly tell you the salient points:

  • “Nudge Your Way to Happiness” is a 30 day workbook.
  • Each day you’ll evaluate your well-being with a simple test that gives you a score between 0 and 100.
  • The book includes a graph on which you can plot your scores, so you’ll see your progress.
  • Then you’ll be directed to a “customised nudge”, tailored to how you just scored. If you’re not feeling great, I’ll suggest something gentle. But if you’re either fair-to-middling, or actually doing pretty well, I’ll propose slightly more ambitious actions.
  • Since you’ll score yourself again the following day, you’ll actually get to discover which actions work best for you.

The merry band of Moodnudgers who used the prototype last year said some great things about the book’s approach. I’ve included some of these at the foot of this message.

Even better, on average they saw their moods rise appreciably, and this was in only seven days.

Use the book for a full month, and your results should be even better.

I feel extraordinarily fortunate to have been able to write this book, and even luckier to be able to tell you about it.

I’d love it if you’ll help to spread the word about my book, on social media and – even better – direct to friends you think it could help.

It will also help hugely if you’ll consider writing an honest review on Amazon.

Low mood and depression is a mighty big problem.

I’ll be thrilled if “Nudge Your Way to Happiness” can play a part in providing a solution.

Thanks to each and every Moodnudges reader (and that means you) for encouraging and inspiring me to finally get this book out into the world.

Here it is in the UK:

And in the USA and internationally:

Here’s what Moodnudges readers said about the prototype book:

“For me the suggestions were sensible and positive without seeming overwhelming or unlikely to be achievable.”

“I liked the nudges each day based on my score, as they felt appropriately tailored to my mood that day.”

“Plotting the graph gives a picture of how you are getting on and would probably enable you to understand better where your mood comes from.”

“I really liked rating myself for each emotion, as it made clear which are already strong and which are the ones that drag me down.”

“It makes it easy to think about actions to take to improve one or two specific emotions.”

“Your book is another great addition to anyone’s ‘tool box’, it’s a simple effective way to check in with your mind/mood and learn how to manage it.”

“I particularly like the illustrations and layout, it enables the user to see clearly what things/actions help or hinder their wellbeing.”

“I enjoyed spending the five minutes each day to be mindful of what was happening around and within me.”

“I especially liked the nudges and having an action plan around my feelings.”

In the length of just one tweet, how are you?

If you’re a tweeter or texter, you won’t need me to tell you that it’s not always easy to restrict yourself to just 140 or 160 characters.

It’s a bit like the précis-writing you may have done in your school days, when your comprehension of a piece of text was tested by asking you to produce a shorter summary, containing all the salient points, and generally having to keep to a fixed number of words.


Composing a tweet or text message requires you (or should do) to think carefully about what you want to say, so you get it all in before you’ve used all your characters.

The fun is spoilt somewhat by smartphones that let you keep on tapping away for as long as you like, but behind the scenes your longer message is still generally sent as a series of briefer ones, generally being reassembled at its destination.

I thought about this process the other day when reflecting on what can sometimes happen when one person asks another how they’re feeling.

Very often, up until the point of being asked, we may not really have thought much about it, so perhaps we use the process of answering to work it all out in our own head.

Of course there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with this.

After all, isn’t this how psychotherapy and counselling generally works? A series of gently probing questions may help us make meaning out of mental mayhem.

When a friend enquires about your state of mind, however, they may not always have time for you to talk it all through.

Perhaps you need to give them the tweet-length version of your mood?

This, of course, requires considerable effort from you.

Making a brief summary is nearly always harder work than simply pouring everything out.

The process can be a useful one, however, and perhaps its value extends beyond producing succinct mood bulletins for friends.

Maybe it also has value when it comes to helping you work out how you’re feeling, just for your own benefit.

Try it, perhaps.

Next time you’re able to have a few minutes of self-reflection, see if you can boil down your current state of mind to the briefest of summaries.

It might just help you make sense of things.

What you can learn from small kids. And dogs.

I think small children and dogs have it just about right.

Take either to a park and—whoosh—they’re off.

Racing away to the other side of wherever, pleased as punch to be free and unrestrained, giddy in their freedom to run as fast as their legs will carry them.


However, since you’re not a small child, nor almost certainly a canine creature, your reaction to being in a big wide open space is likely to be more subdued.

You may stroll slowly.

You might not even be there in the first place.

As we grow older, parks may turn from places of extreme fascination to somewhere you go if you really really have to.

But in losing this excitement, in growing out of this devil-may-care mindset, I think we lose something, because when you take the small child or dog home after their bonkers run-around, what you see is a calmer two- or four-legged friend who’ll almost certainly sleep well that night.

Keeping active is good for your physical health, of course, but it can also do wonders for your state of mind.

The trouble is, many simply don’t get the opportunity to get exercise during the course of the average day.

Or maybe the opportunities don’t seem so obvious.

Maybe you’ll find unexpected opportunities during your day to get a little more active (if you can) though?

Accompany a small child or dog to a park.

Walk faster than you normally might, perhaps so fast that it makes you chuckle to yourself (you never know).

Turn the radio up and dance like a whirling dervish.

Take the stars rather than the elevator.

Walk up the escalator rather than waiting to be carried.

Go for a swim.

Go for a walk.

Heck, go for a run.

Remember how it felt to be a small child.

Imagine, even, how it would feel to be a dog.

Ready? Fetch!