Monthly Archives: May 2017

Look closely

In a half-hearted effort to take a break from technology I sometimes find myself playing patience/solitaire on the (oops) phone.

Here’s the thing. Sometimes I have long strings of wins, but often it’ll turn into one lost game after another.

Now I’m not certain, but I wonder if these losing streaks are more often than not caused by simply not seeing cards that could have been piled on top of each another?

I suspect that the solution’s very often right in front of me, but I don’t see it, so just click to shuffle and play another game.

And this, I think, often happens in life generally. We have problems to solve but all too quickly give up, imagining that the answers are elsewhere when perhaps they’re actually slap bang in front of us.

Try the nearsighted view today for a change. You might be surprised.

When the fountain squirts, move out of the way

Why is it that we can learn so many lessons by observing the behaviour of small children?

When I still lived in the UK, they installed a water feature in my local town centre which spouted up from the paving. Jets rose and fell in an orchestrated fashion attracting crowds of onlookers and plenty of small children daring themselves to get as close to the water as they possibly could.

I recall watching one little lad venture dangerously close when the program was keeping the fountains very low, probably just about his waist height.

But then the inevitable happened. Up went the fountain and down came the water, leaving him rooted to the spot, howling and getting drenched. He stood there, hating it but not moving.

All was well when his Mum stepped in to retrieve him, but isn’t it interesting that he was in a horrible situation, and didn’t know that he could have simply taken two steps to the side to be OK?

You might say you’d never do that, and perhaps it’s true that you wouldn’t have been in the fountains in the first place.

But how often have you been in an unpleasant set of circumstances, and simply stuck it out when it would have been so easy to take those metaphorical two steps to find dry land again?

Where-you-are can have a big impact on who-you-are. So if the little gusher becomes a big one today, get the heck out of there.

Writing a song a day, every day

When you’re feeling less than sparkling, the tasks and projects around you can feel insurmountable.

That’s when it’s time to break them down into small chunks. I was prompted to think about this when I read about an American singer-songwriter called Jonathan Mann who set himself the task of writing a new song every day. By November 2014 he’d hit the Guinness Book of World Records by keeping up his song-a-day habit for 2,146 days.

He says his theory is that ‘70 per cent of what you write is going to be mediocre, 20 per cent is going to suck, but 10 per cent is going to be genius.’

The point is, Jonathan could have sat around for years thinking about writing a hit, but instead he just got on with it.

Little and often. Doesn’t matter if today’s result isn’t earth-shattering, there’s always tomorrow.

Now, while you may not have ambitions in the music department, exactly the same strategy works on, say, tidying and organising your home.

So why not take five minutes to make a start on that monster task? Five minutes. That’s all. Just 300 seconds.

Then the same again tomorrow, and the day after. Before you know it you’ll have made real progress, and that will feel great.

Go on, treat yourself to a happiness moment

What one small extra thing could you do in the next 24 hours that might make you momentarily happier?

I’m not thinking about things that are already planned, or things that are going to happen on a routine basis.

And I’m not thinking about something that’s going to bring you profound joy.

I’m thinking about something small and additional that you can do that might make you smile. Or at the very least make things not so bad for a while.

At times we can all think that nothing we do will make a difference, but that’s not true.

It could be something as simple as sitting down for a coffee. Or it could be taking a slight deviation on a routine journey to go past or through somewhere nice.

The thing is, you do have the power to step out of normality. Even if it’s just for five minutes.

Go on. Give it a go.

Please do it your way

Some years ago, a well-known British funeral director’s business published a chart of the most popular contemporary songs chosen to be played at funerals, and at the top of the list was the Frank Sinatra version of Paul Anka’s song, ‘My Way’.

‘My Way’, of course, is about someone looking back as they come to the end of their life, but I’m certain there’s a lot to be said for a little reminiscence from time to time, anytime, as long as you neither become tied to the past nor stuck in it.

Sad though it may be, if a relationship has come to an end, there’s a lot to be said for remembering the good times you did have.

There are sure to be some.

And if you’re moving on from a project or job, perhaps things are easier if you can focus as much as possible on the pluses rather than on the minuses.

Above all, please remember that you’re unique.

There’s no one else on the planet quite like you.

So rather than behaving as you think you’re supposed to, or as you think others expect you too, be sure to be true to yourself.

Be sure to do things your way.

The power of puppies.

Apologies for my radio silence over the past couple of days, and thanks to everyone who not only spotted it, but amazingly also checked in with me to ensure I was OK. Too kind.

The reason for my unplanned absence, though?

Well, I was house-sitting for an absent friend over a long weekend, taking care of two dogs and two cats, and I’d forgotten just how much work it can be to single-handedly look after pets, particularly when one of them is a five-month-old puppy.

Tons of fun, but all-consuming, and actually pretty difficult to concentrate on anything else.

So it may not be too surprising that today I simply want to pick up on the mood-lifting potential of animals, even when they’re not your own full-time responsibility.

Walking the dogs, I was amazed and pleased that so many people asked to pet them, particularly the puppy of course.

Stroking her head and back invariably led these others to smile broadly, and it was evident that she (the pup) was having a fine old time too.

I know that plenty of readers already share their lives with critters of all shapes and sizes but if you don’t, please consider going out of your way to say hello to another species in the very near future.

Judging by my weekend, it should do you a power of good.

Or, should that be, a paw of good?