More fun and adventure

People say to me all the time that I am lucky.

This is because I do all sorts of fun things* and then I post photos and write about it on my social media. But I am not lucky. I don’t even really believe in luck.

Fun & adventure isn't for the 'lucky'. It's for those who seek it, and take action.I do believe in taking 100% responsibility for my life. I believe in taking action today, to create a better future for myself tomorrow. I believe in having the most fun, adventurous life I can, while I can.

So, what about you? What places have you always wanted to visit? What days out would you enjoy? Who would you like to spend more time with? What hobbies do you love, but don’t make time for?

If you had only a month to live, what would you spend that month doing? Sitting around, watching TV, complaining? Or would you go out and have as much fun and adventure as possible?

Stop being lazy. Stop saying ‘someday’. Make plans. Take action. Have an extraordinary life. And you can be “lucky” too.

No money? There’s soooo much fun, free stuff you can do. Also: spend money on experiences, instead of things. Downgrade your shampoo brand. Order less take-aways. Get your hair cut less often. It’s worth it, trust me 😉

*Some of the fun things I’ve done in the past 12 months (if you want some inspiration):

  • SarahLouiseSmithBeen in the audience for a TV show (free tickets!)
  • Travelled to/through 8 different countries: Scotland, France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium (and I’m about to go to Rome, Italy)… yes, all in 12 months
  • Visited UK cities: Bath, London and Lincoln for mini-breaks or days out
  • Went to the beach, the zoo, to historical houses, and all sorts of interesting places
  • Seen many comedians live, theatre shows, and concerts
  • Met my favourite band: Take That

Enjoyed this blog? Please like it, and share it to help others. And comment below to tell me what fun things you’re going to get up to this year.

Now, stop reading this and go organise some fun 🙂

10 Ways to look after your happiness

So today is World Mental Health Day. And I’ve been toying around with the idea of writing a blog like this for a while, and today seems a great time to do so.

Truth bomb: I went through a phase where I wished I was dead. I was suffering from depression and anxiety, and I didn’t want to be here anymore. However, I am confident that I’ll never get that low ever again. Here are some of the things I did, and still do, to conquer those feelings and keep happy.

goodday

  1. Have fun and be productive. I know this sounds obvious… the thing is, when you’re depressed, you don’t feel like doing anything, and it’s a vicious circle. I did CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) – this was completely life-changing and taught me that I must balance the levels of pleasure and achievement in my life, to get a good balance and feel good.
  2. Control your thoughts. It took me years of practise and I still don’t always do this, but you can decide whether you think positively or negatively. You can see things as good or bad. You can be annoyed or grateful, with every single thought. My cat died recently and I keep focusing on the good: I had her for 13 wonderful years. I’m so glad we found her. I’m so glad I gave her a good life…
  3. gratefulBe grateful. Every single day (yes, every day!) I write down a page in my journal of things I’m grateful for. If you struggle to think of anything good that happened recently, be thankful for food, water, air, shelter, friends… the more you do this, the more you realise how fortunate you are.
  4. Don’t compare yourself to other people. Spend that energy making your life as wonderful as possible.
  5. Realise that you are not a victim. Whatever it is that you think is bad in your life, you are not the only person to experience it. Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it.
  6. Meditation… which doesn’t mean ‘switching off’ your thinking (I know a lot of people think this and therefore deem it impossible). Try some guided meditations on YouTube. It’s a wonderful way to find some peace and reflection.
  7. happySoak up inspirational stuff. I’ve read books, blogs, articles, attended courses – there’s so much resource out there to help you on your happiness journey. I recommend following Tony Robbins on social media, and checking out The Art of Happiness by HH Dalai Lama, and Happiness by Matthieu Ricard.
  8. Remember you are in control. Hate your job? Change it! Wish you could travel more? Find a way! Overweight? Eat less, exercise more! Arguing with your partner? Find a way to love again, or get out!
  9. Read/watch some stuff about the law of attraction: it’s life changing (I recommend The Secret on YouTube, but skip the first 2 minutes – this stuff works, I promise you).
  10. Think about where you want to be in life. In 5/10/15 years – where do you want to be living? Who with? What job will you have? What’s your lifestyle like? What’s your health like? Set goals. Visualise it every day and start taking inspired actions to get you to that point.

chessI realise life isn’t as simple as this all sounds, but you have the ability to create an extraordinary life!

Being happy is a skill you have to learn, harness and put effort into:

Much like your physical health, good mental health takes work…

If you’d like any more information on the things I’ve mentioned, a simple google search will provide a wealth of info – but feel free to contact me too.

Have a happy, wonderful, fulfilling life!

You’re in control of your thoughts

happiness1Continuing on with my happiness series of blogs…

The most important lesson I’ve learned since I started studying happiness is this:

Easier said than done, I know. But it’s true.

As Buddha said:

What we think, we become.

If you’re the sort of person who sees the bad in everything, who feels pessimistic, who sees the glass as half empty, who thinks “I can’t” instead of “I can and I will” … if you dread the bad, never look out for the good – then of course you will feel unhappy, low, depressed, and anxious. But you are not a victim! Whatever crap you’re going through, you are not the only person going through it. Have a ‘victim moment’, if you like, but not a victim life. Things will get better. So start thinking positively. Start taking control of your mind.

Controlling how you think will change your life: it has mine.

I now see the beauty in small, every day things. When I hear sad news, I feel grateful and motivated to go out and live my life, rather than sad and sorrowful.

I make a choice, every single day, to get up and live my life. I don’t think about the sad, the ugly, the mean haters, the fucking horrible-ness of the world around me.

I think: millions of tiny microscopic moments had to line up so that I could even be born. I am here, and I’ve got one life – and it’s darn well going to be a happy, fulfilling life!

A few tips for controlling your thoughts:

  • When a negative thought enters your mind, notice it, and change the subject. Quick. This takes some practise, but you can do it!
  • Practise mindfulness and meditation; I find the Headspace app really good.
  • Be kind and compassionate, always. You never know what someone else is going through.
  • That bitch/dick who drives you crazy; stop thinking about them!
  • Wherever you are, look for beauty, focus on the present moment. Is the sky a beautiful colour? Are there flowers, birds, or trees nearby? What can you appreciate in the here and now?
  • Concentrate on what you’re grateful for, not what you haven’t got (not just possessions, either – relationships, skills, a healthy body…)
  • Read up all you can on controlling thoughts.

Happiness is a choice!

I truly believe that. Choose happy. Choose a life worth living.

Think I’m full of crap?

I was once so depressed, I just wanted to curl up into a ball, and die. I couldn’t see any point to life, I couldn’t see why anyone would do anything, I found no pleasure in my hobbies, friends, work …

A combination of behavioural therapy, reading inspirational books and blogs, becoming mindful, and realising I can control my thoughts has changed all that.

Go. Be Happy.

Be Happier: 5 Things you should stop, right now

BehappierBeing happier is not always about external events – but about your state of mind and how you think. You have to train your mind to think differently.

Most human beings tend to have pre-disposition to have constant negative thoughts, worry unnecessarily, compare ourselves to others, and seek more (whether it be more money, more stuff, more vacations, more love – just more of everything) – while forgetting to be grateful for what we have. If you can learn to control these unhelpful thoughts, then you can slowly change your attitude.

I used to see the bad in things very quickly, and I worried about everything. I’d literally imagine those I loved dying. I also used to look at others and think, ‘why can’t I be like them?’ – be it owning their nice stuff, looking a certain way, or having certain perceived skills. And I’d use retail therapy A LOT. Buying stuff made me feel good; but only for a short time. The feel-good would fade even before my credit card bill came in – and then I was just left with things, stuff I didn’t even want or need.

Since I considered the below 5 things I needed to stop doing, I’ve felt happier. Give it a go…

Stop:

1. Unhelpful thinking. As soon as you find yourself re-playing that moment when someone made you unhappy, angry or sad, or when you perceived you did something wrong – stop. What good will it do to keep thinking about this stuff? It takes time and practise, but eventually those thoughts pass by within seconds, instead of lingering for hours, days, or even longer.

2. Worrying. If you can control the thing you’re worrying about, take action to fix it. If you can’t control it, stop worrying and focus on something else. It might seem hard at first, but you can do it. You are in control of your thoughts!

3. Comparing yourself to others. Do you really think they’ve got it better than you? And if yes, don’t you think they had to fight for it? Don’t you think they’ve gone through their own personal struggles? Turn those thoughts around. Focus that energy on thinking of ways to improve your life, not feeling crappy about what you perceive is better for someone else.

4. Buying more stuff. No possession will make you happier. Changing your  attitude will. So instead of going shopping or dreaming about that car/house/dress you really, really want, go do something fun. Life is about experiences, not possessions.

5. Forgetting to be grateful for what you have. You should only compare yourself with those less fortunate with yourself. When you do this, you realise how grateful you are for many, many things. I actually wrote down a list. Try your own. List all the things you’re grateful for; starting with the most basic like “I am not homeless”…

Train your mind to stop these 5 things, and you’ll start to shift into a more positive mindset. It won’t happen overnight, your mind has been thinking in a certain way for many years … just start with noticing your thinking patterns, and attempting to re-focus.

Give it a go and share your own tips; what else could you stop doing that will lead to you being happier?

Happiness: How your behaviour changes everything

liveyourlifeContinuing on with my studies in the art of being happy:

If I get up in the morning, think negative thoughts, and laze about, doing nothing… that doesn’t turn into a great day. But if I get up feeling excited about the day will bring, and get a sense of either pleasure or achievement (or preferably both!) from that day, it tends to be a fantastic one.

Sounds obvious, right?

Yes. But when you feel tired, or sad, lonely, down or depressed, you don’t FEEL like doing anything. You just want to stay in your pyjamas, eating junk, and watching TV. Sometimes you don’t even want to do that much.

It’s okay to have a day like this now and then. But never let it become a habit.

I’ve been there… I got so depressed I wished I could just close my eyes and never wake up. I will never feel that way again. I’ve learned how to be happy. I just hope I can somehow share these learnings to help others.

So, here’s my first and most basic tip:

Alter your behaviour and don’t think about how you feel.

Just do it.

Get up, and do things that will give you a sense of pleasure, or a sense of achievement.

Make a list of all the fun things you want to do, and all the things you want to achieve. Then write out a plan, so that you balance out the fun and the achievements throughout the weeks and months ahead.

Some ideas to add to your list:

  • That hobby you used to love, or always wanted to take up: make time and do it.
  • Regularly go somewhere you’ve never been before.
  • Find concerts, theatre, or comedy gigs – often they don’t cost much. Get out.
  • Seek out your favourite friends and family, and arrange to get together.
  • Go to new places regularly.
  • All those chores – if you only do one productive job a day, at least you’ll feel like achieved something.
  • Exercise: find something you enjoy.
  • Plan a holiday; escape.
  • Think about what else you’ve always wanted to do, learn about or achieve.

Remember: don’t think about how you feel. Just do it.

Start today. No excuses. Go live your life.