Saturday, 30 January 2016

Visiting the Royal Geographical Society

I had a private tour and reception of the RGS in London on Thursday evening with my new employment. It was a fascinating couple of hours looking at the World's oldest atlas (I am totally geeked out on this!) and enjoying the Shackleton centenary exhibition coupled with a sneak peak of a specially curated display of Antarctic archival material.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

My foundation for being happy

Present your best self

Give fewer gifts and make more memories

Shift your focus to what you really cherish

Refined living on an everyday income

Living life on your own terms

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Choosing The Simply Luxurious Life by Shannon Ables Part 2

Following on from Tuesday's post, here are some more parts of Choosing The Simply Luxurious Life that I really enjoyed:

Find your passion and then become an expert in it. Malcolm Gladwell talks about the 10,000-hour rule where you practice a task for 10,000 hours to be a success in that field. Ables says, "The formula is very clear: Acquire knowledge, make a sustained effort, and exercise patience."

As an individual, you don't need to be validated by anyone else. What you feel, what you think, your values...they are YOURS because you've decided what you deem important to leading a fulfilling life. "In our world today, there are as many opinions as there are people...Choosing to maintain some privacy and not share everything about our lives with the rest of the world bolsters a belief in ourselves."

"In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you." Oscar Wilde

"You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover is yourself." Alan Alda

We all know the well known saying "Money can't buy you happiness", but as Ables points out and I've experienced, money is very useful when it comes to building a foundation for emergencies and for dreaming and scheming - in my case, my next destination! The best feeling in the world is financial security.

Despite the outside world dictating what Success is and isn't, Success should be what you deem it to be for yourself and your own personal struggle to achieve what you've achieved.

"Nothing can bring you peace but yourself." Ralph Waldo Emerson

We are so busy rushing through life, that we rarely connect with ourselves. I remember in my 20s being swept along most of the time because there wasn't any time to stop and get in tune with myself. For the start of my 30s, I've had time to think about what is most important to me in all aspects of my life.

" the core of our desire for connection is a need to know that we exist, that we are loved, needed, and valued."

"All great changes are preceded by chaos." Deepak Chopra

"What I like most about change is that it's a synonym for 'hope'. If you are taking a risk, what you are really saying is, 'I believe in tomorrow, and I will be part of it.' " Linda Ellerbee

It was Ables's idea that sparked my desire to keep a journal for 2016, writing one positive sentence a day for 365 days. Even if nothing goes right one day, I'm going to pull a positive from a negative - I hope!

Ables says that simple luxuries are everywhere, but we need to slow down to really see them. I like the way she puts it, "...indulging in a simple luxury that slows down your heartbeat just enough that you can appreciate all the things in your life that are going well."

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Choosing The Simply Luxurious Life by Shannon Ables Part 1

Following on from The Happiness Project, this book came up as a recommendation. I paid more than I would for both the Kindle versions of these books, but in my opinion, the content of The Happiness Project comes out on top. I found it more engaging, thought provoking and the fact Rubin had researched like crazy shone through amazingly. That's not to say I didn't enjoy Ables's efforts. She also makes relevant points about modern day living and interesting observations that resonate with me. The crux of her work is how to live a simply luxurious life whatever your background, culture, social standing or financial position. I strongly believe it's about the little things in life and that's why I was drawn to her book.

"Luxury is ... to be able to take control of one's life, health, and the pursuit of happiness in a way that is joyful ... It is when we attain freedom that we can follow the mission of living simply luxuriously: choosing quality over quantity, preferring sensibility over frivolity, opting for a personal signature style over trendy fashions, and discovering a truly fulfilling life rather than being led around by the nose."

The start of the book has to hook you, but Ables's intro was somewhat repetitive - and the end of the book lost me when she included indulging your inner Francophile (Ch 10) and recipes in Chapter 11. The final chapter, Chapter 12, rescued the book from having an unsatisfactory conclusion by bringing together the main themes and reminding the reader of the purpose.

Negatives aside, the book still got me thinking, and that's what I wanted from it. Here are some of my favourite bits, which sit nicely with the Being Happy series I'm currently working on and my resolution to be the very best version of myself this year.

It's ok to want "me" time whether you're in a relationship, or you're single, because you can't be truly happy until you own your happiness and the secret to that is, it comes from YOU.

Value and enjoy personal rituals. They bring contentment.

Create your own unique destiny and own your uniqueness. "The woman who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been." Albert Einstein.

Taking a chance on yourself is a gift to yourself. It's scary, but it's worth it. Use the fear you feel to empower you.

Face your fears. How many times have we heard this? But I've done it, and it works! The build up in your head makes you feel something is going to be much worse than it really is. Maria Shriver says: "Someone once told me not to be afraid of being afraid, because, she said, 'Anxiety is a glimpse of your own daring.' Isn't that great? It means part of your agitation is just excitement about what you're getting ready to accomplish. And whatever you're afraid of - that's the very thing you should try to do."

"The best protection any woman can have ... is courage." Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The stance taken by those brave, courageous men and women in our history books helped to "make the world a bit more accepting, a bit more just, and a bit more humane." Courage is the difference between a good life and a great life.

I like this one: when setting goals make sure they are SMART - specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.

Something I really need to work on - Analyse less. Act more.

When Meryl Streep played Julia Child in Julia & Julia, she said this about her character: "You know, we think that there is a formula, and actually the formula for happiness and success is just actually ... be yourself in the most vivid possible way you can because then you don't have to pretend. That is the freedom (Julia Child) enjoyed in her life and that is inspirational to me."

"The woman you wish to become is already within you. She's waiting for you to find the courage to reveal her to the world."

End of Part 1.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

An atmosphere of growth

I'm so keen to get to certain points in my life that over the last few years I've sacrificed the journey. Rubin talks about Tal Ben-Shahar's  "arrival fallacy" from his book "Happier". This is the belief that when you arrive at your destination - buy the new house, have the baby, marry - you'll be instantly happy and everything will fall into place. However, rarely is this the case because all of those things bring additional stresses, worries, plans and concerns. Rubin says, "The challenge, therefore, is to take pleasure in the 'atmosphere of growth', in the gradual progress made toward a goal, in the present."

From personal experience, I really understood this recently having secured a job in the travel industry after taking a four-year break. I've had two months since knowing I got the job to revel in the satisfaction and look forward to the challenges ahead, whilst wrapping up some of my most pressing projects before I start commuting. Prior to that, whilst I was working hard to find a job, I still made sure (for the majority of the time) to enjoy those free days for personal pursuits, which I might not have much time for in the future. I also made sure to learn from every failed interview and I was able to get a long overdue look inside some of the industries biggest and most respected companies.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Balancing adaptability

Believe. Play. Smile. These are the themes of my Being Happy series.

I've learned over the years that even the best, well laid plans rarely go to plan. And the harder I want something to work out, the less likely that it does, according to how I've pictured it should. So I've learned to be adaptable and to go with the flow more. However, I'm still learning to enjoy this process, especially when I'm on the home straight and hurdle after hurdle keeps cropping up - and I wonder will I ever get there.

On the flip side of this, when I've been on the "hedonic treadmill" in the past (taken from The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin), I've found my adaptability performs at its peak because I've no time to dwell on the positives or negatives. The new change to my circumstances becomes the norm. Rubin suggests that although this may help us to cope if / when our situation worsens, it means when circumstances improve, we quickly "become hardened to new comforts or privileges." We take the comforts for granted and the privileges no longer appear like an achievement. As with everything, adaptability in our lives is a balancing act. She then goes on to talk about an "atmosphere of growth", which I'm going to discuss in my next post.