How to tell what will make you really happy

 

How to tell what will make your really happy

 

I saw the above quote the other day.

I mentally nodded in agreement, thought about it for a moment then asked myself, “What makes me happy?”

This is not an easy question to answer because what makes me happy and what’s good for me can be two separate things and if its not good for me then surely it won’t make me happy in the long run.

For example I enjoy eating chocolate but eating too much of it would make me seriously overweight and therefore unhappy.

Millions of people enjoy a cigarette but ultimately does it make them happy?

So that’s when I came back to the question – how do I really know what makes me happy?

 

How to tell what will make your really happy

 

That’s where balloons and stones came to mind.

Balloons lift you, stones drag you down.

Think of anything now and categorize it, into either, the balloon category or the stone category.

In other words, do they give you a lift or drag you down?

 

How to tell what will make your really happy

 

You can even give yourself one of these tags. Some days you may be a balloon other days a stone.

Are there people or things in your life that are stones?

Attach as many balloons to you as possible and cut away as many stones and hopefully you’ll soon be lifted by them.

 

How to tell what will make your really happy

 

 

 

 

How much of what you feel is in your mind?

 

How much of what you feel is in your mind?

 

One of the things that make my bike ride into work more enjoyable is listening to inspirational podcasts.

One podcast I really like is called, “Good Life Project” by Jonathan Fields.

Its, “About” section on it’s website, describes the projects intention:

“It’s about becoming a creator, a leader, a mentor, a giver, a doer. It’s about telling a story with your life that you’d want to read and share”.

 

How much of what you feel is in your mind?

 

Every week Jonathan interviews people with remarkable stories.

This week I listened to Dr Lissa Rankin, who described her life leading up to her current book, Mind Over Medicine which I’m now going to buy.

 

How much of what you feel is in your mind?

 

The interesting bit for me was her description of the placebo effects, in case studies and how effective they were. In particular was the amazing story of a surgeon named J. Bruce Moseley.

This is an extract from The New York Times:

“Moseley had 10 patients scheduled for an operation intended to relieve the arthritis pain in their knees.

The patients were men and all 10 would be wheeled into an operating room, draped, examined and anesthetized.

All 10 would be dispatched to the recovery room and sent home from the hospital by the next morning equipped with crutches and a painkiller.

But there the similarities ended.

For while two of the men would undergo the standard arthroscopic surgery for their condition, three would have the rinsing alone, five would have no recognized surgical procedure at all.

Their surgery would be a placebo, an exercise in just pretend.

The placebo worked.

 

How much of what you feel is in your mind?

 

Six months after surgery, the 10 patients still didn’t know whether they had been faked out or not. But all of them reported much less pain.

None were unhappy with the outcome of the operation”.

The conclusion Lissa Rankin came to was that it’s not only positive thinking on behalf of the individual patient that helps the placebo become effective but that fact that patients were introduced into nurturing, caring environment where qualified people provided the patient with hope and a positive outlook.

This environment turns off the, “stress” response and turns on the “relaxation” response, which allows the nervous system to perform rather than be paralysed with worry.

If you want this explained more eloquently than I have then you’d do a lot worse than to spend an hour and 4 minutes watching the interview on YouTube.

 

In my mind (and this is the important bit) this evidence is irrefutable.

It just goes to prove that not only are you what you think you are but you become what you think you can become.

 

 

I recently read an amazing book.

 

This company really succeeds in Delivering Happiness...

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose.

It’s the story of online shoe company, Zappos –  I know it doesn’t sound inspiring but believe me it is.

The CEO of the company is Tony Hsieh, who sold his first company, LinkExchange, to Microsoft for $265 million when he was just 25.

 

This company really succeeds in Delivering Happiness...

 

He then became instrumental in the set up of Zappos and when onto run it, which sold to Amazon for $1.2 billion in 2009.

What’s special about Zappos is that it’s succes is largely down to it’s unswerving devotion to, “Delivering Happiness” in the form of superb customer service.

It’s belief is that if you make the customer happy, everything will fall into line, including profits and so far it’s working.

As an example, in the book, Tony describes an occasion when he attended a shoe convention, in Las Vegas and ended up going on a bar crawl with friend, who worked for a rival company.

They ended up at their hotel, in the early hours of the morning, ordering room service only to be told that the hotel had stopped serving.

As a joke Tony suggested his friend call their companies 24 hour customer service line.

Don’t forget, this is a online shoe company we’re talking about.

Within minutes, without questioning the caller’s motivation, the customer service representative for Zappos was informing Tony’s friend of all the pizza restaurants, still open, within a 3 mile radius of their hotel.

 

This company really succeeds in Delivering Happiness...

 

Another example of their customer service practice would be alien to other companies.

If Zappos have a sold out of a shoe, a customer requires, they will direct them to a competitors website, who stock that particular shoe.

This customer satisfaction doesn’t come at a cost to the employees happiness either.

Zappos have an interesting but obvious recruitment policy. They don’t hire people just because their qualifications fit.

The potential employee has to fit their companies culture. They have to be the kind of person who would bring the right qualities to the company ie fun, quirkiness, positivity etc

If you have ambitions in the business world or just like reading inspiring stories then you’ll love this book.

I listened to it on audiobook whilst cycling into work and it took my mind off many strenuous hill climbs.

 

This company really succeeds in Delivering Happiness...

It’s been six weeks since our second son, Monty, was born and I don’t mind saying, we’re struggling.

difficult-times

The thing is, Monty is a monster, as far as eating concerned.

In the month and half he’s been in existence, his weight has gone from 7 pounds to 13 pounds.

That’s an 86% increase in body weight!

I’m 12 stone (168 pounds) so that’s the equivalent of me putting on 10 stone in less than two months (140 pounds).

difficult-times

I’d not only have to change my entire wardrobe, I’d probably have to wear it.

In order to achieve that amount of weight gain, I’d have to consume around 500,000 calories, over the 6 weeks, which averages out to around 12,000 calories a day, above my daily allowance.

This means I’d have to eat 14 meals a day and to do this I’d really have to put in some serious eating hours and to be fair to Monty he does.

If he goes more than an hour without eating he’ll scream the house down in the belief that he’s about to starve.

It wouldn’t be so bad if he could roll his chunky little frame out of his cot, pound downstairs and fill his own face from the fridge but he insists we (I say “we” loosely, as it’s mainly Meagan) do it.

This obsession with his weight gain is relentless, day and night it knows no bounds.

I normally fill his face last thing at night then hand over to Meagan who does the same, every other hour, throughout the night.

Due to this, round the clock feeding frenzy, Meagan and I are averaging around 5 hours sleep a day and it’s taking it toll.

Before I had children I often heard couples talk to each other about how their respective babies were sleeping and thought, “Big deal”. Now I know how big a deal it is.

There’s are not many bigger deals for impacting on your quality of life than sleep deprivation.

 

difficult-times

A while back I made a commitment to write a new blog post everyday for a year.

There’ve been times, mainly late at night, when with stinging, blood shot eyes and a pounding head, I’ve stared at a blank computer screen, with only one thought on my mind, “Sleeeeeeep”.

This happened the other night.

It was 11.10pm, I’d just handed Monty over to Meagan, my alarm clock was set for 4:20am and I’d not written a word.

I shut my computer down and headed off to bed.

On my way up the stairs I checked my emails on the phone.

I’d received an email from Peter.

I don’t know Peter but this is what he’s written:

Justin

At the risk of blowing smoke up your *rse, I just had to say how amazing I think your blog is.

We clearly live in difficult times, and life can sometimes feel like it’s got it in for you. It is therefore so welcome to see something positive and uplifting, something that gives you a rather better perspective on whether things are quite as bad as you might think.

Your blog does all that and more. Thank you.

I really look forward to reading it and have recommended it to others.

Keep well

Peter

difficult-times

Motivated by Peter I turned around, walked back down stairs, fired up my computer and started to write a new blog post.

Inspired by Monty, before I started writing the post, I visited the fridge for a quick snack / meal.

difficult-times

There’s two reasons why difficult times are good for us:

1. They make us stronger when we finally come out the other side.

2. There is another side and you can’t truly appreciate the highs if you haven’t experienced the lows.

 

 

 


Every day I cycle to work.

 improve-your-performance

I love it and I hate it.

I hate it because it’s not easy and I love it for the same reason.

I believe love hate relationships happens quite often in life but sometimes we fail to recognise the love part of the equation.

improve-your-performance


I’ll give you another example.

Every morning on my way in to work (at 5am – I like to point this out as it makes me seem more hardcore) I’m filled with a little trepidation as I’m not sure whether I’ll be involved in a race that morning.

If you’ve not read my previous blog about riding into work you can read it HERE but basically I often get overtaken by another rider.

improve-your-performance

It doesn’t happen every morning, on average, it occurs around twice a week but when it does happen, it’s slightly annoying.

You see this “other” cyclist has a nicer bike than I do.

I’m not using this as an excuse, ask any anyone in the know and they’ll tell you the equipment counts (ohh errr).

Anyway, it always happens at the same point, on my ride in, on the first hill.

improve-your-performance

 


I’m pumping away, going at what I consider a fairly good pace (and struggling a little) when this bald headed older guy, wearing all the correct kit on his flash bike, glides past me with what seems like very little effort.

We’ve never spoken to each other, there’s no start or finishing line, in fact there’s no course but make no bones about it, when we meet on that road, this is a race, he knows it and I know it and HE ALWAYS WINS!

Whenever this race occurs, he wins and loves it, I’m the runner up and I hate it… but I also love it. 

improve-your-performance

Why?

Because whenever this race occurs I cycle faster.

I become a better cyclist. I gives me a better work out and it knocks around two minutes off my journey.

I even learned to improve my bikes performance, by changing the tyres, which helped me go faster.

This technical enlightenment was born from this rivalry. 

improve-your-performance

When this competition isn’t there, it’s an easier ride but I’m not pushing myself, in short, I’m not improving.

The competition is good, it keeps me on my toes (even if my toes aren’t encased in a flash pair of click-in state of the art snazzy expensive cycle shoes).

It’s possible to love and to hate.

improve-your-performance


I hate the way this bald man beats me so effortlessly but I love the way it improves my performance.

One guaranteed way to improve your performance is to compete (even if the competition is  all in your head).

 

 


I’ve made a commitment to write a blog, everyday for a year.

I don’t mind saying that sometimes it can be a challenge finding things to write about, like right now.

 

committed

 

It’s late, way past my bedtime, I’m tired, my eyes are sore and I’m just sitting here staring at the laptop screen thinking, “What can I write about? “

 

committed

 

Then I thought, “Maybe I’ll give it a miss tonight” and as soon as that thought came into my head, I dismissed it because I’ve made commitment to myself.


In work the other day a colleague of mine was pre-recording a travel bulletin (I work at a radio station).

committed


They had to restart the recording three times because they kept fluffing their lines.

The thing is, when they do this, near enough exact same bulletin, live on air, they never fluff their lines.

The reason for this is because they have to get it right. If they mess up they can’t start again, so they don’t mess up.

They know this and they’re committed to getting it done no matter what happens.

If you’ve got no safety net, you can’t use it. 

committed


This reminds me of the ultimate story of commitment.

It involves Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés.

In 1519 as he and his army stepped onto the shores of the Aztec empire, ready for battle, he gave his men a simple order: Burn the boats.

This wasn’t an order to burn the boats of their enemies but their own.

He wanted his men to realize that they had no opportunity to retreat, so they had to give this fight everything they had. 

Failure was no longer an option and winning the battle just became that much more important.

They won the battle.

The more committed you are, the more you are likely to succeed.

committed


I’ll leave the last word on commitment to General Norman Schwarzkopf (Commander-in-Chief, United States Central Command, he lead all coalition forces in the Persian Gulf War):

committed


“When you go to war. You have to be fully committed, you can’t just get involved.  The difference between commitment and involvement is like ham and eggs. The chicken is involved. The pig is committed”.

(I knew I’d find something to write about).

committed

 

For six months, up until February of this year (2013) I’d let me blog posting slips a little.

big-results 

Then I received a couple of messages from people basically saying they’d missed my blog and asking if I was I going to start posting again?

This was so flattering it motivated me.


So in February of this year I made a commitment.

big-results

To post a new blog, EVERYDAY for a year.

There are two reasons I post everyday:

1. No excuses.


It’s the same reason I ride my bike to work everyday.


If I said to myself, “I’ll do it three times a week”, then three times, may become twice a week and twice may become once, then never.


If I know I have to do it, without fail everyday, I cant make an excuse not to do it.

2. It provides excellent results.

Thanks to my biking, everyday, I’m relatively fit, I can eat what I want and am still at my target weight, which I achieved last summer after 15 years of being over weight.


Since I started cycling everyday, back in August (2012), I’ve cycled over 2,100 miles.


That’s the equivalent of cycling from London to Cairo in Egypt.


What about my blog?


In February, when I started making a post everyday, I was lucky to be getting 100 views per day.


These are my stats at 20:00 today (7th May 2013).

big-results

So far this month, I’ve had over 50,000 views.

I’m averaging over 2,000 views a day, which is 3/4 million a year and its growing quickly.

By the end of this year I’d like to be achieving 10,000 views a day, which is the equivalent of 3.6 million hits a year.

big-results

I believe I can do it and I’d like to thank you for helping me get here by reading this (and sharing it, if you like what you read).

So if you have a goal, start doing something now and do it EVERYDAY.


It doesn’t matter what it is and it doesn’t have to be a lot but do it EVERYDAY.

 big-results

I promise you, you will see excellent results.

big-results

Remember, a tiny acorn becomes a massive oak tree by growing, only a tiny bit, everyday.

big-results

Something struck me the other day, as I wrote about John Courtney and James Hughes (read it HERE).

negative-thinkers

John Courtney (74) and James Hughes (40).

On the weekend, John (74) completed his 52nd marathon along with his foster son, James, who despite being blind, non-verbal and with severe learning difficulties, completed his 45th marathon.

In the article I read, about James, he was asked this question:

So what made you and James start running?

I didn’t start marathon running until I was 49 years old.

One day, I fell asleep on the sofa and when I woke up my son said that I would never be able to do a marathon.

I set out to prove him wrong!

These words, “I set out to prove him wrong”, is the bit that stuck with me.

And boy did he prove him wrong, 52 marathons worth of wrong!

But the important part, is the motivation behind his actions.

It was John’s son saying, “You would never be able to do a marathon”.

negative-thinkers

 

This is why sometimes why should welcome negative thinkers, they can be a great motivators..

There is no better example of turning a negative (sentiment) into a positive (action) than above.

Think about this again, John has completed 52 marathons!

And he didn’t start until he was 49 years of age!

And he only started because someone says he couldn’t do it. 

Next time you’re confronted by negative sentiment, remember just how powerful a motivator it can be.

negative-thinkers 

 

It’s been a big week for our family, in which our little family, has become one member bigger.

Meagan gave birth to our second son, on Monday, at the Royal Hampshire County hospital in Winchester.

power-of-one


So many things have gone through my mind, in the last seven days, as we brought a new little person into the world.

But the point that’s really stuck in my mind, is how one person can make such a difference.

By one person I don’t mean just one person.

power-of-one

Its never fails to astound me how one person can grow another perfectly formed smaller person inside them.

How that small person can create so many positive feelings.

How a midwife managed to make us feel as if we were and will be the only couple ever to give birth (thank you Bryony).

power-of-one

Don’t ever believe that you don’t have the power to change this world.

It happens every second of everyday.

power-of-one

Never underestimate the power of one and by that I mean you.

One person can make a difference, in fact, if it doesn’t start with one person, it will never start at all.

 

 

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