The secret to happiness that everyone should know

If you’re reading this blog post, dear reader, perhaps you’ve been searching for the secret to happiness. If you have, you’re not alone. Many people search, but few find real happiness.

However, if happiness is what you seek, allow me to enlighten you.

Money’s not the answer:

When you hear news of someone winning big on a lottery, do you ever think that you’d be so much happier if only you could win big too? You’d be happy, if only you had a lot of money, right?

Certainly, having money can make life comfortable. There’s no question about that. And who wouldn’t want to be comfortable?

Having money can allow you to do all sorts of things you couldn’t do otherwise. Live in a nice house; wear the finest clothes; drive a nice car; and travel first class to exotic places.

However, there’s one thing that money cannot do for you. It cannot make you happy. It’s a fact that having a lot of money by itself can never make you happy. There are plenty of very wealthy people who are miserable.

Happiness is a state of mind:

It is also a fact that if you aren’t happy without money, then suddenly gaining a lot of money will not change the way you feel. If anything, its impact on your life will probably make you even less happy.

Happiness is a state of mind. It’s the capacity to appreciate life for what it is and not what you think you’d like it to be. It’s being content with what you have, whatever that is.

Happiness is a positive mental attitude, a willingness to see the good side of every situation, regardless of how bad it might be in reality, a determination to enjoy the moment, and being comfortable in your own skin.

Work towards creating your pot of gold, by all means, dear reader, but in doing so, never lose sight of what matters most.

The period of human life is short, and it goes by in the blink of an eye.

Yesterday has gone, and you may never know tomorrow. The here and now are the only certainties you have.

This moment is your life, so you must find a way to enjoy every moment. Get the most out of them all. For, as we say, where I come from, you’ll be a long time dead.

The secret to happiness:

Enjoy simple, inexpensive pleasures like having a laugh or a coffee with a friend. That’s when you’ll be happiest. That’s how memories are made, too.

Accept that your life will be full of challenges, which is what makes it all interesting.

And recognise that by having to respond to challenges, you are growing as a person. So it makes sense to respond to every challenge with enthusiasm because you can only win, ultimately. Either you’ll succeed, or you’ll learn a lesson.

And remember this too: as your life passes, you won’t remember those expensive shoes you bought or the latest gadget, but you will remember the experiences you had with the people who mattered most to you.

Enjoy life for what it is and don’t fret about what it isn’t. The secret to happiness is contentment.

If you can be happy without money, then having money will be a bonus.

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Why enjoying yourself can never be a waste of time

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am a great believer in making the most of your time.

In particular, a constant message from me is that you should not waste your time. However, as with everything, it is important to strike a balance, of course.

As the late John Lennon reminds us in his observation above, truly enjoying yourself can never be a waste of time.

Enjoying yourself and having fun have positive benefits for your physical and mental health.

For a start, it reduces stress.

Also, what would be the point of life if you couldn’t have a little fun occasionally? All work and no play will make you a very dull person indeed.

Remember the words in that old Music Hall song, “Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think. Enjoy yourself while you’re still in the pink.”

For any reader not familiar with the expression ‘in the pink‘, it’s British slang for being in a good state of health.

You can’t be serious all the time, dear reader.

Sometimes you’ve just got to have some fun.

So go on, and start having some fun right now. You know you want to.

Enjoying-Yourself
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How to deal with criticism in the workplace

HOW TO DEAL WITH CRITICISM IN THE WORKPLACEHave you ever had a problem dealing with criticism in the workplace, dear reader?

If you have, you’re not alone.

Most of us can be a little sensitive when we’re criticized by other people, particularly in the workplace. That’s natural, and I struggle with it just as much as the next person.

However, over the years, I’ve learned that criticism comes in two types, as follows:

  1. Constructive criticism; and
  2. Destructive criticism

What’s the difference?

People who offer constructive criticism are genuinely trying to help, even if that isn’t immediately obvious.

However, just because they’re trying to help doesn’t necessarily mean they’re right about what they’re saying. I’ll get back to that point shortly.

When you’re subjected to destructive criticism, then someone is just having a go at you. To hurt you, for whatever reason.

That may be to bolster their own ego, or they may not like you very much and so can’t resist the temptation to belittle you or just generally make you feel uncomfortable.

Remember, there are people who get off on other people’s discomfort and so like to have a go at people when the opportunity arises. These are the haters and the trolls. They exist in the workplace, as well as on social media.

How to deal with constructive criticism:

When you’re on the receiving end of criticism, don’t take any of it personally. Remember, you’re bigger than that.

Just remain calm; listen to what’s being said; consider the person saying it; and, of course, the rationale behind their comment.

As you absorb what has been said to you, ask yourself this question “Is this person being constructive or destructive?

If you feel they’re being constructive in offering their comment, then the next question to ask yourself is, “Do they have a fair point?

In answering that question, you must be honest with yourself.

Remember, it’s a sign of maturity when you can acknowledge your inexperience and mistakes.

And you can’t learn from your mistakes unless you recognize them first.

So if, after careful reflection, you feel that they do have a fair point, then take it on board and use it as a learning opportunity.

At this point, thank your critic for the feedback and decide how you might use it to improve and be better at what you do.

You might even ask your critic for suggestions if you think they can help you.

Even constructive critics are not always right:

Not every self-appointed critic has a universal monopoly on know-how and common sense, however well-intentioned they may be. Even so-called experts get stuff wrong occasionally.

So in reflecting on any constructive criticism offered, your conclusion might be that they don’t have a fair point. And as long as you’re being honest with yourself, it’s perfectly reasonable to say, “You know what? I think they’re wrong.

If that’s the case, then be polite, thank them for their feedback, and agree to disagree if necessary.

Accept that they offered their comment in good faith and that their intentions were honourable, but just move on without any sense of feeling hurt just because someone had the temerity to question your approach.

They’re entitled to their opinion, but you don’t have to accept it.

How to deal with destructive criticism:

If someone is attempting to be destructive in their criticism, then don’t rise to the bait. Just smile politely and move on.

Do not give anyone the satisfaction of a reaction or signs that they’ve gotten to you. That’s the oxygen on which they feed. It’s the dopamine hit they crave.

You’re better than that, so don’t allow yourself to get drawn into their game. They’re unworthy of a reaction or any of your emotional energy.

And never allow such people to chip away at your self-esteem.

That’s what they’re trying to do, so know that, and as you’re smiling, just say to yourself, “I’m better than you, and your attempt to have a go at me won’t get you anywhere. So stop wasting your time and mine.

Conclusion:

Recognize that criticism has two forms. Either way, never take any of it personally, even if you suspect your critic is being personal.

If your critic is being constructive, then be honest with yourself and question whether your critic has a point. If they do have a point, then you must learn from it.

If your critic is being destructive, then do not give them the satisfaction of a reaction. Just smile and move on.

If you’re not sure whether they’re being constructive or destructive, then give them the benefit of the doubt, assume they’re being constructive, and act accordingly.

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The importance of friends to our lives

FriendsFriends are the family you choose. ~Jess C. Scott

Dear reader, were you a fan of that wonderful American, television sitcom Friends? Wouldn’t it have been great to share their company and all the fun they had in Central Perk?

For me that show highlighted the important role that our friends play in our lives.

It is a fact that we don’t get to choose our family but the good news is that we do get to choose our friends.

Friendship is a relationship of equals. A good friendship has a power dynamic that’s always in equilibrium.

Friends are the people whose company we enjoy; people with whom we feel a real sense of connection and with whom we share common interests. They are also people we’d be willing to go out of our way to help if we thought they were in trouble.

Family and loyalty go together of course. You can’t really have one without the other. And a relative can be a friend too, of course. As were Ross and Monica in Friends, for instance.

However just because you’re related to someone doesn’t mean you’ll like them or that they’ll like you. Being related is no guarantee you’ll enjoy their company.

Friends are different; friends are special.

If you have a small number of really close friends then you’re very lucky indeed.

Appreciate your friends because they’re the people that make life worth living. They’re the people that add a sparkle to a life that could otherwise be quite dull.

Poem about friendship:

If this blog post has caught your imagination, you might like to read this original poem, Friendship.

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25 facts of life that might get you thinking

FACTS OF LIFESearching for the facts of life, dear reader? I guess the question is, what do we mean by the fact of life?

Well, for some it means the birds and the bees. For me, it means trying to make sense of life and the lived experience.

Here are 25 facts of life which are my take on the world based on my own lived experience.

I hope you find some useful insights here.

If you do, please feel free to share them.

Facts of life (1-10):

  1. We live by our wits.
  2. Just because it’s dismissed as a conspiracy theory, doesn’t mean it’s not true. 
  3. Just because it looks genuine doesn’t mean it’s not fake. That goes for people too.
  4. Human beings are all flawed. You may not be perfect but you’re as perfect as the next person. 
  5. Time is more valuable than money. You can earn more money, but you can’t get more time. With time, once it’s gone it’s gone. Use it wisely. 
  6. We all make a living by selling something to someone. In exchange for adding value in some way to the lives of others, we earn money. Money is a measure of the perceived value we add. 
  7. You can choose to be whatever you want but you must accept that there will always be trade-offs. Everything comes at a price and that price must be paid first. 
  8. Life’s what you make it. It will never be perfect but with hard work and determination, it can be good. However, if you want the best life for yourself, you’ll need to carve it out yourself. 
  9. Just because people don’t share their troubles doesn’t mean they don’t have any. No one can ever truly know the battles other people face. So, be careful when judging. 
  10. You must always be prepared for when opportunity knocks. Life is an endless stream of opportunities just waiting for the fleet-footed and those ready and waiting to seize the day.

Facts of life (11-17):

  1. There’s only one way to gain experience. The hard way. You can’t train experience. You must go out there, make mistakes and learn from them. In short, there’s no elevator, you must take the stairs, one by one. 
  2. All too often, people choose to move on because they failed to appreciate what they had. It’s easy to think that the grass is greener somewhere else, but the grass is greener where it’s well-watered.
  3. You may be angry at the way you’ve been treated. You may feel you have every right to be angry. However, a chippy attitude will never win over hearts and minds. You’ll catch more flies with sugar than you will with vinegar. 
  4. Those who can only see virtue in their own opinions are keen to close down those with alternative opinions because they’re concerned that the public may listen to and be influenced by those with alternative opinions. 
  5. It’s wrong to think that the law will protect the individual. It won’t. Do or say anything that runs counter to the interests of the powerful elite, and it will come back to bite you. If you want to go against the powerful, you’ll need numbers on your side. 
  6. When the powerful elite suggests the need for limitations on what people are allowed to do, what they have in mind will only apply to ordinary folk. They have no intention of being constrained by such limitations themselves.
  7. Giving is easy but if you need to take it back, that’s when it gets difficult. Be careful what you give if there’s a possibility you may need to take it back.

Facts of life (18-25):

  1. Politicians are not on your side. They’re driven by personal ambition and self-interest. Your interests only matter to them when being seen to be doing something for you is useful to them, politically.
  2. It’s unwise to agree to anything that would give any government too much control over your life. You cannot trust a politician. 
  3. There is no such thing as government cash. There’s only taxpayers’ cash. Even when governments borrow money, that’s just money taken now from future taxpayers. Governments have no cash of their own. 
  4. Acting together, we are strong. If enough of us band together we are invincible. We don’t have to accept all the nonsense. We can and should push back. Operating in great numbers we can scare the hell out of the politicians and the powerful elite.
  5. No one grants us freedom. We are free people, and no government should ever be allowed to believe, mistakenly, that it controls us. We have rights, they’re inalienable, and politicians need reminding of that, constantly. 
  6. Those seeking to manipulate our language, are trying to control the debate. Changing what we say and how we say it, is part of an agenda aimed at creating a world that suits their interests but not ours. We must all push back, constantly.
  7. The result of complicating communication will be misunderstanding and miscommunication. And misunderstanding and miscommunication can only ever lead to problems and tensions between people. So, keep it simple, always. 
  8. It’s strange in the modern world that so many seemingly sensible people are willing to accept some incredibly silly ideas without question. Never be afraid to challenge the orthodoxy.

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10 tips for improving self-esteem 

Improving Self_Esteem If you’re looking for tips for improving self-esteem, dear reader, then you might find this article helpful.

Self-esteem is an important aspect of our lives as it affects how we think, feel and behave. It is the confidence we have in ourselves and our abilities.

People with high self-esteem tend to have positive outlooks on life, while those with low self-esteem may struggle with feelings of insecurity and self-doubt.

Improving self-esteem can be a challenging task, but it is not impossible.

Here are some 10 tips for how to improve your self-esteem:

Tips for improving self-esteem:

1. Stop comparing yourself to others:

They are on their own unique journey through life, and you’re on yours. There is no comparison.

A major issue for people today is the way social media makes it almost inevitable that we compare ourselves to others. We see so much of what they’re doing every time we pick up our smartphones.

It can be easy to believe that they’re doing better than us. Then we fall into the trap of feeling inadequate or not good enough.

Remember social media creates a false view of reality.

The idea that everyone’s doing well except you is simply misleading. Everyone has their fair share of life’s problems; despite anything, social media might suggest to the contrary. Everyone struggles for time to time.

So do compare yourself to how you believe others are doing. Instead, focus on your own progress and accomplishments.

2. Embrace your flaws:

No one is perfect and it’s important to remember that everyone has flaws.

Instead of focusing on your flaws and feeling bad about them, try to find ways to embrace them.

For example, if you have freckles, embrace them as a unique feature of your face.

Perhaps you’re not very good with words. So what? Lots of people are not very good with words. So, make a joke about it, rather than let it bother you.

3. Focus on the positive:

We can all find ourselves thinking about all the negative things in our lives. It’s human nature really but focusing on the negative can have a detrimental effect on self-esteem.

So, instead, make a habit of focusing on the positive things in your life.

This can be as simple as writing down three things you are grateful for daily. There’s always something for which we can be grateful.

4. Surround yourself with positive people:

We are the people with whom we mix. Human beings are social animals, and we live within groups. The people within those groups can have a significant impact on our self-esteem.

Being accepted by the group requires us to be a reflection of the other members. If they’re cynical, sarcastic, and negative then we gradually become the same, if only to fit in. However, that negativity is not good for our self-esteem.

So, we need to spend time with people who uplift us and make us feel good about ourselves. Therefore, we must avoid those people who bring us down or make us feel bad about ourselves.

5. Treat yourself with kindness:

The way we talk to ourselves can have a big impact on self-esteem.

We must be kind to ourselves and avoid negative self-talk.

We must talk to ourselves as we would to a friend. If a friend came to us with a problem, we would be supportive and understanding, right?

So, why wouldn’t we want to treat ourselves with the same kindness?

We must always be kind to ourselves.

Improving Self Esteem6. Set goals and achieve them:

Nothing boosts our confidence and self-esteem like an achievement.

So, setting and achieving goals can be a great way to boost self-esteem.

We start by setting small, achievable goals and work our way up to bigger ones.

As we achieve our goals, we start to feel more confident in ourselves and our abilities. It’s a virtuous circle.

7. Take care of yourself physically:

Our physical health and well-being are essential to self-esteem.

Taking care of ourselves is important for our overall well-being and can also help improve our self-esteem.

So, we must make sure we are getting enough sleep, eating well and getting regular exercise. When we take care of ourselves, we feel better both physically and mentally.

8. Practice emotional self-care:

Our emotional well-being is as important as our physical health.

So, we must learn to take care of ourselves emotionally by taking time to relax and do the things we enjoy.

This can be anything from reading a book to taking a long bath, going for a walk or listening to a favourite piece of music.

9. Learn something new:

When we possess knowledge, we tend to get the respect of others. And obviously, that’s good for our self-esteem.

So, learning something new can be a great way to boost self-esteem.

It can be something small like learning a new recipe or something bigger like taking a class.

The act of learning something new can make you feel accomplished and can help to build self-confidence.

10. Give it time:

Remember this; self-esteem is not something that can be improved overnight.

It takes time and effort to build self-esteem, but by incorporating these tips into our daily lives, we can improve.

Conclusion:

As readers will recognise, self-esteem is an important aspect of our lives and it can be challenging to improve it.

However, if you follow these tips, you will start to feel better about yourself, and your self-esteem will improve.

And remember this; if you can only do one thing, then be kind to yourself. You’re better than you think you are and the world is a better place with you in it.

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Why passion is the key to success

WHY PASSION IS THE KEY TO SUCCESSHave you ever wondered why passion is the key to success, dear reader?

If success is your aim then received wisdom suggests that you should find your passion. You’ve heard that before I’m sure. However the phrase is now spoken so often that it has become a bit of a cliché, don’t you think?

And of course, once something becomes a cliché then it’s hard to take it seriously, wouldn’t you agree?

Then again, just because something has become a cliché doesn’t in itself mean that it lacks an underlying truth.

It must matter to you:

From experience, I can tell you that if you really want to succeed at anything then whatever it is must matter to you. And I’m not talking about mattering just a little bit. I mean it really, really, really must matter to you. It must be as important to you as the air that you breathe.

You can call it a ‘passion’; you can call it something with which you have a ‘sense of connection’; or you can call it your ‘Why’.

Whatever you call it, you’ll only have the determination to see it through as far as it goes if it actually matters to you.

Make your mark:

How lucky are those people who find something in life that matters so much that it drives them to make their mark? To be recognised for making a significant contribution to their chosen pursuit.

That pursuit could be painting or writing or playing a musical instrument. It may be computers or fast cars. It may be starting a business and making serious money. Whatever it is, it’s that special something which for those people is not only interesting and absorbing but rewarding too.

It becomes so important to them that it would be their hobby if they couldn’t make a living at it. Because they love it so much, it’s not really working at all, for them it’s a pleasure.

It’s not work if you’d do it anyway:

It’s something for which they have a sense of enthusiasm or ‘passion’ and instinctively they recognise that it’s what they’re good at. And of course, because they love it, they practise and keep practising. And because they practise they hone their skills and they get even better at it. This creates a virtuous circle.

Constant practise will help you excel and reach the very top of your game.

Sadly for most people, that special something is something they never find.

If you haven’t found it, keep looking:

However, if you’ve yet to find that special something, you must never stop looking. One day you might just stumble upon it and it’s never too late for you to become the person you really could be.

That’s why passion is the key to success.

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How much should I be paid?

How much should I be paidDear reader, have you ever asked yourself the question, “How much should I be paid?” Probably, I would guess. Most people do at some point. Certainly, it’s a question I’ve asked myself many times.

We live in challenging economic times, so we’re all keen to ensure that we earn as much as we can. The question is, how much?

What is work?

In the modern age, people tend to think in terms of their careers, and many lose sight of what work is all about.

A career is just a natural progression of jobs within a given profession or industry through which we develop our skills and experience over time. Each of those jobs represents work.

In simple terms, work is just doing something for someone in return for money. Essentially, we provide a service or solve a problem, and an employer is our customer.

So, we’re paid to deliver results for the employer. With the emphasis being on delivery.

How much should I be paid?

The financial reward you get for the work you do is based on two things: –

  1. The value you can add; and
  2. The laws of supply and demand (also known as the market rate).

The value you can add is directly proportional to the skills you have and your knowledge and experience of the profession or industry in which you are seeking to work.

The supply and demand for your skills and experience within the job market will dictate how much an employer will be prepared to pay.

Why don’t businesses pay people more?

Essentially labour is a commodity. By definition, a commodity is something that can only be differentiated in terms of price.

None of us will pay more for a commodity than necessary.

For example, say, you want to buy a loaf of bread and in one store it costs $1 and, in another store, the same loaf costs $1.50. Which store will you buy from? The $1 store, obviously, because that’s what any rational person would do. Why would anyone pay more than they must?

Well, businesses think in the same way.

Businesses exist to make a profit. Profit is sales income less costs and, almost always, the biggest cost for any business is the cost of labour.

So, businesses will not pay any more than they must for people. Why would anyone expect it to be otherwise?

An employer doesn’t care about what you think you’re worth.

Your worth to the business will be judged solely on the potential value you can add and the availability and demand for your skills and experience.

How do I measure the value I add?

Essentially value is another way of saying your skills and experience, dear reader.

Alternatively, for an entry-level job, your value would be your potential.

If an employer is seeking a junior staff member for training, then your aptitude and qualifications would be a proxy for the value you could potentially add once your training has been completed.

I think I’m worth more:

If you think you’re being paid less than you deserve, then you have two options: –

  1. Go to your boss and request a raise; or
  2. Test the (job) market.

Either way, you need to do your homework first.

  1. Request a raise:

Before speaking to your boss about a raise, do some basic research on pay rates for similar jobs to yours with a requirement for the same skills and experience that you offer.

Also, identify at least three significant things that you do in your current role that make a real difference to the company. Ideally, these should be things only you can do.

Think also about how you might be able to do those things you do best more efficiently to improve your productivity.

Once you have all this information, you’re ready to justify why you think you deserve more.

  1. Test the market:

Even if you’re otherwise happy with your current employer, it can be worth putting yourself about a bit in the job market, to see what other companies would be willing to pay you.

Apply for some other jobs and see what companies are willing to pay you.

And remember; most companies know that they’ll have to offer an uplift of at least 20% on your current salary to persuade you to take the risk of leaving your current employer, certainly if you’re highly skilled.

Once you have a suitable offer, you’ve then got two choices.

Either you accept the offer and move to the new employer, or you take that offer to your current employer and see whether they’re willing to match it.

I have done this more than once and it does work.

Given the cost to the employer of losing a highly valued member of the team, most employers will match an offer rather than lose you.

And if they’re actually willing to let you leave, then they didn’t value you and therefore you might as well go.

How do I earn more?

Another way to think about this is, how do you make yourself more valuable?

And you should be building your value, constantly.

If you want to earn more then learn more.

Work hard on building your experience too. Be willing and ready to accept new challenges, however daunting, for rough seas make skilled sailors.

Become the ‘go-to’ person for some activity that is perceived as valuable to the business.

Your focus should be on ‘what you’re becoming’ rather than any short-term gain and eventually, you have a good chance of becoming very valuable.

Think about it this way. Whatever you’re doing, you’re just there to serve customers and solve problems for them

There will always be customers for goods and services, some not even invented yet. Goods and services are another way of saying problems customers have which need a solution and you’re the provider of that solution.

The greater the skills and experience required to solve those problems the more you will earn, assuming you have those skills and experience.

How much should I be paidKnow the market rate:

Every business keeps a close eye on the market rates for given skills and experience. They do this to ensure that they’re not overpaying.

You should keep a close eye on market rates too, to ensure that you’re not being underpaid for what you’re doing.

In short, you must be very disciplined and business-like in your approach to work and selling your skills.

Think of yourself as a small business providing goods and services to your boss, your colleagues, and the customers of the company for which you work.

Conclusion:

You won’t get paid more than you’re worth.

However, if you increase your value by learning more, constantly, and building your skills and experience then you can earn more.

Choose a highly skilled discipline with high demand and an undersupply of potential candidates and you can earn a lot of money.

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