Posts Tagged ‘happiness’

The Oxford dictionary defines ’empathy’ as; the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

“If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from his angle as well as your own. ” – Henry Ford

Along with gratitude, empathy is one of the most important people skills to master. We all want similar things from life and the simplest way to discover how someone else is thinking is to ask ourselves how we would think in a similar situation.

Empathy diffuses anger and frustration in people because most of us just want to be understood. American writer and lecturer, Dale Carnegie believed that we should never disagree with anyone because ‘people like people who are like they are’.

However, Dale stated that if we ever found ourselves in a situation where we felt so strongly about an issue that we simply couldn’t agree with someone then we should disagree with them as diplomaticaaly as possible.

“When you start to develop your powers of empathy and imagination, the whole world opens up to you.” – Susan Sarandon

Under no cicumstances should we merely use the phrase “Yes but” when voicing an alternative oppinion. Instead we should endeavour to ‘stretch’ the “Yes but” by saying something like; “I understand what you are saying but..”

By doing this we convey to the other person that although we disagree with them we understand their point of view and psychologically this is a very powerful negotiating technique.

The Oxford Dictionary definition of empathy mentions the ‘feelings’ of other people. This is important because if we can actually empathise with a person’s feelings as well as their oppinions the overall effect of the sentiment is magnified and the chances of the negotiation coming to a successful conclusion are greatly increased.

As an aside I have actually read Dale’s most famous book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ about 15 times and each time I read it I learn something new.

There are many benefits to aquiring the quality of empathy, people will start to see us in a different light and we will become known as a person who understands and cares for others’ feelings.

Wether we work in sales or not we are all selling ourselves and our ideas on a daily basis. Empathy undoubtedly increases sales because people buy from people they like and trust and moreover they will tell their friends that we are the person to go to for XYZ product or service.

As well as improving our business results empathy will greatly improve our social and family lives. People will always be drawn to someone who is prepared to listen to them. The greatest conversationalists speak the least, they simply ask the best questions and then let others do all the talking.

The native Americans had a saying that you should never judge a man until you had walked a mile in his shoes, and this holds true today. In this era of hyper communication sentiments such as empathy and gratitude are our most important tools.

“The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy.” – Meryl Streep


If there is one invention that has been equally good and bad for society it has got to be television.

“All television is educational television. The question is: what is it teaching?” – Nicholas Johnson

Commercial television broadcasting began in earnest in 1946 and it’s success has been nothing short of phenomenal. The only problem with watching TV is that it can do us as much harm as it can do us good.

What’s good about TV?

There are many good things about TV;

# It keeps us informed and brings the world community closer together.

# It’s combination of words and images makes it a valuable and effective learning tool.

# TV helps to promote understanding and acceptance of each other’s cultures and it has done a great deal for our freedom of speech.

# It is the King of family entertainment.

# Knowledge really is power and TV has undoubtedly been a major source of learning for humankind over the last seventy years.

What’s bad about TV?

“Television has changed a child from an irresistible force to an immovable object.” – Author Unknown

“Today, watching television often means fighting, violence and foul language – and that’s just deciding who gets to hold the remote control.” – Donna Gephart

Again, the list of what is bad about TV is also virtually endless, it really is amazing that something can have so many positives and yet so many negatives.

# TV has promoted laziness in ourselves and our children. We now take less exercise because it is a much easier option to simply switch on the TV and veg out on the sofa.

# The power and influence of TV can be exerted negatively as well as positively. we are constantly subjected to unscrupulous advertising and in extreme cases malicious propaganda.

# It is human nature to mimick other people, therefor we are prone to copying things that we see on TV. Because of our obsession with bad news and shocking behaviour the programme makers are increasingly exposing us to more and more of it and this is having a self depricating effect on our own behaviour and lifestyles.

A frightening spin off of this supply and demand mechanism is that the programme content has got to become increasingly shocking in order to retain the same impact and thus we are being exposed to and subsequently copying worse and worse situations and behavioural traits.

# Finally, family interaction has certainly suffered at the hands of TV. Board games and book reading are increasingly becoming things of the past.

Is there a compromise?

Communication will always play a key part in our society and anything that enhances communication will always become popular.

With this thought in mind it would be foolish of anyone to try to prohibit these improved medias. It is wiser to embrace and understand them if only to develop the ability to monitor and regulate them.

Many people throughought history have been credited with promoting an attitude of ‘moderation in all things’ and it is great attitude to embrace.

If we limit the amount of time we spend watching TV to a reasonable level it will do us more good than harm.

“Never go to excess, but let moderation be your guide.” –  Marcus Tullius Cicero

“They say that ninety percent of TV is junk.  But, ninety percent of everything is junk.” – Gene Roddenberry


Clutter is one of my pet hates. Fortunately, my wife hates it too therefor most of the time the house tends to remain fairly tidy. However, if either you or your partner has a tendency to horde things then your clutter can soon get out of control.

“Don’t own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire.” – Wendell Berry

It’s a good idea to adopt the habit of never leaving a room without removing something from it that shouldn’t be in there. This makes tidying up much easier.

If you don’t collect it in the first place then you will never have to dispose of it. Think long and hard before making purchases for the home, if it’s not essential then leave it for another day, if you really want or need it you will buy it eventually.

Photographs: We all know what each other looks like so it is totally unnecessary to keep loads of family photographs out on display. Okay, the odd important one is fine but there’s nothing more offputting when visiting someone’s home than being confronted by hundreds of pictures of them and their relatives.

Be brutal: When you are decluttering it’s important that you are ruthless. If you’ve not used or worn something in over a year then bin it. If you really can’t bear to part with it then store it out of the way in the loft.

“The more you have, the more you are occupied. The less you have, the more free you are.” – Mother Teresa

I’m a big believer in breaking problems down into small chunks, so if your clutter is out of control attack it bit by bit, one room at a time, one part of a room at a time even.

Benifits of decluttering:

As well as the obvious benefits of improving your house’s appearance and if it’s up for sale, making it more appealing to potential buyers, there are other hidden benefits of decluttering.

Clutter has a tendency to keep us living in the past. Therefor by spring cleaning from time to time we keep ourselves in a better emotional state.

Good memories are fine but we don’t need constant reminders of them. In order to keep living in the present and for the future it is important to surround ourselves with new things.

“Less is more.” – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe



The five senses; Taste, Touch, Site, Sound and Smell are undoubtedly the greatest gifs we will ever receive but how many of us can honestly say that we make the most of all of our senses?

Most of us live our lives, at least to some degree on auto pilot, the days turn into weeks, the weeks into months and before we know it another year has passed us by.

It is possible to ‘slow’ this process down and to get more out of our lives if we chosse to and the main way to do this is by increasing our sensory perception.

“I think this is true for all artists. My senses are very important to me.” – Sharon Olds

Visualisation is a great method for bringing about desired outcomes, in fact the majority of successful people from all walks of life practice it. Rather than just wishing we had something it is much more productive to visualise having it.

Importantly though, to acheive the best results we must ‘visualise’ with all of our senses. By doing this we fully engage our subconscious mind and once we convince it that we really want something it will go into overdrive in order to deliver it to us, that’s what it’s programmed to do.

Practice fully utilising one sense at a time, you’ll be amazed at how clearer your thinking will become. With just a little practice we can double our ability to process and remember information.

“Observe, record, tabulate, communicate. Use your five senses. Learn to see, learn to hear, learn to feel, learn to smell, and know that by practice alone you can become expert.” – William Osler

Greater use of the senses promotes greater understanding, not just of ourselves but of others, we begin to exhibit greater empathy for others and empathy is one of the tools of success. People like people who understand and sympathise with them.

People like people who are like they are.

Whenever I go on holiday I make a conscious effort to remember as much of the experience as possible. Yes, we take snapshots and video but there’s nothing like the memory of actually being there.

People that are unfortunate enough to lack one or more of the senses develop their remaining senses to compensate. Pop Star, Stevie Wonder credits a great deal of his success to his blindness.

Rather than constantly griping and complaining about all the things we lack we should concentrate on celebrating the most wonderful gifts in our posession, our five senses.

“Purity of speech, of the mind, of the senses, and of a compassionate heart are needed by one who desires to rise to the divine platform.” –


Like it or not we are all obsessed with the weather. Granted, us Brits are more obsessed than most but our excuse is our climate is probably the most miserable. The weather does affect each and everyone of us though and it affects virtually everything we do.

information on the weather is available in every form of media but the most annoying ‘forecasts’ are the ones that proudly declare what the weather HAS actually been like! (We know that, tell us something we don’t know)

Invariably the forecasts are innacurate but that does not stop us from listening to them and even trusting in them time after time, it’s so frustrating. (Do old people talk about anything else but the weather? Okay, hospitals – fair point)

“Don’t knock the weather. If it didn’t change once in a while, nine out of ten people couldn’t start a conversation.” –  Kin Hubbard

“I cannot command winds and weather.” –  Horatio Nelson

# the weather affects our mood, we all feel better when the Sun is shining, it puts a stride in our step, a smile on our face. Some people, my wife included claim to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D., not for them that’s what it stands for).

Basically sufferers become depressed throuugh a lack of sunshine (my wife’s excuse for booking more holidays! – Us men are not fools you know, I promise)

# Many peoples livelihoods are dependent upon the weather, fishermen, farmers, gardeners to name but a few. Snowfall can bring a nation (well the UK anyway) to a grinding halt. Seriously though, droughts have wreaked havoc across the World and caused large scale famines and untold deaths. The forces of nature are invincible.

The UK is the only country in the world that has an annual rainfall in excess of 35 inches but still has to suffer a hosepipe ban if it doesn’t rain for over a week. Last summer we couldn’t’ve watered our lawns if we’d wanted to, because for the most part they were submerged under two feet of water! but was the ban lifted, not on your life.

# We all wish for clement weather during our leisure time, we want it to be sunny when we are on holiday, when I was a child I used to holiday with a friend whose mother used to insist that ‘we looked like we were enjoying hot weather’ for the photographs (us Brits – scary people)

# outdoor sports and events are always better when the Sun is shining, I always love the start of the football season (mid August) there’s nothing like watching a game of footy in the sunshine.

# Our clothing choice is dependent on the weather. Will we be warm enough? cool enough? do we need to protect ourselves with Sun cream?

“There’s no such thing as bad weather only innapropriate clothing.” – Billy Connolly

# Most importantly the weather and forces of nature are all powerful. The recent events in Japan are all too commonplace in the World and we are virtually powerless to do anything about them.

We are at the mercy of the weather.

# Climate change is a big concern for all of us but I think we are exageraring our impact on the Earth, yes we should all respect the environment and do all we can to reduce our own personal and corporate carbon footprints.

However these actions are necessary for our own wellbeing and that of our children because the Earth was here a long time before we arrived and it will be here for a long time after we are gone.

“No matter how rich you become, how famous or powerful, when you die the size of your funeral will still pretty much depend on the weather.” Michael Pritchard


Man befriended the cat many centuries ago. Initially it was because they were skilled at hunting rodents but down the years the bond between humans and felines has become stronger. They make ideal pets because they are relatively low-maintenance.

“When I play with my cat, how do I know that she is not passing time with me rather than I with her?” – Montaigne

We have two cats, a pedigree Blue Persian called ‘Furby’ and a black and white moggy called ‘Gizmo’ I can’t remember when they first started sleeping on our bed at night but at times it can be a real pain.

In fairness Furby isn’t that much trouble but for a small cat even he takes up a lot of room when he stretches out and my wife refuses to move him an inch insisting that he gets a good nights sleep! (What about me?)

Furthermore, he is prone to snoring. Again the sound he makes is totally disproportionate to his size. If I snore my wife unceremoniously digs me in the ribs until I stop but if Furby snores she just coos and says how cute he is.

Gizmo, the moggy is far bigger and although he is a tad overweight he is a powerful cat and at night time he can be a real handful. As soon as we go to bed he will jump up and lie on my chest. I stroke him and he purrs incessantly.

The problems arise when I stop stroking him, he doesn’t like this and he will paw my face in order to make me start again. His pawing regularly draws  blood! but shouting at Gizzy has little effect, he doesn’t like being told off but still it doesn’t deter him.

“After scolding one’s cat one looks into its face and is seized by the ugly suspicion that it understood every word. And has filed it for future reference.”- Charlotte Gray

After being pushed onto the floor for lacerating my face he will wait a while and then try his luck again. Whenever I wake up his face is always less than six inches away from mine and as soon as he realises I’m awake he starts to purr.

If I get up during the night when I return he kindly vacates my place and goes and stands on the bedside table, he allows me to get back into bed and then comes and lies next to me again.

This may or may not sound cute and most of the time I don’t mind but sometimes it’s nice to have a bit of space.

we recently re furbished our bedroom and decided to invest in a king-sized bed. Problem solved we thought. No chance, we still seem to sleep with minimal space and the cats just have an even comfier nights sleep.

Yes we are barking/meowing mad and tired in the mornings.

“I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior.” – Hippolyte Taine


We buy things for many reasons, we buy lots of things we need and lots of things we don’t need. If you have serious designs on making money it is vital that you understand why people buy.

# Necessity:

We can’t live without things such as food, water, shelter etc, so we have to aquire them. However there is a subtle difference between actual necessities and perceived necessities.

Human beings can be extremely impulsive and exposure to products and services can make us think that we cannot live without them. Furthermore we are very susceptible to the power of peer pressure. ‘The kid next door has got a new bike so our kids have to have one.’

We actually feel guilty or bad if we don’t buy our kids everything their conmtemporaries have. Thus, we as a society leave ourselves wide open to exploitation by the advertising industry.

“An object in possession seldom retains the same charm that it had in pursuit.” –  Pliny the Younger (62 AD – 114 AD)

# Emotions:

Our emotions play a great part in our shopping habits, lots of people comfort-shop, they buy things to give themselves a boost. Our mood is easily manipulated and our senses our susceptible to music, visual displays, enticing smells etc.

We buy for fun, we buy things that give us pleasure, we buy things that make us feel good, we buy to escape reality.

Mementos are also big sellers, there is nothing we like more than something that reminds us of a cherished memory – The power of nostalgia is immense.

We are all capable of greed, we all love a bargain, we all buy bulk items that we will never use.

# Real benefits:

We are fortunate to live at a time of great technological advancement, the labour-saving devices that have become available to us over the last 50 years have been astonishing.

Most of us like to improve ourselves, we will buy something if it will educate us or our children. Education is now available to a large proportion of us whereas less than a hundred years ago it was only available to a priviliged few. Furthermore the internet has made it possible for us to access information like never before.

We also buy things that we hope will make us money, we invest in all manner of things from jewellry to stocks and shares.

“To have little is to possess. To have plenty is to be perplexed.
Lao-tzu.” (604 BC – 531 BC)

# Image:

Everyone loves to look and feel good. image and prestige are both key buying motivators, if something makes us look good in the eyes of other people then we will buy it.

# Health: If we don’t have our health then we have nothing. People will pay to become healthier. Too often though we think we can get a ‘bargain’ a ‘quick fix’. Prevention is always better than the cure, moderation in all things

# Influences:

I started my career in retailing so I know a bit about sales psychology. I think the most important thing you can convey to someone in order to get them ito buy from you is TRUST.

We all like to buy from people we trust, someone that is going to make sure we get value for money, someone who is going to guide us through the minefields of their particular product or service. Trust is a key ingredient of repeat business.

Top advertisers and retailers are extremely adept at influencing our decision making when it comes to buying things, they create the right ambience for their products and services. They appeal to our ego’s, they make us think buying their goods will improve us in all manner of ways.

Personally, apart from life-saving products I think freedom and space are the most important commodities. If we can acheive these things then we owe it to ourselves to find the time to enjoy them.

“Before we set our hearts too much upon anything, let us examine how happy those are who already possess it.” F. Rochefoucauld (1613 – 1680)


How to Get Promoted

When pitching to a group of people it is crucial that we ascertain as early as possible who the decision maker(s) is. A good way of doing this is to ask the group a key question and look who they all turn to for the answer.

It’s very similar when we are looking to advance our careers. Find out who the key people are in your organisation and start getting to know how they tick. Find out as much as possible about them and what you have in common with them. Nurture this common ground.

‘My own business always bores me to death; I prefer other people’s.’
Oscar Wilde.’ – (1854 – 1900)

# Empathy:

Don’t kid yourself that your boss will promote you just because they think you are a wonderful person or even because you’re good at your job.

They’ll promote you because they think you can help them realise their OWN ambitions, they want someone who will act as an extension of themselves. Thus, if you want to get promoted you must learn to live and think like your boss.

# Responsibility:

Ask for more responsibility, be honest, don’t bite off more than you can chew, but do everything well. Produce quality work that has impact, not mass output that anyone can do. Keep asking for more and more responsibility and if you keep doing a good job then eventually you will become indespensible.

*If your boss refuses to give you additional responsibilities ask why and what you have to do in order to be considered for more important tasks.

# Image:

Act as if you’ve already been promoted, not in a conceited way but simply assume the position you are aiming for. Dress smarter, walk faster, this conveys importance, stand up straight. Convince yourself and those around you that you are capable of greater things.

‘I find it rather easy to portray a businessman. Being bland, rather cruel and incompetent comes naturally to me.’ – John Cleese (1939 – )

# Knowledge:

Be in the know, not just about your own business but about business in general, I read the financial pages on teletext every day, it takes less than 5 minutes.

# Confidence:

Don’t be afraid to be a bit cheeky but know where to draw the line. Ask for a better car/package/salary. If they turn you down on one thing ask for another. It’s hard for people to keep saying no.

# Determination:

Don’t give up, you’ll keep improving and learning, eventually you’ll get to where you want to be and if you don’t then at least you can rest easy in the knowledge that you gave it everything you had.

# Patience:

All good things take time, rather than hopping from one career to the next, find out what you’re good at and keep doing it.

‘In the business world, the rearview mirror is always clearer than the windshield.’ – Warren Buffett (1930 – )


Time is precious, we all know that. We all get the same amount of time each day, time is perhaps one of the few even playing fields in life. Thus how we utilise it is vital to our success and happiness.

We must use time as a tool, not as a crutch. – John F. Kennedy (1917 – 1963)

Dashing around like a headless chickens acheives nothing, thus planning is vital in everything. If we take a relatively small amount of time to plan it will pay us great dividends later on.

I always start a task by brainstorming, just jotting down everything I (We) know about a subject, it doesnt matter how crazy the ideas are, it’s just important to get it all out.

Next add to your own ideas with a bit of research and then arrange your information into some kind of logical order.

Time is so important and non renewable that we must try to make the most of every second of it. For example even when we are doing mundain things such as queueing we can still occupy our minds in a useful way such as reciting affirmations or ‘compiling’ articles.

Rather than dashing everywhere it is more productive to build TEMPO. The earlier in the day that we can manage this the more prooductive our day will be. It is also important to pace ourselves and to take breaks for food and rest. Burnout sucks, believe me.

There is never enough time, unless you’re serving it. – Malcolm Forbes (1919 – 1990)

Once we have planned our day or task, we must then prioritise, contrary to most other PD specialists I believe in working through easy to tough, except of course when something is time critical.

The easy jobs help build tempo and as the difficulty of the tasks increases we have also gained in fluidity. Furthermore if we spend hours on our most difficult task we then find ourselves short on time to do everything else.

It’s better to have one unfinished piece of work than twenty.

I think that routine gets a bad press, routines can be very beneficial to us and are an integral part of success, we should always try to become quicker and more skilled at all our daily tasks and eventually we will be able to do more and more in the same amount of time and with the same amount of effort.

If something saves me 20 seconds then I’ll do it.

Leisure time is vital, not only do we all need time to re charge our batteries but rest and play gives the subconscious mind time to mull over all our goals and problems.

It is possible to ‘stretch’ time by being more aware about what we are doing not just going through the motions of life.

Time is infinite, it will still be around long after we are gone. If we all achieve emotional happiness our time here will have been well spent.

Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend. – Theophrastus (372 BC – 287 BC)


I’ve written numerous articles on this subject in the past many of which I’ve posted on various forums and blogs across the internet and they have always created a lot of interest and reaction, not all of it positive I might add!

There is a lot of moral high ground concerning the subject of looks and ageing but all I can say to the people who congregate up there is that people spends billions of pounds every year on anti-ageing products and procedures so lets stop being so hypocritical about it.

The fact of the matter is that the majority of people want to look better, this may or may not include wanting to look younger. Personally, up until the age of about 23 I hated looking young, I felt that it held me back, it’s only in the last 10 to 15 years that I have actually started to apreciate the fact that I look younger than I actually am.

‘To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early or be respectable.’ (Oscar Wilde)

Regardless of wether you want to look, feel or act younger than you actually are there are certain simple things you can do in order to look and feel healthier.


# Facial hair: Always keep your eyebrows neatly trimmed, bushy/long eyebrows add years to a person and the ‘uni-brow’ is not a desirable look. Definitely no nose or ear hair this is the height of unsightliness.

Some men can look attractive with beards or stubble but they do add between 5-10 years to a man’s perceived age.

# Moisturising: Come on, we are living in the 21st century there’s nothing unmanly about a man who moisturises. Good hair and facial care is bound to pay dividends.

# Sun: Use good sun creams and no sun beds.


The body is most definitely our temple and if we put crap into it we can’t complain if it malfunctions.

# Quit Smoking: The biggest single thing you can do for your body is to free it from the torture of cigarette smoke, trust me it will thank you incessantly.

# Food and water: Eat fruit as soon as you get up, it creates a good chemical reaction in the body, conversely, never eat fruit on a full stomach, ie as a dessert because it creates the opposite effect. Buy fresh fruit and veg and stick it in the fridge so that you see it every time you go for something to nibble on. Drink lots of water.

# Exercise: Do a little every day, some is most definitely better than none, plus try and get more fresh air, again 5 minutes is better than nothing.

# Posture: Stand straight(er) and walk faster. If you saw a person hunched over and shuffling along would you think they were important or even worthy of respect? Good posture makes you look taller and feel better.

# Clothes: Wear smart clothes, they do not have to be expensive, if you are used to or like ‘comfy’ clothes start wearing ‘smarter’ clothes indoors and they will soon start to feel more comfortable.

‘Youth has no age.’ (Pablo Picasso)


# Psychology: People tend to be as old as they want to be, you can be old at 20 and young at 90. I am not suggesting that a person should suddenly start acting as young as their kids, they’d just look stupid but I am a big believer that people of all ages should strive to get along with one another.

We are all living our lives on this planet at the same time. The universe has been around for billions of years so why should age gaps prevent us from communicating effectively and sincerely with one another.

# Meditation: Meditation is as important for the mind and soul as food and water is for the body.

# Laughter: Smile and laugh as much as possible, there is no better medicine or anti-aging product available to mankind than the positive effects on the body of smiling and laughing.

‘Those who love deeply never grow old; they may die of old age, but they die young.’ (Sir Arthur Pinero)