All posts by Shona L

Happiness Experiment No 36: make your day harder

One of the secrets to living a healthy and long life is to make your day harder.  This may sound counter intuitive but research has shown that the less time you spend sitting down and the more time you spend being active the healthier you are likely to be.  Being active doesn’t mean that you need to spend hours working out at the gym. It is easier to add small amounts of activity into your day by walking a bit more, taking the stairs instead of the lift, getting off the bus a stop earlier and so on.  This great video by Dr Mike Evans gives you lots of suggestions to “tweak the week” to make your day a bit harder. It may sound counter intuitive but it’s worth it for your long term happiness and well-being.


Dr Mike Evans – Make your day harder

Posted by Shona Lockhart on 13th April 2015

It’s never too late to be what you might have been

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” George Eliot

There is a general misconception that unless we have achieved “overnight success” in our chosen field by the time we are in our late 20s, we have somehow missed the boat.  Tom Butler-Bowdon who is famous for writing summaries of classics in the fields of self-help, business, psychology and spirituality has written a fascinating book which turns this idea on its head.  The book Never Too Late To Be Great focuses on the idea of slow-cooked success and argues that contrary to what we might think people actually need a long time to realise their true potential. Tom Butler-Bowdon makes the point that given advances in healthcare most people live well in to their eighties in rude health.  This means that we have on average a productive adult lifespan of 60 years (from 20 to 80) in which we have plenty time to realise our dreams and have much more time than… Read the rest...

Happiness Experiment No 35: become an essentialist

Do you believe you can have it all and do it all?  I know I did until I read about Greg McKeown’s theory of essentialism.  So what is essentialism? Basically it is about facing tough decisions about what really matters to you and focusing on the few things that really count.  Essentialism is about getting really clear about what you are willing to say yes to and what you willing to say no to. Greg McKeown describes this theory as the disciplined pursuit of less but better.  If you are in the habit of spreading yourself too thinly Happiness Experiment No 35 of learning to become an essentialist could lead to a liberating approach to what matters in your life.  Give it a try and let me know how you get on.

Greg McKeown: Essentialism – The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Posted by Shona Lockhart on 6th April 2015

Happiness Experiment No 34: remember to say thank you

Saying thank you is such as simple thing to do but how often do we just take people for granted and forget to acknowledge all the little things that others do for us that make our lives better.  We may often feel grateful to others but we can easily forget to express our gratitude, leaving others feeling under appreciated.  Watch this short TED talk and be inspired to say thank you to someone – it will make a huge difference to their day and will probably make a big difference to your day too. Happiness Experiment no 34 is really simple but really powerful – just remember to say thank you.

TED Talk by Laura Trice: The power of saying thank you

Posted by Shona Lockhart on 23rd March 2015

Happiness Experiment No 33: Do it after

Changing behaviour to adopt more positive habits can be challenging and despite the best of intentions many of us fail in our attempts to make new habits last. Behavioural scientist Dr BJ Fogg has spent years researching the science of habits and one of his breakthrough ideas to create long lasting behaviour change is to attach a new habit to something you already do on a regular basis.  For example if you want to remember to take your vitamin pills BJ Fogg suggests taking them after the cup of coffee you always have every morning, if you want to build the habit of doing press-ups you can start to do them after you have gone to the toilet and gradually build up the number of press ups you do.  The key is to find something to attach your new desired behaviour to and remembering to do your new activity after the habit you already have in place.  It’s a simple sounding idea but it is a really effective way to trigger an action and adopt a new habit.  Give… Read the rest...

Happiness Experiment No 32: Just breathe

Happiness Experiment No 32 is a great reminder on how to cope when your emotions overwhelm you.  If you are feeling angry or anxious remember to just breathe.  This lovely film featuring young children explains beautifully what happens when things feel out of control. Simply breathing slowly can transform the way you feel and experience strong emotions in your body and mind.  The next time you feel yourself getting wound up by something remember to just breathe.

“Just Breathe” by Julie Bayer Salzman & Josh Salzman (Wavecrest Films)


Posted by Shona Lockhart on 9th March 2015

Living beyond limits

I recently watched an interview with Amy Purdy on Oprah Winfrey’s show SuperSoulSunday and immediately purchased her new biography On My Own Two Feet.  Amy Purdy’s story of how she fought her way back to happiness after contracting meningitis at 19 is really remarkable.  Amy fought for her life in hospital for several months and lost both legs below the knee as a result of the illness, her ruptured spleen was removed and her father eventually gave her a kidney for her 21st birthday to replace her damaged kidney. Amy chose to embrace what is possible despite many months in hospital and aimed to be back on the slopes to practice her beloved sport of snowboarding within months of her illness.

Amy went on to become a Paralympic bronze medallist in snowboarding and to be a finalist in Dancing with the Stars (the US equivalent of Strictly Come Dancing) in which she changed her foot design according to the dance she was performing. Amy has also… Read the rest...

Happiness Experiment No 31: practice awe

The ability to appreciate beauty is one of the 24 characters strengths listed in the VIA character strengths survey.  If you would like to discover if “appreciation of beauty” is one of your top 5 character strengths you can take the VIA survey for free here.  I must admit that I had never really appreciated what an amazing strength this is until I watched this beautiful TED talk by Louie Schwartzberg.  Louie’s time lapse nature photography is truly awe inspiring and his gift of showing us the amazing beauty and wonder that surrounds us every day is definitely a character strength worth cultivating.  Watch the TED talk and be inspired to try out Happiness Experiment No 31: practice awe.   You can find more inspiration on Louie Schwartzberg’s beautiful website Moving Art.

TED Talk by Louie Schwartzberg: Nature. Beauty. Gratitude.

Posted by Shona Lockhart on 2nd March 2015

Happiness Experiment No 30: Draw your future

“The capacity for hope is the most significant fact of life. It provides human beings with a sense of destination, and the energy to get started.” Norman Cousins

A very interesting theory I have discovered in the science of positive psychology is hope theory.  C.R. Snyder spent many years researching the theory of hope and its benefits to well-being. Hope is not just wishful thinking or optimisim in the way we say “I hope I will win the lottery.” Hope is a belief that we can change the future for the better, or reach our desired goals. Hope keeps us moving forward when the going gets tough, and helps us to “get back on the horse” when we fall off.  According to Snyder’s theory, hopeful thinking is made up of 3 key elements:

  1. Goals – thinking in a goal-oriented way.
  2. Pathways – finding different ways to achieve your goals.
  3. Agency – believing that you can instigate change.

Snyder found that hopeful

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