Category: Happiness

The Home Of Happiness
What’s the most important step in the process of becoming happier? It’s the first step. The first step towards happiness is to decide to be happy. On these pages I’ll be explaining that first step and all the other techniques by which you can become happier.
Your comments are welcome.

Female Genital Mutilation

I’ve just signed a petition against female genital mutilation, asking the Home Secretary Theresa May to take action. FGM has been illegal in Britain since 1985 but, apparently, no one has ever been convicted of this crime in the UK. That certainly isn’t because no young women are being mutilated. In the London area alone there were 166 complaints over the past four years. And last month a Sunday Times investigation uncovered some of those who are willing to commit this crime for a few hundred pounds. If you would also like to sign the petition here’s the link:

Pyjama Parties

I’ve heard of the Conservative Party and I’ve heard of the Labour Party but I’ve only just started hearing about the Pyjama Party. I’m not quite clear what the policies of the Pyjama Party are but it seems peace, goodwill and togetherness have something to do with it. Apparently, when Gordon Brown was Prime Minister, members of the Pyjama Party were invited over to Chequers to mingle with members of the Labour Party. Or have I got that wrong?

Personally, I wouldn’t vote for the Pyjama Party, although it does sound slightly more interesting than the others. I find pyjamas hilarious. Ever since I began seeing films in which men had sex with women I realised that real men didn’t wear pyjamas. Only Rock Hudson and Doris Day did that. So I resolved to throw out my pyjamas and I haven’t owned any for forty years. To me, wearing pyjamas seems about as absurd as wearing a wetsuit in the shower. What is the point? When you go to bed you should be naked. I don’t want to reach out and feel winceyette. I want to feel skin. When skin touches skin oxytocin gets released. And that’s very good for bonding. So get naked and improve your relationship.

Sad Life stories

One of my particular interests is how to have a happy relationship. So I was fascinated by the actor Dennis Waterman’s masterclass in how not to. He confessed on Piers Morgan’s TV programme Life Stories that he did hit the actress Rula Lenska when the two of them were married. Here are some of the things the 64 year-old star of The Sweeney, Minder, and New Tricks had to say:

‘It’s not difficult for a woman to make a man hit her… The problem with strong, intelligent women is that they can argue well. And if there is a time where you can’t get a word in…and I…lashed out. I couldn’t end the argument… Something must have brought it on. When frustration builds up and you can’t think of a way out…It happened and I’m very, very ashamed of it…If a woman is a bit of a power freak and determined to put you down, and if you’re not bright enough to do it with words, it can happen.’

Rula Lenska says the violence only occurred when he was ‘very, very drunk’. She said she was never sure how he was going to be when he came home because ‘it was like living with two totally different people’.

According to the Daily Mail, a lot of the arguments were over the time he spent in the pub, his three times a week golf sessions, and his golfing holidays with his pals in which drinking was said to be the first aim, eyeing up birds the second and golf third.

I want to focus first on that phrase ‘determined to put you down’. This is something that, unfortunately, you so often see in couples. There’s this tendency to try to undermine a partner’s confidence to make that person more manageable, more malleable. And it’s one of the worst and stupidest crimes anybody can commit in a relationship.

An analogy is buying a beautiful new sports car then deliberately denting it and refusing to put oil in it. It would be crazy. And yet that’s exactly how many people behave in relationships.

If you want a happy relationship, build your partner up, don’t put your partner down.

That might sound as if I’m taking the Dennis Waterman’s part but I’m certainly not because choosing to spend a long time away from your partner, flirting with others and having affairs are also all ways of putting your partner down. Knowing that your husband or boyfriend is choosing to spend yet another evening at the pub with his mates rather than with you is not great for self-esteem. And, of course, I utterly condemn violence, especially by men against women, which is almost always far, far worse than the other way around.


Showing contempt for a partner is one of what relationship experts call The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse (as I explained in my little book Be A Hot Date). Any one of the horsemen is bad. When all four turn up it’s The End.

High Intensity Training (HIT) And Happiness

Do you say you haven’t got time for exercise? Well, could you manage around 20 minutes a week? If so, you can make a major contribution to your health, fitness and longevity. That’s the conclusion of scientists who have been investigating High Intensity Training (HIT). In fact, HIT goes back to the work of Arthur Jones in the 1970s (and even to the work of the long-ignored Dr Gustav Zander in the late 19th century) but the latest discoveries set a whole new standard. Provided you’re not in the fifth of the population who are ‘non-responders’ then, according to Jamie Timmons, professor of ageing biology at Birmingham University, you can get by with just three minutes of HIT a week (plus a little gentle exercise to warm up first).

Usually it’s all done on an exercise bike but the principle can be adapted for other activities. The regime is two minutes of gentle exercise to warm up followed by 20 seconds as fast as you can go, followed by another two minutes of gentle exercise and another 20 seconds and finally a third bout. Do that three times a week and that’s it. Four-fifths of people see worthwhile improvements in their insulin sensitivity (reducing the likelihood of diabetes) as well as their aerobic fitness and for the 15 per cent who are ‘super-responders’ the improvements are substantial.

But what interests me especially is the impact on happiness. It’s well established that exercise improves the level of several ‘happy chemicals’ in the blood but, as I reported in my book How To Be Happier, it’s always been thought the exercise needed to be vigorous and fairly prolonged. I’m going to give this new HIT protocol a try and I’ll let you know how I get on.


According to a Sex in America survey I’ve been reading, a lot of American men find it difficult or impossible to ejaculate during sex with a partner. Apparently 16 per cent of those aged 50 to 64 are in that category, rising to 23 per cent from 65 to 74. A curious thing is that the figure for men under 50 is actually higher at 28 per cent. So does that mean the situation is getting ‘worse’?

The first thing I’d say is that while being completely unable to ejaculate is obviously a problem, it certainly isn’t a problem that you need a lot of stimulation. Quite the contrary. The man who doesn’t ejaculate readily can facilitate his partner having numerous orgasms. As for himself, he can confidently approach the point of no return (after which ejaculation is inevitable) again and again, revelling in the exquisite sensations. When men ask me for tips to improve their sex lives, one of the first things I suggest is learning to withhold ejaculation. Thirty minutes of non-ejaculatory intercourse is vastly more enjoyable than a headlong rush towards climax.

Some experts say it’s a modern problem caused by men concentrating too much on their partners’ pleasure. That’s an interesting one given that, not so long ago, men were usually blamed for being ‘selfish’. I doubt that’s the real explanation. One possibility could be too much masturbation while watching porn. Another might be stress.

In fact, I’m just back from France where a new survey highlights that very problem. According to the survey, almost a quarter of French people have at some time suffered sexual dysfunction caused by stress at work.

Some employees have even been driven to suicide, like the young woman who emailed her father: ‘I can’t accept the reorganization in my department – I’m getting a new boss and I’d rather die.’ She then jumped from her fourth-floor office window.

It’s only stating the obvious to say she had got things completely out of proportion. But she was far from alone. Sixty-one per cent of those interviewed actually said work was the most important thing in their lives. Ahead of family, children, health…or romance.

Well, it certainly shouldn’t be. The thing that should be number one is happiness. Make that your priority and other things will start to fall into place…including sex.


Red Meat Is Dangerous

One of the big stories of the week is that eating red meat shortens life. Researchers led by An Pan at the Harvard School of Public Health studied data on 121,000 doctors and nurses covering a period of up to 22 years. It turns out that a daily serving of red meat increases the risk of dying from cancer by 13 per cent and of dying from heart disease by 19.5 per cent. The critical level seems to be 42 grams of red meat a day – below that you’re okay, the further you are above it the more dangerous it gets. And processed red meat (hamburgers and sausages, for example) turns out to be worse than unprocessed.

If you’d bought my book Help Yourself To Live Longer (Teach Yourself, 2010) you already would have known this. I pointed to studies which suggested that eating meat less than once a week improved life expectancy by three to four years.

Fat has a lot to do with it. So do nitrosamines. But there is another element. Other research suggests that a low protein diet promotes longevity. No one really knows exactly how much protein a human being requires but a widely accepted figure is 0.75g per kg of body weight per day. Meat is obviously high in protein. One good steak provides roughly double that amount. On the other hand, a vegan would struggle to reach it.

So if you want to live longer, become a vegan. There’s more. You’ll no longer be responsible for the suffering and death of farm animals. That should make you feel both relieved and happy.

Boomers, Sex And Happiness

I’ve just been reading through some reports about sex and older couples. According to one study in America, more than half of those aged 75 to 85 have sex at least twice a month, while nearly a quarter have sex at least once a week. But what’s really interesting is the link with happiness. Only 40 per cent of those who had not had sex in the previous year claimed to be very happy with life, compared with 60 per cent of those who had sex at least once a month. Similarly, while 59 per cent of over 65s said they were happy in what had become sexless  marriages, the figure for those who had regular sex was 80 per cent. What the reports don’t tell us is whether it’s the sex that causes the happiness, or the happiness that causes the sex. My guess is that it’s a bit of both.That’s pretty encouraging for those boomers who fear old age as sexless.

Acceptance And Commitment Therapy

For the new edition of my book on happiness I’m adding (among other things) a chapter on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). It’s not easy to describe it in a few words. The ‘acceptance’ part is all to do with letting unpleasant thoughts come and go, while distancing yourself from them (rather as in Neuro-Linguistic Programming, in fact). And the ‘commitment’ part is all to do with taking action to improve your life guided by your values. There’s quite a lot of statistical evidence that ACT works for a number of psychological problems. But I’d really love to hear from anyone who has used ACT to promote happiness rather than to reduce unhappiness, if you see what I mean. If that’s you, either as a therapist or as a client, then please share your experiences with us by clicking on Comments.

What Does 10/10 Happiness Feel Like?

How happy is it possible to be? I’m wondering, because the Office for National Statistics has just published the results of its preliminary survey into happiness in Britain. The key question was, ‘Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?’ On a scale of zero to ten, around three-quarters of Brits rated themselves a seven or higher. And just over a third actually rated their day a nine or a perfect ten.

Only 12 per cent scored themselves a five or lower, which is bad news for sales of my books How To Be Happier and Transform Your Life With NLP.

Nevertheless, I’m very pleased for all those people – if their scores paint a true picture.

But I don’t believe they do.

As a writer on happiness it might be a good idea for me to lie and say I’m a permanent 10 myself. But I’m not. The key question is this. What would 10/10 happiness feel like?

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Zorba The (Happy) Greek

I’ve just had an e-mail from a young guy asking my opinion on the conflict between spirituality and the pleasures of the flesh. Well, in my opinion, there is no conflict. That’s why I like certain aspects of Tantra. Tantrikas don’t see any conflict, either. On the contrary, Tantric sex is a way of using sexual energy precisely for spiritual ends.

The supposed conflict between the flesh and the spirit was the theme of just about everything written by Nikos Kazantzakis. For that reason I shouldn’t really like his books. But I do. In examining one side of the argument he was also compelled to examine the other and, in Zorba The Greek he created a man who relished everything that life on Earth has to offer.

That’s why I love that character. If you want to be happy you have to stop beating yourself up for being a human being. Enjoy yourself. And if you’re not sure how, read Zorba The Greek as a start. And then, maybe, How To Be Happier.

If you agree or disagree let’s hear from you – just click on ‘comment’.

NLP Isn’t Always The Solution

I’ve had an email from someone who has a problem with public speaking. Over the years she’s become more and more terrified until she’s reached the point where she just can’t do it any more. Normally I would suggest NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) or hypnosis or self-hypnosis. But this woman has tried those things and just about everything else that’s going.

A standard NLP method is to visualize a scene in which you succeed in doing what you’re afraid of. The problem with that approach is that when you’re really terrified of something it can completely hijack your visualization. In other words, you can’t even imagine yourself succeeding. Each time you try you only ever see yourself failing. As a result, your fear increases.

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What Makes You Happy?

As a result of some valuable new techniques I learned recently I’ve begun work on a follow-up to How To Be Happier. But I’d also appreciate some input from you. Do you deliberately use particular techniques to make yourself happier and, if so, what are they? Do you favour the idea that true happiness comes from inside? Or from outside? Or do you just let whatever happens happen? I’d love to hear from you. In fact, I’m sure we’d all like to hear from you if you’ve got some techniques that have worked for you. Please click on the word ‘comment’ below and share your thoughts in the box.