Yesterday a parcel arrived from my most important publisher. That’s Hodder Education. Inside were six copies of my latest book Beat Negativity With CBT. It’s always a nice moment when you see one of your books in the flesh, as it were, for the first time. It’s only a short book with lots of easy to assimilate bullet points (which is why it’s called a Bullet Guide) but, if I say so myself, it’s packed with solid advice about how to use CBT to become happier and more positive.
CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. The behavioural part is based on the idea that you can overcome, for example, irrational fears or compulsions through a gradual process of desensitization. The cognitive part is based on the insight that your thoughts create your feelings. Stop thinking negative thoughts, permit only positive thoughts, and you’ll be happier.
They sound simple ideas and they are (which is why I sometimes get angry emails from people telling me I’m not taking their problems seriously). But the fact is that they work.
Here’s something you can test. You’ll need a handy way of keeping a count. Could be one of those clickers, could be a notebook, could just be a bare arm you can mark with a biro. Each time you notice yourself having a negative thought, note it. Then stop it and replace the negative thought with a positive thought. At the end of the day total up the number of negative thoughts. Resolve that the next day you’ll have less of them. Keep it up for a week. If you’ve done it conscientiously, the frequency of negative thoughts will be well down by the end of the week and you’ll feel happier. (If you’re not, you can send me an angry email.)
By the way, you can use the ‘Look Inside’ facility on Amazon to get a better idea of the book – you might even want to buy it. If you want something more detailed try Transform Your Life With NLP.
I see that Sunday Times columnist India Knight is advising Demi Moore (and anyone else of a like mind, presumably) to cut back on the exercise and use the time ‘pottering about in tracksuit bottoms’. The reason for the advice is that Demi (48) has, apparently, broken up with her somewhat younger partner Ashton Kutcher (33). As India sees it, Demi can now breathe a sigh of relief and let herself go.
I’m constantly baffled that so many people view exercise as a kind of torture. There are quite a lot of people (and I’m one) who actually enjoy exercise. Nor do I comprehend this idea that letting yourself go is somehow the path to happiness. In fact, the precise opposite is the case. Exercise boosts the body’s ‘happiness chemicals‘. It also boosts sex drive and helps maintain capability. According to a survey released this week, almost half of men in England are dissatisfied with their sex lives. If they and their partners (those that have them) were to exercise a little more, they’d find it did wonders for their sex lives and their relationships. Not many men realise that a paunch is actually a kind of anti-sex factory, converting the ‘male’ hormone testosterone into the ‘female’ hormone oestrogen. I give full details of all this in my book Have Great Sex, but the main things to keep in mind are that you need to exercise vigorously for at least 20 minutes three times a week, and that you need to keep your Body Mass Index (BMI) under 24.
Oh, and in my opinion tracksuit bottoms are about the most sexless garment ever invented. What garment is the biggest turn-off for you? Share your thoughts by clicking on Comments.
My friend Guy James the singer/songwriter has been writing about his experience of holotropic breathwork. I haven’t tried it myself but given Guy’s very genuine enthusiasm I’m giving the link to his online article. Click on http://www.grof-holotropic-breathwork.net/group/gbd2011english and you’ll find it about half way down the online page. It’s very interesting in all sorts of ways and if you’re in pursuit of happiness it’s something you might like to consider. As I say, I haven’t tried it myself and I certainly don’t accept some of the claims made about it but it helps some people and it might help you. And if you’d like to hear Guy’s music it’s on: www.guyjames.com
Living here in Spain I’m part of the European dream which, sadly, seems in danger of falling apart. Almost everyone sees the European Union in economic terms. They only ask: Does it make me richer or does it make me poorer? Personally, I don’t give a damn for the economics. I care about being happy and the European Union makes me happy.
I was brought up in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England. If I had to stay there I’d be very unhappy. But because of the European Union I can live just about anywhere I choose from the Arctic to the Mediterranean and from the Atlantic to the Black Sea. I can snowboard in the Alps and I can swim in the Aegean. Right now I’m living in Spain, with the Med half an hour away and the winter resorts of the Pyrenees two hours away. Maybe next year I’ll live in France. Who knows? I have the right. It’s the most fantastic thing.
As far as I’m concerned, the right to choose where you live is fundamental. If you don’t have that then you don’t have the right to choose your own lifestyle. And if you can’t choose your lifestyle you can’t be yourself and you can’t be happy.
Don’t let the dream die.
I’ve just done something that has made me very, very happy. And I want to share it with you. I went swimming. Avid readers of my blogs will know I’ve been having a go at surfing for a month or so. But for that I’ve been dressed in a wetsuit. What made swimming so special on this occasion was that I went into the water wearing… nothing. And my partner wore the same.
Kinky? Just imagine this for a moment. A warm, sunny day and you’re cycling along a track beside a beautiful lake. You come to a spot where there’s a tiny beach. And there’s no one there. In fact, there’s no one to be seen anywhere. What do you do?
According to some research I’ve just been reading (for my book on personality), money spent on nice experiences produces more happiness than money spent on material goods. The pleasure in objects fades as we get used to them but the pleasure of a nice experience goes on for years as we recall the memories.
I certainly go along with that. I’d much rather spend money on a snowboarding trip than on a three-piece suite. And, fortunately, my partner feels the same. My personal theory has long been that it’s important to have not just nice experiences but powerful nice experiences otherwise they won’t be adequately seared into the memory and too easily become lost. On that basis, my decision to have a crack at surfing between books was a good one. Things like trying to stand up on a wobbly plank, falling off said plank, and being pounded on the head by said plank all make for vivid memories. And, it was nice, too.
Use the Comment box to let us know what you think. Euro for euro, pound for pound or dollar for dollar, what produces the most happiness? A nice object or a nice experience?
This morning I was checking my books on Amazon and noticed that How To Be Happier was by far the most reviewed, with 28 entries. So that has to tell me something. Most of the reviews were favourable, some of them extremely so, but I also seem to have reduced a couple of people to a state of near apoplexy. Far from being happier they were utterly enraged. And it’s quite instructive to look at why.
One criticism was that my book contained much the same advice as other books on happiness. Now, few people could be buying more ‘how to’ books than me. I have books on how to ski, snowboard, climb, ride, surf, dive, sail, have sex (two shelves) and all kinds of other things. And you know what? All the books on, say, snowboarding, give me the same advice. So far, not one of the books has suggested I should strap the board to my head rather than my feet. I find it reassuring that all the experts are agreed on that point.