Category: Welcome to the Home of Happiness

Welcome to my website. I hope you’ll find plenty here to help you get the most out of your life. I’m the author of more than 30 books including How To Be Happier, Have Great Sex, Transform Your Life With NLP, Get Intimate With Tantric Sex, Help Yourself To Live Longer and the ebook Secrets Of The Kama Sutra.

Are Long-Term Relationships Hard Work?

In last weekend’s Sunday Times Style magazine I read that ‘a long-term relationship can be extraordinary, if you’re prepared to put in the work.’ The speaker was Andrew G Marshall, the author of How Can I Ever Trust You Again? I agreed with just about everything he said but this word ‘work’ bothers me. Are we talking about ‘work’ in the sense of ‘working’ on your snowboarding technique or are we talking about ‘work’ in the sense of ‘working’ at a dreary office job a laborious ninety-minute commute from home? It seems to me that if your relationship is really hard work then you’re in the wrong relationship.

Regular readers of my blogs will know that, as well as being rather enthusiastic about sex, I’m pretty keen on snowboarding. And I certainly do ‘work’ on my snowboarding technique. But that ‘work’ is a great pleasure. Similarly, ‘working’ on a relationship should also be a great pleasure.

The Style article was actually all about people who have affairs through websites. They don’t want to end their long-term relationships but they do want more exciting sex. Personally I don’t believe you can have great sex with somebody you don’t know very well. The Last Tango In Paris thing is a myth. Yes, there’s the frisson of the new. But that’s all. So I’d suggest you ‘work’ on your sex life together with your long-term partner. Only with someone you feel very close to can you genuinely take things as far as they can go. If you need ideas, take a look at my books Have Great Sex and Get Intimate With Tantric Sex.

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.

British Tantric Sex

Was there ever a ‘British Tantric sex’? In fact, Westerners are probably too, as it were, hard on themselves when it comes to the art of sex. We tend to look to the East for all of that. Yes, there’s plenty of evidence that, historically, the average European was a rotten lover. But, on the other hand, what evidence is there that the average Indian or Chinese ever lived up to the erotic statues, illustrations and manuals that we’ve become used to?

I’m pondering this because whilst searching for a cover for my latest ebook (60 Wrong Ways To Have Sex) I came across some fascinating prints by the artist, caricaturist and illustrator Thomas Rowlandson (1756 – 1827). The one I chose shows a sailor having sex while smoking a pipe, a glass of wine in one hand and a decanter in the other. By his side are a coffee pot and some things to eat. So this is exactly the kind of scene we associate with leisurely Oriental lovemaking. Was Rowlandson’s illustration utter fantasy, a depiction of the unique way he himself had sex, or proof that there were always appreciable numbers of people in the West who, indeed, treated sex as an art?

I tend towards the latter view.

Rowlandson was quite a character. A student at the Royal Academy he would have become an important artist if he had not had the misfortune to inherit £7,000 (a small fortune in those days) and proceeded to dissipate it on wine, women and gambling. When the money ran out he was forced to think commercially, illustrating books by (among others) Henry Fielding, Oliver Goldsmith, Laurence Sterne and Tobias Smollet, and was always on the look-out for themes that would make popular prints. Here his days of ‘debauchery’ at last brought him a return. His erotic works are bawdy rather than mystical but when you take them together with, say, the erotic murals at Pompeii, the ancient concept of hieros gamos (union with the divine), the ritualized sexual relations of early Christian groups such as the Carpocratians, the sexual mysticism of the Kabbalah, the 17th century ‘inner alchemy’ of John Pordage, the poems and engravings of William Blake (an almost exact contemporary of Rowlandson), and so on and so on, you see a continuous thread of Western sexual creativity. I’ll have more to say about all of this in a future blog.


Win A Little History Of Love

Did you have a romantic St Valentine’s Day? If so, write in and let us know what you got up to. The most romantic account will win a copy of my ebook A Little History Of Love. (And if you got up to something truly erotic you might like to enter the Erotic Story Competition.)

Strangely enough, the romantic origins of St Valentine’s Day are not at all clear. As I explain in my ebook, St Valentine’s may date back to the ancient Roman fertility rites of Lupercalia, celebrated from February 13th – 15th. But other scholars say that there´s no mention of the romantic tradition in any books until the writings of Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340–1400):


For this was on seynt Volantynys day

Whan every bryd comyth there to chese his make.

 Geoffrey Chaucer, Parlement of Foules (1382)


It´s not even certain which Valentine is the ‘romantic’ one. Until 1969 the Catholic Church recognized 11 different Valentine´s Days and those honoured on February 14th include Valentine of Rome, a priest martyred in AD269, as well as Valentine of Terni, a bishop martyred almost a century later.

In the 17th century the custom was not to choose a Valentine but to draw lots, and a married person was just as likely to be chosen as someone single:

I find that Mrs Pierce´s little girl is my Valentine, she having drawn me: which I was not sorry for, it easing me of something more that I must have given to others.

 Samuel Pepys, Samuel Pepys Diary1659–69 (1970–1983)


Pepys was referring to the custom that the person who was drawn in the lottery had to give a present and not the other way around as nowadays.  A present for ‘Mrs Pierce´s little girl’ was far cheaper than that for an adult woman.

By the middle of the 18th century the custom seems to have changed and it was the first single person one met on St Valentine´s morning who was destined to be not only the Valentine but also the future spouse:

Last Friday was Valentine´s Day, and the night before…if I dreamt of my sweetheart, Betty said we should be married before the year was out. We…wrote our lovers´ names upon bits of paper, and rolled them up in clay, and put them into water: and the first that rose up was to be our valentine. Would you think it? – Mr Blossom was my man. I lay a-bed and shut my eyes all the morning, till he came to our house: for I would not have seen another man before him for all the world.

 Robert Chambers, The Book of Days (1869)


If you’d like to buy A Little History Of Love I’m doing a special offer for the next few weeks. In the book you’ll find all kinds of fascinating anecdotes about love through the ages, from Abelard and Heloise to wooing in ancient Rome. Just click on the banner at the top of the page.

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.

Banned By Amazon

One of my ebooks has been banned by Amazon. Kindle tells me it ‘contains content that is in violation of our content guidelines’. This is really exciting. It doesn’t quite put me in the same league as D H Lawrence and James Joyce, but I feel I’m on the way. The book in question is ‘60 Wrong Ways To Have Sex – and how to do it right‘. I don’t know exactly what violation I’ve committed because they don’t tell you, but if you want to enjoy the frisson of reading a banned book you can buy it on this website.

I feel rather bemused by the decision. Is there something wrong with sex? I don’t believe so. In which case, there can’t be anything wrong with writing about sex. And, in fact, it’s a very moral book, in my opinion, aimed at serious couples, not those looking for one-night stands. Among the ’60 Wrong Ways’ I’ve included such errors as having affairs, not practising safe sex, drinking too much, and expecting your partner to act like a porn star. I stand behind what I’ve written. If you think oral sex is immoral (it isn’t), or that ‘Tantric’ techniques are immoral (they aren’t), then you may agree with Kindle’s decision. But I don’t think many people would say it was balanced.

I now look forward to achieving the success of those who have preceded me by being banned. Meanwhile, keep on enjoying sex.

Erotic Stories Needed

 There have been some very good entries for my first erotic story competition but not quite enough to make a serious contest out of it. So I’m going to extend the deadline to 31st January 2012. Instead of the usual party games for New Year, why not try collaborating on some erotica instead? With a group of friends you could take turns to read out your wildest experiences. Or if it’s just you and your partner you could each set down your reactions to the things you’ve done. You’ll discover some interesting things about one another, I’m sure. (For details see my blog ‘Erotic Story Competition’ dated November 11.)

A Little History Of Love

In 1837 Thomas Saverland brought an action against a Miss Caroline Newton for biting off a piece of his nose. He had tried to kiss her ‘by way of a joke’ and she had defended her honour. The judge agreed that she was right to do so. ‘When a man kisses a woman against her will,’ he ruled, ‘she is fully entitled to bite off his nose, if she so pleases.’

That’s just one anecdote from my latest e-book A Little History Of Love, a collection of 50 essays on everything from Abelard and Heloise to wooing techniques in ancient Rome.

If your wife, girlfriend or mistress has an e-reader (or is getting one for Christmas), what could be more perfect than buying A Little History Of Love to go with it?


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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