Sharing Happiness and Laughter at the TA Conference

Just a few reflections from a fantastic day at the Cumbria Transactional Analysis Conference on 23rd February.  Thanks to the committee for organising another successful event, which brought together 130 people to enjoy workshops on a wide range of topics in a great venue with a delicious lunch.  Good luck with plans for next year’s conference, which will be the tenth one held here in Cumbria so a special date to celebrate!

I ran a 2-hour workshop in the morning called Happiness Matters, so many thanks to the participants who chose to come along and explore why happiness is so important to all of us.  We discussed definitions of happiness, the impact of authentic happiness on our physical and emotional health, how our beliefs and family stories around happiness affect our own experience of it, and our unconscious ‘Happiness Contract’ – and how to revise and update it for optimum success.   Developing a positive mind-set, building flourishing relationships, and enhancing wellbeing and resilience can offer huge benefits both to ourselves and the people we come into contact with, so it was great to see people relating the tools and activities to situations they met in home and work life – good luck in putting all your positive intentions into action!      Continue reading

Valentine’s Day Wishes

What a busy start to the year – apologies for the long silence!  I can’t let the day go by without wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day and reminding you of the links between love and happiness. Cynics may scoff at the modern commercialism of this festival – though it’s good news for the florists and card shops! – but why not have a special day to remind ourselves of the power of love?  Whether it’s love for a partner, a child, a family member, a friend, a stranger, or simply for ourselves, love is a healing force and a boost to happiness and wellbeing.  Take a moment to reflect today – who could you be more loving towards?  Who could you accept more love from?  Where could your love be a force for good in the world?  Set an intention to let more love into your life and see what happens!

I’ll be focusing on love next month with the publication of Robert Holden‘s new book Loveability (out March 4th) – can’t wait to read it and look forward to reviewing it here.

Of course love can manifest itself in what we do as well as in our relationships – when we have a purpose in life and when we feel inspired and creative.  I’ll be running a couple of workshops in a week of so at the Cumbria TA Conference and I’m so looking forward to exploring whether Happiness Matters (I’ll give you a clue, I think it does) in the morning, as well as taking part in creative workshops myself.  It promises to be a great day – it’s not too late to join us though there are limited places left.  Check out the details here – I’ll share some thoughts on the day afterwards.    Continue reading

Making a Difference

A reflective post this week to honour the passing of Alice Pyne, aged seventeen, who I wrote about in my post Two Inspiring Blogsites back in June of last year.  Alice achieved more in her short life than most of us ever will, with her national campaign to get everyone in Britain to sign up to the Bone Marrow Donor Register.  She also, with the help of her amazing family, raised tens of thousands of pounds to set up a charity, Alice’s Escapes, to provide free holidays in the Lake District for families with a seriously ill child. She lived up to her motto: ‘One life . . . live it!’

Many young people want to make a difference in the world, even if only to one person – my son has just started writing a blog and his first post was on this very subject – see also Action for Happiness on Why Helping Others Matters.  But to leave a lasting legacy that will benefit thousands of children and adults with life-threatening diseases is inspirational – Alice received a ‘Pride of Britain’ award and she and her sister were both honoured with the British Empire Medal for services to charity.  Alice’s courageous spirit lives on; her sister Milly plans to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, together with her parents, in memory of Alice – you can sponsor her here.    Continue reading

New Year, new challenge!


Happy New Year!  I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and that Santa brought you what you wished for – in my case, having my sons home for Christmas and sharing food, fun, laughter, games and  music with friends and family.

Today’s a good day to give thanks for the experiences of last year, and to think about the gifts in store for 2013 – whether planned or unexpected, I hope they bring you joy.

Now, although I’ve written here before about the advantages of making new resolutions when spring starts to blossom, nevertheless I’ve decided to take up the challenge of having a Dry January – 31 days with no alcohol!  Why, I hear myself cry?  After all, I don’t have a drink problem, I do enjoy a nice glass of wine or pint of real ale, and this is a month where a combination of the post-Christmas slump, long cold dark nights, tax return deadlines – and the fact that I have a January birthday – surely beg for the cup that cheers . . . oops, better not talk myself out of it already. . .     Continue reading

Christmas Wishes

The December meeting of our monthly Happiness Group is traditionally a time to take stock of where we are now, to celebrate the past year and look forward to the coming one, and a chance to raise a glass (or two!) of mulled wine with old friends and new.  This year we used some of the daily inspirations from Robert Holden’s Happiness Project  to reflect on our own hopes and wishes for the festive season, so I’ll share some with you here.

‘Christmas is a time for love and goodwill – and in this respect it is like every other day in the year.’  What a good reminder that we don’t have to keep our ‘best’ side for special occasions – imagine how life would be if the spirit of generosity and benevolence to our fellow human beings lasted for the whole year!    Continue reading

Embracing the Empty Nest

My younger son left home four months ago. 🙁 Time for some positive thinking! 🙂

  • He’s on cloud nine living with his clever and talented girlfriend.
  • He’s moved to Edinburgh, my favourite city – yet another good reason to visit.
  • Free sofa bed during the Fringe – whoop whoop!

Sigh . . . that’s enough of that, we all know that true happiness requires honesty, and the honest truth is that I miss him terribly. I miss hearing him singing and playing his wonderful music in the next room while I’m cooking.  I miss his enthusiastic book recommendations (and yes, I promise I’ll read The Picture of Dorian Gray).  I miss the way he always kept his bedroom spotlessly clean and tidy.*  And while Edinburgh may be only three hours away, that’s three hours too far to pop round for a coffee – and it’s still in a foreign country isn’t it?    Continue reading

Giving Thanks

I ran a workshop this week which touched on the links between happiness and gratitude.  When we remember to notice and give thanks for the good things in our lives we experience a powerful sense of connection with ourselves, with other people, and with the here and now; it’s a shortcut to happiness.

We also discussed the more challenging idea of giving thanks for whatever happens to us, unconditionally – that perhaps even things that don’t seem like gifts could be blessings in disguise.  It’s a shift of belief – as Robert Holden says, ‘What if life didn’t happen to you, it happened for you?’  A concept we use in NLP is that of reframing ie. taking a new perspective or putting a positive spin on a situation, in order to deliberately change our response to it.   Continue reading

More Reflections on Coaching Happiness

Let’s start with some real reflections from the Lake District – we’re enjoying a few days of golden autumn sunshine.  Thank you to my musician friend Fiona who captured this beautiful view across Windermere.

I promised a few more thoughts on workshops I’ve delivered recently.  The one I co-facilitated at the Cumbria Coaching Network‘s Coaching for Happiness conference with Beth Curl of Hyproformance was called Happiness from Within, and explored how some of our beliefs about happiness – often influenced by early family messages – can affect our later experiences.  Our participants had many thoughtful insights, both in the group discussions and in feedback afterwards. One mentioned two things that had a big impact on her, so I thought I would share them with you.     Continue reading

Key Learnings from The Coaching for Happiness Conference

And what a fantastic day we had at Cumbria Coaching Network‘s annual conference!  Thanks to all who came along and took part so enthusiastically in our range of workshops.  It’s a tense moment for any organisers of a long-awaited event when their preparations and planning are over and the participants start to arrive . . . so I’m delighted to report that the day surpassed our expectations and was memorable for all the right reasons.

I’ll reflect on the Happiness from Within workshop I co-presented with Beth Curl of Hyproformance and the therapeutic benefits of laughter yoga with Keith Adams of Laughter Aspirations in a later post – for now I’ll focus on what I learnt from our keynote presenter Henry Stewart, CEO of Happy Ltd and author of The Happy Manifesto.

Henry Stewart

Henry’s workshop was inspiring and energising, and challenged our thinking on some of the conventional structures, cultures and procedures of organisations with humour and playfulness.  It was so refreshing to think ‘outside of the box’ and see the audience engage readily in a lively debate on the topic of workplace happiness.  Although some of Henry’s principles may seem unorthodox, the fact that they are grounded in his own real-life practical experience of growing an effective, productive and profitable business meant that the examples he shared with us were really meaningful.     Continue reading

Don’t miss the Coaching for Happiness Conference – coming soon!

I can’t believe it’s September already, so I wanted to give you a quick reminder of our exciting event happening this month on Friday September 21st – now less than three weeks away!

Cumbria Coaching Network‘s annual conference will take place in Kendal and our theme this year is Happiness – so what are you waiting for?  Come and join us for a day of inspiring and interactive workshops on the themes of personal and workplace happiness, stress management and developing resilience, with international speaker, author and business leader Henry Stewart as our very special guest.     Continue reading