Toxic positivity – when “good vibes only” can actually put you down instead of raise you up

Have you heard of toxic positivity? What about “good vibes only” – one of the most popular captions on social media.

These days we can even buy posters of ‘’good vibes only’’, there are glasses, neon signs, t shirts, and massage tools with the slogan. The whole culture of the ‘’good vibes only’’. There are ‘’good vibes only’ gurus, shamans and mentors – people who are preaching positive thinking as a remedy for everything and over anything:

‘’You are what you think right?! That’s how the law of attraction and law of vibration work, so you better cheer up!’’

It is enough to scroll through Instagram or Tik Tok which are full of coaches and gurus telling us we must be positive, and only positive at all times.

Can this culture of ‘’being happy and positive’’ and always ‘’vibrating high’’ be damaging to us?

It’s not natural to be happy all the time

Oh yes, if applied in a wrong way it is very unhealthy. Do not get me wrong, I am a mindset and high performance coach and I work with my clients to help them to optimise their performance through expansion of their mindset. Yes, having a positive, creative and grateful mindset is a fantastic thing but it is impossible and not natural to be happy, with the good vibe only at all times.

By definition, toxic positivity is the overgeneralisation of a happy, optimistic state that results in denial, minimalization and invalidation of the authentic human experience.

Why is it so unhealthy? Because by forcing ourselves to constantly be happy and positive we are suppressing or denying our own emotions, but  we can feel lots at the same time. For example, I can be very satisfied and positive with my career but sad and hurting at the same time with the grief of losing a close family member.

Dealing with sadness and grief should not involve pretending that everything needs to be positive and happy but it should involve getting in touch with our own feelings and emotions and living through them. That’s the healthy way. Of course, going into another extreme and focusing too much on the negative emotions and events is unhealthy as well as the nature loves a balance.

The guilt trap

Toxic positivity can also cause guilt which is then causes stress, anxiety and depression which in turn affects our self esteem. When we are feeling under strong pressure to be ‘’positive’’ at all times, we then feel guilty when having sad or moody days. And those days happen to all of us, even  ‘’happiness gurus’’ from social networking sites.

Being positive doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t think of bad things which can happen, rather it means we are clear on and focusing on the best possible scenario and that’s where we focus majority of our energy. Is like getting into a car for journey. You assume and prepare to get to your destination. You don’t actually plan for a traffic accident, rather you check the map, put a post code in and buckle your seat belt.

To compare the same journey in line with ‘’toxic positivity’’, you would be as getting in a car drunk, with sunglasses on at night driving up the motorway against the direction of traffic as nothing negative existed or could harm us.

Recognising toxic positivity

Here are some signs on how recognise when our positive constructive approach is becoming ‘’toxic positivity’’:

  1. You are masking and hiding your feelings – that smiley face with ‘’everything happens for a reason’’ should not be the response to trauma or upset. Get your emotions out, don’t supress them, feel them and  look for the lessons after that event.
  2. You feel shame and guilt for not being positive, or seeing the bright side in the particular situation. Being guilty for feeling down will not uplift your emotions, actually will put you down. It is helpful to talk or journal about what you actually feel. Allowing yourself to go through it and giving yourself permission to feel is powerful too.
  3. You brush things under the carpet and pretending they don’t matter “It is what it is”) . This behaviour is toxic and when you recognise doing it, it is good to stop and consciously reflect on what actually bothers you. Feel it, think about it. If is a dilemma you are avoiding instead of avoiding it, use a very helpful positive psychology exercise and write down minimum five various scenarios for your outcomes. You will feel the shift immediately.

Toxic positivity can also come from others: Here is how to recognise it:

  1. When someone is trying to minimalise your experience with ‘’feel good’’ quotes and statements. I once listened to a self-proclaimed positivity coach who was telling everyone that they need to be positive and affirm it all the time, throwing quotes and sayings as that would be the only way to deal with their challenges. In reality she was dismissing her own and others feelings emotions, and experiences, and making people feeling guilty and frustrated. When someone is trying to do this to you, please remember it is ok not to be ok, and move away from them.
  2. At times people will try to give you the perspective that it a ‘’could be worst’’ approach. They are dismissing your feelings and emotions by indicating that there are other things you should be happy for. The truth is that trauma and hurt are very personal and we can not compare the impact it makes on each of us. The event might seem more or less severe but your emotions are yours and no one should disrespect it or force you not to feel because they think you should feel otherwise.
  3. Shaming others for feeling frustrations, fear or sadness – basically anything other than positive emotions is another sign of “toxic positivity”. We are humans and we are designed to feel all emotions -they are fantastic indicators for us. Of course it is not healthy to be focussing or intentionally dwelling on the negatives but you don’t need to feel obliged to ‘’cheer up’’ because someone told you so.

The importance of acknowledging feelings and emotions

Several psychological studies show us that hiding or denying feelings leads to more stress to the body and increases difficulty in dealing with further distressing thoughts and feelings.

That’s why it is so important for our mental and physical health to acknowledge our feelings and emotions, feel them, and verbalise them.

That’s what keeps us balanced and healthy. By honouring our feelings, we embrace and accept all of ourselves, and live as authentic us.

It is good to manage your negative emotions but make sure you don’t deny them. We need to be realistic about what we feel and at tough time practice self-care, not “good vibes only” attitude. Notice and be aware of how you feel and listen to others, and show them support. Remember we don’t have to act on every emotion. At times we need to sit with it, give yourself some space to reflect and if possible, vocalise it by talking to a friend or journaling. Learn to notice ‘’toxic positivity’’ and give yourself and other permission to feel both positive and negative emotions. We need to make sure we live our life in balance, feeling and allowing all of our emotions while maintaining a healthy and positive mindset.

Olga Kublik is a Mindset and Performance Coach, find out more at olgakublik.com.

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Will CBT work for me?

Have you been considering seeking counselling or therapy recently and wondering will CBT work for me? When people think about seeking counselling or therapy, it can feel confusing and challenging to know what type of counselling to seek; there are so many models and approaches.

Before we address the question will CBT work for me, it’s important to first establish that there are different types of counselling therapies being practiced, all of which ultimately aim to help the client overcome a range of emotional problems. However this means it’s not surprising the waters can become muddied when taking the first step towards seeking support through couselling.

Cognitive and Behaviour Therapies are among the counselling therapies and psychotherapies that people usually seek.  They are recommended by NICE (The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) for anxiety disorders, depression and many emotional problems, because of the wealth of research that has demonstrated their effectiveness and efficacy.

The ideas that underpin each counselling model have a profound effect on the techniques we develop and the way we ‘do’ our work or the way we counsel.  The model a counsellor uses, their ‘therapeutic bias or preference’, will even affect what is considered important or relevant during sessions. But just because there are different types, it does not mean one particular therapy is more ‘authentically’ counselling than the other.

Many models of counselling

There are many different theories of counselling available to choose from, whether as a practitioner or a client. Some of the most well-known include:

  • Psychodynamic therapies, which includes Psychoanalysis, developed by Freud, are influenced by Freud’s ideas and direct the therapy to the past and childhood in order to make sense of their problems in adulthood.  Emphasis is given to negative experiences of early development and the role of early parenting in the formation of the self and the other.
  • Learning Theory Approaches, which include behavioural therapy which aims to eliminate unwanted and unhelpful behaviours as a way to solve problems.  It is active and goal focused.
  • Perceptual – Phenomenological Approaches which includes Transactional Analysis, Gestalt Therapy and Client Centred Therapy. Client or Person Centred is a non-directive form of talking therapy.  The therapist remains non-directive, does not offer suggestions or solutions.  It is not goal focused but rather focuses on the relationship between the client and the therapist. The idea is that the therapeutic relationship could lead to insights and lasting changes in clients.
  • Existential Therapy is philosophical and focuses on free will, self-determination and the search for meaning.  It emphasises the client’s capacity to make rational choices. It is non directive and the therapist does not offer suggestions or solutions.
  • Cognitive and Behaviour Therapy which includes Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy or REBT, Cognitive Therapy (also known as CT and CBT), and Cognitive Behavioural Modification.  These are goal directed and state that our emotional disturbances arise from unhealthy unhelpful beliefs, attitudes and thinking and behaviours and that these can be changed so that we can free ourselves from being stuck in emotional pain.  They concentrate on present problems and the current mindsets and behaviours that are creating them.

All of these are counselling theories. ‘Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)’ is an umbrella term for several different theories that share common principles, just as ‘Psychodynamic Therapy’ is also an umbrella term.

will CBT work for me

Will CBT work for me? Informed choice is key

When deciding on what type of counselling to seek, it is important to make an informed choice. It is helpful to do some research, speak to your GP and perhaps talk to your friends about what they have found helpful and whether they managed to free themselves from their emotional suffering.  Prospective clients should ideally choose the model that they think best suits them, their strengths, experiences and ways of working.

But equally important is questioning perceived ideas or misconceptions about different models.  So, some non-CBT counsellors think that CBT counsellors don’t pay any attention to the therapeutic relationship (the working relationship between the client and the counsellor), which is completely untrue.  Of course, a CBT-counsellor will work hard to develop an open, trusting and relaxed working relationship. We are, after all, encouraging our clients to be frank and honest with their experiences and beliefs. How could we expect them to share these things if they did not trust us?

In Psychodynamic counselling, for example, the therapeutic alliance is viewed as the most significant condition or the central vehicle through which change occurs.  In contrast, a CBT counsellor sees the therapeutic alliance as significant and very important, whilst believing that change occurs when a client changes their mindset and their behaviour.  This process of change starts from understanding emotional responsibility, emotions, facing our past, present and future and developing skills of critical thinking and healthy behaviours. Without a therapeutic alliance effective change would be limited regardless of the counselling model used.

Even under the CBT ‘umbrella’ there can be differences. REBT, for example, can be described as philosophical CBT.  In REBT, the process of therapy is an active and directive one but collaborative.  The therapist and the client work as a team and focus on the client’s goal.  It is a transparent process where problems and priority problems are agreed, goals set, and emotions assessed.  Then the unhealthy beliefs that are at the heart of the client’s emotional problems are identified.  Once this happens, the client learns to turn the spotlight on these happiness sabotaging beliefs so they can be questioned to check if they are realistic and helpful.  Once this skill is learned, their healthy alternative beliefs are discussed and formulated.  Then the process moves onto how to strengthen the healthy versions and weaken the current unhealthy ones through cognitive and behavioural exercise and homework.   It’s like planting a seed for the healthy version and doing what’s needed so the seed can flower.  The weeds that need to be kept in check are the unhealthy beliefs. The client learns this philosophy of change is universal.  Once learned and applied to the initial problems, it can be universally applied to whatever we experience in life.  REBT is an active-directive existential and humanistic CBT model that leads to consistent mental health and resiliency.

Avy Joseph is the author of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy: Your Route out of Perfectionism, Self-Sabotage, and Other Everyday Habits with CBT (third edition published by Capstone, April 2022). He is an experienced CBT/REBT Therapist and Director of the College of Cognitive Behavioural Therapies. He is a registered and accredited therapist with the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP).

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Broken Britain: How to deal with the frustration of backlog Britain

I am sure I am not the only one to have noticed that good old Blighty seems to be a massive shambles of late. Just when we thought we were emerging from the pandemic, so did our blessed country decide to practically fall apart at the seams – otherwise known as broken Britain.

Try to get a new passport- sorry you’ll have to wait! Try to get on a flight – it will be cancelled. Try to get a train somewhere – there will be industrial action. Try to get a medical referral – get in line, that will be 2024 thank you! And no you can’t buy that thing on your shopping list as it is currently out of stock until god only knows what date or is now three times more expensive. If you want to get something done, then backlog Britain – or broken Britain as I like to call it – will definitely not have the answer for you, and instead will just deliver one big collective exasperated eyeroll or heaving sigh as we deal with the farcical frustration of it all.

Yes not only are we also having to deal with the massive cost of living crisis and things becoming ridiculously expensive, but we are wondering what the point of leaving the house at all is because a) It will cost us a fortune and b) The outside world is apparently broken anyway thanks to broken Britain.

So when we are met with despair and dysfunction practically everywhere we turn, how can we effectively take it on the chin and not let the shambolic state of our country get to us?

We tapped Marisa Peer, world-renowned therapist and best-selling author who shared her insights and tips with us here.

Ukraine, Covid, global warming as well as polarizing politics have dominated our lives for the past decade as well as Brexit, Partygate and NHS backlogs. Dealing with one major upheaval is challenging enough to our mental wellbeing but this relentless series of catastrophes, seamlessly blending into each other has been described as a permacrisis. Levels of anxiety are soaring not only in the UK but globally and there is no immediate end in sight.

Most of us in the Western world have been fortunate enough to grow up with a feeling of  certainty and that sense of security is a real human need.  Certainty that we are safe, that life on the whole is good and has its rewards. Global events would register on our radar from time to time, but life had a comforting routine to it which we could rely on like a young child relies on a parent. But now that parent is out of control  creating a feeling of abandonment and isolation. This unpredictability makes us humans feel anxious, worried and depressed. The future no longer seems a given. That is truly unsettling and many adults are suffering from crisis fatigue.

Many of our RTT therapists have noticed an increase in people asking for help for anxiety. Last year we held a global anxiety symposium and have also developed protocols for our therapists to help them specifically deal with this burgeoning issue.

When the world seems uncertain you have to focus on your own certainty. The certainty that  you are the same person, the same parent, friend, spouse, employee and employer. When you can focus on what is the same in your life rather than what is different, you will have better coping skills. 

It’s a rule of your mind that whatever you focus on, you get more of so focus on what is still good and remind yourself that life will eventually return to normal even if it means we have to adapt to change. This is vital if you have small children. We are wired to fear change in case it’s a change for the worse and not the better. 

To help people deal with the permacrisis, Marisa has put together a free meditation session which people can download here to help with relaxation, sleep and to put things into a more manageable perspective. 

Tips to keep anxiety to a minimum

Perspective and gratitude

Looking at the terrible events in the Ukraine puts minor problems into perspective. Living with gratitude is a powerful way to be. Take time to stop and reflect on all you have to be grateful for each day, or start a gratitude journal. 

Focus on the good

It’s a rule of your mind that whatever you focus on, you get more of; so focus on what is good in your life. Remind yourself that after past catastrophes and disasters, life does return to normal. 

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Side-step the negative

Avoid doom-scrolling and don’t keep the news on in the background, as even when you’re not actively listening you are absorbing these messages. 

Focus on certainty

Instead of fearing uncertainty, focus on your own certainty that despite what’s happening there are constants in your life. This will strengthen your coping skills. 

Breathe!

When overwhelmed, just stop and take a minute to breathe. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. This is a great way to bring yourself back into the moment and break the fear cycle.

Connect to yourself

Be mindful of what you are experiencing – acknowledge what you are thinking and feeling and where in your body you are experiencing a physical reaction. By observing what’s happening, rather than repressing it, you will find you work through things much quicker.

Live in the now

Anxiety is usually a response to a fear of things that may happen, but most likely never will. Instead of focusing on the what ifs, take each moment as it comes and deal with the reality of what emerges.

Prioritise self-care

Self-care is so important and boosts resilience. Take time out for yourself each day to stop, relax and reflect. Do something you love, or anything that helps shift your energy and mood. Take a walk, play music, dance – it doesn’t need to be complicated!

Ask for help

If you are struggling, ask for help – whether this be from friends and family,  through a support group or from a therapist. Feeling connected and sharing your fears and worries helps you avoid feeling alone in what you are experiencing.

Be proactive

Feeling helpless can lead to anxiety, so do anything you can to help by donating or offering services. Get involved in your community so you have a focus and sense of purpose – be part of the solution, rather than the problem

Have you been feeling frustrated by broken Britain recently? Or perhaps you are living elsewhere in the world and can share a different perspective? Leave a comment below and let us know.

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Happiness in your 40s: 4 ways to view happiness differently

Does happiness feel elusive? Is happiness in your 40s possible? The answer for almost all of us is yes – at least sometimes, maybe often. You might feel like you’ve checked all the boxes but aren’t as happy as you’d hoped, you might wonder how anyone can be happy in the face of difficulty or you might feel like happiness is complicated. You might even wonder whether being happy is really all that important.  

Here are four ways from lawyer turned Happiness Coach, Becky Morrison you can look at happiness in your 40s that might be a little bit different than what you were taught.

Happiness in your 40s is a high value investment

To many people happiness sounds fluffy. Sure they’d like to be happier but they aren’t sure that happiness is – on it’s own – a valuable commodity. What they are missing is that happiness is a cause of success, not a result. There is a significant body of research that supports the notion that experiencing positive emotions – both the momentary experience of happiness and living happy (having on balance more positive emotional experiences than negative ones) – has significant positive impacts on your physical health, your performance and your resilience.

Happier people live longer, have stronger immune systems, are better able to manage pain and generally experience fewer adverse health conditions. In addition, the experience of positive emotions – like happiness – broadens our approach to the world allowing us to think more expansively, solve problems more creatively and build relationships more easily and effectively. It’s not surprising then that the research suggests that happy people earn more, sell more and are more productive. Finally, happiness builds our resilience so that when the tough times comes, we are better able to weather the storm.  In short, investing in living happy is one of the highest value investments you can make.

Happiness in your 40s

Happiness is not a destination, it’s an action

People often fall into the trap of believing that happiness will arrive as they meet their goals and continue to achieve. But the problem is that an unhappy journey rarely, if ever, results in a happy ending. The key to a happier life is finding happiness in the process. That means looking for – or intentionally incorporating – happiness (and other positive emotions) into your daily life.

To do this, however, you need to know where your happiness comes from – because it’s different for everyone. You can start by making a list of things that bring you positive emotions (like happiness, contentment, gratitude or even engagement). These can be big, small or anything in between. Once you’ve got a list, take one or two of your favorite items and ask yourself: what about this thing makes me happy? Keep asking that question until you’ve distilled it down into that is quick and accessible to you. For example, one of the things that makes me happiest is our annual beach vacations. I can’t escape to the beach from my land-locked home any time I want. But one of the things that enjoy most about the beach is the feel of the sun on my face. That is something that I can seek out any time the sun is shining. Having a list of the most basic sources of positive emotions is a powerful tool because you can deploy them – with intention – anytime you need a reset or an injection of positivity.

Happiness coexists

By any measure it’s been a challenging two years – global pandemic, war, social justice, changing job and home demands that came with working from home, and more. You might be wondering how can we even talk about happiness at times like these? The answer is pretty simple – happiness (and other positive emotions) can coexist with the tough stuff. You can experience happiness even during struggle. And you don’t need to bypass the tough stuff and experience only happiness.

The goal with living happier – and reaping it’s benefits – is to intentionally and authentically experience positive emotion whenever you can NOT to ignore the tough emotions that are a natural part of the human condition.

The next time you’re facing a difficult situation or a tough emotion, don’t fight it. You don’t need to force yourself out of it or through it. And while you are in it you can keep an eye out for the little kernels of positive emotion that might coexist with it – the friendly face, the helping hand, even the sunlight. Those positive kernels don’t need to outweigh or overcome the challenges, they just need to be included in the conversation. The key is to notice it all and savor the good where you can find it, even nestled in with the challenges.

Happiness in your 40s

Happiness in your 40s can be simple

Happiness doesn’t require radically changing your circumstances. In fact, the research suggests that more than anything your happiness is dependent on your thoughts and actions – something over which you can exercise at least a modicum of control. While you can take steps to make big changes in your life to yield a greater level of happiness those big steps are best made from a happier place so that you are architecting your happiness, rather than simply trying to escape your unhappiness.  That happier place is built through your daily behaviors.

If you want to be happier starting today try this simple exercise: each day, record what made you smile. How you record this information isn’t particularly important, what made you smile doesn’t matter. What matters is that you had a positive emotional experience AND you noticed it. Because remember just the experience of a positive emotion broadens your perspective and builds your resilience.  This is just one example of how simple it can really be to inject more happiness into your daily life.

Bottom line: Making a high value investment in your happiness can meaningfully benefit your health, success, and resilience. It simply requires intentional action (not radical transformation) which can happen even during challenging times and doesn’t need to be complicated.

Rebecca Morrison is a lawyer turned Happiness Coach and author of the best-selling book The Happiness Recipe: a Powerful Guide to Living What Matters. Becky works with successful but unsatisfied high-achievers to help them find their unique happiness recipe so they can live happier, lead happier and build happy businesses.

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7 reasons you need to be more selfish and how to own it

“Ugh, she’s so selfish!”, you may have muttered under your breath about someone else in your life probably more than one or two times. Well, hold the phone! Because being selfish – or indeed, more selfish, is having somewhat of a reinvention. Yes people, the times they are a changing. Those days when being branded as selfish, or self-centred are slowly being replaced by an alternative way of thinking, which is that being selfish is actually good! Otherwise known as positive selfishness.

If you are sick of putting everybody else first and putting your needs last. If you are feel that you are being undervalued by those around you whether it be family, friends or work colleagues. If you are feeling like you’re running on empty, spread thinner than the latest iPhone then hold up! Here, Carolyn Hobdey author and founder of Redefining Selfish lays down seven reasons you need to be more selfish and how to own this new breed of positive selfishness.

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We get so caught up in our busy lives, in the groundhog day of work, family and household chores, giving our all to everyone else, trying to avoid careering into a midlife crisis etc that we don’t stop to consider our own needs. When this happens, we can become fed up and frustrated, but how often do we stop and think about what’s causing those feelings?

Here are seven reasons why you might need to be more selfish and what you can do about them:

An endless ‘to-do’ list

When you feel like you’re never getting on top of things in your life, it can be hard to see your way out of the rut. If you’re in a constant state of busy-ness with barely any time to think or catch your breath, then its a sure sign that you need to take some selfish time out.

To do this, you need to determine what is actually important. This helps to sort out that not everything on that list is of equal weight in your life; it gets you away from your ‘to-do’ list being one amorphous mass of stuff. To do this, write everything you have to do on post-its (one item per post-it). Then plot them on a grid with ‘important’ on one axis and ‘urgent’ on the other from low to high for each. Now place the post-its on the grid – be ruthless about what goes where!

be more selfish

Feeling resentful about your life

Even if your life is the picture of ‘success’ or looks like you have it all, it’s ok if you don’t feel that way about it. It’s normal to look at your life and ask yourself, “is this it?”. If you find yourself doing this, or hacked-off by the monotony of your existence, then its time to take stock and be focused about what you want.

To do this, look at the two possible versions of your life. In the first, write down everything that those you know and love will have to say about you at the end of your life if you carried on living it as you are today. If nothing changed, what would be the legacy that you would leave? What would be said about your behaviours and actions?

Then write the alternative version. This includes everything that you want to be said about you – the person you were, the impact you made and how you lived your life. Look at the difference between the two versions, then plan what steps you’d need to take to move from the first version to the second.

Frequently weary or burnt out

Our ‘always on’ society means constant demands on your time and attention.

When you feel like you’re always running on empty, it’s time to take notice. Excessive, extended periods of stress lead to burn-out. Burn-out means you’ll hit a brick wall and your body will prevent you from doing anything, however much your mind wants otherwise. Therefore, prevention is crucial.

Instead, see yourself as a battery; your energy levels are the charging bars. Check in on those bars every day. Keep a record of your energy levels on a scale of 1 to 5. Observe if there is a pattern. Notice if your levels are consistently low or if certain events/people reduce them. Then start doing one thing per day to be kind to yourself. Something exclusively for you that boosts that battery. Build cumulatively on that success.

be more selfish

Stressed or anxious

Life’s endless treadmill naturally leads to stress – especially when we’re expected to have-it-all and be able to do-it-all. The reality is that we’ve no more time in each day than our ancestors had, we’re just expected to cram more in. The negative impacts on our minds and bodies of the relentless cortisol experienced when we’re stressed have been well documented.

Ten minutes each day of thoughtful breathing, mindfulness or guided meditation has been proven to have a significantly beneficial impact on reducing stress and anxiety. Think you don’t have time? Monitor for a week how much time you spend scrolling through social media…

Feeling guilty for putting yourself first

When did showing yourself some respect become a bad thing? If you feel guilty for taking time for self-kindness, then ask whose guilt it is that you’re carrying around. Where does it come from? Who instilled that into you? Is it even your guilt?

To remove this guilt, see this time as an investment in you. When you put yourself first, you’re putting credits into the bank of you – these are just a way to balance out all the debits that you allow others to withdraw. Staying in the ‘black’ with your body’s account is much healthier. 

Not being valued by others

When this happens you need to ask, “what do I do that makes this happen?”. Yes, this might seem harsh on you, but when others treat you badly, it’s frequently because you communicate that you don’t matter.

Want that to change? Start looking at how you treat yourself. Consider what you tell people about your value by the way you prioritise yourself. When you start putting you higher up on your priority list, others will treat you how you treat yourself. Simple.

Thinking being selfish is ‘bad’

Do you tell yourself that if you take time for you, take attention away from others and don’t put those you love first that the whole world is going to cave in? Where does that perception of selfish come from?! When did loving yourself become a thing of shame?

Change your mindset about ‘selfish’. You can’t rescue anyone if you’re drowning; put your own life-vest on before helping others. When you look at self-care as being a way in which you can better serve those you love, then it becomes self-less to be selfish.

Shifting your mindset about what it means to be selfish is about learning to value you.

You matter. Believe that.

Do you ever wish you were more selfish? Could you see yourself redefining the concept of selfishness to the benefit of your confidence and wellbeing? Do share a comment below and keep the conversation going over on our Instagram community here.

Background photo created by benzoix, Love photo created by wayhomestudio, Flower photo created by gpointstudio

How to live through a permacrisis when it feels like the world has gone mad

First there was Brexit, then there was the pandemic, and now Russia is pummelling Ukraine. If your levels of anxiety are creeping up again then you are most certainly forgiven. This morning after I dropped off my daughter at school, I had a conversation with a fellow school mum about the state of affairs and I walked away with that familiar yet unwelcome feeling of anxiety gripping my chest. When we are constantly being thrown curveballs of the unknown, the sense of dread about what will happen next becomes palpable. This, my friends, it what it is to be living through a permacrisis.

However bad whatever the world seems right now, it all feels a bajillion times worse thanks to the never ending news feeds which are constantly being rammed down our throats thank to the phones in our pockets and our attachment to social media. We can’t bare to look, yet we become disgustingly addicted to doom scrolling all in one fell swoop.

So now we are firmly here in the age of the permacrisis, how the heck do we live through it without completely losing our marbles? First let’s take a look at why we are all feeling so damned anxious now:

Why world troubles fire up your anxiety

Terence Watts, psychotherapist and author of the new book BWRT: Reboot your life with BrainWorking Recursive Therapy says:

“It can be difficult to get your head round… after all, Covid is nearly over, and Mr Putin and his army are hundreds of miles away. So why on earth are so many of us not sleeping properly and perhaps quietly wondering if we’re mentally ill?  Well, the answer is actually quite simple. 

It’s because most of us are control freaks, whether we want to admit it or not!

In the UK we’re so used to being in control of our lives that it’s the ‘norm’ and we really don’t think about it very much in the usual way. We have freedom. Then, suddenly, control is wrenched away from us, and we’re subject to mammoth changes almost overnight. 

The problem is, everybody’s psychology is already exhausted from two years of Covid, and just as things start to feel normal again, up comes this new threat… and resilience has taken such a beating that it all feels just too much.”

What can you do about it?

So now we understand why we are mentally where we are, what can we do about it?

Watts offers some hope: “What can you do to relieve that nagging anxiety at the back of your mind, that uncomfortable feeling somewhere in your gut? Take time to detach yourself from it. We can’t stop what’s happening in Ukraine, but you can give yourself a psychological break from it for a while. Here’s the perfect exercise to do just that. It works best if you can learn it and then do it with your eyes closed:

Step 1: Imagine how you might look from the outside

If you knew exactly how to deal with the situation and make it as vivid in your thoughts/mind as you can. Don’t worry if it seems daft or unlikely, or what anybody else might think or say if they knew – just imagine it anyway in the privacy of your mind, and store that image of the ‘competent self’ anywhere in your thoughts.

Step 2: Now think of a clock

…with an hour hand, a minute hand and a hand that shows the seconds so that you can see the clock is working. Make that vivid in your mind, too. (You don’t have to think of both this image and the first one at the same time.)

Step 3: Take a moment

…to imagine how you look from the outside when you’re at your most anxious and make that vivid too – be honest now and make it look real!

Step 4: Imagine you can stop the clock

…and actually stop time by simply staring hard at the image so that it’s frozen in the past. In fact, everything has stopped except you. You can just walk out of that frozen scene and see yourself with each step adopting that ‘competent self’ you created at step 1.

Step 5: Zoom in

Now zoom right into that image to actually become that competent self as if you’re on the inside looking out on the world as you stride forwards and notice how good that feels.

Step 6: Repeat

Repeat steps 3 – 5 at least three times and notice how it gets easier each time. Stop when you’re happy with how you feel, or after six repeats which is about the maximum useful number.

This exercise has helped a good few people to get through trying times – and the good thing about it is that you can do it as often as you like and it gets better every time. You can’t change what’s happening in the world, of course, but you can change how you react to it!”

permacrisis

The power of distraction

The ability to shift our attention away from negative experiences (note: not ignoring them), is a powerful one, in particular when it comes to managing anxiety at times like these. Dr Marianne Trent, Clinical Psychologist, founder of Good Thinking Psychological Services and host of The Aspiring Psychologist Podcast ellaborates:

“Whilst as a mental health professional I know that distraction is not the cure, it can be helpful to use strategies which keep us mindfully in the present. This might include things such as affirmations, or even just practicing skills in mindfulness such as rhythmic breathing or yoga. When creating affirmations it can be beneficial to include ways you can have a positive impact upon your thoughts and actions such as: I am choosing to focus on the things I can control, I am learning skills to soothe and calm myself, I can trust myself to take action as an when needed.

Where we do have to use a little bit of caution with positivity is if we are using it in a way which might actually be gaslighting to ourselves. For example, in the past I have worked with people who were feeling very sad and having a truly horrid day but were telling themselves that they were feeling really strong and were going to have a great day. This runs the risk of invalidating important needs and feelings and communications. So if you are having a horrid time right now then it is always a good idea to reach out to someone qualified and experienced to help you feel better.” 

Other tools to try and reduce the anxiety of living in a permacrisis

I am a big believer in having a bank of tools for dealing with tough mental times, of which we have been having plenty of over the last few years. Here Lisa Butcher, hypnotherapist, reiki master and shamanic practitioner shares some additional tools we can use during these times when we feel anxious about things we can’t control:

Breath Work

When you start to feel your palms getting sweaty or your tummy twisted in knots it’s good to work on your breath.  Every time you breathe in imagine there is calming beautiful energy coming into your body and every time you breathe out imagine letting go of fear, worry and anxiety. I like to do 7/11 breathing which is when you breathe in for the count of seven, through your nose, hold for a couple of beats and breathe out through your mouth emulating a sigh for the count of 11. Do this upto 10 times. Another great technique is to breathe in through your nose for the count of four, hold your breath for the count of three and then breathe out for the count of eight. It’s important to count the breath as it makes you concentrate on what you are doing and helps to take your mind off the feelings of anxiety.

Grounding 

Grounding is a brilliant way to get out of your head and into your body. Imagine yourself as a big oak tree. With the roots growing out the bottom of your feet, going through the different layers of the earth vertically and horizontally firmly grounding you. Now imagine pushing the energy swirling around your head (overthinking and fear) down through your body and down into mother earth to be transformed. I like to do this practice every morning when I wake up. I lay in bed and visualize my body being grounded. I then take this feeling with me on my morning dog walk. It helps me to connect with nature and feel like I’m connected to the earth.

permacrisis

The TIPP Technique

If you are in the middle of a panic attack the best way to deal with it in the moment is to fill a wash basin with ice cold water. Put your whole face in the water and hold for 20 seconds. Take your head out of the water and take two or three deep breaths. Repeat this three times, and then do star jumps or move your body for 60 seconds. After sit down in a chair and take 20 long deep breaths – breathe in for the count of five and out for the count of seven. This technique is called TIPP – it stands for Temperature, Intense Exercise, Pace Breathing, Paired Muscle Relaxation. It might sound dramatic but believe me, it works.

The Five Senses

Look for five things around you and describe them. Listen to four different sounds and only focus on them. Smell three different things – try to distinguish three different scents around you. Touch two different textures. Taste one thing. By doing this you are using all of your senses to get out of your worry/fear. By stopping in the moment and using all five senses you relieve negative thought patterns and ease the anxiety.

How have you been feeling anxious with the recent world developments? Do leave a comment and share below and join our Instagram community here for more support.

Photo by Keenan Constance, Olya Kobruseva and PNW Production from Pexels

Difficult mother? Here’s how to heal your mother wound

It’s no secret that many of us have a difficult mother. The thing is – growing up with a difficult mother is not something you manage to just leave behind when you enter adulthood. It’s a burden you carry with you throughout your adult life. Whether you have a needy, co-dependent mother, a controlling mother, a narcissistic mother, a jealous mother, or an emotionally unavailable mother. The mother wound is a very real phenomenon which can spill over into every thread of our being, the way we live our lives, the decisions we make, and how we conduct our relationships.

So for everyone out there who has a difficult mother in their life, here Charlotte Pardy, The Meditative Counsellor – an award-winning psychotherapist who specialises in working with women who have difficult mothers – shares her tips for healing your mother wound.

***

Dear Daughter of a difficult mother,

Mother wounds can happen for a lot of reasons, mum may be depressed, bereaved, traumatised, addicted, have mental health issues, or a difficult relationship with her own mother that’s never been resolved.

It’s this difficult relationship caused by her emotional absence that is often at the heart of a mother wound, because the criticising, controlling and at times competitive behaviour takes its toll on you.

You’re just too sensitive.

I never said that.

I’m only trying to help.

This is for your own good.

I wouldn’t do it like that if I were you.

That’s nice, but everyone loves my…

Comments like these undermine your confidence and self-worth, they may drive you towards perfectionism and people pleasing, you may struggle at work and in relationships, you may even worry about passing it on.

I see it so often where women hide their mother wound and try to take it to the grave, they often feel ashamed of not getting on with mum, that there’s something wrong with them, but it’s just not true.

Culturally we tend to put mothers on a pedestal, they can do no wrong, and they always try to do their best, but it’s a fantasy.

Mothers are just as flawed as anyone else

The more we brush it under the carpet the more we allow our mother wounds to thrive, because it stops them, and us from seeking help.

Shame keeps us stuck in the pain and hurt, and it’s time we brought the problem into the light.

You see this hidden hurt can leave us dissatisfied with life, feeling like we can’t achieve our dreams, and by the time we hit our 40s, like it’s too late to change things.

Yet there are women I see in their 60s and 70s who are filled with regret that didn’t do something sooner, especially now they are feeling so much better.

The truth is it’s never too late, you just need the right help and support.

Many women wonder if they can do anything if mum has passed, they often feel left with their mother wound unresolved. I want you to know that healing is possible regardless of if you have contact with mum, are no contact, or even if she is no longer with us.

Acknowledging and dealing with the issues allows us to break the cycle that often goes back generations, meaning we don’t have to hold onto the pain or pass it on to our family.

It takes courage to face the fear, shame and hurt we have been through, it takes faith to know we can come out the other side feeling calmer, more confident, and happier in ourselves.

So, if you are ready to step up and not carry the burden what can you do?

Here are five simple proven strategies I use with clients in my practice.

  1. Recognise that you are feeling shame. You can tell the difference between guilt and shame by asking the question: Can I fix this? If it is guilt the answer is yes, if no, then you are feeling shame. Shame doesn’t belong to you, it has been given to you so give yourself permission to feel shameless.
  2. Understand that you can only fix you. It can be hard to know that we can’t help mum, that if she wants help, she needs to reach out for it. Know that by going through the process yourself that you are showing her it’s possible.
  3. Find your internal compass. If your value and self-worth are always dependant on mum or others you will always be at the mercy of their moods. Find other ways to value yourself such as measuring yourself against virtues or principles you aspire to.
  4. Stop pretending. It’s ok to not be ok is a phrase we hear often, but we also need to stop pretending things are fine when they are not. You’ve probably lived a lot of your life being what you think others want to see, now is the time to put down the mask and be real.
  5. Learn to love yourself. Just because mum struggled to show you the love and care you needed doesn’t make you unlovable. All it means is she couldn’t show you. Let yourself listen to and take onboard compliments, love, and affection not only from others but also from yourself. I promise you, you won’t get ‘too big for your boots’ but you will start to develop your self-esteem.

Healing your mother wound can feel daunting but know you are not alone, there are thousands of us out there.

The five strategies will help you to shake off the shame and start to invest in your self-worth.

Do you have a difficult mother in your life? Are you longong to heal your mother wound? Leave a comment below and share your experience and connect with our community on Instagram here.

Leaf photo created by rawpixel.com – www.freepik.com

Rediscovering yourself and your sense of identity in your 40s

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who has been left feeling pretty blah and with a very watered down sense of identity having battled our way mentally and emotionally through this god-awful pandemic.

The pandemic has battered or erased so many things hasn’t? That sense of freedom, joy, friendships, mental health and maybe – if you are like me – your sense of identity too.

Time to break free

Living in a little box is no good for anyone. Yet that is what as a collective we’ve had to do for the best part of two years, as our world became beyond micro and life became restricted as hell. Little by little, we’ve been picking our way through the rubble, trying to piece together the things we loved before this social tsunami pretty much wiped out the things we loved and brought us joy. But it all takes time.

The other day I went away for the very first time BY MYSELF. I took myself up to Yorkshire from London to see a friend who was visiting from Germany. It felt monumentous. That ritual of packing up my things and taking a train far away from home for pleasure left me sick to the stomach with anxiety but also giddy with excitement.

I realised just how much confidence I had lost with this living in a box mentally which had become the norm. The simple act of stepping outside my daily life, my comfort zone, was so empowering. I would’t have even given it a second thought before the pandemic but it felt epic. I told myself to woman-up: come on Talya, I said…you’ve travelled to India by yourself. You can do this! And so I did. Needless to say I returned a new woman and realised at that point the enormity of that which I – and probably also you reading this – had lost during this utter shit show.

Craving a break from the norm

What was next on the menu and operation sense of identity restoration? I was keen to keep on with the rebuilding of self and sense of identity. I needed to continue rebelling against the mundane which we had all become trapped in. I booked myself and my daughter our very first Stand Up Paddle Boarding lesson with our local operator – Hampton Court Paddle Sports. I had always wanted to be able to engaged with our local part of the Thames on a deeper way than just swanning around on a boat, and this was it.

I won’t lie to you, as we were talked through our explanatory land session, my mouth was so dry with fear it may have as well as been the Sahara Dessert. Completely ridiculous coming from someone who has jumped out of a plane on a skydive before. But there you go. I swear every muscle in my body rallied against me as it got up on that board, but within minutes once my mind had got over the fact that no – I was not about to meet my death by crocodiles in the River Thames – I started feeling free as a bird and began to enjoy the experience immensely. Think walking on water but only better.

Going with the urge

So why does the sudden urge to reclaim your sense of identity happen at this juncture? Jade Mitchell, at Blank Canvas Coaching says, “Many of my clients come to me seeking to renew or rediscover their sense of purpose in their 40s. They want to explore the place they find themselves in, gain clarity on the direction they want to take and set objectives to see real change in their lives. There are the demands on time, the sense of wanting to be fulfilled and challenged but needing to balance the demands of family, as well as the need to keep paying the bills to be factored in. It’s a challenge, but I believe every circumstance can be turned into a gift and opportunity, and fundamentally its down to having a positive mindset.”

So with many of us having taken a massive battering in terms of sense of self due to a more limited way of life then coupled with the mid life effect, how can we go about reclaiming our sense of identity in our 40s before? Here Andre Radmall M.A. MSc. B.A. psychotherapist, coach and author of the book Get Unstuck, Change the Script, Change your Life‘ shares his tips for rediscovering yourself and sense of identity.

Rediscovering your sense of identity

Self-care

Get into your body as much as possible. It could be dancing, yoga, gym, running. It doesn’t matter what you do but getting out of your head and into your body is essential for self-confidence.

Self-compassion

Watch the language you use about yourself– either internally or in conversation. Try to reduce negative self-talk.

Rewrite the script

In my book ‘Get Unstuck, Change the Script, Change your Life‘ I talk about rewriting your life story. When women enter their 40’s the scripts that society gives women change. Women often describe becoming less visible at this stage. This is a good point to step back and think about what your story over the next ten years could be. To build your story you will need to look at what you can realistically bring with you from the past and what new activities or relationships you want to build into the future.

See things differently

Identity can be broadened and expanded and changed by trying new things out. Write a list of three traits that describe you. Then think of the opposite of those traits. Then imagine how your day would be if you took on THOSE traits. How would you stand, move and relate to others? While this may feel like it’s being fake, you are actually allowing more space for different, previously hidden aspects of yourself to come out.

Have you found a burning urge to rediscover your sense of identity of late? Share your experiences in a comment below and connect with us on Instagram here to contine the conversation.

Photo by elifskies, Olga,  Quang Anh Ha Nguyen from Pexels 

Everything going wrong? How to bitch slap those clusterfuck days

Clusterfuck – otherwise known as a complex and utterly disordered and mismanaged situation, a muddled mess of everything going wrong, which lets face it, the last two years have been without a doubt. But that’s on the macro level. We can kind of handle that because everyone is going through the same clusterfuck of everything going wrong together. The worst type of clusterfuck in my view is when you are going through your own personal clusterfuck of everything going wrong on a micro level, one that is totally personal to you.

Let me paint a picture

….of one of my recent clusterfuck days. I had just booked a holiday to Cape Verde having vowed to not try and travel overseas until the pantomime was over. Within 24 hrs I had to cancel it and was feverishly trying to rebook a holiday to Turkey. OK so totally my own doing there.

I had a firm word with myself and tried to move on. Then sat down and realised I had been locked out (yet again!) of the back end (no not that kind of back end people!) of my bread and butter website Motherhood: The Real Deal as I sat down to try and earn my keep and pay.

But don’t worry because I was soon distracted by the fact my period had come a week two early which meant my mammogram and MRI appointments for my high risk breast cancer screening then had to be rescheduled for some date we couldn’t even bank on because we had no idea if my next period would scupper things once again.

This was against the backdrop of a family ding dong where a family member who shall not be named had labelled me as selfish for wanting to go away against all odds in light of my recent BRCA1 positive status and wanting to live my life to the fullest and a barrage of communications which quite frankly I could have done without.

Definitely not clusterfuck enough yet

My darling four month pup then decided – as she proceeded to dig up a collosal mud pit in our back garden and breakdance the residue all around the kitchen and living room – sofas and all. While I tried to clean the fall out from her kerfuffle up, she chased the mop like a pup possessed making me feel increasingly hot, bothered and hateful by the minute.

Having waited around all day for a doctor that never bothered to call me back about my recent genetic testing debacle, I could feel my annoyance with the world levels reaching breaking point. WHY IS NOTHING EVER STRAIGHT FORWARD? I moaned to my long suffering 40 Now What partner Katie. “Well, my love, because it isn’t”, she wearily replied.

By the time 5pm rolled around, the dinner I had planned on making was a day out of date when I pulled it out the fridge and stunk to fishy high heaven. I called my other long suffering partner Mr C and desperately enquired if he would be coming home soon so I could go for a run before I killed someone with the fall out from my clusterfuckish day. Thank god I did, otherwise I might have been writing this from the confines of a prison cell.

Needless to say I ran every single little bit of clusterfuck out of every cell of my being like I was channelling my inner Usain Bolt.

everything going wrong

Everything is going wrong…so what next?

Clusterfuck days are absolutely the worse. We all have them, we all survive them and live to tell the tale, and go to bed early grateful that the day is finally done and tomorrow will be a new, less clusterfucky (hopefully!) day. We all have our own way of managing them (mine is usually to run faster than my little legs will take me), but in case you need some help in managing your next clusterfuck day, we asked Sam Evans – one of our favourite coaches at 40 Now What – to share their tips to help us with future clusterfuckery:

***

You wake up, like every other day. You set your intentions the night before, you mapped out your week, and you say to yourself, I FREAKIN’ GOT THIS! So, you roll out of bed, drink your first of many coffees of the day, and something happens that causes you to feel, “it’s not going to be a good day!”

It could be an abrupt email popping up in your inbox, or your hot drink getting cold before you had a chance of drinking of it, and the constant screaming of “MUM” first thing in the morning, turns an entire day into one clusterfuck of a day as if the day has been totally ruined leaving you feeling drained and exhausted before the day has even begun.

Now more than ever, this is a recurring pattern I see with many women I work with. Instead of taking inspired action or achieving their desired goals, there would always be something at cause to create this feeling as if nothing is meant to be. “It’s the kids fault! It’s the kettles’ fault! Everyone drives me insane!”  With so many triggered events, how can one ever see the joy, when the emotions are so sky high? It’s as if its everyone else’s fault that your day is a complete wreck when really, it’s something a lot deeper.

By having many clusterfuck days, it can be difficult to imagine a good day as our minds have memorised a significant patterned way of thinking, feeling and behaving caused by the need to get everything done.  We live in a time where everything is so fast paced, that we wake up with this feeling of urgency. It’s as if everything has to be done instantly and if it doesn’t go to plan, then we assume that everything else will go wrong. Just by even having that thought alone, sets the tone for the day, because you have already defined the day before it’s even happened.

When we are faced with such urgency, we face more problems in the outside world with what feels as if the world is against us when really, it’s a clear sign to slow down and pay attention to what really is bothering you and most importantly what to do when we are faced with such days.

Top tips for taking back control when everything is going wrong

Set your intentions in your mind the night before

By imagining and feeling what you want the day to be like, actually programmes your mind to assume that your day, is going to be exactly how you imagined it to be.  So think good thoughts as the mind will begin to create the feelings of joy for the following day.

Rise at a time you want to

That first hour in the morning just for yourself is such a magnificent feeling that you literally feel as if you can take on the world.  If you are not a 5am person, then don’t force yourself to be, rise at a time that you feel happy to wake up to, without peer pressure of what everyone else is doing.

Avoid the phone

I know. This can be difficult. But your phone isn’t going anywhere.  That email or message can wait. You are important and you cannot serve in the first 30-45 minutes of your day when you haven’t even given yourself permission to be, especially as in the first ten minutes of waking up you are tapped into your subconscious programming.  You put you first and do something that makes you happy, even if it’s drinking your first cuppa.

Positive morning routine

Journal first thing.  Honestly, our minds as women are full of ideas and things to do, and one of the calmest things to do. Journal everything out of your head, instead of imaginary lists in your mind.

everything going wrong

Address your emotions

Not every day is going to be perfect. You could wake up late, miss the alarm, or feel flustered.  Instead of allowing this to happen, give yourself permission to wake up late. By addressing how you feel is better than forcing yourself to be miss positive polly pants, because that emotion is there for a reason. Address it, accept it, and let it go.

Listen to your body

Sometimes we experience things like aches and pains, as if the body is telling us don’t move, just chill.  If you ever experience this, then listen to your body. Its ok to chill and watch Netflix; it’s ok to take a break and have a me day. Your body knows best so listen. 

Pause and reflect

If things feel like they are spiralling out of control, instead of forcing yourself to make things happen, just pause and reflect on your feelings.  Your mind and body are always communicating with you so listen with kindness to yourself on where you are now, without the need of more chaos projecting in your outer world.

Get in flow with a polarity test

This process is an effective way for a person who is experiencing negative attitudes and self-sabotaging behaviours, such as feelings of irritability, waking up in a bad mood, negative self-talk, and even procrastination.  To allow yourself to move from self-sabotage to a positive state, the following will allow your physical body to respond and have that instant shift:

  • Using your two right fingers, rub the soft spot in between your armpit and boob on the left side, while focusing on the issue that is causing you to feel negativity. Whilst holding on this spot, inhale deeply, and exhale with two breaths – first short second longer. Repeat this three times.
  • After, use the two same right fingers, and gently place them under the nose.  Whilst holding this spot, set the intentions for the day and inhale deeply, and exhale two breaths – first short second longer. Repeat this three times.
  • Finally, tap the side of left hand on the outside by the little finger reconfirming the following positive affirmations – “I am calm, I am content, and I am in control.” Repeat them until you feel they have integrated.

You can do this as many times in the day as you like, and I would definitely recommend doing this every day first thing.

Remember, when it everything is going wrong and itmin feels as if the world is against you, it’s a clear indication that you need time for you. You are so important on this earth and the only way you can serve others and have the most productive day, is if you put you first.

So if you’re having one of those days when everything is going wrong, take a deep breath and remember the above! Have you had a clusterfuck day recently? Why not get things off your chest with a comment below or by joining in with our community on Instagram here.

Photo by Liza Summer, energepic.com, cottonbro from Pexels

Finding happiness in your 40s – this summer and beyond

Life starts at 40….or does it? While some people might already living their best life in their 40s, others are feeling miserable as muck wondering what has become of their life. But wait for it…apparently being in our late 40s is the most miserable time in our lives. Now there’s something to look forward to…..NOT! Damn it, I thought I would be swinging by the chandeliers by then. So is finding happiness in your 40s a total pipe dream? Or can we still take life by the balls and throw a big two fingers up in the face of the midlife slump.

Well good news people because yes, happiness in your 40s feels as the scarlett pimpernell, here  Andy Cope and Paul McGee – authors of The Happiness Revolution – share their top tips for finding happiness in your 40s – this summer and beyond. Taken from the science of wellbeing, here’s how to have the best summer of your entire life that will help you feel fiendishly fantastic rather than flat as a pancake.

Going viral

Human beings are wired for emotional contagion. Your feelings and attitudes will spread. In holiday terms, if you have small children, they will be as happy in Margate as they are in Miami. So long as you are!

Similarly, one negative family member will lower the tone of the entire holiday party. Top tip: make sure it’s not you!

The $64,000 question

According to an esteemed researcher at the University of London’s Institute of Education, here are some monetary values of happiness:

  • Seeing friends and relatives is equivalent to a pay rise of £64k a year
  • Chatting to nice neighbours is worth £37k a year
  • Getting married is worth £50k a year
  • And the biggy? Excellent health is estimated to be worth £300k a year to you

Hopefully you can tick some of those boxes, in which case, you are enjoying ‘mental wealth’. Whatever the summer brings you, be grateful.

Happiness is Maximized at 57°F

Weird I know, but the American Meteorological Society found current temperature has a bigger effect on our happiness than variables like wind speed and humidity. It also found that happiness is maximized at 57 degrees (13.9°C), so, technically, point number 1 is bang on – you’re more likely to find happiness in Margate than Miami!

Stop musterbating

Musterbating’ is when you turn things you’d like to have into things you absolutely MUST have. Every advert on the TV is designed to make you unhappy with what you currently own, luring you to Amazon to spend money on products that will make you happy. Mr Postie’s next day delivery does indeed create a spike of happiness, for an hour or two, before you’re back online seeking another hit.

So here’s an interesting list to write… the top 10 happiest moments of your life. I’ll wager that most of your top 10 happiest moments are ‘experiences’ rather than ‘products’. So, to squeeze maximum happiness from your summer, throw yourself into experiences (picnics, BBQs, walks, swims, bike rides, pub lunches, sandcastles, hugs…)

‘Forest bathing’

The Japanese call it ‘shinrin-yoku’. We call it ‘going for a walk’. A study from the University of Sussex found that being outdoors made people happier: “Being outdoors, near the sea, on a warm, sunny weekend afternoon is the perfect spot for most. In fact, participants were found to be substantially happier outdoors in all natural environments than they were in urban environments.”

To be fair, no University degree is required. The point is obvious; fresh air – lots of it – makes us feel fab. Top tip, while you’re out and about, walk with your sense open. Bathe yourself in mother nature.

Be the Pied Piper of Happiness

Your emotions are contagious – they leak out of you and ‘infect’ those around you. So, when you make the conscious choice to be positive and upbeat, other people will catch your good vibes. So, top tip, be enthusiastic for 4 minutes and everyone else will feel great too!

This is especially important if you’re camping in the rain. It only takes one idiot (you!) to be enthusiastically jumping in puddles and, before you know it, the entire campsite is doing the same. When you are old and prune-like, you will look back on your life and realise that these ‘little moments’ were, in fact, the best bits of your life.

So here’s to happiness in your 40s and saying no to being miserable and middle aged this summer and beyond!

***

Dr Andy Cope and Professor Paul McGee have combined forces to pen THE HAPPINESS REVOLUTION: A Manifesto For Living Your Best Life (published by Capstone, June 2021). It’s the perfect summer read. It won’t change the world, but it’ll certainly change yours.

About the Authors

DR ANDY COPE is the UK’s first ever Dr of Happiness. He has a passion for motivation and positive psychology and strives to influence people to think differently. He founded Art of Brilliance in 2004 to blaze a new trail – one that was non-academic, totally rooted in the real world and that would make a massive and immediate impact on individuals and organisations. Andy is a sought-after keynote speaker, bestselling author, and authority on happiness, motivation, and human flourishing

PROF PAUL MCGEE is a visiting professor at the University of Chester and is one of Europe’s leading speakers on the subject of change, resilience, wellbeing, and communication. His book SUMO became a Sunday Times best seller and his book on Self Confidence reached number one in the WHSmith’s business chart and remained there for a further 24 weeks. His books have sold over a quarter of a million copies worldwide. He has appeared on BBC Breakfast television and is a regular contributor on BBC Radio.

Photo by Julia Avamotive from Pexels