Tag Archives: happiness

ARE YOU SUCCESSFUL? 5 rules for success in life

Although success is most commonly associated with career and finances, they do not guarantee a successful life. Let’s break down what a successful life consists of…

1 – Only YOU can define success.

In the context of your life, you always make the rules. Success is no different. So forget what you learned about success in school, forget what you’ve seen in films, what you’ve read in magazines and heard on the news. Start from scratch. There is no salary you need to earn, no job title you need to achieve, no specific thing you need to buy or one person you need to find in order to be successful.

2 – Start with how you FEEL.

Instead of looking at outside achievements, possessions or people; a good indication of a successful life is an overall sense of wellbeing within yourself. That doesn’t mean you have to be happy everyday. That doesn’t mean you are immune to sadness or worry. It means that in the grand scheme of things, you feel content and complete. Are you looking after your physical and emotional wellbeing? If your pursuit of “success” is actually detrimental to that, maybe it’s time to reevaluate. Do more of what you enjoy and don’t be afraid to let go of what makes you feel angry or resentful.

3 – Feel ABUNDANT.

Abundance cannot be measured through physical possessions or money in the bank. It’s not about numbers. Number of friends, number of children, number of cars, number of degrees, number of deadlifts, number of holidays, number of sexual partners, number of handbags, number of employees, number of followers, number of properties. These are nothing to do with feeling abundant and they do not equal success. That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy some of these things but we shouldn’t confuse their meaning in our life. A monk with only a few worldly possessions may feel wildly more abundant than a billionaire who still suffers from lack and inadequacy. Be grateful for what you already have and understand that you are capable of feeling abundant right now.

4 – Live with PURPOSE.

We are all different and, as such, have different things to offer to the world and to each other. When people find something they care about and feel they are making a positive difference, that is purpose. It doesn’t have to be a career, although it can be. It could be creating your own business, it could be raising children, it could be volunteering, it could be creating, it could be teaching, it could be sharing, it could be helping in any way. When we bring value to the world, we feel valued. Some find their purpose through passion, others find it through pain. Whether you inspire or heal or both, that is success.

5 – Do your BEST.

Whatever your day to day looks like, if you are doing your best, that is success. If for you it’s just a struggle to get our of bed in the morning and you manage to make yourself breakfast, that’s success. If for you it’s terrifying to go to a social event but you manage to get dressed and go, that’s success. If for you it’s hard to be honest about something with your partner but you manage to have an open conversation, that’s success. Success is being true to yourself, even when it’s difficult. You are successful every time you do your best and continue to learn and grow.

POSITIVE LIFE CHOICES – Long-lasting Changes for Health and Happiness

These days we are told that we have the power to transform our lives into everything we want them to be. That the only thing holding us back is ourself and our laziness. Wow, way to feel guilty if things don’t go to plan. Truth is, it’s about a lot more than positive thinking and self-discipline.

Of course there are some things we can change through pure willpower alone. But if we stay in the same place, see the same people, do the same things day in and day out, we are not just swimming against the tide, but eventually a huge wave is more than likely going to come and wash us back to where we started.
What we need is to find a different beach with calmer water. Regardless of whether we want to eat healthier, feel calmer, find more fulfilling job, increase our motivation, etc. There are factors outside of pure willpower which have a much more profound impact on our lives than perhaps we appreciate.
1 – The Place
This is not just the city we live in, not even just our house or apartment, but the places we spend the hours of our day. Our physical environment has a huge impact on our health and happiness. I’m not saying you need to move (although maybe if it’s something you’ve been thinking about – consider it more seriously), but make the time to go to places you feel calm, happy, disconnected, connected; what ever it is you need. Whether it’s a park, a friend’s house, a little cafe, a woodland walk or somewhere further afield. Find a way to visit your happy places more regularly. Notice I didn’t say comfortable places. Acknowledge that your sofa although comfy, homely, easy, safe, and can be great; it is not necessarily always a healthy, inspiring place.
2 – The People
Sometimes the people and the places go hand in hand. Positive and negative. I know that stepping out of our comfort zone and meeting new people can be very intimidating, but if the people who we see on a weekly basis don’t have an overall positive impact on our lives, maybe it’s time to meet some new people. That’s not to say cut people out completely, but the more positive, genuine people we have in our lives, the better it’s going to be. It can be so lonely being around a lot of people but feeling disconnected from them. It can also feel lonely being around only your partner all the time, it’s nice to have a bit of diversity. It doesn’t mean they have to be your best friends, but just being around other kind or inspiring or wise people helps. Of course we should always strive to be that kind of person to our friends and loved ones too.
3 – The Routine
If there is something you want to implement in your life but your routine does’t change, just hoping that little voice in your head that’s saying ‘don’t do that’ will be enough is such a struggle. Say for example you want to eat healthier; that doesn’t just happen in the moments you are about to make something to eat, it happens in your weekly routine. Change how you shop at the supermarket, change where you buy your lunch, change the restaurant you meet your friends at. If you want to include more exercise then rather than feeling bad that you didn’t go on that jog you said to yourself you would do in the morning – join a fitness group, a sports club or a dance class. Having a specific time to do things and a teacher or coach to motivate you makes things more straightforward. Exercise can be tiring enough without having to exhaust ourselves over finding the time or making the decision to start. Include it in your new routine and if others hold you accountable, not just yourself, then even better!
What I’m trying to say is that of course we have the power to change things but sometimes the changes might need to be on a bigger scale to become long-lasting. Having gone through a lot of this myself this year back in the UK it has made me realise that although I consider myself a motivated, positive, hard-working, happy person, it doesn’t just come from within me. Life becomes so much smoother when things are reflected in my environment. Being in a place I feel connected to, having my own space, seeing my friends, having the financial independence to create my own routine. So take the time to consider your day to day environment – physical, social, emotional. You don’t have to struggle day to day fighting against an environment that isn’t conducive to the way you want to live. I know that bigger changes are more scary but in the long-run they make life so much more enjoyable and fluid.

Why music makes us happy

Music is found across all human cultures and far back into human history. We all have different tastes in music but we enjoy music in similar ways.

  • we use music to enhance our emotions
  • we feel connected to other people through music
  • we can relive happy moments through music
  • music makes us want to move
  • music motivates us

It is amazing that after years, even decades without hearing a song, we can still sing along. If you play music with an upbeat rhythm to young children (and not so young) they will almost certainly start to dance along and probably with a smile on their face. Sports fans are moved when chanting and singing together and feel like part of something bigger than themselves. Music can remind us of a loved one or of a familiar place. A certain piece of music can take us back to a specific moment in our lives in a much more visceral sense than a photo could.

Music had such a huge impact on me as a child that for my second birthday I asked for a violin and I still have it, a tiny little quarter size. As with most children, when I heard music, I would dance happily around the room with no idea what I was doing. That is until I was 3 and started ballet lessons, then I could add a bit of technique into my random movements, but I never stopped improvising to music.

I actually ended up playing the cello. As I was growing up dancing and playing music and also singing, I always found the link between dance and music fascinating. I finally (partially) unraveled years of intrigue when I wrote my Masters dissertation titled ‘To Dance to Music is Human – an evolutionary perspective on rhythmic sound and movement’. It is a huge topic and I will write more blog posts about the link between dance and music but for now let’s focus on what it is about rhythmic sound which is so powerful for humans.

Depending on how we are feeling we can choose music to enhance our emotions depending on, for example, the tempo (fast or slow), rhythm (time signature, repetitiveness, syncopation) the melodic and harmonic quality (e.g. key signature, dissonance), orchestration (which instruments are used). Of course we don’t need to have any idea of these musical terms to be able to feel and enjoy the music.

For all of human history up until the last 150 years when sound recording was invented, music meant humans making rhythmic sounds with either their voices, hands, feet or instruments. Therefore if you were listening to music (that you weren’t making yourself) then you were with other people, in the same physical space. Historically, music was social and in fact played a very important part in ritual and social life for many cultures throughout human history. Very often music is made by more than one person playing or singing at the same time. This is an incredible ability which only humans posses, to be able to ‘rhythmically entrain’ to one another in order to play together and keep in time.

We are incredibly lucky now to have an incomprehensible amount of music available to anyone with an internet connection. Music written hundreds of years ago, music from all over the world. The irony of this is that now when we listen to music we don’t feel alone because throughout human evolution, music has (nearly) always meant being with other people. However, listening to music through headphones, as great as it is, will never replace the experience of live music. Just as playing the radio on our own in the car will never be the same as dancing along to a great song with friends.

Any of us lucky enough to have made music with other people (in a band, orchestra, choir) will know that there is another level of connection to the music and to each other in that moment. That is why I believe it is so important to offer children the chance to make music and develop this amazing human capacity.

I won’t go into dopamine and all the other hormones related to music because that could be a PhD on it’s own. We can all relate to how music can make us happy, it can move us to tears, it can make our hairs stand on end it can motivate and inspire us in ways that nothing else can. If you will take anything from this post I hope it is that you will take time to enjoy music with other people, include more live music in your life, and if you feel like you’d love to make music but think it’s too late to learn an instrument (it’s not) don’t forget the instrument you carry with you at all times –  your voice.