Tag Archives: improving life


I read an article recently about a man who gives talks on imagining a bright future, for us and for the world. It was inspiring and made me reflect on the power of our imagination.

Imagination is a gift we all have. From being very young, we create stories in our minds: fairies living at the bottom of our garden; a whole world made of lego; our future lives as an astronaut or an explorer.

Then we are taught to ‘face reality’ and deal with the day-to-day, and we become infected by the often depressing or distressing stories we are fed by the media.

In ancient times, people would sit around the fire in the evening and tell stories about heroes and grand adventures. It was a way of inspiring them to live their lives to the full.

Nowadays we watch the news, documentaries, dramas, about crimes – it doesn’t feed our positive imaginations and depresses our belief in possibilities. Yet our imagination is still there, ready to be used to our advantage.

I’m reminded of when I first came across the concept of visioning – imagining a positive future. I loved the idea and set to, writing a story about the home I would have, the type of work I’d be doing, the friends I would have etc.

I then forgot all about it until three years later when I was moving house. As I was clearing stuff out ready to move, I found the notes I had written. And I was moving into that home I had described and doing work I loved. It wasn’t a 100 per cent match, but a surprising amount of my story had come true.

This imagining the future is not an exercise in wishing: ‘I wish I could be fitter,’ etc. It is about making a leap forward in your imagination to 3,4,5 years’ time: ‘in 2026 I am…, I have…’ It’s about living that future in your imagination.

By painting a picture for yourself of how you want your life to be, you gear up your unconscious to notice opportunities to create it for real. It has to be vivid: see things, hear the sounds, feel the sensations, put in details. It’s fun to do. And to make it more powerful, write it down, revisit it occasionally, read it through again, add more.

Our ability to create our own lives is underestimated. We can all imagine a brighter future if we choose to.

The man in the article is imagining a brighter future for the world and asking people to do the same. We can all do that as well, but let’s start small and imagine a brighter future for ourselves.


One of the many reasons why in-person interactions are important is that they give us the opportunity to give and receive small acts of kindness.

A recent study showed that, across different cultures and age groups, there are frequent moments of kindness, where people offer each other help – and we probably don’t notice it: holding the door open for you; making a cup of tea; reaching down something from a top shelf; giving you directions to somewhere; helping you look for something you’ve lost; even just greeting you pleasantly.

The researchers’ conclusion was that these small acts of kindness are a part of our inherent nature – we are built that way. And it makes sense. Each of those moments releases the ‘happy hormones’ in our body, for both the receiver and the giver, and this helps to keep us healthy and build our immune system. We increase this effect when we notice and say thank you. Gratitude is a bonus that we all appreciate.

If you wonder whether this is real, just spend a day noticing how, in your interactions, you lend a hand to someone else, or they help you. Did they rinse the cup for the second cup of coffee while you put the kettle on? Did they clear the table? Did they pick up something you dropped and give it back to you? Did they slow or speed up their pace to match you? It happens all the time.

Aren’t we lucky!!


Over recent years more and more commentators have referred to our government policies as sticking plasters policies: they come up with yet another plan to try and hold a system or process together and ignore the fundamental problems which are causing the holes/crises to appear.

A good example is the production of renewable energy. We now produce over a third of our electricity through wind power, which is great. They did subsidise off-shore wind farms to achieve this. But there is no significant investment in improving the National Grid infrastructure so that the use of wind power can be extended. Investors in wind power now will be waiting years to connect it to the Grid. And it has no effect on our prices for energy, as that is controlled by global prices for gas and oil.

So it looks good on the surface, but is limited in its positive effect.

If we were to use the same sticking plaster mentality on our lives, we would soon hit the limit on the use of short-term measures to alleviate problems.

Or have we already? How many people take painkillers so they can carry on rather than establishing the cause of the pain? How many people buy ready meals full of preservatives rather than making their food fresh? How many people ignore their body’s messages to slow down and then wonder why they are worn out or develop an illness?

I’m not being critical of others here – I’m far from perfect myself. But I do wonder if we have learnt to ignore the fundamental causes of our discontent or discomfort, instead going for some short-term quick fixes, which will shudder to a halt at some point in the future, or lead to other problems.

So when you find yourself reaching for the sticking plaster remedy, just stop for a moment and consider whether you could instead begin to deal with the underlying cause. Have the mould on the wall treated rather than paint over it. Go and have a nap rather than having an energy drink. Get yourself an appointment with an osteopath or chiropractor rather than taking more painkillers for a bad back.

Take more care of yourself for the long-term – you have more life to live!


I have an ambition in life: to feel good about every day. I want to feel that each day of this precious life is in some way pleasing and/or fulfilling.

There’s an assessment I do every morning, usually with my first cup of coffee. I notice how my body feels, what sort of energy levels I have, and what is my mind doing. I know what’s planned for the day, if anything, so the question I ask myself is: what else do I need in my day for me to feel good about it?

I am always interested in what comes up as an answer. Sometimes it’s getting something done that I’ve been putting off; or it may be going out in the fresh air for a while. It could be using my energy in a physical way, or it could be something that would stimulate my thinking. Some days, it’s to make sure I have a conversation with someone I love, others, it’s to have a quiet period just reading a book. And of course, sometimes I don’t feel I need anything else in there to make me feel good about my day.

Often the addition I make to my day is a small one. It may not take long or be hard to do, but it does change the flavour of the day.

I think we all deserve to have mostly good days in our lives. It may not be possible to make it a hundred per cent, but we can all adjust the flavour of our day to make it feel better – that is always in our control. So spend a few moments each day assessing where you’re up to: what your body, mind, energy levels and heart are telling you. Then add that little extra spice or sweetness to make it a good day. You deserve it.


I remember years ago being told off by someone for saying that I hoped I’d be able to handle something that was coming up for me. ‘Hope aways implies there’s a doubt, and you need to think positively and say that you can do this.’

For sure we sometimes trip ourselves up by creating our own seeds of doubt, so that we won’t be too disappointed if we don’t succeed in something. Telling ourselves we can do whatever it is is a powerful tool that feeds our unconscious with the instruction to find a way, and I have used it a lot in my life, to good effect.

But more recently, several different things have reminded me that it is important to acknowledge that hope can also be useful. We all know the difference between situations where we probably can do it, and those where the odds are against us. And when the odds are against us, hope can shift the balance somewhat and make it possible to do it.

A simple example is being out somewhere and seeing big rain clouds coming over. Saying, ‘I hope I can get inside before it pours with rain’ will automatically quicken your pace and give you a better chance. Saying, ‘I’m going to get soaked’ has the opposite effect. We give up even trying to beat the rain. And of course, the way the Ukrainians are dealing with the Russian invasion is a prime example of hope giving strength and perseverance.

Our thoughts are instructions to our unconscious mind on how to behave. They affect our attitudes, our reactions. So if it doesn’t seem likely that you will succeed, don’t just give up. At least find some hope and give yourself a better chance, increase the odds in your favour.


Do you ever berate yourself for making the same silly mistake again? I certainly do, and a few days ago I did two silly things that resulted in me tripping over and hurting myself (not too drastically).

I was telling myself what a fool I was – I knew I had overstretched myself, and I knew I should have cleared up the stuff piling up in my yard. Then I remembered the angel Emmanuel talking to me years ago, when I asked him if I would ever learn to stop repeating the same mistakes. He said that what matters is that you notice you’ve done it again, because that means you’re learning to avoid it more often in the future.

He pointed out that it is part of the deal of being human, and rather than being cross with ourselves, we should celebrate the fact that we’ve realised that we did it – that’s progress. In fact, he suggested we should buy ourselves flowers – but this time my ‘reward’ was a large glass of wine!

And all this reminded me that in our lives, we rarely get the most useful behaviours and beliefs totally embedded, but every time we dust ourselves off and have another go, we are increasing our stock of being able to remember more often. I know that over my lifetime I have got better at some things, even if I haven’t reached perfection yet!

So I’m having another go at remembering to stop when I know I’ve done enough for now, and to clear up a bit after myself instead of laying unintentional booby traps everywhere.

Next time you get cross with yourself for making that silly mistake, for goodness’’ sake celebrate that you realised in your own inimitable way, and then have another go.


Last week, my son took me to Winchester for an overnight stay. We had a lovely time, looking round a different city, and spending enjoyable time together. It reminded me that doing something different really livens up your life.

It is so easy to fall into habits of doing the same old thing: cook the same meals; do laundry on the same day; visit the same places; spend the weekend doing the same routine – the list goes on and on.

There’s nothing wrong with having habitual pattens. They often allow us some time on automatic pilot, no great effort required. It can be almost restful, with no need to think about it.

And once in a while, it’s really good for us to do something different. It livens up our day, stimulates our mind and energy.

This doesn’t have to be something momentous, just something different in the normal week. Examples might be: buying or growing a different plant for the garden; choosing to make a different meal or buying something you don’t usually have from the supermarket; arranging to meet a friend at a coffee shop instead of at home; watching a tv programme you wouldn’t normally choose; phoning someone you haven’t spoken to for ages.

This is a great way to keep life interesting, so you’re not stuck in a rut. Sometimes the experiment doesn’t work out, but that’s OK – it still broke the spell of habit for a while. And often it’s a way of adding in something different to your everyday that may even become another useful habit!


I have recently witnessed three examples of individuals who have been unpleasant, obstructive, mean, selfish and downright nasty. And part of me dislikes them intensely for the misery and hurt they have inflicted on others.

But part of me feels sorry for them, because they are not exactly thriving themselves. Their behaviour to others may in some way give them a momentary satisfaction but the price they pay for that is high. It usually backfires into health issues, isolation, and an unhappy life for them. I will never understand why anyone would choose to behave so badly, and to suffer the consequences for themselves as well.

No matter what life throws at you, we always have a choice. Those who have suffered in one way or another through the behaviour I’ve described have all chosen to react with dignity and integrity rather than respond in kind or play victim. And they have been able to rebuild their lives, find ways to be happy, and continued to have friends and support. The difference is starkly obvious.

So it’s a good reminder that, no matter what’s going on, we can choose how we behave and react, and that choice leads to outcomes that are to our long-term benefit or detriment.

It’s not only ‘good’ to behave fairly and kindly with others, it’s also to our own advantage – we are able to have a clear mind, a support network of friends, and be more healthy. I prefer to make my life work, for me and for those around me – don’t you?


We all experience fear, but we rarely stop and think about what it is about. It can be an acronym for False Events Appearing Real – which gives us a clue: most of our fear is of something in the future that hasn’t happened yet.

While we’re in fear, we are incapable of being rational about it: we’re in fight or flight mode, and our logic shuts down. However, we could look at the evidence after the predicted event, and if we do, we begin to realise how often our fears are unfounded. Sometimes the event doesn’t happen at all, sometimes it is much better than we had expected, and yes, occasionally we were right. So the first way of counteracting our tendency to fear is to begin to check up how many times it was inaccurate.

And when our fear was justified? It is worth reviewing our own actions and reactions when we could see it coming true. Sometimes we ‘cause’ the fear to be real by the way we approach the situation. We are in the fight or flight mode and we give off the vibes of someone in fear. This can make us combatant or wary or anxious. Others involved may pick up on that unconsciously and so react accordingly. And even when there is no-one else involved, we can be clumsy or a bit stupid. Fearing slipping over in the snow almost inevitably makes me mis-step and fall over!

Of course, it is right to feel fear sometimes, but mostly it just makes things worse. It is bad for our health and makes life harder. We can counteract it, we can teach ourselves to stop it before it gets a hold, and our lives will be better for it.


As a child, I didn’t understand why spring was linked with cleaning and clearing. My mum always did a spring clean: cupboards were cleared out, skirting boards were wiped down, windows and mirrors were polished, and she did it all with vigour and enthusiasm.

Now I understand more. There is something in the air when spring gets underway. It is warmer, there is more daylight, and everywhere you look there are fresh greens: leaves, shoots and buds. There whole world feels as if it is bursting into life again, after the dormancy of winter.

It infuses us with energy if we spend any time in nature. Our sap rises as well, so to speak, and it reminds us that everything can be refreshed and renewed. We somehow want to match the way nature regenerates itself, which prompts us to refresh our homes, our lives.

I love playing my part in making it happen, planting seeds and watching them germinate and grow into the vegetables and flowers I will enjoy all year. And I also get the urge to clear out that cupboard I’ve been ignoring, throw out some old clothes, remove some clutter – do a bit of a spring clean!

Nature tells us it’s a time of renewal. Let’s follow her example and refresh some aspect of our lives, using that spring energy to make life better in some way.