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What is Happiness and do you have it?

6 Powerful and Empowering Ways to Start Your Day


The one thing we regularly do in our life is to take people for granted: our loved ones, our friends and those who care for us. We often neglect them without meaning to do so because we are 'too busy' with other things in life and when they are no longer there we live in sadness and regret. But everything we do, apart from connection with others, is actually artificial; a social construct that WE invented and introduced to fill our time and enrich ourselves. So to focus on those to the exclusion of all else is actually to live against the reasons and purpose why we are all here together.

When we lack regular human connection and empathy we tend to become arid, emotionally deprived beings who find it hard to relate to others yet are unable to exist by ourselves. I was moved last week by a quote I read somewhere. It went something like this: "I would prefer one single rose from you in my lifetime than a huge bouquet when I'm dead." Amen to that. A fat lot of good those roses are to us when we can't appreciate them anymore, yet were neglected in life and deprived of them. So my five tips are all people centred, designed to keep us connected even when we are not aware of it.

TIP 1: Start each day with Gratitude

No matter what you have, no matter how small or meagre, GIVE THANKS. Never take anything or any day for granted. As soon as you open your eyes and can see your ceiling give thanks first of all for your LIFE. No day is guaranteed to us and the fact that we are still alive on a new day is a particular gift and blessing. Express quiet thanks for your family, children, friends and everyone who has been there for you. By thanking your God, Universe or whatever you believe in for your blessings, you will get even more to be thankful for. Most important, you will never take anything or anyone for granted because you would have appreciated them every step along the way.

TIP 2: Text or email a greeting/compliment to someone

Never begin your day with a focus on yourself. Always put the focus outwards to others and, with karma, magical things tend to happen to us in return. Wish someone a great day. Thank them for being in your life, for being there for you. Find something to praise them for, especially your spouse, children or special friends. With just a few kind words and nothing else, you would be making that person's day even before they started. I advocate text or emailing because it keeps you detached, it allows you to express yourself without either of you feeling self-conscious and would be more of a surprise to the recipient. It also frees them to react in their own way and time.

TIP 3: Make some Decisions

Make a list of up to 5 things you wish to do for that day, beginning with the easiest. This is the most empowering part of the day because we only achieve through DECISIONS. Having intentions are fine but that's only the beginning. Making decisions about them and then ACTING upon them is the only thing to get you want you want in life. Most people don't achieve their goals because they make no decisions each day or they try to do too much and fall by the wayside, becoming overwhelmed by it all. But five is an easy number to manage and represent 35 accomplished tasks at the end of the week!

If you finish the tasks/goals in record time, DON'T add any more to the list because work never takes a holiday. RELAX instead, enjoy yourself, go for a walk, sit and daydream about tomorrow, read a book. Talk to your spouse/date, play a game together, discuss topical issues. Simply smell the roses and allow yourself to appreciate your existence. Don't keep working for the sake of it and allow neglect to creep into your relationship. Work never goes away. There will ALWAYS be tasks to be done. However, taking time to interact with others, to email or make a phone call to a friend you haven't heard from in a while, to go to the cinema, theatre, concert or local event with a partner or friend will help to make you less stressed, more healthy,happy and more rounded. It will also give you some quality time EACH DAY, not just sporadically, with the people who matter.

TIP 4: Learn something new
Seize every opportunity to widen your horizons. Being a writer and wordsmith I subscribe to a website that sends me one new word to learn everyday. It tells me the meaning, pronunciation and usage of that word which quietly but consistently improves my vocabulary. Learning just one word daily doesn't sound a lot but at the end of the year I would have learned 365 words and I have been signed up to it for the past 10 years! It means that my vocabulary is richer by 3,650 new words! I will also be able to express myself with more fluency and accuracy than the person who do not know those words. But any kind of knowledge keeps our brain on top form working daily for us which also boosts our confidence, communication skills and helps to keep our bodies healthier too.

TIP 5: Say 'I love You' to someone

Become generous with love. It really means a lot. It could be your child, a friend, or a lover, but try to express those magical words to someone else and, guess what? They will soon come winging their way back to you from unexpected sources. We have to give to get in life and if we never have a kind word or appreciation for others, they can't treat us likewise either. Open up to others by being more kinder, empathetic and more loving. There is a major reason for this. Not only do we feel good passing on good vibes, but those three precious words could be the last thing that person hears in their life. Never forget that.

TIP 6: Give the world a Smile

Smile as much as you can, even when you are churning inside. Please remember that every adversity in life is only ever TEMPORARY. Within a few hours, days or weeks it will be sorted, with or without you. So smile as often as you can. It shows your joy, your gratitude, your energy and your optimism; it gives a fresh perspective and it also allows others to smile too. You empower them with that smile because you make them feel good. A frown endears us to no one but a smile can uplift someone else and speaks clearly across all languages.

By the way, it really doesn't matter if you do not get back what you give to others. That is NOT the point. I guarantee that you will get it back from the most unexpected sources. For example, my children have taken sides in my divorce, which has been painful for me. But even though they give me no affirmation, in spite of my attention to them, the constant love and care I am receiving from others is phenomenal. It doesn't take the place of my children's love, but it sure feels good!

If you follow those six simple tips from today, see how different life becomes over the coming weeks without you even trying! It also means that, should anything tragic happen to anyone in your circle you would be giving thanks for your positive part in their lives rather than remembering them in regret. :o)

What Is Happiness? And How Do I Find It?


I once told a fellow whom I loved that his love for me was the icing on the cake, but the love for myself was the cake itself! I was supremely happy with me as I was, and any other attention, though most welcomed, I regarded mainly as a bonus, not the main course. He was rather surprised by my statement, interpreting it that I didn't really love him, but it was actually the opposite. I was able to love him lots through loving me first.

I didn't always feel like this. My self-love has been a gradual and painful process. Loving myself as I do, I could appreciate him as a whole being with all his faults and facets and allow space for us both to develop as individuals and as a couple. If I were expecting his love to make me happy, we wouldn't really last too long because one or both of us would gradually become dependent upon the other, clinging like limpets for our happiness until the relationship becomes claustrophobic or the victim of resentment and jealousy.

Someone To Complete Us

I have noticed that too many people seeking partners tend to say that they are seeking someone to 'make' them 'laugh' or to 'make' them 'happy'. Yet every relationship should have two 100% whole people, not two halves seeking someone else to complete them! We are all seeking happiness of one kind or another. That is essential to our well being. But that vague, yet important, state of existence - happiness - which we often associate with people and material things, appears to be the bane of our lives. We never seem to have enough happiness at all. It seems to be always elusive, even when we actually possess everything we desire. But no one, or any external thing, can ever make us truly happy because happiness is not a destination which we work towards. We cannot postpone happiness until we get that new job, that new house or that new man or woman.

Happiness is a state of mind based on our sense of worth; a feeling which we generate whenever we wish according to the level of self-love we possess and the positivity in our lives. If we feel great, we are unstoppable. It takes little to make us happy because happiness becomes integral to our lives. We feel good about ourselves so we feel good about others and our world. If we feel little love for ourselves, especially when we have not been treated appreciatively, or with any value in our lives, happiness will continue to elude us. We will always feel cheated in some way - unwanted, insignificant and excluded.

Happiness is the greatest indicator that we are happy with our bodies, identities and progress. We tend to see the world as a 'challenge' as opposed to it being a 'problem'. Others can share that happiness, perhaps enhance it in some way, or even reduce it temporarily, but they cannot create or maintain it for us. Only we can do that. We have to feel happy in the first place; we have to be able to possess that happiness before someone else can share it.

Misery Forever

That is why people who tend to be the miserable type remain like that forever, even if they feel momentarily 'happy' through an external source. Such a state is not permanent because it is not based on self love. It is generated by someone else. So when that person withdraws, the pain of rejection becomes doubly hard to bear and even confirms our 'unwanted' state. As soon as there is a problem, or the honeymoon stage is over, they slip back into the old ways of sadness or complaining because unhappy people are usually unhappy with themselves and their world. They will remain in that state forever if they do not make a serious effort to change from within and recognise the magnificent unique individuals they are.

Is your happiness dependent upon someone else's attention or behaviour? On the next event or the next exciting possession? Or is that actually masking what would really make you happy?

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The True Importance of a Smile!


Q. How important and essential is to smile in life? How do you use it and when?

A. A smile is very important in our life for three main reasons:

First, it is the greatest asset we have because of the signals and messages it gives to others about who we are, what we want and how we wish to be. It is like a handy barometer to our mood and the type of disposition we have.

Second, it is the biggest tool in interacting with strangers and making new friendships because we don't have to say anything. A smile cuts across language and says it all while making us seem even more attractive.

Third, it immediately tells someone we are approachable, we want to share the moment with them and we don't take ourselves too seriously. It also tells the other person they are valued and welcomed.

A smile should be used as routine, not saved for special moments, because it indicates your personality, the type of person you wish to be. It should not be forced either, otherwise it comes across as superficial and insincere.

Gloomy people are unattractive and dour. They repel others. A smiling person lets the sunshine in and gives others permission to smile too, and there is nothing more empowering in our life than this amazing asset we have. That is why I am constantly smiling because it is the most natural thing for me - to wear a smile! It makes me feel fantastic and does wonders for my health, while, hopefully, cheering others too.

The Five Simple Tips For Happiness


We search for happiness each day, the elusive concept that takes a lifetime of exploring. We often think happiness comes through winning the lottery, through getting a big break, buying a house, a car, the latest fashionable item. But those provide only sporadic feelings of excitement. When the effects wear off, we are back to feeling gloomy, negative, downhearted or depressed. This is because happiness as a goal is not something we strive towards. It's not a tangible thing we can feel, nor is it something which comes to us when we work at it. That is why some of the poorest people are very happy because it is an indefinable quality we either have or we don't.

Happiness is a state of being. It is how we feel deep inside of us at any moment in time, not next year or tomorrow, but now, and each day after that. It does not depend on anything at all except the feeling about ourselves to make us happy. Material things merely enhance it for a moment, but we give happiness life through five crucial things:

1. The love we feel for ourselves.
2. The love we share with others
3. The gratitude we have for living and life itself.
4. The contentment we feel in our abilities and achievement.
5. The self-belief we have that we can make things happen.

In one of her books, I feel Bad About My Neck, Nora Ephron, the writer, seems to regard the ageing neck with disgust. The gratitude for being alive with her unique neck, when many other people with 'beautiful' necks were very dead, was lost upon her. She still had LIFE. The majority of people in this world are unhappy simply because they do not like themselves. They hate to pass a mirror to see their reflection, dreading to hear themselves speak or to see themself in a photo. They spend their waking moments wishing they could be someone else, or they could change their nose, face, arms, body, hair. They yearn for a perfect being to be represented in a perfect image, an unrealistic ideal which makes them feel continually inadequate. This means they can never be happy because two things emerge from their lack of self-love.

No Reinforcement or Affirmation
First, they cease to be appealing to others because no one can like what they too reject. They might attract some people who have low esteem too, but as neither one would be capable of offering positive support to the other, soon the attraction will wane because one person will either take too much or both will simply take from each other without giving anything back. Such a relationship will be short on reinforcement and affirmation and long on regrets and impossible expectations. There will not be much of love to share, mainly blame and discontentment. Unable to love themselves, they are unlikely to share love either because they cannot give away what they haven't got.

The second thing which will happen is that there will be little gratitude for anything in their life because the focus will always be on what is missing and not what they are blessed with. There will be a constant desire for something else because of the basic dissatisfaction with the self. Such people can never be satisfied. Everything will be perceived to be 'wrong' or 'not right'. The fact that they have life, limb, and faculties all working will be missed on those who are unhappy with themselves. Happiness is never possible in such situations because if we cannot appreciate ourselves it is difficult to appreciate and value others too.

In fact, when we are unhappy we are likely to put ourselves down and readily believe that we are not as good as others; not up to standard and not as clever, etc. Somehow, no matter how beautiful and blessed we are, we lose confidence regarding our potential, so happiness consistently eludes us. Lacking the self-belief to get whatever we want, and to be whomever we wish, we waste our talents in anxiety and frustration, in wishing and yearning and in self deprecation. Often it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, one which is guaranteed to deny us the happiness we seek.

Happiness is elusive only if we do not accept each day as given; only if we continue to seek what isn't really there while ignoring what is; only if we expect the worst; if we reject ourselves and we take our world and loved ones for granted. Once we have those five qualities of loving, sharing, gratitude, contentment and self-belief, we won't ever have to seek happiness again because it would have settled quite snugly within us.

Does Positive Thinking Really Help Us?


Yes it does, for a variety of reasons. Every single person see the world according to who they are and where they're coming from. The world appears to them through their own singular lens based upon eight primary influences:

* the way they were brought up

* culture

* gender

* religion

* personal values

* emotional maturity

* experiences

* thought processes.

It stands to reason that no two persons will see the world the same, especially when they were reared differently. Just being brought up in two different countries can have a vast effect on how someone perceives the world.

I was born in Jamaica and then settled in the UK. The difference between those two countries are just unimaginable, though one was a colony and governed by the other. For a start, Jamaica could fit into Britain at least seven times geographically; the culture and expectations are entirely different in the UK; the experiences are awesome and the opportunities are much more than one could get in the smaller island. My early life in Jamaica shaped my world view of wealth, poverty, education and self potential, while the last 42 years in Britain have shaped my views on other important things that now matter to me like self determination, freedom and contentment. Thus my view of the world in both places have differed markedly.

However, even if one experienced more differences than similarities between the two countries, what has the greatest influence on each one of us are our THOUGHTS. The way we decide to feel every day we wake up dictates how the rest of the day unfolds. If we wake up feeling crappy it will take a lot to change our perspectives and whatever we are going to see and do. We are likely to be in a negative mood for the rest of the day. If we wake up feeling good and merely thinking that the world is a wonderful place because we are still in it, the rest of the day will seem very good too. We are likely to do far more with the positive view than if we resign ourselves to the worst with the negative one. We CHOOSE how we feel in any given day. We can either let the bills and economic crisis get us down, or we can take it in our stride and allow ourselves to think of gradual solutions to cope with them. Without positive thinking all we would have are negative thoughts about life that breed fear and keep us stuck in a rut. Yet nothing is ever one-sided.

Two sides to life
Everything in our life has two sides to it for balance: pleasure and pain, positive and negative, up and down. People find it easier to be negative because they tend to dwell in the downward or painful part, especially caused by their past. They focus on things that have happened ages ago that they cannot change; things that make them inadequate, overwhelm them and make them feel impotent. This affects the rest of their lives, especially their potential achievements. But that outcome is not surprising because we cannot serve two masters: the past and the present. If we are back there still carrying around negative actions in our head, still reliving old pain and hurt, we won't be able to deal with the demands of the present as we cannot be in two places at once.

That is why negative people mainly live in regret, always regretting the things they should have done and haven't done. They spend so much time being negative and living in the past, they miss the current opportunities that come to them daily. By the time they have realised they've missed the boat, again, it's too late to take advantage of those opportunities, which gives them even more things to regret on top of all the others which keep piling up. Of course, there would be lots of excuses for that too.

The only thing that gives us a healthy life is positive thinking. It doesn't mean we are positive every minute of our lives. We have to acknowledge the good bits as well as the bad, not live with our heads in the clouds. It simply means spending more time being positive and giving thanks for what you already have rather than wallowing in negativity while ignoring the blessings. Positive thinking reinforces our self-belief in what we can do, what we are capable of and what we could achieve. It builds our confidence and self-esteem and it makes us far more appealing to other people. No one likes to be around someone who is constantly glum or negative; one who only sees the dark side of life. That is not empowering, uplifting or inspiring.

We have a choice in how we think today or any day, whether positive or negative, it's up to us. But only positive thinking will get us what we want because we will be empowered to do something about it, not sit in worry and fear while we do nothing. Negativity brings fear and nothingness, positivity brings empowerment. With tomorrow being the first day of the rest of our lives, our continuing progress really depends on which one we personally wish to choose to welcome this awesome day.

Is it only 50 percent of our happiness that comes from within, or do we need the full 100 percent?


Someone once said: "I am not sure that the 100% of our happiness comes from within. I think we need others to complete our happiness."

However, what that person is actually saying, with a 50% portion, is that, if no one ever meets another who can complete their half, then they will be only half happy, or unhappy, for the rest of their lives! But that has never been right. Tons of people have been serenely happy without anyone else making them happy or contributing to that happiness. 

This is because happiness is not a destination we strive towards. It's an inner state of being, not to be added to by anyone, but actually to be ENHANCED by them. So the truly happy persons starts off with 100% happiness within themselves, which is about loving the self, appreciating the self and valuing the self. A partner, friend or anyone else, should also be bringing 100% happiness themselves for it to work in a glorious orgy of shared happiness! That's why it is difficult for a very happy person to co-exist with a half-happy or gloomy person, because he/she will always be taking from the very happy one, not giving much back.

As in all relationships and interactions, only bringing 100% of ourselves to them will work. If the other person is bringing 100% too, not taking but giving wholly and unconditionally, that's two very happy people indeed!

If we go with the 50% option, what if you NEVER find that happiness externally? No one is there who will give that other 50% to you. What happens then? A very important question for the quality of our lives.

The basis of internal happiness is self-acceptance and feeling valued. In fact, every human being, without fail, seek the following four elements in life: 

* to be significant (that they matter), 
* to be appreciated (for their efforts) 
* to be valued (for who they are by those they value) 
* and to be included (a feeling of belonging). 

When any of those four facets are missing, or out of sync, that's when unhappiness sets in and no amount of happiness from another person will make one feel any better.

Equally, if we are low in confidence, lacking self esteem and not loving/valuing who we are, no amount of happiness from others will compensate, because not accepting ourselves as we are, we would not know how to accept another person either for what they bring. We would always be full of doubt about ourselves, questioning whether they truly care or not.

So, I come back to that question again. If you failed to find that external happiness you seek, what would happen then?

Over to you!

Are you REALLY happy?
Try this interesting quiz to see how you feel


I used to think that 'happiness' was a simple state that we desire and with some hard work, and perhaps a change of focus, we could be very happy most of the time. That's what I believed until I read Authentic Happiness, a fantastic book by my all-time guru, Dr Martin Seligman. I am not talking of temporary blasts of feel-good feelings we get from treating ourselves, getting material things, or having an unexpected surprise. I am talking about the genuine article, the happiness that comes from a joy and serenity within, no matter what is happening in our lives, and lasts continuously, keeping us buoyed up when the waves of life are crashing relentlessly around us.

The father of Positive Psychology, Dr Seligman, through his extensive scientific research down the years, discovered that happiness is partially hereditary (I bet you didn't know that!) and the degree to which we are happy actually has a fixed scale or range. That is why whatever some people might do to boost their happiness, they will always be happy in a certain way. The best they can hope for is to aim to reach the top of their own happiness range.

Happiness itself is governed by four factors: how we regard the future, how we live in the present, how we allow the past to interfere with our present, and the degree of negativity we tend to display. On top of that, it also depends on whether we feel significant, appreciated and valued, especially the way we feel about ourselves. For example, if we find it really hard to forgive, if we are always seeking revenge, feeling constantly bitter and resentful, taking everything, and loved ones, for granted without much gratitude, and are low in self-esteem, while feeling insignificant, we are likely to have a different happiness range than those who are opposite to us.

Inspired by his findings, I decided to revamp my own happiness quiz to bring it into line with the latest research. I would welcome some feedback on it, once you have tried it out. How truly does it reflect how you are feeling, and how accurate do you think it is? Do let me know.

Right, here is the quiz. Go for it, then return to this page to add your score in the poll to let us see whether we are all happier than we think, or are really far more gloomy!


How can I keep myself happy when I have so many problems?


Q. I am facing lots of problems in my life, on job, family and on so many things. How can I make my self happy? What do you do when you want to keep yourself happy?

A. When we are having problems, that is the worst time to be happy, of course. What is there to be happy about? How can you motivate yourself amid all the problems? But that is exactly the time to try to be happy, otherwise all the problems will engulf you and would affect everyone around you too, especially your relationship. That's when they tend to collapse because any kind of crisis brings out the worst in us and tests our patience and ability to deal with them.

We then turn on partners, etc., and forget the good times. A mountain of problems comes together when we are very controlling in our lives, when we want everything to happen exactly how we wish, but life usually has other ideas. We tend to get what we desire, but not exactly how we want it, the time we expect it or the way we imagine it, which tends to make impatient people feel even more frustrated!

It is very important to nurture happy feelings in the following ways:

First, tell yourself, and your family/lover, etc., every day that any problems are only temporary.
They really are. You WILL get out of them, but whether you keep getting them depends on your thought processes. If you are a negative person who expects the worse to happen all the time, it will. You cannot have good things from bad thoughts. So keep reminding yourself that things will change, keep imagining the life you would like it to be - constantly - and that this is just a bad patch; that it will clear soon, and gradually work towards clearing it, no matter how bad things seem.

Second, get some self-belief.
Often we have problems because we don't believe in ourselves, our spouses don't believe in us either, we use the same mindset and approach for everything we do and, of course, end up getting the same results every time. If you really believe in you, things will sort themselves out because you will gradually work out what it is you have to do and get on with it. If you lack confidence and esteem, it is harder to motivate yourself and get your desires because self-belief is the essence of being successful. If you don't believe you can do it, or trust yourself to deliver, who is going to believe in you either?

Third, tell yourself that you are doing your best and cannot do any more.
It will stop you beating yourself up and feeling inadequate. That should stop you from trying to control everything, from fretting too much or believing you have all the answers to your life. You really don't. It's a desire for perfection and control why we are ready to believe that we know it all and have to do everything ourselves. If you don't believe in any kind of higher power, create an imaginary friend and hand things over to them sometimes. That will free you to think of other suggestions and ideas. You would be very surprised what happens next. If you believe in God or whatever, then allow your God to work instead of just believing but not trusting. Often, in good times we praise and thank our God a lot, but the minute things go badly, we start to feel fearful and anxious. Yet, if we believe God helped in the good times, why wouldn't He help in the bad times too?

Fourth, and most important, focus on others instead of yourself.
Go with your partner for a walk, play games with the kids, take them out somewhere, have even more family time together, do something for your parents/brothers/sisters, if you have no family. This has three major purposes. It relegates the problems downwards and stops them taking over your life, it affirms you as a loving family in times of stress and keeps you supporting each other and, most important, that time out will free you for getting even more solutions to your life. It is not when we are worried or stressed that answers come to us. It is usually when we are relaxed and not thinking about them at all. Otherwise, by keeping stressed and selfish, we just keep seeing problems in the same old ways. Sometimes too, just by doing something for someone else we get some karma in return, so you never know at those moments.

Finally, SMILE a lot. Be joyful.
Remind yourself that there are far worst people than you: disabled, sick, terribly poor, people losing their homes and facing constant adversity, and some very dead ones! You are still alive with the potential to make something of your life, daily. So first thing every morning is to stop thinking about your problems and GIVE THANKS for what you already have. Often we ignore those blessings while we concentrate on the negatives. Start off every morning with thanks for simply waking up and having another day of life. It is not guaranteed. You would be surprised how everything else falls into perspective and you get even more to be thankful for.

The main thing to remember is that problems in life are ALWAYS there. They never go away simply because once we get what we want, we always ask for more. There is never any long-term satisfaction. But that's how we grow and develop. By continually striving for more and fulfilling our potential in the process. Problems form the other half of the pleasure we get and make us more resilient. What makes the difference is whether we spend our life fretting about them, instead of being thankful for our blessings, whether we lack the self-belief and confidence to do something about them, whether we spend every moment of the waking day thinking about them and how we actually deal with them.

I have found that the best way to deal with any problem is to write down the worst possible result from it. Then devise some options in my head of how I would deal with that worst situation. Then file it somewhere. I have found that extremely empowering because I often come up with options I never even dream about. Facing things in life is the key. Once you face their end result, they lose their sting and you take over.

I hope this is of some value.

Key reasons why you should make New Year's Resolutions


Every new year is rife with personal promises which reflect past disappointments, frustrated dreams, lost ideals and individual yearnings and aspirations. Each New Year's day I do my ritual of looking back at the past year to see how many of my resolutions I achieved. This year I counted 7 out of 10 - 70%. Some were not really applicable any more, so my success rate could be interpreted as even better than that. I felt very pleased with myself and have promptly made new resolutions for 2012.

Some people are inclined to ridicule the idea of making resolutions and trying to stick with them. But making these objectives at the start of each year is as crucial to feelings of worth and progress as actually achieving them. Two weeks into the new year, you are likely to be struggling with those resolutions. You are probably wondering why you bothered, when it seems so difficult to stick to them. Many people might even get despondent at not sticking to them for a long time, but any effort is better than nothing. Hang in there! Persistence usually pays off. By focusing on something you desire, you are likely to have it because you will work harder for it.

Resolutions are not just whims or idle promises. They emphasise past progress and rekindle new hopes. They demarcate the past and the present into manageable sections which acknowledge effort as well as the obstacles. They are likely to relate to losing weight, getting a new job, meeting a new soulmate, getting promotion, starting a new course, travelling, giving up smoking, reducing excesses in our lives and developing a new attitude, among many others. We often get strung up on not achieving all or most of those resolutions, so we become demoralised by our perceived failures in our search for perfection and then cease to bother.

However, achieving all the stated resolutions is not the point. What resolutions do, in fact, is help us to acknowledge the weaknesses and gaps in our lives and then make a commitment to improve them over the next year... a period which can be easily monitored. They also give us something to look forward to, as we will make a greater effort to achieve them. That is the essence of any resolution.

Changing priorities
Thus, achieving 100% of all our resolutions is unrealistic and a fallacy. Mainly because, by the time we reach the middle of the year, our priorities would probably have changed anyway, and what we started with as a special goal would not be so important anymore. If we achieve just 20% of our goals they will have an effect on us that was not foreseen and will actually push us along, gradually, towards the person we aspire to be, or the destination we have in mind. It is when we don't even try at all that our lives take a knocking and we stay in the same rut constantly, because the need to make resolutions means that something is missing from our life which would improve its quality. We cannot ignore it.

For example, if you made three goals (to find a partner, to see some of the world and to stop smoking), this is what is likely to happen: You may find the partner first, but she smokes too. Suddenly, the need to stop smoking might not be so important anymore because you have a kindred spirit to share it with. Or you might decide you don't want to travel after all because, having fallen in love, you will both be busy planning for life together and need the travel money. Though on the face of it, you achieved only ONE of your goals, it triggered other desires which then assumed greater priority. So you actually achieved more than you thought. It's a fixation with perfection which makes us blind to other unexpected blessings.

Making personal or career resolutions are thus very important. They provide the opportunity to review your life in the past year, review where you are going, review what you are lacking and put simple steps into place, for fulfilment within a given time frame. And that is no bad thing.

Self-knowledge is the greatest route to power and self-confidence. It is all about personal development and purpose in your life. Nothing helps that process more than simple resolutions at crucial points on that journey.

The Power To Forgive... Do You Have It?


Yes, I have now, but it hasn't been easy. That power has only been developed to the level I want over the past five years. Before that I was very unforgiving, kept malice whenever I wanted to and would not speak to some people for ages. I slowly learnt why we can be unforgiving and decided to change my outlook.

People are unforgiving for three main reasons.

1. A desire for perfection: When we seek perfection, we cannot accept that people are fallible, that they will make mistakes, that they will be angry and feeling pain and will seek to express that in negative ways, that they won't be clones of us, they will behave differently. We put them on a pedestal and expect them to behave almost like saints, especially to our expectations. Of course that is not possible because e are all unique beings. But the minute they do or say something we don't like, we judge them harshly and bear that grudge for a long while because we can't cope with our own disappointment.

2. We seek scapegoats for feeling inadequate or losing esteem because we always want to be 'right': People love to have someone to blame for their own shortcomings or the problems in their life. Most of all they also love to be right, they can never accept that it isn't about being right, but being appropriate and accommodating. Put those two aims together and it is easy to find people we can condemn when we do not wish to take responsibility for our own actions. Hence why we tend to be reluctant to forgive our scapegoats, anyone who has proved us 'wrong' and anyone we believe has behaved 'badly, according to our expectations.

3. We lack self love: When we don't love ourselves it is harder to love others as we can't give away what we don't have. When we have no self-love it is also harder to forgive others because the act of forgiveness is not really about others. It is about forgiving ourselves first and foremost for our unrealistic expectations and actions, then we can move outwards to others. Many people find it hard to forgive themselves, beating themselves up constantly instead of letting go and moving on, and so they avoid forgiving others too in order to justify their behaviour and to feel self-righteous.

Forgiveness is not easy to do sometimes but it comes from accepting that we all are capable of negative actions, we are all fallible beings who thrive more on love than hate and we are all guilty of something in our lives. To make ourselves feel better, especially when we are carrying a lot of guilt, it is always more handy to paint someone else as worse. But at the heart of forgiveness is love for the self and others. When we forgive, we not only prove the love we have as a person, but we also show that actions can always be changed as no one event represents the sum of our life. It's the person who remains constant and is always worthy of that forgiveness to help them on their journey.

Are you truly ready for love and romance? Test it and see!!


Many people believe that because they are single they are automatically ready for a relationship, but nothing could be further from the truth. We have to be ready emotionally and physically, and that emotional part is the hardest, especially when many people who are hurt tend to dwell in the past, hanging on to that hurt and lugging the negative emotional baggage around with them.

Some wish to link up with someone else but are not prepared to accommodate them. They tend to expect everything they desire from a relationship without giving much in return. But no relationship works like that. RECIPROCITY, give and take, is the hallmark of any partnership and when one is unprepared for the unselfishness of connecting with someone else, when it is just about one person, it is doomed from the beginning.

Test your readiness for a relationship, or any other problem you have at this revamped website, dedicated exclusively to RELATIONSHIPS, where all your questions are answered like:

What is Attraction?
How good is your Relationship?

There are also LOTS of advice on:
Finding a Soulmate
Online Dating
Why Relationships Fail
Cheating and Betrayal
Improving Relationships

Is it still possible to live happily ever after in this generation?


Anyone can live happily ever after if they really wish to but what stops us from doing that are the following key reasons:

First, our EXPECTATIONS: Those tend to be unrealistic for relationships. We live in a world where many people expect perfection in partners and what they desire. They do not want to have the patience, understanding and empathy to work at their friendship. So when their unrealistic expectations are not fulfilled, they genuinely believe it is just a matter of moving on to the next person with the same old pattern of behaviour. Naturally, they keep getting the same results.

Second, SELF-CENTREDNESS: At the heart of any successful relationship is reciprocity, simple give and take. If one partner is focusing 100% on their spouse's need and emotions, while the spouse also focuses 100% of the partner's need, that's a perfect relationship in the making because both will be giving and taking in equal measure. However, modern relationships tend to embrace the 'me' culture: What 'I' want, as opposed to thinking about what the other person wants, feels or desires. The result is that many people are only focusing on themselves Of course, they get little back from anyone else, or they find that they are focusing on others but getting very little back in return. Hence an awful lot of unhappy people in relationships of convenience and expediency.

Third, a lack of genuine LOVE and AFFECTION: People who are mean with praise, with appreciation and with reinforcement tend to be mean with themselves too. They probably find it difficult just to be expressive to the one they love, to make love much more than they criticise, to totally give themselves to others. Instead of the relationship being a very loving and affirming one, it tends to be very tense and full of angst as the couple skirt around each other, find fault constantly (those expectations again!) and whinge about each other instead of simply giving thanks, loving a lot and enjoying one another.

In a nutshell, people are afraid to love because they fear the consequences of that love. They fear they might be unhappy, they fear getting hurt and they fear losing control. So they retreat inside themselves and give very little to others. Seeking perfection, as they do, they expect a perfect relationship and find it very hard to cope when the other person proves him/herself to be human. So they get wrapped up in themselves instead, lonely people, hiding their emotions and veering towards the negative, with sad lives as a result.

We can all live happily ever after, if we wish to and are prepared to compromise, because I have had three awesome relationships so far. But many of us simply do not know how to be happy any more because, in our increasingly detached world, we are finding it really hard to truly care about others. In the end, we make our own happiness. We are responsible for our own lives. If we cannot live happily ever after with another person, we will find that the reason lies deep inside us!


(Photo images used on EmotionalHealthGuide.com courtesy of dreamstime free photos).