Apr 13

Beware of Tuesdays. And October.

haig-unfathomable

Author Matt Haig spent most of his twenties in the grip of severe and debilitating depression. He shares his experience in his fabulous book ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’. It’s a powerful work giving a real insight into what depression really feels like – neither descending into self absorption nor trivialising the blackness and despair. And even those of us who have been fortunate enough never to live in a world where even hope is missing – well, we will learn how to face the darkness too.

Towards the end of the book Matt shares his advice on how to live – “forty pieces of advice I feel to be helpful but which I don’t always follow”.

  1. Appreciate happiness when it is there.
  2. Sip, don’t gulp.
  3. Be gentle with yourself. Work less. Sleep more.
  4. There is absolutely nothing in the past that you can change. That’s basic physics.
  5. Beware of Tuesdays. And Octobers.
  6. Kurt Vonnegut was right. ‘Reading and writing are the most nourishing forms of meditation anyone has so far found.’
  7. Listen more than you talk.
  8. Don’t feel guilty about being idle. More harm is probably done to the world through work than idleness. But perfect your idleness. Make it mindful.
  9. Be aware that you are breathing.
  10. Wherever you are, at any moment, try and find something beautiful. A face, a line out of a poem, the clouds out of a window, some graffiti, a wind farm. Beauty cleans the mind.
  11. Hate is a pointless emotion to have inside you. It is like eating a scorpion to punish it for stinging you.
  12. Go for a run. Then do some yoga.
  13. Shower before noon.
  14. Look at the sky. Remind yourself of the cosmos. Seek out vastness at every opportunity, in order to see the smallness of yourself.
  15. Be kind.
  16. Understand that thoughts are thoughts. If they are unreasonable, reason with them, even if you have no reason left. You are the observer of your mind, not its victim.
  17. Do not watch TV aimlessly. Do not go on social media aimlessly. Always be aware of what you are doing, and why you are doing it. Don’t value TV less. Value it more. Then you will watch it less. Unchecked distractions will lead you to distraction.
  18. Sit down. Lie down. Be still. Do nothing. Observe. Listen to your mind. Let it do what it does without judging it. Let it go, like the Snow Queen in Frozen.
  19. Don’t worry about things that probably won’t happen.
  20. Look at trees. Be near trees. Plant trees. (Trees are great.)
  21. Listen to that yoga instructor on YouTube, and ‘walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet’.
  22. Live. Love. Let go. The three Ls.
  23. Alcohol maths. Wine multiplies itself by itself. The more you have, the more you are likely to have. And if it’s hard to stop at one glass, it will be impossible at three. Addition is multiplication.
  24. Beware of the gap. The gap between where you are and where you want to be. Simply thinking of the gap widens it. And you end up falling through.
  25. Read a book without thinking about finishing it. Just read it. Enjoy every word, sentence, and paragraph. Don’t wish for it to end, or for it to never end.
  26. No drug in the universe will make you feel better, at the deepest level, than being kind to other people.
  27. Listen to what Hamlet – literature’s most famous depressive – told Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. ‘There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.’
  28. If someone loves you, let them. Believe in that love. Live for them, even when you feel there is no point.
  29. You don’t need the world to understand you. It’s fine. Some people will never really understand things they haven’t experienced. Some will. Be grateful.
  30. Jules Verne wrote of the ‘Living Infinite’. This is the world of love and emotion that is like a ‘sea’. If we can submerge ourselves in it, we find infinity in ourselves, and the space we need to survive.
  31. Three in the morning is never the time to try and sort out your life.
  32. Remember that there is nothing weird about you. You are just a human, and everything you do and feel is a natural thing, because we are natural animals. You are nature. You are a hominid ape. You are in the world and the world is in you. Everything connects.
  33. Don’t believe in good or bad, or winning and losing, or victory and defeat, or up and down. At your lowest and at your highest, whether you are happy or despairing or calm or angry, there is a kernel of you that stays the same. That is the you that matters.
  34. Don’t worry about the time you lose to despair. The time you will have afterwards has just doubled its value.
  35. Be transparent to yourself. Make a greenhouse for your mind. Observe.
  36. Read Emily Dickinson. Read Graham Greene. Read Italo Calvino. Read Maya Angelou. Read anything you want. Just read. Books are possibilities. They are escape routes. They give you options when you have none. Each one can be a home for an uprooted mind.
  37. If the sun is shining, and you can be outside, be outside.
  38. Remember that they key thing about life on earth is change. Cars rust. Paper yellows. Technology dates. Caterpillars become butterflies. Nights morph into days. Depression lifts.
  39. Just when you feel you have no time to relax, know that this is the moment you most need to make time to relax.
  40. Be brave. be strong. Breathe, and keep going. You will thank yourself later.

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

Jan 17

Finding the big happy

big happy

It’s been a busy weekend for me. my friend is celebrating ten years running her dance school, so it was all stops out for the celebration weekend. which went a bit like this:

Motorcycle 20 miles to van rental. Arrive late. Too late. Motorcycle 50 miles to dance venue instead of going in van. Lay dance floor and set up event. Run event til 3am. Pick up dance floor and tear down event. Motorcycle (brr) 10 miles to hotel. Get two hours sleep. Wake up, motorcycle 40 miles to van rental (even more brr). Get van. Drive 50 miles back to dance venue. Put floor in van. Drive 20 miles to gala dinner venue. Lay floor and set up event. Run event til midnight, eat dinner, hand out prizes, dance. Pick up dance floor and tear down event. Load van. Drive 20 miles to hotel. Get 6 hours sleep. Wake up, drive 10 miles unload floor out of van. And have breakfast, go for a walk. and feel very very happy. If very slightly exhausted.

The previous few days I’ve spent plotting with some others and preparing one or two surprises for my friend, who promptly bursts into tears. Fortunately, these are happy tears.

And today, I feel deeply deeply content, deeply deeply peaceful and deeply deeply happy. I feel totally ‘on purpose’ and fulfilled. I’ve not advanced my life a great deal.. but I have helped about a hundred and fifty people – people from all walks of life, with different backgrounds, different abilities – have a fabulous weekend – building confidence, laughing, feeling good. and helped my friend feel loved, fulfilled and proud of what she’s achieved.

And this seems to be where the big happy can be found – as we find ways to make those around us happy, as we find ways to help them fulfil their goals, find their path, become more confident, live their dreams – as we cry with them, laugh with them, grieve with them. as we help them find their own big happy, then the big happy finds us.

My life isn’t about me – it’s about all the people that I come into contact with, from my closest friends and family to the supermarket cashier and the hotel receptionist. Your life isn’t about you, either – it’s about everyone that you brush up against during the day, about each of the people that you meet, no matter how fleetingly, and in every moment have the chance to bring life, and joy, and hope, and peace – the chance to help them see themselves through the eyes of love.

May the big happy seek you out, track you down, and wrap its arms around you this week.

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

Apr 01

What do you love?

loud-hailer

There are things that excite each one of us, that consume us. My dancing friends continually share stories of dancing, quotes about dancing, videos of dancers, thoughts on dancing. My friends with children share pictures of their youngsters. or their grandchildren. Those newly in love will talk excitedly about their lover, about their plans, their hopes, their dreams. The photographer will talk in numbers – of apertures and lenses, of pixel counts and ISO factors. The computer geek will murmur of throughputs and processor power, frame rates and bandwidth.

And I share all of those things too – I get excited about technology, and about dancing, and about my family. I get excited about the beautiful woman who has become part of my life. I can talk for hours about stories and movies, about books, about language. about things that bring me joy, that fill me with happiness.

And that’s why I share this stuff. These thoughts on life and on love. These riffs on beingness and on wisdom (mostly, it has to be said, other people’s wisdom!). Because it gives me joy to do so. I don’t pretend to have the answers.. as Andy Piercy wrote in After The Fire’s song “Time To Think” – “I’m just a student on the on the path of life – I’m just somebody seeking out the truth”.

When I was a little younger, my identity was as a father. Being a great Dad consumed me, consumed my time, consumed my energy. More recently, as my sons make their own way in the world, I have let go of that, even if I will never let go of that fierce love that binds the three of us together. And I find other things to be passionate about now.

What makes your heart sing? What brings you joy? What makes you happy? What do you love to do? What is it that, when you’re doing it, everything seems effortless, and time just seems to spiral away without you noticing the hours slip away?

Whatever that is. go do more of it. Forget balance and restraint. Do more of what brings you joy. Because chances are that that will bring joy to others too. And as Confucius said;

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Mar 25

You can be “Happier Than God”

In his marvellous book “Happier than God”, Neale Donald Walsch explains the simple secrets to happiness:

Bring an end to Separation Theology. God is not ‘over there’ while man is ‘over here’. We are each an individuation of God, and as such there is no need to find a way to ‘please God’.

Stay in touch with who you are. You are not your body, but a soul travelling with the body to Joy.

Give others the experience you seek. The best way to have any experience is to cause others to have that experience. So if you want to experience Who You Are then help others to have that experience. If you wish to experience love, give love to others. If you wish to be prosperous, assist others in building their prosperity. And so on.

Be clear that nothing you see is real. You are creating your own experience. What is happening is what is happening, but how you are experiencing is something that you are making up.

Decide that you are not your ‘story’. You are not the events that have happened to you, and the reality you have created about the type of person you are. You can drop the story at any time and choose who you want to be in the moment of now.

Have only preferences. Enjoy life as it is presenting itself right now – you don’t need to demand that it be a certain way to be happy.

See the perfection. Judge not, neither condemn. You have drawn the events and the people that you have before you right now, and we use this moment to fulfil life’s potential.

Bypass the drama. Nothing has meaning save the meaning we give it.

Understand sadness. Sadness is not unhappiness, and sadness does not have to make you unhappy. You can experience sadness and grief in the moment which expands the richness of life’s experience, without it changing your life’s happiness.

Stop arguing with life. Stop judging your experiences – what has happened, what is happening, and what you think might happen. It’s OK to observe “what’s so”.

Drop all expectations. Forget about how things ‘should’ be. Expectations place limits on our definition of perfection.

Have compassion for yourself. Don’t make yourself ‘wrong’ even if you feel you deserve it. You are not your past, not even who you were a moment ago.

Speak your truth as soon as you know it. Do not hide your personal truth, your authentic feelings, your here and now experience, least of all from your dearest loved ones. You can share the most difficult truth gently.

Watch the energies, catch the vibe. Pay attention to life’s energies. Match your resonance inside with your resonance outside.

Smile. Smile for no good reason.

Sing. Connect the mind with the heart.

Know what to do when things are really bad. Which is.. do not resist what is occurring. What you resist, persists. Accept the energy, because you can heal it. No matter how bad things get, the interior of you cannot be affected by that which is exterior to you.. unless you decide to let it.

Worth thinking about..