Celebrate getting older

We live in a society that seems to value youth (although not necessarily young people!). A fortune is spent on various ways of trying to make us look and feel younger. Whether or not that is money well spent is questionable, of course. Is it mainly another way of consumer capitalism getting us to spend our money? Well, it certainly fits with the idea that, if you want to make a lot of money, sell people things that they have ...

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Security is the ability to cope with insecurity

It is quite common for people to be rated according to how secure they are, especially people who are perceived to be low on any such rating scale – that is, people who are viewed as ‘insecure’. But what does it mean to refer to someone as ‘insecure’? Or as ‘secure’, for that matter?

The world is a very insecure place, in the sense that, as the old saying goes, the only certainties are death and taxes. No one knows what ...

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Both and, not either or

Unfortunately, there is very strong tendency for many people to think in black and white terms – a sort of ‘all or nothing’ approach. It is as if there is a strong urge to assign things to one category or another. This is what I call either/or thinking. Others have referred to it as ‘binary’ thought.

In reality, life is much more complex than that, and so either/or thinking prevents us from appreciating the subtleties of the situations we find ourselves ...

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Start here and now

Sadly, I have known several people who had various things they were keen to do when they retired, but died either before being able to retire or soon after they retired. What I learned from that is that I really must make space for the things I want to do and do them sooner rather than later. Putting all the eggs in the one basket of retirement is a risky strategy.

But it isn’t just about retirement – the issue is ...

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Celebrate your successes

Some you win, some you lose is a well-known saying. We can’t realistically expect to succeed in everything we do, so we have to learn to take the rough with the smooth, of course. However, my concern is that life can be so pressurised much of the time that we do not take the opportunity to savour those successes; we perhaps feel we are too busy to stop and focus on what has gone well because we are too busy ...

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Use mind maps

There are many occasions when it is useful, if not essential, to have a record of our thoughts and/or the events to which they relate. Some people seem never to make notes; they simply rely on their memory, which, of course, is not a wise strategy, as it involves leaving to chance what is recalled and what is not. Other people, I’m aware, make copious notes, but never refer to them again – they just file them away as if ...

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Let go – even if you can’t forgive

‘It’s important to forgive and forget’ is a widely used piece of folk wisdom. However, it’s not that simple. For someone to feel under pressure to forgive, they must have been hurt, betrayed or abused in some way. It is therefore questionable how realistic it is to expect someone to be able to find forgiveness in those circumstances. It can be not only unrealistic, but also unfair. To put someone under pressure to forgive when they are wrestling with the ...

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Be graceful

‘Grace’ has two main definitions. It can refer to elegance and poise. But it can also mean decency or honour. Both of these aspects can be helpful to us, especially the latter. Let’s consider each in turn.

A graceful person, in the first sense, is one who is unruffled, someone who can deal with trials and tribulations without breaking step. This can be a distinct advantage in relating to other people. It can help put them at their ease and help ...

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Manage your inhibitions

I have always had my doubts about the psychological notions of introversion and extroversion, as if we can simply pigeonhole people into one category or the other. Sociology teaches us that people will generally behave differently in different circumstances. Someone who may appear quite introverted and uncomfortable at a party, may come across as very extroverted when performing on stage for their local amateur dramatic society. Likewise, someone who is the life and soul of the party may be very ...

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Do something you don’t want to do

At the end of my first year at university, my tutor said to me: ‘Neil, you have a lot of strengths, but the trouble is that you are always playing to them’. He went on to explain that what he meant was that I was well aware of what I was good at and what I was not so good at, and I always headed straight for what I knew I could do well and steered clear of anything I ...

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