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Bad habits


How many bad habits did your last New Year’s Resolutions involve?

  • Smoking?
  • Nail biting?
  • Overeating?
  • Drinking too much?

Are you serious about something about them for good? Why not decide its time to chuck those bad habits and introduce a new, more "blingy" you for modern times.

"Hah – easy for you!" – I hear you say. "Not easy – too darned hard – tried too many times – never worked".

I am not going to promise you any easy fix. There will be no "Just put on this subliminal disc and give up smoking while you sleep" stuff. This will involve sustained effort. Most behavioural experts will tell you it takes 28 days to reverse a bad, unhealthy, or irritating-to-others habit.

Think of it as a change in lifestyle – like a weight loss program. You know if it's taken you two years to put on ten kilos you’re not going to take it off in a week, unless it involves some pretty radical surgery (perhaps not to be recommended). We know we have to knuckle down to a sensible diet and exercise to achieve weight loss. So why shouldn’t we expect to put the same effort and commitment into other habits we want to get rid of.

How to say NO

For many of us, we find this excruciatingly painful.  Here are some suggestions.  Sticking up for yourself might feel uncomfortable at first but you’ll get used to it.

  • Be sure you really want to say no first. Is the thing you’re saying NO to unfair or unreasonable? Or do you just not want to do it? It makes a difference.
  • If you’re not sure, don’t make a rash decision. You can always ask for more time to respond or ask for clarification of the request.
  • If you decide to say NO, say it briefly and clearly. Don’t over-explain or go on and on trying to rationalize your decision. This could be used to talk you out of it since you will come across as being indecisive.
  • Don’t be coy with words; use the word "no". "No" is more powerful and clearer than "Well, I just don't think so..."
  • Make sure your body language is in line with your words. Often we unconsciously nod and smile when we’re actually saying “No”. It gives mixed messages.

Why is it so hard to be happy?

Why is it so hard to be happy? People are often puzzled as to why happiness doesn't happen to them more often – or as much as it seems to happen to others.

Clue number:

  1. Is the origin of the word itself, and
  2. How the brain creates happiness as an emotion

How would you like to have no option but to relax?

Breathing your way out of Stress and Anxiety

There us a special type of breathing which does just this.  This method of breathing is ‘conscious’ – that is, it’s not the breathing you simply do to stay alive, it’s deliberate and can be done at any time, not just when you feel stressed to anxious.  Be pro-active!

Relaxing breathing means breathing not into your chest but deep into your tummy or diaphragm which is below your chest.

The secret is that the out breath must be longer than the in breath.

How to strengthen your will power and self-control

Will power seems like an old-fashioned notion to many people now - a Victorian 'stiff upper lip' thing. But having the ability to hold ourselves back from behaviours, a habit or a thought, is a tremendous skill and there are ways to improve it – build up your 'mental muscle'.

Recently I heard an interview with Professor Roy Baumeister – author of the book 'Willpower', concerning the science of self-control.

Regular readers of my newsletter will know the emphasis I place on mindfulness in my therapy; not just being in the present moment, but also to use the 'observational self' (as I call it) to make decisions about what we choose to do or think about in our lives – so in this context it could also be thought of as will power or self-control.

So what does science have to tell us about self-control?

Studies show that it takes energy to exercise will power or self-control, so you need to manage your energy including eating properly and getting a good night's sleep.

It also shows that our willpower/self-control wears off as the day progresses – also it becomes harder to make decisions. For example a study in Israel of sentences from judges regarding granting parole to those who are convicted, showed there was less chance of parole as the day he went on.

Why do some people just seem to have more willpower/self-control than others?

Ten steps towards enjoying life

Here's a ten-step routine to help you stop and reload:


Seven ways to make your brain work better and keep it working better

Here are some simple methods to keep your brain healthy and working well.


5 ways to beat winter blues and cheer up

Here in Melbourne, Australia we're halfway through a pretty cold and bleak winter and many of us tend to get a bit 'blue'.  Some have a more serious problem, SAD, or Seasonally Affected Disorder', which is an unfortunate change of body chemistry due mainly to lack of sunlight, and can be hard to overcome.

However, most of us can do something to cheer ourselves up, so here are some of my favourite ways ...

How Can I be Happy? - 10 Ways to a Happier You

How can I be happy is a good question. We know that when people are happier, they’re less stressed and therefore less likely to get sick, mentally, emotionally or physically. So why do people need to even ask the question?  Why aren’t we just naturally happy?

One answer is that the brain is not designed to be happy; it’s designed to make us worry and therefore keep us from harm by constantly warning us about the dangers of the world. To the brain, especially the stressed brain, these dangers are everywhere! If you have a more easy-going personality/temperament, happiness comes easier.

Is happiness an unnatural state then? Well no, it’s just that we need to work harder at it. If happiness grew on trees then we would at least have to climb to pick the fruit.

So here are 10 ways to climb the tree of happiness