Latest Posts

It’s Time to Talk!

Today is Time to Talk Day. A day to break the silence around mental health and get people talking about their struggles.

Starting a small conversation with someone today, even opening up about your own battles with mental health, could help to change a life. The more we share and show our vulnerabilities, the quicker we can erase the stigma and help those in need.

In words of Gandhi ‘be the change you wish to see in the world‘.

FINAL

What makes you happy?

Last night my co-leader Andy and I hosted week one of the Action for Happiness course Exploring What Matters.  An eight week course designed to bring communities together to explore the things that really matter for a happy and meaningful life. The course involves  watching videos, carrying out positive psychology interventions (things proven to make us happier!) along with lots of group discussion and sharing.

Backed by the Dalai Lama it aims to spread happiness and joy, starting with individuals within our communities, who commit to doing as much as they can to help others and reduce misery.

Each session has a theme based on big questions and last night along with our 20 attendees, we explored What really matters in life? Is it money or success? A thriving family home full of love and support? Or simply safety, warmth and food on the table? One of the first surprising facts we learnt is less than 1% of our happiness is affected by our income (our group guessed 10-25%). This is measured by government polls. So even though the US economy has experienced decades of strong economic growth, there has been no increase in the average levels of happiness over the past 50 years. Pretty shocking don’t you think? Clearly our current culture which values success and wealth over all else, is fundamentally flawed. Why aren’t we prioritising the stuff that actually does impact our happiness?

As a group we imagined ourselves towards the very end of our lives, looking back on all the things we’ve done with our time on earth – the things we were most proud of and grateful for. Then we asked what advice our future selves would give us now about what really matters in life and made some notes. (What advice would your future self give you about what really matters? Any surprises?) This powerful exercise reminded me of a great article by Susie Steiner in the Guardian a few years back titled Top five regrets of the dying.

Richard Layard, co-founder of Action for Happiness and Head of the Wellbeing Programme at London School of Economics, believes happiness is the ultimate good and caring about the happiness of others is the starting point for a better society. We watched his thought-provoking Tedtalk found here and then shared our own opinions and ideas about what really matters and what actions we can take to be a bit happier!  Our group, a warm and open bunch from all walks of life, was full of creative and interesting ideas some of which I would love to share with you –

  • Reduce our desires, lower our expectations and  therefore, simplify our lives
  • Be kind – it goes a long way!
  • Accept sadness and negative emotions – i.e. accepting that negative emotions are a natural part of being human and everyone experiences them so they shouldn’t be avoided or pushed aside
  • Stop trying so hard and cultivate contentment
  • Trust others
  • Increase the focus on emotional intelligence in both our culture and education system
  • Realise the negative impact of social media and how much we compare ourselves to others

What might you add to this list? What’s one small action you’ll take this week? 

Next week’s topic is What actually makes us happy? Join me to hear how it went or you can sign up and take part in your own course. More information can be found here.

Alphabet of the Heart

For those meditators amongst you, you’ll be interested to hear about the Alphabet of the Heart – a mnemonic meditation exercise created by Dr James R. Doty, M.D, founder and director of the Centre for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University.

The exercise was created by Dr. Doty as a reminder of the 10 steps towards the journey of compassion and mindfulness. Attributes that need to be cultivated to live a happy, meaningful and altruistic life. These include Compassion, Dignity, Equanimity, Forgiveness, Gratitude, Humility, Integrity, Justice, Kindness and Love. 

The exercise involves running through each letter during our daily meditation practise. With reflect for a time on each attribute, manifest the intention, and as a result, cultivate more of it in our everyday lives.

You can hear Dr. Doty explaining the creation of the exercise here and there’s also a full podcast series including personal reflections, research on each attribute and practical tips to cultivate that specific attribute found here.

 

alphabet-of-the-heart

Reflect, Recharge & Redefine for 2017

On Saturday 7th January 2017, Technotox is delighted to be hosting a one day urban retreat to get your mind, body and soul recharged and focused on the year ahead.

Together with expert nutritionist and pilates instructor Ruth Tongue, we’ve created a day of nourishing, energising activities combined with personal development and style workshops, so you can treat yourself at the same time as growing yourself.

What’s Included?

Energising Pilates Class
Personal Goal Setting Workshop
Raw Vegan Cookery Class 
Mindfulness Meditation
Style, Personal Branding & Confidence Workshop
Healthy Lunch, Snacks & Refreshments
Stretch and Unwind Finish 

We’ll kick-start the morning with an energising pilates class followed by a raw vegan cookery class from our expert Nutritionist and Sport Stylist ambassador, Ruth Tongue.

Lucy Faulks, CPCC life coach and founder of Technotox, will then host a reflection and goal setting workshop. Using tools and techniques to assess where you are at the start of the year, and encourage you to look forward to where you want to go in 2017. You’ll then create a set of achievable, measurable goals to get you there. She’ll also look at energy levels and identify activities that nourish and drain us.

We’ll then take a break for a healthy lunch provided by our sponsors. And after lunch, Lucy will lead a guided mindfulness meditation to help clear the mind, reduce stress and promote positive emotions.

In the afternoon we have a style, personal branding and confidence workshop from Tanja Mrnjaus – a qualified international stylist, fashion consultant and author. And to round the day off we’ll finish with a stretch.

Eventbrite - Reflect, Recharge & Redefine for 2017

Early bird tickets £85 (limited)
General tickets £95
Includes drinks, snacks, lunch and a goody bag.

STRICTLY LIMITED AVAILABILITY. BOOK EARLY TO AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT. 

Mindfulness + Kindness = Kindfulness

After yesterday’s result, we felt a big dose of Kindfulness was needed today. So we’re delighted to share with you details of a FREE 7 day online Kindfulness course run by the Awake Academy.

Ajahn Brahm created the term “Kindfulness” which is the result of adding kindness to our mindfulness practise and opening our hearts to others as well as ourselves. Kindfulness encourages relaxation, is an antidote to stress and allows healing to happen.

Register for the free course here.

Mindfulness Course

 

Poetry Friday

Self-Observation Without Judgement 

Release the harsh and pointed inner
voice. It’s just a throwback to the past,
and holds no truth about this moment.

Let go of self-judgment, the old,
learned ways of beating yourself up
for each imagined inadequacy.

Allow the dialogue within the mind
to grow friendlier, and quiet. Shift
out of inner criticism and life
suddenly looks very different.

I can say this is only because I make
the choice a hundred times a day
to release the voice that refuses to
acknowledge the real me.

What’s needed here isn’t more
prodding toward perfection, but
intimacy – seeing clearly, and
embracing what I see.

Love, not judgement, sows the
seeds of tranquility and change.

by Danna Faulds

A Wise Cherokee Tale

The Tale of Two Wolves

An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandson about life… 

”A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. 
”It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.” “One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.

” “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.

” “This same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked, “Which wolf will win Grandfather?”

 The old chief simply replied, 
”The one you feed.

10 Keys to Happier Living

To celebrate World Mental Health Day earlier this month, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) collaborated with Action for Happiness to produce a “10 Keys to Happier Living” poster. Listing everyday actions to boost wellbeing and improve your mental health.

It’s a wonderful tool to print out and refer to when you’re feeling a bit low or out of kilter. You could even check it every day and take positive action to protect your mental health.

Download a printable pdf here –  10-keys-to-happier-living

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10 Ways to Outsmart your Smartphone

  1. Keep your phone on charge away from your bed
    It’s so tempting to check emails just that one last time before bed, or thumb straight for social media apps as soon as you’ve turned off your alarm. So put a stop to these unhealthy autopilot habits by charging your phone away from your bedside.
  2. Buy an alarm clock
    Yep you heard right, a battery operated alarm clock! Stave off the temptation to check emails first thing in the morning, by keeping them out of reach and don’t rely on them to wake you up!
  3. Erase social media apps
    You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can break the habit of automatically flicking through all your social media apps every time you pick up your phone.
  4. Remove multiple email accounts
    Our bosses might be livid, but surely you aren’t paid enough to be on call 24 hours a day? To be answering emails at 10pm or on the tube into work? Respect your sanity (and savour your free time) by deleting any possible email accounts from your phone now. Go on be ruthless!
  5. Check emails at set times throughout the day
    Research shows that checking emails at set times through the day (e.g. first thing in the morning, just after lunch and an hour before the end of the day) can help reduce stress levels. This is because awareness of an ever-growing inbox can create overwhelm and affect our concentration. Making it impossible to focus solely on the email we’re writing in that very moment. Not checking our inbox every time we see new mail arrive, removes this stress and helps us stay focused.
  6. Learn to screen emails 
    Most emails are useless marketing driven messages anyway, so learn to prioritise and delete emails quickly and efficiently. Swipe, swipe, swipe!
  7. Think before you CC!
    There’s nothing worse than being included in unnecessary email chains, so think before you cc an endless list of colleagues and be considerate of their email stress!
  8. Don’t forget to call
    The luxury of emails, whatsapp and text messages means we often forget to use our phones to actually speak to people directly. It can even feel a little daunting when we haven’t done it for a while.
    Don’t let yourself lose the art of conversation by picking up the phone once in a while and connect voice to voice.
  9. Do not Disturb
    Don’t forget about the Do Not Disturb function your phone (Settings > Do Not Disturb > Scheduled), in fact why not schedule an hour or two a day two be alone and catch up with yourself?
  10. Add our “Put Your Phone Down” wallpaper to your home screen! 

Put Your Phone Down

Improve your Focus, Reduce Stress and Boost Creativity

Can you find 10 minutes this weekend to begin your meditation journey?
Scientists have proved that meditation enhances mental performance by improving focus and concentration. It also boosts our creativity and self-acceptance, encourages empathy and boosts our immunity. Counterbalancing the detrimental effects of stress and anxiety. (For more benefits see here).

If you’re keen to kick-start your learning and want to see how meditation could impact your life, we’ve created a 10 minute audio guide to help you navigate one of the trickiest first steps – learning to focus the breath. Those with highly active, inquisitive minds will know just how difficult it can be to silence the endless chatter, but with a little help and a lot of patience, it can be done!

And if you feel like you’re ready to try a 5 minute mindfulness meditation, why not give this one a try.