No-one actively dislikes vanilla, but they don’t adore it either!

all-in

When was the last time you asked someone what their favourite flavour of ice-cream was and they got all excited and started jumping up and down about plain ol’ vanilla?

What’s that? You love vanilla with the little black flecks in it? Me too! But that’s hardly plain old vanilla is it? 😉

Or, when was the last time you stood in front of a crowd of one thousand random people, told them your favourite joke, and they all laughed?

Ok, ok, poor example. I adore people but I would never tell my favourite joke to a random crowd that big. That would be terrifying! But, play along and pretend that you did, do you think they’d all get it?

Not likely. They might laugh because you’re laughing, or get swept along in the moment and chuckle, but the chances of a mixed bag of people all finding the same thing funny are low.

So why is it that we all too easily find ourselves a little surprised when someone doesn’t quite get us? Or, maybe that’s just me? 😉

It’s July 1st. Half of this delightful year has gone but there’s a whole other six months of it left still to play with.

What if, for the next six months, we practiced showing up like that ice-cream with the little flecks of vanilla pod in it? Or, blueberry cheesecake, cherry or even olive oil and pine nut ice-cream? (Yeah, I think that last one sounds kinda funky too, but I’d love to try it!)

Whatever flavour of ice-cream you are, however many or few or weird people dig you, what if, for the the next six months, you showed up, all in, all you?

Collect photos of cloud porn if that’s what floats your boat. Laugh loudly and deeply at Miranda while sipping a freshly ground flat white if that fills your heart with delight. Marvel at the wonder that is Hawkeye (pun totally intended!) if comic-book heroes are your thing.

Whoever you are and whatever it looks like to be all you, all in, I dare you to be that person for this second six months of 2015 and let’s see if that can help make it the best year ever.

Are you game? Fabulous! I look forward to playing along with you :-)

loveel

P.S. If you loved this, click here to get these daily happiness hits first before anyone else, straight to your inbox every week day morning.

Sometimes you have to throw out the list and just go with it ….

sand

So if you’ve been playing along, you’ll know that yesterday was a bit of a wobbly day. I woke up feeling pretty, hmmm, there’s no other word for it than ‘meh’ and it did not get any better until I acknowledged the feeling out loud.

That’s so not like me, I decided to poke at it with a stick a little and see what came out.

The short answer … good old, unexciting and totally unsexy uncertainty, that’s what.

Triggered by the shootings in Tunisia (the victims were having fun on holiday. I’m looking forward to going on holiday soon. Very loose connection but it doesn’t take much!) and fuelled by a fab idea I had for a whole other novel to the one I’m currently working on (I simultaneously both love and hate it when that happens!) my poor old brain did not stand a chance.

And (usually) ever the optimist, it left me feeling pretty shaky. (And yes, I know how lame that sounds, having those two massively contrasting events alongside each other. I never said that my brain was sensible!)

Everything I had planned for these little happiness hits this week felt contrived and silly (and not a good kind of silly!) and I felt totally lost.

And that’s when it hit me ….

Sometimes you have to give up the plans and the commitments and the expectations and just go with it.

Sometimes it needs you to go outside in the fresh air, to walk barefoot in the sand and to just be, for no other reason than to revel in how alive you really are.

Today is a gift.

And yes, it is a gift that I would love to have keep on giving tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that, but none of us knows just how many todays we have left so enjoy this day and all the wonder and delight it offers.

Throw out the lists.

Allow yourself space and time and freedom to breath really slowly and deeply. Smile. And love.

Because, like we said yesterday, when all else fails, love is the one thing this world can not get too much of. So don’t be shy about spreading it around a little.

Until tomorrow,

loveel

If you find yourself getting freaked out by all the bad news stories, read this.

love-ld

You remember how I told you last week that anyone who tells you they’re happy all of the time is either lying or bonkers? Well today, after a weekend of celebrations and happiness on social media (my entire Facebook feed is full of rainbows!) the reality of what’s happening in other parts of the world left me reeling.

It felt like a tale of two contrasts. Love and hate. Delight and despair. New families joined together while others were torn apart.

It left me feeling more ponderous and thoughtful than usual. Our British government tell us that we’re targets. There is an increase in violence across Europe. It’s being labelled the “struggle of our generation.”

And while history probably won’t prove you and I to be victims of this fight, I got to thinking if and how we might be part of a solution.

“What the world needs now, is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.”

Or so the song goes.

A couple of weeks ago it was my turn to do the preaching at church and I found myself in 1 John: “Let’s love one another, for love is from God … God is love.”

And this morning, as I was thinking about all of this stuff, I was reminded again of that statement. Sometimes it feels like we don’t know what to do, some days it can be really easy to get overwhelmed by the horrid stuff in this world but, if we can do nothing else, we can do love, right?

I mean, even when we’re having a bad day, we can do love.

And so today, as you get ready for a brand new week, I wanted to encourage you to do love, whatever that looks like in the context of who you come into contact with today.

Hug the people you care about. Smile at that random stranger on the street. Let her rabbit on about her weekend for an extra moment longer than you might ordinarily like to.

Do love. Because love wins :-)

loveel

If you struggle to smile every day, read this …

wonderful-world-ld

Happy Friday! :-) You may have gathered by now just how much I adore Fridays. They’re one of my favourite days of the week! :-)

I just figured out though why I love them so much. It’s not that there’s no work happening. It’s not the promise of a lie in tomorrow. It’s not even a glass of wine or an extra coffee at the end of the night.

I love Fridays because everyone is ever so slightly more relaxed and smiley. (I like to think of it as a mini-Christmas!) Even if it’s been a hard week, they remember to be thankful that at least it’s Friday.

Personally, I also love Fridays because I usually make a conscious decision to under-schedule the day. I’m not one for all that many meetings anyway but, if one is needed, it absolutely, definitely, will not happen on a Friday! 😉

Slowing down the pace a little, taking time to lift up your head and take a look around you at this crazy, wonderful world, having your eyes open to the delight right in front of you, it makes it sooo much easier to find things to smile about.

Do I dare also include another reminder about the reticular activating system? Hmmm, yes I dare. If you’ve heard me talk about this before (and remember what I said!) you deserve a medal and can skim over this bit. Otherwise, read on, cos this is cool!

The reticular activating system, also known as “blue car syndrome” is the reason why, when you find out you (or someone you love) is expecting a baby, you suddenly start seeing babies and people with pushchairs everywhere.

The reticular activating system is why, until I bought a bright yellow car, I never saw another yellow car on the road. Now they’re all over the place!

And the reticular activating system is why, if you start making a habit of looking out for and consciously noting the things in a day that are delightful, you start to notice them even more.

Your clever amazing brain, knowing that if every single stimuli that comes into your brain in a day were brought to your attention you’d go crazy, filters out the bits it deems unimportant. Stuff that is interesting or familiar or relevant to you, you see, hear and smell but everything else, gone.

But how does your brain know what is relevant to you? Most of it is done unconsciously (I don’t remember having a conversation with myself about yellow cars for example) but your brain is smart and it can be taught.

By making a conscious decision to pause and look around you and notice the things that are lovely in your world, your brain flags those things as important to you and, without you even asking it to, will start bringing more of those things into your consciousness.

Neat eh?

As an aside, the same thing is true of goals too. Twice this week I’ve noticed random people who will make a wonderful addition to my latest novel. (The first one is so delightful, he’s going to be the love interest. I can’t wait for you to meet him!) I don’t know these people. In the case of the first guy, I didn’t even speak to him, he was just a random stranger on the street, but my brain clearly knew more than I did and helpfully brought this potential lead character to my attention. Thank you brain :-)

You might have come across the phrase in the bible about being wonderfully made? It’s really not just a nice turn of phrase. You are brilliant and amazing! And every time I get to geek out on the reticular activating system I am reminded of just how true that is.

So, if you find it hard to smile or notice anything lovely, take heart dear one. All is not lost for you. Your brain can be taught.

Make a conscious choice to look around for something (anything!) lovely to smile about and, before you know it, you’ll start seeing more and more of these things in your day to day.

Sounds lovely doesn’t it? :-)

Give it a try and let me know how you get on and, in the meantime, keep smiling :-)

loveel

One thing you can totally say “no” to …

lights

Hiya and welcome to part two of “the game of yes” :-)

This is the “exception to the game” edition because, like I mentioned on Tuesday, there is one category of stuff in particular that I’m massively opposed to.

Can you guess what it might be? That’s right, it’s the dreaded ‘shoulds’.

Doing anything because you think you ought to is a horrible reason for doing it. Coupled with the expectations of others, ‘shoulds’ are the stuff of soul-eating nightmares.

Is it possible I’m being overdramatic? It might sound like it but really, think of it like this …

When was the last time you said you ‘should’ do something, and it was something that excited you or filled you with joy?

And when was the last time you said you ‘should’ do something, and you didn’t feel a sense of dread, regret or frustration?

Or how about when, after hearing you talk about something, a well-meaning friend or loved one said, “Oh, you should …” How did that work out for you?

It reminds me of that conversation we had at the end of last year about standing by what we actually think and believe, instead of saying what we should.

When you do what you want, stuff that lights you up and excites you, instead of what you think you should do, when you ditch the shoulds and be honest, you give the people around you permission to be real too.

And there is nothing more delightful and lovely in this world than people showing up the people they were born to be, all in, real. It’s the stuff of magic!

And so today I dare you, if only for one day, to pay attention to the words you use, ditch the shoulds, and do what lights you up.

Sound fun? Good! Get to it :-)

loveel

P.S. It’s Thursday. Tomorrow morning I’m heading to the post office with the latest El Post letter. If you love getting the envelopes without windows (because we all know windows mean a bill!) El Post is for you so click here to get it.

Limitations breed creativity. AKA: The real reason I love Twitter!

constraints

If you’ve ever heard yourself making the excuse that you can’t do thing x or y because of lack of time or talent (and thing x or y is actually something you’d love to do of course!) then today’s post is especially for you.

For the last seventy-something days I’ve been playing along with the 100 Day Project on Instagram. My creative thing for the duration has been a daily haiku, largely because, historically at least, I’ve been terrible at maintaining any sort of a challenge past the first week so I wanted to do something that I had at least a fair chance of sticking to!

It’s been fun and although, yes, I’ll be glad to have the freedom to say “Good Morning!” however I fancy once the 100 days are up, I realised this week that having those constraints in place has forced me to exercise my playful side a little more, as well as get creative.

Same with Twitter. I love playing with the characters, seeing how I can stretch and massage them to get as much meaning from the little space as possible.

All of which got me to thinking …

How many times do we decide to put off starting something, simply because we don’t have enough time or ability or energy? (Leaving aside that all of which are massively subjective of course!) If the things we put off aren’t all that important to our mental, spiritual or physical well-being then it’s not that big a deal of course.

But what if you’re putting off stuff that would make a day feel delightful?

What if that thing you’re relegating to “some day, one day, maybe, I wish!” is actually really vital to you?

Why would you not do that stuff??

Oh, you don’t have a full hour to dedicate to it and you’re probably not the best at it anyway plus, you didn’t sleep well last night so maybe it would be better to do it another time.

Nooooo! If you wait until the perfect time you’ll be waiting forever! It’s time to work with the constraints and do it anyway. You only have thirty one minutes? So what? You can do a lot in thirty-one minutes.

You’re not an expert at it? Whatever ‘it’ is, me either! 😉 Is it fun to you? Does doing it make you lose all sense of time? Does it light you up? Great! Sounds like the perfect reason to add more of it to your day :-)

Constraints breed creativity. It’s time to work those boundaries to your best advantage and start doing more of what makes you smile.

Ready? Get to it! :-)

loveel

P.S. El Post ships in two days time. Consider this your penultimate reminder. Just saying 😉

What if you said yes? (But only for one day!)

magic

Good morning lovely and welcome to a brand new day :-)

So I have a post on half which I’ve been struggling with, a lot, all about the power of saying no. That might get finished, one day, but here’s where I’m at ….

Saying “no” to some things is really important, there’s one category of stuff in particular that I personally am massively opposed to (we’ll dig into that one on Thursday) but I also love the freedom to say “yes!”

Saying “yes” when my youngest daughter asks if she can bake a cake on a Sunday afternoon.

Saying “yes” when my husband proposes a day of fun.

Saying “yes” when my boy wants an extra hug.

Those are all super easy things to say “yes” to (even if I’m the one left cleaning up the mess when my daughter is done!)

And so this thought popped in my head …

What if, for just one day, we played with saying “yes” to anything and everything that is asked of us?

(I’ll give you a pass on anything illegal or life-threatening but really, when was the last time something like was asked of you anyway?!?)

Leaving room in your day to day for those unexpected yeses makes space for magic, potentially at least.

It might not lead to anything wonderful or unexpected. You might find your day carries on, just like normal. But you won’t know unless you try. And so that, my love, is your challenge for today, if you choose to accept it! 😉

Because sure, saying no is powerful, but saying yes is magic!

Are you ready to play? Great! I can’t wait to hear what happens :-)

loveel

P.S. One word of warning: It’s probably best not to tell anyone that you’re playing this game. You wouldn’t want them taking advantage of it! 😉

P.P.S. El Post ships this Friday. If you want practice saying an easy “yes” click here to find out more and get signed up.

Happiness is not a destination …

happy

Hiya, happy Monday! And welcome to a brand new week! :-) After a bit of a turbulent end to last week, I’ve been pondering a lot about happiness over the last few days.

It’s really easy to get focussed on goals and ambitions and future plans, so much so that we slip into this pattern of thinking, “I’ll be happy when …”

And sure, ideally, when you do the stuff you’re aiming for then yes, you will be happy (if not, why are you even bothering to aim for it?!?) but who says we can’t be happy, right now, today?

Since when is our happiness dictated by our proximity to realising our ambitions?

Ambitions are tricky beasts anyway. Maybe yours are neatly typed (and laminated!) but I find myself tweaking and adjusting as I go, if not weekly, then at least every month or so. If my happiness is tied to realising ambitions I might never smile again! 😉

So what’s the alternative?

Life is messy and yes, sometimes it makes us cry, and there are days that we’ll get to the end of that we’ll be soooo glad to see the back of, but despite that, what if you chose to smile every day?

What you smile at is the stuff of a whole other conversation (yes, we’ll be having that one later in the week. Fear not.) but just now, for today, I want to challenge you to actively look for something to smile about.

It might be something silly or tiny or even something you created for yourself (I smile every time I put on a squish of my favourite perfume because it smells so delightful) but what that something is is largely irrelevant.

It’s time to ditch the happiness destination and choose to allow ourselves joy and delight and loveliness in every single day.

You game?

loveel

P.S. The next edition of El Post goes out this week and it’s all about happiness hacks. I’d love to share it with you. Click here to find out more and get signed up.

If your life were an advert, what promises would you make?

sunlight

Well hello there. Happy Friday! It’s been a crazy 10 days and I’ve never been gladder (if that’s even a word!) to greet Friday with a great big hug and a smoochy wet kiss!

And after messing around with my website yesterday and getting all excited about the pretty colours on Facebook last night, I woke up thinking about promises. Specifically the promises I make about this blog and the daily email. (Stories and inspiration to help you smile and be you.)

This might sound kinda crazy but sometimes, when I start one of these and it’s just not flowing, I go back to my site, to remind myself of the promises I’ve made you.

And as I was thinking about that this morning, another thought popped in my head …

“What are the promises that we want our day to day lives to deliver?”

Like, if you show up in my little corner of the universe, what can you expect to find? And, if I show up in yours, what does that look like? Who would you most like to show up as? How does she speak, think, walk and be?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again … you can be anyone.

And yes, I’d most love it if you showed up as you, but there is no neatly packaged definition of what it means to be you. You’re a multi-dimensional, big, complicated space-time event. What does it look like to be you?

This world is full of dark stuff. There are tragedies and horrors happening on a daily basis. Some we hear about, others slip past the attention of everyone except those it actually happens to.

What if you putting a smile on your face and greeting today with joy helped shine a little light into the darkness? [Click to Tweet]

It might sound naive and sure, when we’re surrounded by bad news stories it can feel pointless and like it doesn’t make any difference at all, but please, never underestimate the difference you can make with a simple smile.

A smile transforms even the most severe of faces. There’s a reason for that! 😉

So here’s to you my lovely. May you infect your world with delight today, simply by being you.

loveel

P.S. If you love this, click here to get these little hits of happy, direct to your inbox each week day morning.

If too many of your 50,000 thoughts per day are taken up with worrying, read this …

winding-road

Gooood morning  and welcome to a brand new day. I hope the sun is shining where you are this morning (unless you’re in California. I hear you guys could use the rain!) and that you’re having yourself a delightful start to the day.

I’m on my second flat white of the morning so you can be sure it’s going to be a good day in Chez El! 😉

So you remember a few days ago I mentioned that I’d started running again? (Incidentally, calling it ‘running’ might be being a bit generous but hey, practicing being kind to myself!)

Anyways, the alarm went off at silly o’clock this morning and, as much as I’m an early bird, after being up late with a poorly 10 year old, the temptation to roll over and go back to sleep was just too much.

I was all set to enjoy an extra hour in bed but then the sun came up and my bladder started calling to me. OK, I’m up, I thought. I might as well do this. And so I did. And it was delightful. And yes, hard work, but did I mention delightful? Yeah, that :-)

As I was plodding along the path by the beach, a little bird caught my eye. He was darting about, having a grand ol’ time, only to be joined by a pal. (Apparently flying is soooo much more fun when you have company. Who’d have known it eh?)

I carried on doing my thing, thinking about the day to come, and chatting with God about it a bit too. I love to run without any music, largely because this is my only real dent of peace and quiet in the day so me and the big guy often enjoy the sun rise together.

And I got to chatting with him about work stuff. Options and decisions and what to do next type stuff and as I was thinking through all of that, the winged duo caught my attention again and this whole other thought popped in my head …

“Look at those two, flitting along, not a care in the world. If I’ve got them covered (and yes, I totally have) then I’ve got you covered too.”

Or in other words: chill out, don’t worry, I got this.

That’s easy to write, but not so easy to live by but, despite that, I couldn’t escape the reminder that you and I aren’t playing this game alone. We don’t have to know all the answers or have all the pieces in place, we just need to take the very next step forward, and then the one after that, and the one after that.

And sure, sometimes we feel like we’re taking a curly whirly route but you know what? The view is soooo much nicer on the scenic route! 😉

loveel