Make 3 New Friends

This is kind of a strange unnatural thing to do as an adult, I have my set of friends and I often struggle to find the time to maintain these friendships well. Yet I know that new friendships increase happiness for yourself and the other person by providing a link to new interests, opportunities and activities as well as being a source of information and support.

Gretchen Rubin in her book the Happiness project suggests that setting a numerical goal for yourself can help you get into the right mind-set. She has made the following checklist to help encourage positive first encounters with the best chance of success.

  • Open A Conversation: Talk about the immediate circumstances.
  • Create A Positive Mood: Don’t complain or focus attention on negatives.
  • Actively Invite Others To Join A Conversation: This is appreciated by all as the person outside the conversation is relieved to be in & the person in feels good that this polite gesture has been made.
  • Smile More Frequently: how much you smile in a conversation has a direct effect on how friendly you are perceived to be.
  • Try To Look Accessible & Warm: Nod & say “Uh-huh”, lean forward, catch every word, have good eye contact, use an enthusiastic tone & match the other persons speed of speech. Do not look around the room, extent your legs or turn your body away from them.
  • Laugh At Yourself: Not only does this show that you have a sense of humour but it also shows a more vulnerable side which makes you seem likeable & approachable.
  • Show A Rediness To Be Pleased: Its important to allow yourself to be amused & interested as most people are delighted by the pleasure of pleasing another person.
  • Follow Others Conversational Leads: You should cooperate when you can tell that a person wants to talk about a certain issue.
  • Ask Questions: Its a way to show interest & engagement & most people love to talk about themselves.
  • Find A Friend In Common: It is easier to friend someone who is already a friend of a friend. People find it energising & comforting to feel that they are building social networks through their new friendships.


Don’t Gossip

Its not until you try to give this up that you begin to realise just how much you do it. Its hard to give up too, not only does it just slip out but it comes in so many subtle forms and people will actively get upset with you for not participating in their gossiping. Be strong though, as I am trying to be, just think what a great place the world would be if each of us could just give up this one bad habit.

According to Gretchen Rubin in her book The Happiness Project, even though gossiping not only makes people feel closer to each other but also plays an important social roll in reinforcing community values and exposing those who don’t play by the rules, just don’t go there. It is not a nice thing to do, it leaves a horrible feeling of guilt when you know you’ve said something you shouldn’t have and there’s a little thing called spontaneous trait transference where what you say about other people, the person you say it to associates it with you. Ever heard the saying takes one to know one. Remember that the next time you’re about to tell someone what a horrible person you think someone else is.

Kimberley Crossman in her book Love You, Be Your Best & Live Your Dreams reminds us that gossiping on the internet or social media sites is nothing more than cyber bullying and to make sure you don’t engage in any of the following:

  • Create fake accounts or emails to gossip or stir
  • Voice uneducated opinions: when it comes to rumours or events get the facts first & refrain from posting your opinion online until you know all the facts.
  • talk badly about friends, co-workers or family members on online forums, emails, Skype etc.: these can be copied & forwarded to the person concerned or be brought up later for reference.
  • Tag or post photos of someone that you know they wouldn’t approve of.
  • Tag somebody at a location if you don’t know they should be there, especially if they were supposed to be somewhere else.
  • Change your relationship status without having a conversation with the other person first
  • Spam celebrities

She also offers the following advice on what to do when you hear Gossip. Firstly you need to remember that the gossip you hear doesn’t necessarily mean the person the gossip is about has done anything wrong, it could be nothing more than a fabricated story, exaggerated truth or even personal attack. Secondly remember that people can generally only talk about something for nine days before they stop caring. So the most important thing is to remember not to feed the gossip by getting involved with it, which will only add fuel to fire , giving people more to talk about, making it last longer.

As Jo Seagar say’s in her book Elbows Off The Table Please: Recipes To Make Any Occasion Special “Gossip usually stops, when it reaches a wise & kind persons ear.”

Lisa O’Neill in her book Look Gorgeous, Be Happy: What A Woman Wants suggests that to help move yourself away from unhappiness towards happiness you should start with a unhappiness detox of sorts. She recommends limiting the negativity you put in by limiting time spent with people who moan or revel in gossip or drama.

Show up

Gretchen Rubin in her book The Happiness Project states that a big part of success is showing up and if you want successful relationships and you have to put in consistent effort or your friendships aren’t going to survive. This kind of gesture deepens casual friendships into close friendships and confirms closeness between good friends. Familiarity breeds affection, so quit finding excuses to get out of Hubbies work function, the kids school parent evenings or a friends opening. Its the right thing to do, take the trouble, it might be fun, you may end up closer to the people involved and a little bit happier to boot.

In Jo Segar’s book Elbows Off The Table: Recipes To Make Any Occasion Special she talks about the etiquette of receiving invitations and being a good guest. Below is a list of her helpful tips:

  • RSVP means “Repondez s’il vous plait” (please respond. It is essential to replay & polite people always respond promptly.
  • If the invitation has a telephone number, then ring with your response, email address, then email. If it has a postal address then a short note is required. Social media invite, social media response etc.
  • An invitation is never declined, you say thank you for the invitation but advice that unfortunately you will be unable to attend the event & you don’t need to explain why.
  • Always show up, you have made the commitment, so you must attend & follow through on it.
  • Be on time, especially for weddings & funerals, but don’t arrive too early.
  • You should not bring people who were not specifically invited.
  • Bring the host a gift, such as Milk chocolate pecan pralines.
  • Dress appropriately, erring on the side of too dressy, its easy to remove a tie or jacket if you are a  little overdressed.
  • If you see people on their own, go introduce yourself & talk to them.
  • Make a point of talking to everyone at the event unless it is enormous, this is part of your job description as a guest.
  • Be happy & cheerful
  • Help where appropriate to pass around food or refresh drinks
  • If you receive a call that you must take, excuse yourself & leave the room to take the call. Don’t send text messages while at a social engagement.
  • Be careful not to linger, watch for clues as to when it is time to go home. If the invitation has an end time, then that is the latest you should be there. Don’t be tail-end Charlie.
  • Thank the host as you leave & again the next day by note, email, phone or text, as appropriate.

Be Generous

Its all too easy when you’re busy to get into a rut and start taking people for granted and sometimes we need a gentle reminder to do a better job of being generous. In Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project she says that the nature of generosity as it relates to strengthening the bonds of friendship can be broken down into six acts.

  • Give gifts: Take a box of chocolates when invited to a dinner party, if someone invites you to dinner don’t show up empty handed, even if they say “bring nothing” bring something anyway, a block of chocolate, a bottle of wine, flowers. If visiting at morning or afternoon tea time bring some home baking,
  • Help people think big: Inspire others with words of enthusiasm & confidence to tackle ambitious goals.
  • Bring people together: Start a group for people of similar interests, organise a reunion for people who all did something together at the same time, start a support group for a cause you are passionate about, play cupid & set people up, help organise competitive events & introduce friends who you think should meet.
  • Contribute in your way : Consider what skills you have & what you enjoy doing & look for ways you could offer to help others that may struggle in these areas.
  • Cut people slack : Remember peoples lives are far more complicated than they appear from the outside, do not always view other peoples actions as a reflection of their character, recognise the pressure of circumstances & the power of the situation to influence their actions.
  • Spend out: Stop hoarding, trust in abundance so that you can use things up, give things away & throw things out. Stop keeping score & saving things for good, do not stint on love or generosity. Let go of the expectation of praise or appreciation when you do something generous for someone else. Spending out creates a wealth of love & tenderness, while calculation & score keeping build resentment.

Trinny and Susannah in their book What Your Clothes Say About You: How To Look Different, Act Different And Feel Deferent. say that its also important to take head of all the generous gestures you receive in a day, from people offering to help in small ways, to compliments or gifts. At the same time notice how many ways you find to decline that help or bat away those compliments. They recommend you spend a week learning to accept every act of kindness that comes your way by simply saying “thank you” Its harder than you think.

Remember Birthdays

I have become one of those slack people who wait for Facebook to alert them to the fact that someone in their life is having a birthday and then I take all of about 2 minutes of my time to post a quick happy birthday on their page. I don’t know when this became an acceptable thing to do, it’s definitely not the way I use to show the people I appreciate that I am thinking of them I their birthday and I’m grateful to have them in my life. I need a plan to lift my game in this area, to show the people I care about that I value them.

Kim Carruthers in her book Less is More: How to De-Clutter Your Life, she suggests you make a note in your diary of all birthdays & anniversaries that are coming up and put reminders a week out for any you need to buy cards or gifts for. Also make a note of any less than happy anniversaries that may require a comforting call, card or flowers for as well.

In Camilla Morton’s Book How to Walk in High Heels: The Girls Guide to Everything gives the following tips on navigating birthdays as a good friend;

  • Write all friends birthdays in your address book to avoid forgetting the date when your diary gets updated.
  • Don’t forget to call
  • Cake & candles, whatever the age are essential.
  • As a grown up the milestones that warrant big hoopla are, eighteen, twenty-one, thirty, forty, fifty & sixty.
  • Whether you say it with flowers, cake or gift wrapped diamonds make sure you say it with meaning.
  • Try to give something unique that reflects how you feel
  • And no matter what, if you cant say something nice don’t say anything at all, tis the day to bite your tongue.

In Trinny & Susannah’s book The Survival Guide; A Woman’s Secret Weapon To Getting Through The Year they suggest building a gift drawer for when a random present is needed at short notice.

  • Creating a dedicated drawer  will act as incentive for you to think ahead & look out for great gifts on your travels.
  • Keep a supply of gift tags, cards, Sellotape & paper in your gift drawer.
  • Try to stock up on different gifts to suit all your various friends like a stylish business card holder for the Leader type, A spa, gym or restaurant voucher for the Go Getter type & some divine chocolates for the Softie.
  • To avoid the shame of returning a gift to the original giver keep a list of who has given you what in your gift drawer.

They also have some great advice for when your feeling skint and the following list really does prove that sometimes the best presents really do cost next to nothing.

  • Plant a planter a few days before with Happy Birthday written in mustard seeds should be nicely sprouted on the day
  • A voucher offering to wash the car or watch the children
  • Cook a delicious meal & clean up afterwards
  • In a card write as many reasons they are special as how old they are going to be
  • A lottery ticket keeps the hope alive
  • Plant a window box and leave it on their windowsill for when they come home
  • If you’ve known someone for a long time get an old photo or letter framed
  • A copy of a newspaper from the day someone was born is an inexpensive winner
  • Anything you have made yourself that shows how much you care will be treasured.

Make-Up, Clean Up

Lets keep it simple today and get done one of those nagging little jobs you always mean to do but keep putting off. Today lets go through all our cosmetics and biff out the old, clean up and organise the keepers and make a list of the missing pieces. Trinny & Susannah in their book The Survival Guide: A Woman’s Secret Weapon For Getting Through The Year say that the start of May is the perfect time to reassess make-up colours now that your summer glow has gone.

This is how I like to organise my make up:

  • Start, Make time, remove distractions & get a timer. Find rubbish, recycling, re-homing,  return & donation boxes or bags. Go get our make-up bags now, to not be shy, tip it out on the table and be honest with ourselves about what we see. Take a before photo. Set your timer for 10 minutes.
  • Dump rubbish first, Messy tubes & compacts, Anything that’s broken or squashed, Everything you haven’t worn for the past year, Brushes that are losing their bristles, Sponges that look as though they’ve been eaten, Liquids that are separating, Mascaras that are more than 3 months old, Everything that smells odd
  • Now put aside anything for returning & re-homing.
  • Finally what will you donate? (All those samples you’ve never used)
  • Remember, Fashions change & bugs grow. Don’t try to keep that lipstick don’t try to keep that violet & orange lipstick until it comes back in, it’ll be a microbial mess by then & give you spots, just throw it out.
  • Solve, Take the rubbish & recycling to their bins, returns & donations where they will be delivered, put away the re-homes.
  • Restock
    • Cleanser
    • Toner
    • Serum
    • Eye Cream
    • Day Moisturiser
    • Primer
    • Concealer
    • Foundation
    • Highlighter
    • Bronzer
    • Powder
    • Blusher
    • lip balm
    • Lip liner
    • Lipstick
    • Lip gloss
    • Brow powder or pencil
    • Eyeliner
    • Natural Eyeshadow
    • Eyelash curler
    • Brown Mascara
    • Perfume
    • Make-up remover (liquid or wipes)
    • Masks
    • Night cream
    • Brushes
    • Tweezers
  • System: A one in/one out policy is a great technique to avoid cosmetic clutter accumulating, if you cant bring yourself to part with something, tape it shut & if it is still that way next time you clean up, you know you really don’t use it & can get rid of it confidently then. Check the bag itself, does it just need a clean or are you due for a new one?
  • Organise, I use to like to organise mine into little make up bags, 1 for getting ready for work, 1 for weekend wear, 1 for nights out/special occasions and 1 for travel. Each one contains everything I need from fragrance, & moisturizer to makeup right through to remover and night cream. The bonus of this system is not only does it save time by just grabbing the bag you need but also means you get a completely different look for these different parts of your life. Now I am lucky enough to have a rotating cosmetics organiser that sits on the bathroom counter that my husband bought for me online.
  • Stop: Now stop & take an after photo before anyone messes up your hard work. Have a cup of tea, relax & enjoy, knowing that your bathroom is slowly becoming a clutter free zone.



Outfitting A Comfort Drawer

Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy reminds you that life requires you prepare yourself for the inevitable times that try your soul. This is achieved with a comfort drawer. Comfort drawers are for those nights when you feel as though you would like to pull the covers over your head and never come out.  Your refuge should be a drawer in your dresser where you stockpile small indulgences throughout the year. Many of your comforts may have originally been gifts that you have simply saved for whenever a home-grown unhappiness remedy might be required. She recommends the following:

  • A box of chocolate truffles
  • One serving size fruit cordials
  • Miniature after dinner drinks
  • An aromatherapy bath treatment to promote serenity
  • Various British decorating magazines
  • A small vial of Bach’s Rescue Remedy
  • A velvet herbal sleeping pillow
  • A satin eye mask
  • Rose scented bubble bath & talc
  • Old love letters tied wit a silk ribbon
  • A scrapbook of personal mementos
  • A tin of fancy biscuits
  • An assorted gift sampler of assorted teas
  • The soundtrack to Boys On The Side

Notice the simply abundant pattern of pleasure? Here is all that is required for the spoiling and pampering of a world weary woman:

  • A fabulous bath
  • Something scrumptious to nibble
  • Something sentimental to conjure up happy memories
  • Something lovely to sip
  • Something delightful to read

Now change your sheets, plump up your pillow and assemble half-dozen votive candles on a tray. Place the tray on your dressing table in front of the mirror, strike a match and ceremoniously create your own northern lights. Play some soothing music and put on your favourite pyjamas or nightgown. Get into bed and luxuriate. If this doesn’t work take two aspirins and sleep till the morning.

When outfitting your comfort drawer, be sure to line it be sure to line it with a lovely floral shelf paper and tuck in some scented sachets so that the drawer will delight your senses. Wrap your comforts in pretty jewel coloured tissue paper and tie them with beautiful ribbons This way when you open your drawer, you’ll see a dazzling array of wonderful presents, gifts of the heart for the most deserving person you know.

Iyanla Vanzant in her book Don’t give It Away: A Workbook of Self-Awareness and Self-Affirmations for Young Women says that there are some things a girl must have if she is to survive being a girl. The following is a list of items you will find helpful on the days when things aren’t going so great. Ask friends and relatives to contribute to the things you need . Keep your survival kit in a safe place. Use your survival kit when you don’t know what else to do to feel better.

A Girls Survival Kit

  • Rose scented bath salts & bubble bath
  • Lavender scented bath salts
  • Peppermint scented bath salts
  • A bag of Hershey’s Kisses
  • A fuzzy teddy bear
  • A Barbie doll with two changes of clothes
  • A journal or personal notebook
  • A colouring book & crayons
  • A purple & blue ink pen
  • A box of tissues
  • A bag of peppermint candy
  • your favourite colour nail polish
  • A pink cotton nightgown & pair of pyjamas
  • A white cotton nightgown & pair of pyjamas
  • A pair of pink sheets for your bed
  • A framed baby picture of yourself
  • A tree

When you feel angry:

  • Take a twenty minute rose bubble bath
  • Put on your pink nightgown or Pyjamas
  • Colour 3 pages of your colouring book, & colour everything blue & green
  • Write out exactly what you are feeling in your journal with your blue pen
  • Put the pink sheets on your bed, lie down & curl up with your teddy bear

When you feel sad:

  • Take a lavender bath
  • put on your best outfit
  • Have 3 Hershey’s kisses
  • Colour 3 pages in your colouring book
  • Write out what you feel in your journal (be sure to have your tissues near by)
  • Talk to your baby picture, tell the baby all the things you want to hear

When you feel confused:

  • Take a peppermint bath
  • Suck on a peppermint
  • Put on your white nightgown or pyjamas
  • Polish your toenails
  • Comb Barbie’s hair & change her clothes
  • Colour three pages in your colouring book
  • Write out what you feel in your journal

When you feel frightened:

  • Talk to your tree, tell the tree exactly what you feel & ask it to help you be strong
  • Take a rose & lavender bath
  • Have a peppermint candy
  • Put on your white nightgown or pyjamas
  • Paint your finger & toenails
  • Talk to your baby picture, tell the baby all the things you need to hear
  • Colour 5 pages in your colouring book, use as much pink as you can

When you feel lonely:

  • Take a rose bath
  • Put on your pink nightgown or pyjamas
  • Have 3 Hershey’s kisses
  • Write a letter to yourself in your journal with your purple pen, explaining why you feel what you feel
  • Read the letter to your teddy bear
  • Do 10 jumping jacks
  • Colour 3 pages in your colouring book