Does the one exist?

Does the ‘One’ Exist?

Does the one exist?

Do you believe there is such a thing as the ‘One’?

I was watching a stand-up comedian recently on Netflix called Daniel Sloss.

He was a comedian with a difference, because not only was he funny, but he also talked about some very thought-provoking and uncomfortable topics which are painfully true about life, which a lot of us try and ignore. One which really resonated with me was about relationships and the way that so many of us are sold into the idea that we have to be in a relationship and there is almost something wrong about being single. He also talked about the ‘one’ that every single person is so intent on finding which begs me to ask, Is there really such a thing? And is being single really that bad?

I don’t often ask for feedback on my articles, but for this topic, I am really interested to know what you think because I have drawn my own conclusions about relationships which have come from my own personal experiences and I am interested to know yours.

Now, many people who are single and some of those who are already in not so happy relationships, seem to believe in meeting that magic person who they believe to be the ‘one’.
It sounds so romantic and amazing and there are so many movies on TV about boy meets girl, there is struggle or problem keeping them apart or at first they hate each other, but in the end, they find love and live happily ever after.

Of course, the movie stops just as the romantic couple have the first kiss…… it doesn’t go on to show the daily misunderstandings, the jealous arguments, the financial struggles and dealing with their stroppy adolescent children who are experimenting with drugs, sex and alcohol.

And as a result, many people seem to have bought into the Walt Disney films “Prince finds his Princess and they live happily ever after” scenario and feel as though they have missed out if they are single or their relationship isn’t perfect.

Now, I have drawn the conclusion that marriage and relationships are in fact just as much stress as they are pleasurable. But being single is, in fact, hassle free! Yeah, of course, it is nice to have that person to share some good times with and wake up in the morning too, but at what price do you pay for those pleasures?

Now, I am single at the moment and I have been for some years. Occasionally a woman passes through into my life which is nice, but these days, especially with all the travel that I do, it is hard to maintain a serious relationship.

But you know what? I really don’t mind. I am very happy being single and if I am brutally honest, I am always far happier being single than whenever I am in a relationship. If I ever feel stressed or unhappy at all with my life, it is always because of the relationship I am in.

In my last couple of relationships, I analyzed how much joy I was actually getting out of them and what I realized is that the stress can begin on day one…yes, even during the so-called ‘honeymoon period’ of a relationship.

They are stressful at the beginning because I don’t know the person that well or if things are going to work out between us. Then they are stressful in the middle because you are learning to adapt to another person and trying to keep not just yourself happy but the other person too. And of course, there is the inevitable end and everybody knows how painful letting go can be.

Relationships, you see, are like everything else in the known universe. They have a beginning, a middle and an end.

Because even if you stay with that person all of your life, one day the Grim Reaper is going to take one of you away first and that is going to lead to a lot of pain.

And if you are one of those people who think “But who will take care of me when I am sick?” Well, there is a 50/50 chance that your partner is going to die before you anyway and also, if you are in your 80s or 90s, how the hell is your partner going to be able to look after you anyway?

I think like everything else in life, there have to be two sides to everything. With day comes the night, with up comes down, with left comes right, with happiness comes pain. It is like a pendulum that swings back and forth. If our partners are able to bring out happiness and joy within us, they will also be able to also to bring out sorrow and heartbreak.

The other thing is that everything in the universe is in a constant flux of change. Nothing is permanent.

That beautiful young lady I fell in love with is going to change, physically and psychologically and so am I.

Will we still be compatible in years to come? Will we start to enjoy different things? Will such differences cause us to live a life of relative happiness or will we stick together because it is easier than going through the pain of breaking up?

Even the best relationships are never plain sailing and I often wonder exactly how many couples are genuinely happy in their relationships? I estimate that about 30% of people who are in relationships now, wish they weren’t.

So why do they stay with their partners?

Well, for a number of reasons: financial dependency, keeping up appearances, because of the children, fear of being alone or guilt at the thought of leaving their partners. Some people seem to accept after a while that being unhappy in a relationship is the norm and just put up with it. Better the devil you know as they say.

Also, I have met many people who believe they have met the ‘One’ only to find out a little later down the line that the person who seemed to be so perfect once upon a time is now regarded as the most despicable person on earth!

But who knows? Maybe it is just my upbringing that makes me feel that the ‘one’ doesn’t exist.

My parents got divorced when I was very young, at a time when you were expected to get married if you wanted kids. My mother had a turbulent relationship with my dad even before they got married so I am sure he wasn’t the ‘one’.

She really believed that her second husband was the ‘one’ when she first met him, but a few years after they were married and 2 children later, she realized he definitely wasn’t. She stayed with him though for another 9 years after that because of the children and financial dependency until life with him became so unbearable that she left him.

A few years later, she met another man who she hasn’t married but has been with for the last 27 years. I asked her about her relationship with him and if she thought he was the ‘one’ when she first met him.

“Oh god no!” she replied. “Yes, we liked each other for sure, but when we started dating, we were both half expecting the ‘one’ to turn up and whisk us away, but they never did, so we stuck together. But we got on well, share the same sense of humour and I think that has what has kept us together. And it certainly helps that we only see each other at weekends”.

I asked my Dad at his 40th wedding anniversary to my step mum what made his marriage last so long.

“Bloody hard work” came his reply…and I am fairly sure if I asked my step mum, she would have said the same!

And as for my Grandfather, when I asked him how he was going to celebrate his 50th wedding anniversary, he looked at me somewhat surprised and asked “Why would anyone want to celebrate 50 years of being married?”

I know I have never met the ‘one’ and I am so used to living my life on my own terms that I think I would find it difficult to settle down now. But, I am very happy being single and I don’t think that marriage or being in a relationship is for everyone. And maybe you think differently.

Maybe you would like to tell me “Toby, you just haven’t met the right one yet”, and you know what, a part of me still hopes that you are right.

I would love to hear what you have to say because I am getting tired of turning up to family weddings and all my older relatives asking “when is it going to be your turn?”

I think I am going to start asking them the same question at funerals!! ????

Calm and angry person

How often do you have to deal with people who are angry?

It could be a partner, your children, friends, work colleagues or your superiors at work.

One of the most important lessons I have learnt in life is too simply be kind, to everybody, all of the time, no matter how upset or angry the people around you are.

Why? Because life is so much less stressful that way.

When you remain calm and kind to others, you can quell small fires and prevent them from getting out of control.

You may think that is an obvious thing to say and you probably think you are kind.

But being kind is not easy. Being kind takes great strength of character. Being kind means learning to control your thoughts and emotions and being as solid as a rock no matter what people do or say to you.

When someone upsets us or makes us angry, we naturally become angry ourselves. When this happens, do not retaliate.

When you feel the anger rising within you, keep your mouth closed and say nothing.

For to speak hastily and angrily will only make the problem worse.

Never show your anger towards anyone, ever…..unless your life is seriously at risk.

Under any other circumstance, anger will always be your downfall.

When someone is angry with you and you react with anger yourself, you are only adding fuel to the fire.

You cannot fight fire with fire, otherwise, you create an inferno. Infernos are very hard to put out and can last a very long time.

You can only fight fire with water or as the Taoist say, “The soft always overcomes the strong”.

What is meant by that? Does it mean you cower in fear and let the other person walk all over you?

Absolutely not. The complete opposite in fact.

You stand your ground emotionally. You take control of the situation by acting calmly and cultivating the opposite. It means cultivating internal strength and great self-control within, rather than losing control of your temper and letting your emotions out.

When you remain calm and in control, you do not become a victim to your emotions. You simply observe the anger inside of you, relax into it, let it go and speak calmly, confidently and clearly back to the person you are conversing with.

Reacting without thinking is easy to do. Anyone can do that, but only the wise know and understand that this will only cause you more problems in the long run. Better to keep your mouth closed. That way you will be able to listen to what is being said and then make your own decision as to whether you believe the facts to be true or not.

Wise people understand that knowledge comes from listening, not speaking.

It takes great strength to remain calm and be kind to those who are angry or criticize you. It means dropping your ego and being unaffected by the opinions of others. It means that inside, you are so strong and confident of yourself that anger and insults from others fly off you without affecting your calm, inner nature. It also means that you are open to criticism and change if you think that what is said will make you a better person.

In the West, we often regard anger as a sign of strength and a good way to get things done. In the East, it is regarded as a weakness.

Sometimes, we believe that getting angry instils fear into people and they will do as we say. But the truth is, you may get things done in the short term, but you also run the risk of people digging in their heels and doing the opposite. Even if they do comply to what you say, they will resent you and do whatever they can to make you slip and fall in the future.

You will also find yourself feeling uncomfortable in front of that person whenever you see them and that causes YOU stress!

If you remain calm, polite and show no fear, you will gain respect from others. When people respect and like you, they will go out of their way to help and support you.

I challenge you to be nice to every single person you meet for a week and see how much your life changes. Do not get angry with anyone. Be strong internally.

Be kind, to everyone, all of the time.

Dreaming

What did you dream of becoming when you were young?

When I was about 4 years old, I remember sitting around the breakfast table with my older sister and two older brothers.
My mum was telling us that we could be anything we wanted to be when we grew up and asked us what we dreamt of becoming.
My oldest brother wanted to be a soldier and my other brother a pilot. My sister said she wanted to be a nurse and when they turned around and asked me, I replied;

“I want to be a dolphin”.

They howled with laughter and even today, they still remind me of it from time to time, but at that age, I didn’t understand what the joke was! Mum said I could be whatever I wanted, and that’s what I wanted to be! The dream of being a dolphin made me happy. And so for a while after I kept on dreaming about it ……

In this modern day and age, most of us are too busy to take time out to dream anymore.

There is always too much to do and too much entertainment around for us to have happy thoughts and dreams. No wonder so many people suffer from anxiety these days and worry so much about the future.

And as a result, one beautiful and simple tool we can use to manage stress anytime, anywhere has been forgotten about…. DREAMING.

Taking some time out every day to daydream is good for you for so many reasons.

Firstly, it releases stress. When you start to have happy and positive daydreams, your body automatically starts to relax. Your breathing slows down and as a result, so does your heart rate which reduces your blood pressure. Your muscles also relax and your hormonal system returns to its natural state which calms the mind and strengthens the immune system.

In other words, happy daydreaming is very good for your physical health.

Now, when you are not paying attention to your thoughts, any memories or thoughts that contain strong emotions will surface in your mind automatically.

So the more time you spend dreaming happy thoughts, the more positive thoughts naturally arise in your mind when you are not really thinking of anything. As a result, you will find yourself in a good mood most of the time.
And when you are in a positive mood, you not only deal with difficulties and challenges far more easily, you may even find that you actually enjoy them.

But if you are in a negative frame of mind, any difficulties will be met with resistance, worry and irritability.

Not only that but dreaming about your perfect life starts to give you a clearer picture of what it is that you want to achieve during your short stay on this planet. This then allows you to make better decisions and choices today to take you to where you want to go in the future.

Daydreaming also gives us greater focus so we can more easily seek out the things we need to make our dreams come true.

It also makes us more creative and better at problem-solving.

The best thing about dreaming is that you don’t need any instructions to do it, you can do it anytime, anywhere and it will make you feel good.

So, daydream more!

One last thing about dreaming…

I am working in the Maldives at the moment and on my day off went on a snorkelling trip.

The boat stopped in the middle of the ocean and I couldn’t believe it.

We were surrounded by about 100 dolphins!!!

I jumped into the water and for the next hour saw dolphins swim below me, next to me and at one point even above me.

One slow pod of about 8 dolphins swam so slowly, I actually swam with them for about 4 minutes.

For those four minutes, my dream finally came true. I completely lost myself with them. For a brief period of time, I was no longer Toby the Man, I really was Toby the Dolphin.

Even your wildest dreams will come true if you focus hard enough.

People arguing

I love watching mother nature sometimes.

One thing I learnt whilst living in Asia is that you have to learn to live with it because a lot of the time it lives in your house. No matter if you are on the top floor of a skyscraper, I can guarantee you will still find ants in your kitchen!

I remember one day watching a group of about 10 ants lifting a grain of rice up a wall. The skill and precision they used revealed just how intelligent these creatures were. As I watched them, I realized they must have been communicating in some fashion because the complexity of the way they manoeuvred around the grain of rice looked similar to a bunch of highly experienced removal men carrying a piano down a flight of winding stairs.

Moving a piano

I then thought to myself, wouldn’t it be amazing if CEO’s knew how to get their employees to work as intelligently as these ants?

Unfortunately, when it comes to many industries, the opposite seems to be true.

Many companies I have worked with seem to deploy competition amongst their staff believing that this will motivate them to reach their targets.

I don’t understand this approach at all. From what I have seen it creates a bad atmosphere of dishonesty and mistrust amongst co-workers where individuals are only concerned about what they can get out of the business, now what is best for the businesses itself.

It also encourages employees to work against their co-workers and revel in their failure! Why? Because when other people fail and they succeed, it makes them look good.

Sad, but true I’m afraid.

Surely a business would benefit more if everyone worked together, supported one another and shared their knowledge rather than keep it to themselves.

“But it works”, a CEO told me recently about his company which encourages internal competition

Robin Reliant car


Yes, and so does a Robin Reliant,
but that doesn’t mean to say it is the best car on the market.

In my opinion, competition is overrated unless it is used for sports and recreational fun.

I have found that I learn so much more when I share my knowledge with other people in a similar field to me rather than keep information to myself
because it is USUALLY reciprocated. Obviously, not everyone feels the same way and I do meet a lot of people who are on the take and not willing to give.

When I do meet such people, I know that I will not work with them. But when I find people are equally as willing to share their knowledge with me as I am with them, then I will not only trust them but will go out of my way to help them too.

If they are truly willing to help me without thought of personal gain, then I know they have the best interests of their customers and other people at their heart too. These are definitely people worth collaborating with because they have the wisdom to understand happiness comes from helping others to succeed, not from what is in it for them.

Think rationally about this.

No one in society can survive alone. We need the support of people around us and therefore we need to work together to survive.
If you think you are independent and you can survive by yourself, tell me…did you make your own clothes? Did you grow the food that you eat? Did you make the car that you drive or build your home with your own hands?

Everything that we do, each and every day, is dependent on the other people around us. We HAVE to work together in order to survive and business is no different. A business is nothing more than a group of individuals working together to achieve a common goal.

And so where pray tell, does that leave space for internal competition?

Look forward to any thoughts on this article…????

Doing Nothing

When I fly back to the UK having been away for a few months, I often find myself being more observant than usual of the things around me.

On my last visit, I found myself on the London underground during rush hour where most people were heading off to work.

In the carriage, I could see 27 people around me. 22 of those were either staring into or listening to music on their mobile phones, 2 of them were reading newspapers, one was reading a book, one was sleeping and there was one other person, like me, just doing nothing.

Doing nothing is a lost art these days. People simply do not know how to switch off, yet these moments of switching off are very important to the brain.

Why?

Because it is in these moments of “doing nothing” that our brains manage to reflect on life and give us greater clarity of thought.

When we are busying ourselves, we are just taking in information but have no time to reflect on it. This also actually means that most of what we are reading is not being absorbed into the brain but just giving us temporary relief from boredom.

When I recommend books to people, I tell them not to just read the book, but to study and reflect on the teachings. This way, your mind can really understand the information rather than just experiencing momentary pleasure from it.

Only by reflecting on knowledge and putting into practice can we experience true wisdom.

But if we spend our lives with our heads in our mobile phones only reading about knowledge, we are not really assimilating that knowledge into our daily living.

‘Doing nothing’ is often recognized by many people as being a waste of time, but in fact, just like exercise, our bodies need this down-time to recover from ‘information overload’. This information overload means our brain has little or no recovery time which in the long term can lead to feelings of stress and anxiety.

In addition, when you take on knowledge without reflecting on it, you are merely following the opinions of other people. But taking the information and reflecting upon it will give you a greater personal understanding of the problem and what action you need to take.

Inner reflection also allows time for personal growth too. It is very important that we have some self-awareness and this can only come through periods of ‘downtime’ when we spend some time just ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’.

When we have more self-awareness, we also have a greater understanding of other people too. As a result, our empathy increases towards other humans as we begin to realise that they experience life in the same way that we do. This, in turn, improves our communication skills on both a personal and professional level.

Another thing about learning to do nothing is that it helps reduce anxiety especially if we can combine it with a walk in the park or sitting outside on a sunny day. Just observing the world around us or even taking our focus of awareness into our bodies will help us to reflect on our lives internally.

This, by the way, is different from conscious thinking. Conscious thinking can do the opposite, for example, sitting in silence but spending that time churning a problem over and over again in your head. This can exasperate the problem.

What I mean by doing nothing is just relaxing the body and noticing what is going on around you, now, in the present moment.

When we enter the sea on a windy day, it is often difficult to see more than a few feet in front of us as all the sand gets churned up with the water.

However, after a day or two, when the sea has settled, all the sand sinks down to the bottom of the ocean and it is possible for us to see clearly for 20 or 30 metres.

The mind works in the same way. When we allow it to settle by doing nothing, the thoughts of the past and future start to settle and we can see things much more clearly because our ideas are not clouded by our previous experiences from the past or worries about what might happen in the future.

Even Albert Einstein said that many of his greatest ideas came not whilst focusing on a problem, but after he had stopped thinking and was going about his day to day tasks.

And I am sure you have experienced a time when you are trying to remember someone’s name and the harder you think, the more it alludes you. But go about your daily tasks and all of a sudden the name pops straight into your head!

So take some time out now and again from your mobile phone, TV, iPod, book or whatever you use to distract your mind and spend some time, each day, allowing your mind to do nothing.

You will find greater peace of mind, clarity of thought and new ideas revealing themselves faster than ever before.

Living life on your terms

It is not an easy world in which we live.

I have so many clients coming to see me telling me of the long hours and stressful jobs that they have. And I sympathise because I was the same once upon a time.

Today I will tell you a bit about my story, not to gloat, not to tell you how great my life is, but in the hope that in the same way I managed to change my life around, maybe you can too. And so if this is something that you are experiencing in life, I hope that this blog will give you the confidence to do the same.

When we are born, we need our parents to take care of us and teach us how to survive. This is the same in every culture and every animal species.

So we copy them and do as we are told.

Then we go to school and we are told we have to obey the school rules, work hard and get to the top of the class.

If we do we are praised and told how good we are. It makes us feel good.

If we don’t we are chastised and made to feel bad.

And this goes on throughout our lives, constantly being told what to do and pressurized into doing things that we probably don’t even like.

But ‘hey ho’, we tell ourselves. This is life and we have to do what we are told which also means sacrificing our happiness if we are told to do so.

But one day we will be adults and be free, we think to ourselves.

But we are wrong!

We get a job. We sign a contract which says that we will do a certain job and we will receive a salary in return for doing so. And as we need money to live, we sign that contract and then we are back to the same scenario, someone telling us once again what to do!

And this is fine if you absolutely love your job and you have a good employer who respects your time and doesn’t burden you with excessive work, but many employers know that you are desperate for the money and will squeeze every penny out of you that they can.

So many people are made to work long hours under stressful conditions, where budgets and targets are put into place that you need to reach.And if you don’t reach them, you are chastised once again, just like you were at school and praised if you reach them.

And because we still have this ingrained mentality of doing what we are told by those above us, we continue to do it.

A part of us still hasn’t realized that we are adults now and we are free to think and do whatever we please. And so we continue to let other people dictate our lives.

And so many people wake up on Monday mornings thinking the weekend was simply not long enough. They dread the week ahead of them and only look forward to the next weekend or their next vacation. This means that they are wishing away most of the precious time they have on this planet. Is this really a healthy way to think?

If this resonates with some of you, I know what it feels like. I have been there myself.

But I have always had a problem with people telling me what to do. It annoys me and it is the reason I never did very well at school. Tell me to do something nowadays I won’t. Ask me kindly, however, and I will go above and beyond the call of duty to help you.

So when I found myself working 10 hour days in a stressful city job and having little control over my life, I decided to get out, drop my career and take back some sort of control.

I became an English teacher. Why? Because I knew that I would just get a schedule, walk into a classroom and wouldn’t really have to take orders from anyone. Also, I wouldn’t have to work more than 25 hours a week, (or so I thought until I realised I had to do lesson plans before each class!!)

When I started to teach English, I enjoyed it because I had a lot more freedom. I was also living in Thailand where they were screaming out for English teachers and desperate to keep good ones, so I never had to worry about job security. I could leave my job anytime and comfortably walk into a new job the following week if I wanted. So I knew if ever my employers gave me a hard time and piled on the hours I could just walk out of there and get a better job with ease.

I enjoyed the work, but I didn’t love it and because of the term times and the salary, it meant it was difficult to return back to the UK to see my family every year. I needed to earn more and be able to take more time off if I wanted to have more freedom and spend more time back home..

So I started to formulate a plan on how I could do this.

I sat down one day and imagined my dream job.

Travelling the world, working 4-5 hours a day, doing a job I loved, staying in the best hotels in the world and being able to choose when and where I worked. I would be able to take breaks whenever I wished and spend quality time with my family whenever I wanted to.

Before, I was always terrified of being self-employed. I needed the security of a monthly salary and didn’t think I could ever work for myself.
But one day I had an idea to set up a spa and hotel training company and the more I thought about it the more excited I became. I threw caution to the wind and did it.

For the first time ever, I became my own boss. I doubled my income immediately and found myself working 2 full days a week instead of 5.
The sense of freedom I had from that, being my own boss, making my own teaching schedule and telling managers at hotels what hours I would be working rather than them telling me, was ‘heaven’.

It was that taste of freedom which made me realise I could never work for anyone else again.

It was a huge boost to my confidence and happiness and it made me realise I could do anything I wanted to if I tried.

It was this confidence in myself that allowed me to put my master plan into operation and start to carve out my dream life. And that’s what I did.

These days, I do the job that was once an impossible dream 12 years ago. I am my boss, I decide where and when I work, when I take time out to go home and spend it with my family, which hotel I will stay at and for how long. I am happy with the money that I earn and I get to travel and stay in some of the best hotels in the world for free. In fact, I don’t stay for free…they pay me!! 🙂

I love my life, most of all the fact that I am the one who calls the shots. I work alongside hotel and spa managers, not under them or above them. Yes, there are certain common sense rules that apply and I am happy to follow them, but that’s about it as far as being told what to do.

What I am trying to say is this. You don’t have to do what other people tell you to do. You can make your own rules up in life and live by them rather than doing what other people tell you. You don’t have to be a slave to the corporate wheel that would replace you in a week if you dropped down dead tomorrow.

You don’t have to be particularly bright or brave to go off on your own and start up your own business, but you do have to be persistent, have a dream and never give up. And most of all, understand that living your life by your own rules and on your own terms is a choice. You can do it if you chose to.

So if you are tired of people telling you what to do, take off the shackles of your childhood and take control of the reigns. Your life can be full of so much freedom and happiness when you do. Change your focus and you can change your whole life.

…food for thought ????

Walking up a ladder

I went to a friend’s party last week where I caught up with a lot of people who I hadn’t seen for about 10 years.

A lot has happened in that time and obviously the old, “So what are you up to now?” question was thrown about several times during the evening.

When I talk about my job, I often get a lot of “Wow, what a great job to have. You really are living a dream life”, kind of response.

And when I talk about it, yes, to some people it may sound amazing.

BUT I know that in reality, if they lived my life very few of them would actually enjoy it.

I travel and work all over the world, live in some of the best 5 Star hotels for free and work 3-5 hours a day doing a job that I absolutely love.

And yes, for me, it’s perfect and I absolutely love it!

But this is what people don’t realize about my life.

I have always been a nomad. I live out of a suitcase and I don’t have a base or anywhere that I call home. Although I am in the process of buying an apartment back in the UK, it is purely for investment purposes and I have no intention of ever living in it.

Every month I live in a different hotel room, which again, I love. But many people find it difficult to sleep in any other bed but their own. I change my room so often that sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and I don’t know where I am. This amuses me, but I can imagine it could freak some people out a bit.

Also, I never cook and I am not really into cooking. I either eat in the hotel restaurants or I order room service. But I know many people love to cook and would hate the thought of eating off the same hotel menu for a whole month at a time.

In addition, I am single as it is very difficult to have a long-term relationship when I am living in a different country every month. But I don’t’ mind. Every day I get to meet new people and go to new places, so it really doesn’t bother me. I very rarely feel lonely and enjoy my own company.

Also, I have very few possessions, one suitcase and my hand luggage to be precise. But I am happy with what I have. “Things” don’t excite me. In fact, they get in the way. The less I have, the less I have to worry about.

As I am restricted with the amount of luggage that I can conveniently take with me, I only buy clothes in 3 different colours; black, white and navy blue. This way, I can always match the few clothes that I do have and don’t have to take too many clothes away with me.

It also means that I only buy new clothes when I am ready to throw something else out. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to fit it in.

I rarely take a holiday as my life feels like it is one. When I do take some time out from work, there is only one place I want to go…. back to England to spend time with my family. Most of all in the winter months when I can escape the heat and experience some freezing cold weather. I LOVE THE COLD!!!

So, does my life still sound appealing now? Could you imagine yourself this kind of life?

You see, this is the side to my life that people don’t always ask about or see.

For me, it is my dream life and I absolutely love it!! I WOULDN’T SWAP IT FOR ANYTHING!!

But I can’t imagine many people actually enjoying living the way I do.

Most people need a familiar home to go back to at the end of every day and love “things”, such as a nice car, a nice house, a big flat screen TV, their box sets, gadgets and a regular routine.

Most people like to have a wardrobe full of clothes, always be near their friends and family, have a steady job, sleep in the same bed every night and spend their vacation in a nice hot country abroad somewhere with a partner or family.

And if you do want most of these things, then that is great. But it is not what I want.

And so here lies the moral of the story.

Never compare yourself to other people as we are all very different and we all want different things out of life.

Also, the way we perceive other people’s lives may not actually be the way they are.

If you look closely at someone who seems to ‘have it all’, you will probably discover that actually, their life wouldn’t suit you at all.

We all like and want different things out of life and one size does not fit all.

So rather than measuring success by comparing ourselves to other people, we should really just have a good, long hard think about what it is that we want and measure our success by how happy we are.

And if we are happy, then why stress and strain chasing after more?

Boris Stay Dog

Well, I don’t know about you but I can’t believe we are paying for a TV license that is brainwashing us to believe that Armageddon is just around the corner!

It’s just so full of depressing crap! I thought the whole idea of owning a TV was to provide the population with entertainment, not fill them with fear and panic.

If you want to enjoy this holiday period which our kind political leaders have insisted on giving us, then I strongly recommend you switch off your TV. UNLESS of course, you decide to watch something positive or inspiring on Netflix or IPlayer.

How has the lockdown been for you? Are you struggling to cope or has it been a positive situation?

Because most of the people I have spoken to seem to be quite upbeat about it.

For me, it has given me time to work on my book, start playing the bass guitar again and spend some quality time with my mum.

My best friend, a criminal law barrister tells me he has stopped stressing about work for the first time in 25 years!

My Dad has re-decorated 2 rooms in his new house, my mum has figured out how film and send out her ballet classes to her students on What’s app and my niece has stopped stressing about her GCSE’s.

So not all is bad!

And I suppose it is times like this that I reflect on what is it that is important in life and what isn’t.

The first and most obvious thing is time with the people who are important to us. My mum is 73 this year and the time I get to spend with her now is only a fleeting moment in time. One day she will no longer be here and spending this time with her, reminiscing about friends and relatives, family holidays and the loved ones who have already passed away are priceless. When she has gone, a large part of me will also die. But not today. Today I can enjoy her company.

Getting things done! I have been trying to finish off my book for the last 2 years but feel as though I never get the time. The truth is, there is plenty of time but I often distract myself with popping out for a coffee, flicking through Facebook or watching documentaries on youtube. I rarely take time out from work to catch up on things that are important for my long term goals, but this downtime has given me that opportunity. I think every year I will schedule more time off to focus on my long term goals and personal projects.

Having fun for the hell of it. I bought a new bass guitar and amplifier last week. I have wanted to start playing the bass guitar again for the last 5 years. I used to play in a band at college. We only played one gig, nearly got booed off stage and then got into a fight in the pub afterwards. OK, so playing our first gig at a rival sixth form college was probably not a great idea, but I still remember it as being one of the best days of my life. I loved playing the bass and I still do. But as we get older I think we forget to play, because there is no result at the end of it. I have laid to rest my childhood dreams of being a pop star, but there’s something about picking up that 4 string piece of wood and slapping it away to an old Kajagoogoo song that gives me such a high! So, I will make sure I play more in the future, just for the sake of playing.

Not stressing out about work. Well, fortunately, this is not something I do, but I see most of my friends and family doing exactly that. Not just my adult friends who work, but even my 16-year-old niece! Why oh why do we have to put so much pressure on ourselves and young teenage kids? We don’t have to be the best, we don’t have to be number one.

Be mediocre. Medicocray is the key to living a happy life. Scientific research shows that once we reach a certain level of income, which is not even a six-figure number in the UK, (though not far off it) our levels of happiness remain the same as those who earn more.

Anything in excess is detrimental to our health, ANYTHING and EVERYTHING, but society has brainwashed us into believing that we never have quite enough to be happy unless we work harder. Because if we do work harder and sacrifice our happiness today, we can have it in the future by buying this thing or that thing, oh and once you have that, there is one more thing you have to buy to be happy because so and so up the road at no 22 has got one, and if you are going to buy that thing, you may as well get the best one which will cost you a little bit more, but once you have that you will definitely be happy…until it goes out of fashion of course and then you have to buy the newest version.

Bollocks!

That’s not what makes us happy. If anything it makes us feel inadequate.

As the Buddha said, ‘walk the middle path’.

Improve yourself. There is something innate within us as humans to learn new things, whether it is learning how to film your ballet classes in the front living room on your phone or re-decorating the spare bedroom. As my mum and dad have proved to me in the last 4 weeks, you are never too old to learn. There is something very fulfilling and rewarding about life when we learn new things, BUT NOT WHEN WE ARE PRESSURED INTO DOING SO!! When anything in nature stops growing it starts to wither and die and we are no different. So if you are sitting around at home feeling bored, go online and learn something new!

We are all going to have to adapt to a slightly different world when the lockdown ends, some more than others, and I think it’s important to embrace the change with the right attitude. Remember what’s important and what isn’t. After all, we may not be able to change some of the things in our new life, but we can certainly change our attitude towards them.

How are you coping with lockdown? Have you learned anything new? Has it made you re-think or change your perspective on life? I’d love to know what you’ve been up to and how it has made you reassess life.

Having self-control

In order to strengthen your will power, it is important to know a little about how the mind works.

Our brains are made up of billions of neural pathways which are created by repeating a thought process over and over again. These neural pathways enable us to learn things, and when we repeat certain actions or modes of behaviour many times, they become automatic, that is, they are performed without really concentrating or paying much attention to them.

Remember how difficult it was when you first learnt to ride a bicycle or learnt to swim? However, once the mind has mastered those tasks, they can be performed with almost no thought or concentration whatsoever because they have been ingrained in what is known as the subconscious mind.

In fact almost all of our thoughts come from the subconscious mind and it has a big influence on our actions. These neural pathways are often strengthened by emotions, positive or negative and can have very powerful influences on the way we act. If the subconscious mind has been ingrained with positive thoughts, confidence, happiness and a positive view on life will ensue. However, constant negative imprints on the subconscious mind can result in addictive behaviour, low self esteem, depression and lack of self control.

So how do we change our subconscious thoughts?

The first way is to start focusing on what you want out of life, rather than what you don’t want. If you stand in front of a mirror and continually tell yourself you are fat, your subconscious mind will form a neural pathway telling your conscious mind you are fat and therefor make you act accordingly. So the first thing we need to do is to be very clear about what we want in life and to start focusing on positive traits rather than negative.

The second thing we must learn to do is to conjure up images in our minds of how we would like to be or what we want.

Why?

Because the subconscious mind works through mental images and by conjuring up positive images in your mind about how you would like to look, these are then projected on to your conscious mind. Positive images also conjure up positive emotions and all emotions whether positive or negative also help to strengthen neural pathways in the brain.

Finally, it is important to become more observant of your thoughts. Check in on your mind from time to time and just notice what you are thinking about. Your conscious mind has the power to make decisions, so every time you notice you are dwelling on something negative, make a conscious decision to replace it with a positive thought. This is something your conscious mind does have the power to change and the more you practice it, the easier it will become.

By practicing positive visualizations for just 10 minutes a day will not only help you increase yourself control, but can also boost your confidence, make you feel happier and even improve your health.

Depression

Although many people know that in order to have a healthy body you must eat well and exercise, very few people understand how to cultivate a healthy mind.

As a result, there are many people today struggling with depression, anxiety, stress and a host of other psychological issues that can be resolved if they just knew how to take care of their minds.

I believe that 90% of psychological disorders can be eradicated by learning to understand and work with your mind. But these vital skills are never taught to anyone. They are only “discovered’ by people who are on a downhill spiral and desperate to return to a state of normalcy.

But not everyone manages to find these skills and as a result, may struggle with depression for most of their lives.

Now, I am not saying that all psychological illnesses can be resolved from learning to understand your mind as there are definitely cases that require medical assistance and treatments. This is particularly true in the case of psychosis where the person has completely lost touch with external reality.

But I strongly believe that most people who can think rationally are able to change negative thought patterns, as long as they are taught correctly and are willing to put in the time and effort.

And that is why I think 90% of people who are suffering from depression do so out of ignorance (not knowing how the mind works or how to work with it), rather than it being an illness (physical imbalance in the body). And this is something that many medical scientists and doctors agree with.

Please follow this BBC link for further information. What Is Depression?

You also have to understand that physical imbalances are in fact, caused by the mind!! Therefore, in many cases, you can restore physical imbalances in the body by working on your mind!!

Now, this is good news because it means that if you are suffering from depression, YOU CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!

You can take responsibility for your psychological health. You can be in control. You can learn to choose your thoughts rather than be a victim of them and you can return to not just a normal state of psychological health, but an even better one than you ever thought was possible!!

BUT YOU NEED TO WORK AT IT!! In the same way that you need to exercise and eat well to remain physically healthy, you need to spend time working on your mind to achieve a state of inner peace and tranquility.

The problem is though, we live in a society where we expect other people to do things for us, rather than putting in the effort ourselves. But the personal effort must be a part of restoring your psychological wellbeing, in the same way as you must put in the effort of going to the gym to stay fit. A personal trainer will help you, but they can’t run on the treadmill for you. Although a hypnotherapist, counsellor or psychologist can help you, it is up to you to put in the effort to change the way you think, but we can be your guides. We can open up the door, but it is up to you as to whether or not you choose to walk through it.

My journey out of a depression happened 27 years ago. I picked up a book on meditation one day that promised me happiness, peace of mind, confidence and better relationships with the people around me. I was in such a bad state of mind that I promised that I would diligently practice everything that the book said until I felt normal again. And that is exactly what happened.

After three months of regular meditating practice, I realised why I had the depression, how it was me that caused it and what I had to do to make my life happy and peaceful again. And so I changed, and my life flourished into the beautiful journey I have experienced ever since.

My depression was not caused by a physical imbalance, but ignorance. When I understood my mind, I was able to change it.

I have practised meditation now for 27 years and there has not been a single day that I have experienced depression or anxiety since.

I do however feel great! I love my life and I wouldn’t swap it for anyone else’s in the world.

Just saying …..

Looking to overcome stress or anxiety? Come join me on a wellness holiday that will change your life positively and permanenetly Mind Coaching Holidays

If you would like to learn how to meditate…please follow this link Meditation For Beginners

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Toby Author

About Toby Maguire

Hi, I'm Toby.

I’m a meditation teacher, life coach, speaker and retreat host who has spent more than 30 years studying Meditation and Eastern philosophy.

I have helped thousands of people struggling with stress, anxiety or depression to take back control of their minds and build more manageable, enjoyable and more meaningful lives.

From Olympic athletes and Billionaires to company executives and troubled teenagers, I help people from all walks of life achieve greater peace of mind, clarity of their goals and enjoy the process of achieving them