Reading past the headlines for a healthy life

060414 106This week I have decided to change direction for a while in my blog. I have been prompted by the continued misleading headlines in newspapers.

Have you noticed how often we read things such as a particular food stuff being the magic answer to certain health solutions only to be told the next week they are the problem?

Recently a headline suggested that research had “proven” that people who were in the obese weight range had a 24% reduced chance of developing dementia. The suggestion was that being over-weight was an important way to stay mentally healthy!

Sadly newspaper reporters are more interested in the circulation of their paper than in reporting accurate information. With that in mind I thought I would offer some tips for balancing headlines.

Firstly, few if anything is “proven” by research. Proven is a very concrete statement suggesting there is no margin for error. Often there are conflicting research projects that provide results that are at odds with each other.

This is more about complexity than anything else, issues such as dementia for instance are very complex and there are multiple indicators, causes and suggested ways to stay healthy. None of these can provide a 100% guarantee of anything.

Secondly, in research there are findings and confounding variables. Usually there are a number of things that can be reported as possibilities, sometimes these are just correlational. For example, in hot weather there are more ice cream stains on clothes.

Does hot weather cause ice cream stains?

I’m sure you are ahead of me here. Perhaps when the weather is hot more people buy ice cream and therefore the chance of ice cream dripping onto clothes is higher. However consider also that perhaps ice cream vans may only go out in the summer particularly in holiday spots. Maybe people on holiday eat more ice cream than when working.

Do you get the idea?

There are often multiple factors to any result. In the case of the research around dementia there were a number of other findings reported including possible problems with the results (this is normal in good research). It is also worth considering what the 24% related to. It is not 24% of the population!

So next time there is a sensational headline consider looking up the original research if you are interested enough. Or look in scientific magazines such as New Scientist who often report such research in an easier format that still has a less sensationalist stance.

I am in a health and well-being stream now so if you happen to live in the Crowborough, East Sussex areaThe Well Place you might want to join me on 12th May at our NLP Practice group meeting. The topic is Well-being and hypnosis. More details on


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Releasing negative thoughts to make room for positive ones


IMG_4012_ silver lining cloud edited-1_edited-2I wonder if you ever have the same experience as me around negative thinking.

Sometimes something small can trigger me into thinking negatively. For example, Spam!

There are a number of spam emails I receive regularly, some three or four times a week. Each time I tagged them as spam expecting my computer to eventually get the message. And then to make matters worse emails I want get sent straight to spam for some mysterious reason. For example, one of my friends who is also a colleague now has to text me to tell me she has sent me an email!

Now I am sure there is a technical reason for this that some smart person could help me solve, however that is not the point.Be Brilliant today shine on in every way

What happens for me if I get irritated is that I start thinking negative thoughts and wind myself up. My brain or my unconscious or whatever you want to call it gets helpful at this point.

I am creating in myself negative states to use the NLP term or if we talk from a science perspective I am creating brain chemistry associated with feeling negative. So as a result I start escalating my thinking via association or anchoring. I begin thinking about more serious things that I have felt negative about in the past.

Often these are things that I have perhaps already dealt with emotionally and yet I can re-stimulate the feelings by how I talk to myself.

What is the answer?

IMG_4140_ swan edited-1_edited-1Fortunately there is more than one answer!

Here are two for you to consider. Firstly we can distract ourselves by doing something different, in NLP we would call this a pattern interrupt or a state break. For me this might be playing with the dogs.

Another alternative is to write down what is bother you. In a way that is what I’m doing now. There was some research published last year and reported on in New Scientist that when we write down negative things it is a way of dissociating ourselves from it. This allows us to let it go. The idea is to write it down without any need to revisit what you have written so you can throw it away. By throwing it away or putting it in the trash on your computer you are symbolically letting go of the issue.

Give it a try. The pictures today are intended to help you focus on the positive, I hope you like them.


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Take some time out for yourself, re-charge the batteries

Have you ever noticed how sometimes the universe conspires to support you in unusual ways? Well that is what happened to me this week.

Red deer IMG_6245_edited-2I had booked a day out for myself with my photography teacher, David Plummer on a “Deer Safari”. I was really looking forward to it but as is often the way with self-employed people I had my phone ready to take with me so I could access my emails.

And this is where the universe intervened. My account came up with a message telling me my password had expired! I didn’t have time to sort it out so had to leave with no ability to check my emails.

Having recovered from my initial grumpiness I embraced this wonderful freedom and thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Did my business come crashing down?

I’m sure you guessed it, having a lack of access to my emails was a non-event as far as my business was concerned and I got to be more in the moment of my experience.

We had a great day and saw a lot of amazing wildlife including both Fallow and Red Deer, a Red Kite, Buzzards, a fox, countless birds, rabbits and squirrels. We also saw a pair of Tree Creepers building their nest, heard the first cuckoo of the season and my highlight got up close and personal with a Little Owl.Little Owl IMG_6316_edited-2

Are you giving yourself time to be free and re-charge your batteries or are you tied to your gadgets and your job? Remember taking time out to re-charge means that you come back to work with clear focus and more energy.

Here are just a few of the pictures I took on Thursday.

Tree creeper IMG_6220_edited-13 little pigs IMG_6311

If you want to check out my teacher’s website here it is

He runs workshops in Sussex but also leads trips across the world including Africa and South America. My pictures have improved big time thanks to his patient teaching.

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Take time to notice the flowers, be happy!

Blue flowerThis week I was reminded that sometimes when life is happening to us our focus can become very narrow. We lose sight of beauty and comfort around us. Whatever issue is consuming us grows so large that we forget notice that life is so much more.

My American business partner, NLP Master Trainer Julie Silverthorn co-created a set on NLP Pre-suppositions and one in particular is worth remembering when life is gloomy.




“No matter what you think you are,

you are always

and in all ways

more than that!”

I share with you here a link from the children’s TV show “The Wombles” where even with sore paws and falling hair Orinoco remembers to say “Hello Flower”.

Watch and enjoy!


For those of you who are NLP Master Practitioners a quick reminder. This July we are running our NLP Trainer’s Training programme. Join Julie Silverthorn, Joe and I for a fun, stretching and happy learning experience. This course is ideal whether you are wanting to teach NLP, become an extraordinary presenter or experience the next step in your NLP journey.


For more details check out

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Are you getting enough sleep?

sunset 1I wonder if you have given any thought to your sleep patterns. Many people sleep very poorly and this can have enormous knock on effects to our health. It impacts on energy, concentration, our immune system and our ability to manage our weight.

This is something that for me was getting worse and worse. I was regularly lying awake in the middle of the night unable to sleep. I sometimes got up 6 or 7 times in the night.

To begin with I put it down to my age, going through the change and other such things as I had heard other people talking about this. However after my gall bladder operation I realised that many of the symptoms I had been experiencing had been connected to this organ (going back several years).

This made me start to question my poor sleeping habits too as this was the only issue I had left. I started monitoring things like caffeine and alcohol intake. Coffee definitely had an impact but not that much and then I finally woke up, which allowed me to go to sleep!

It was all about technology. During an average evening I would use my ipad or mobile phone constantly whilst watching TV. I would check Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and so on. The blue light from such devices can fool the brain into thinking it is wake up time. This persists even when we go to bed.

So here is what I did. I now stop looking at my media stuff by 7pm. I might check it once after that but only for two to three minutes maximum. We have just moved into our new bedroom after the building works. We have made this a technology free zone.

I am now three weeks into my new pattern. I am sleeping through the night and waking rested. I am now getting seven to eight hours sleep where before I was getting five to six. I can already feel the difference.

Giving yourself the best chance of a good nights sleep is essential as part of your well-being programme as it helps promote health and happiness.IMG_4012_ silver lining cloud edited-1_edited-2

How are you getting on with this part of your life? Let me know if you have found things that work or if you need some ideas.


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Looking after your well-being

The Well PlaceWhat are you doing to look after your well-being?

As a coach I regularly work with people who are running around feeling stressed. They are often working long hours, neglecting their relationships, their health and their own well-being. When challenged they will often have a whole list of reasons why they can’t change their routines.

Sadly often something happens to force them to re-consider. A relationship collapses, a child develops behavioural problems, a health issue creates a crisis or paradoxically the job disappears!

Often what is missing is the long view. We need to step back and look at our lives from a distance. Here are some questions to consider as you do that.

What is really important to me in my life?

What is my purpose in being here?

Who are the people that really matter to me?

How do I want to spend my time?

For the people who are convinced they have to work so hard and be so unavailable there is nothing I can write that will make a difference. However here is the real test. However old you are consider the average life span. Work out based on that how many days you have left.

That’s right, how many days do you have left in this life time!

If you are living an unhealthy life style you will of course have to work out how many days to reduce this by. Can you really afford not to start looking after your well-being?

Take a moment now, and take three deep breaths in and out. What matters to you?IMG_4140_ swan edited-1_edited-1



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Finding purpose, following your mission

Be Brilliant today shine on in every wayA topic often discussed in Positive Psychology is that of meaning. When we have meaning and purpose in our lives we tend to be happier. If we can find meaning out of obstacles and even tragedy we recover quicker.

Last month I was issued with two parking tickets. Something that is unheard of for me.


What has that got to do with happiness I hear you say?

Well after I got over my temper tantrum I got to thinking about metaphor. I believe we can use events in our life as metaphors to help us develop as if the universe is sending us a message. So I asked myself a question.

Am I in “park mode” in my life?

The answer I came back with is “maybe”. As you know if you have been following my blog I re-located a couple of years ago and I’m gradually shifting my work to the new area. Well the truth is I haven’t put a great deal of effort into that.

I am fortunate enough that I could afford to coast a little. I have been enjoying “being” in my new location close to nature. There are many good things to this however I realise I was also losing direction.

Since asking myself that question and talking it through with Joe something really interesting has started to happen. I am suddenly being presented with opportunities to do those things that I believe are part of my process.

Several people in real need emotionally and psychologically have reached out to me. I have noticed how much more alive I feel when I am engaged in “my mission”.

I’m back!

How about you? Are you coasting? Have you discovered your purpose? Do you need some help finding it?

Reach out if you do, get that help. Find out what you are here to do.

Becoming Still ad IMG_4885_edited-3


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Becoming Wise, the reward for getting older

cropped owl April 2014 166_edited-2This week I thought it would be good to consider the good things that come with getting older. The topic of wisdom is one that we explored as part of my Msc in Applied Positive Psychology.

In modern society there is often a focus on the young and staying youthful as if aging is in some way wrong. What a shame that so many people become anxious about this natural progression.

In more ancient societies age and wisdom were prized and the various phases of our life each had a value. In my studies at university the following points were presented:

  • Wisdom is made up of a rich store of “declarative” knowledge, the knowing of facts about development and the importance of the context.
  • There is a rich repertoire of “procedural” knowledge, the know how to perform certain skills such as complex decision making about interpersonal problems and conflict resolution.
  • Wisdom is the ability to appreciate the many themes and contexts in life such as family, self, community, culture etc and the inter-relations across a life span.
  • It also brings tolerance for differences in values and priorities. The wise person is respectful of the unique set of values an individual holds even if they differ from their own.
  • And with wisdom we are more able to handle ambiguity and uncertainty. We recognise that when problem solving information is often incomplete with regard to the past and the present while uncertain about the future. All of this is taken into account when solving problems.

Perhaps most interesting of all during my studies was the fact that wisdom is not guaranteed as we get older, we need to be open to it. Also there are wise young people too.

Are you allowing yourself to embrace your potential for wisdom?

Are you letting go of superficial judgements encouraged by society?

Are you ready to be wise enough to be happy just as you are?

Being Happy ad IMG_5666_edited-1


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Are you appreciating and savouring what really matters?

R&B Running 2006This morning before sitting down to write this blog I took a few moments to sit with my two dogs, Buck and Remus. There were no distractions, just me and these two small living beings. As I stroked their coats I noticed the texture of their fur. I could feel their heart beats and their warmth. Without distraction I was able to fully appreciate their existence and how they contribute to mine.

In our modern life we often dash from one thing to another and when we stop we fill up our experience with chatter such as social media and TV. We often lose the ability to be still and savour.

Savouring and appreciating are two concepts discussed in many books on Positive Psychology. All that is required is that you choose to do so. Take a moment to notice what is important in the moment.

If I were to stop right now it might be to turn and look out the window. The garden is bursting with life, I can hear woodpeckers pecking, the sun is bright and there is a feel of spring in the air. These moments of stopping to notice and savour have a power to bring a sense of contentment, ease and happiness even when we are in the midst of challenge.

What will you savour today? Will it be to truly taste an apple, gaze at a view, stroke a beloved pet, play with a child or plant a seed in the ground? For those of you who find it hard to stop try this.

Savour one deep breath. Sit or stand in a comfortable position. Breathe in and notice how your lungs expand to accommodate the breath. Hold that breath a couple of seconds appreciating the life in your body and then gently release that breath.

What did you notice?

My challenge to you all today is to savour and appreciate at least one thing today even if it is only one breath. Let me know how you get on. rain on May flowers

One small item of news today, on Saturday 7th March we will be holding an NLP practice group. The location will be Crowborough, East Sussex. This is open to all who would like to know more. The topic will be “Savouring and appreciating”. If you would like to join us please contact me direct for details.


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What is being happy?

Squirrel The emotion of being happy is something we experience in the moment. Think about it for a moment. Emotion, and I mean all emotions are short lived bio-chemical reactions created by the focus of our thoughts in any moment.

Consider that phone call. If it is amazing, great news we can instantly access happiness maybe even joy! If the news is less good the opposite may be the fact. Our anger is equally a momentary event.

Rather than waiting for some external event to happen choose to be happy right now. Even if things in your life are challenging give yourself permission to take a “happiness holiday”. Find something positive to focus on that will make you smile and allow your body to trigger a happiness reaction.

For example, go outside and hug a tree! People often joke about tree hugging and yet actually it can be a very calming thing to do. Rest your cheek against the bark and feel that roughness, sink into the tree and feel the warmth. Connect to the energy within.

Listen, you might sense the beat of the tree or hear birds singing, the wind rustling the leaves and branches or maybe even your own heartbeat.

Nature is full of things to focus on that will allow happiness to emerge. My favourite right now is watching the acrobatics of the squirrels as they creatively work out how to access the bird feeders!

If you use facebook, focus on the positive videos for a while. If you look on my facebook page GWizNLP you will see lots of cuddly videos alongside the brain ones. There is a great one with baby pandas.  Isle of wight raw 264_edited-2

So instead of saying “I’ll be happy when..” say “I’ll be happy now!”


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