Six steps only help take you nearer the edge - Argus Friday 26th February 2016

Posted Thursday 3rd March 2016   By Ericka Waller

So, Emma Seppala, Science Director at Stanford University, has found the key to happiness. Six keys actually, which if followed, can result in 'successholism'. Now, I'm no fan is 'isms' or lables, but Stanford is one of the best Faculties in the world, full of over-achievers. They are so clever they make up words, words I can't even pronounce. I thought it might be worth reading. Here is what I found out.

1. Stop chasing the future:  To what degree? Is preparing packed lunches for the next day trying too hard to control the unknown. How about gritting the drive?

2. Step out of overdrive: The Collins English Dictionary's definition of overdrive is 'a very high gear in a motor-vehicle used at high speeds to reduce wear and save fuel'.
The opposite of this is 'LIMP mode'. I've never felt happy in LIMP mode. I've felt worried for my life, anxious at potential breakdown cover costs and irate with all other drivers around me however.

3. Manage your energy: I have three children. If I were to conserve my stocks by not responding to them instantaneously, the fridge would be empty, the TV volume would be up to 100, and my youngest daughter would be sitting inside the woodburner.

4. Get more done by doing nothing: As the only person in the house who does anything anyway, this seems a dangerous experiment. What gets done if I am not doing it? While I am sitting on the sofa 'loosening my thoughts' and 'unwinding my mind', the children will be doing the above and there will be no dinner. I'm pretty sure Social Services may also have something to say about my parenting techniques. In the wise words of my father, such behaviour 't'would not buy the baby a new bonnet'.

5. Enjoy a successful relationship with yourself: My cleaner and I share the same name. I did not tell my husband this for the first couple of weeks. When I complimented her cleaning, or remarked on her efforts ie "Erika has really done a good job on those bathroom tiles" or "It's so great having Erika around on Mondays, she is amazing" he looked at me very oddly and took the next week off work to give me a break. As for buying yourself flowers with a motivational message attached, I'm inclined to remember the old adage 'A fool and his money are soon parted'.

6. Understand the kindness edge: This basically means seeing everyone as your friend and caring deeply for them, living in compassion. Sounds like the beginnings of a cult to me. Lines could quickly become blurred. A compassionate cuddle to one person could mean something very different to another. Apparently this approach will get you further in the workplace. It might get you the nickname 'office bicycle', but that is probably all.

Alongside this new fangled-recipe for happiness is the shocking revelation that 'To Do' lists are where 'tasks go to die'.

Mr Kruse, Author of '15 Secret Successful People know about Time Management (catchy title) claims lists add stress, increase anxiety and cause insomnia. Mr Kruse has obviously never been so sleep-deprived that unless he writes the number of children he has on the bathroom mirror in toothpaste there is a danger he will leave the house without them all the next day.

The thing with 'to do' lists, is make them achievable, by starting off with quick wins.
1:Get up, tick. 2: Check 'to do' list, tick. 3: Put down pen, oh, hang on, can't tick with no pen, but you see my point.

Mr Kruse suggests replacing 'to do' lists with allocated slots of time. Once again, I can't help but wonder if Mr Kruse has ever attempted to get three small children out the house in a pre-allocated time slot. If not he should.

Twitter Chief Exec Jack Dorsey suggests replacing to-do lists with themes, such as 'marketing' or 'management'. Imagine doing this as a mother. My 'themes' would be 'pirates' 'toast' and 'the word no'.

Now I'm no Stanford student, but doesn't the fact that you have a list to follow from Ms Seppala make her successful study likely to be unsuccessful?

And finally I'm in hospital again. It's a lot more serious than last time. I'd not watched The Walking Dead last time. Every night when the lights go off, I'm petrified a zombie apocalypse has happened. I imagine all my friends and family have headed for the hills (Ditchling), leaving me hooked up to machines and the mercy of 'walkers'. Admittedly, the morphine is feeding the fear, but I'm sure the nurses are shuffling lopsidedly just to give me the willies.

This is the first time I have been hooked on a Netflix box set. It's taken over my life. I can't check social media in case someone 'spoils' it for me. I can't stop thinking about, no, caring about the characters in the show. I'm desperate to watch them all but never want it to end. I've started eating jelly beans late at night to stay awake. Forget six steps to happiness, I need 12 steps for addiction.


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