Monday, 28 October 2013

A Free, Easy Way to Be Happier: Our Connection With Nature




Woo, I got an article published! Have a look:

Growing up, I would spend my afternoons after school behind the house, running through the overgrowth, wading through the river, climbing trees and chasing squirrels. I come from a beautiful, scenic part of Wales, one that attracts a lot of city-dwellers every year.

Despite the stunning views of mountains and coastlines, the forests and wild paths, the choppy seas and the golden sands, I always wanted more. I grew up watching people settling down forever, settling for boring jobs, spending their evenings in the pub – and I wanted more.

When I finally moved away – for university – I thought that things would suddenly fall into place. I was in an exciting city, with people everywhere and things going on every night. I met great friends and joined societies, but something suddenly started to feel wrong...

To read more, click here to view my entire post on Cafetruth.com! 

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

When Life Doesn't Live Up To The Dream: The Problem of Our Generation?

Do you ever feel as if your life hasn’t turned out the way you hoped it would? Do you feel disappointed,
unfulfilled, and like you were lied to about your prospects? You thought that, by now, you’d have it all figured out – the dream job, the amazing house, the beautiful family – but, instead, you’re slogging away at a badly-paid job that you can’t stand, wondering where it all went wrong… sound familiar?

It seems that discontent is in the air these days; whether it’s riots, revolutions or discontent. Scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, travelling the world and coaching, there’s a feeling among people that they’ve somehow failed. They started out with great dreams, and somehow, life got in the way. Paying bills and just affording to eat takes precedence over everything else – a soul-crushing reality for those whose hearts are ignited by music, poetry, or, really, anything other than sales and data entry. You’re not alone if you feel that way. We were told that the world was our oyster. But it turns out that being smart, hard-working, creative, good with people and qualified is not enough. You toil through the job adverts, being put off by the word “experienced” on even the easiest-sounding job. You see things you’re more than qualified for, but you need some certificate you’ve never heard of to even apply. You find your dream job, but it’s an unpaid internship. You wonder how you’re ever going to get where you want to be without winning the Lottery or marrying someone rich.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Being Grateful Makes You Happier

If you celebrate Thanksgiving, then you might indulge in the tradition of saying what you're thankful for before devouring the turkey and green bean casserole; a delightful holiday that I was mostly unaware of - apart from through episodes of Friends - until I started meeting Americans on my travels. Apart from being completely enamoured with pumpkin pie, I was touched by the idea of everybody going around the table, saying what they were grateful for. Surely it's a great way to make kids appreciate what they've got. But then - why limit expressions of gratitude to one day a year?

It turns out that gratitude is really good for us. Over the last few years, Positive Psychologists have found that people who are generally more grateful are also happier (or, to phrase it properly, have higher subjective ratings of well-being). Of course, you may think, those who have more to be grateful for would be happier, while those riddled with bad luck are far more likely to be miserable. 

Saturday, 7 September 2013

When you feel your life is meaningless...

A little quote that might make you feel blessed to be alive...

"Not only have you been lucky enough to be attached since time immemorial to a favored
evolutionary line, but you have also been extremely-make that miraculously-fortunate in your personal ancestry. Consider the fact that for 3.8 billion years, a period of time older than the Earth’s mountains and rivers and oceans, every one of your forebears on both sides has been attractive enough to find a mate, healthy enough to reproduce, and sufficiently blessed by fate and circumstances to live long enough to do so. Not one of your pertinent ancestors was squashed, devoured, drowned, starved, stranded, stuck fast, untimely wounded, or otherwise deflected from its life’s quest of delivering a tiny charge of genetic material to the right partner at the right moment in order to perpetuate the only possible sequence of hereditary combinations that could result-eventually, astoundingly, and all too briefly-in you.” Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything.


You're a little miracle. Don't waste it.


Monday, 2 September 2013

Stop the Shoulds: Wanting Luxury Without Apologies

Firstly – hello again! Sorry for disappearing for such a long time… but, in my defence, I was on my
The bamboo hut I "should" have loved...
honeymoon. Seven weeks in South East Asia! Well, now I’m back, and the post-holiday blues are threatening to set in, unless I get my arse into gear and start blogging… And what better subject to start with than travel?

I’m not exactly sure when the travel bug first bit me, but ever since I packed my bags and moved to Japan I could safely think of myself as somebody a little adventurous. While I haven’t travelled anywhere near as much as some of my friends, I have made it to 22 countries, most of them in the last three years. Like many travellers, I like to see myself as somehow better than your run-of-the-mill backpacker – somebody who doesn’t fall for tourist traps, who gets in there and experiences the “real” feel of a country, and who doesn’t need any luxury to get by. At least, that’s what I thought before I set off on my backpacking honeymoon.

Before setting out, I told my best friend that the majority of the honeymoon would be spent Couchsurfing, volunteering and generally slumming it. She was horrified – surely a honeymoon should be spent in luxury resorts, getting pampered, she argued. I refused to hear any of it – not only could we not afford five (or even three) star hotels; we didn’t want to waste our money on such excessive, unnecessary things as hot baths and soft pillows. We weren’t going to be part of the problem (and tourism DOES ruin local ecosystems) – we were going to save our money and get some real experience.

Monday, 1 July 2013

How I Got Married Without Freaking Out

Hello there! Firstly, let me apologise for my slow updates (both now and in the future). Things are a bit hectic - I just got married, then (four days later) we packed up our entire Prague life and moved over to the UK
Loads of love to whoever gets this
again! We're in a bit of a limbo stage at the moment, as we're heading off on our honeymoon next week. Once we're back, it'll be time to work out the hubby's legal working status and start looking for opportunities. If you're in London and would like some face-to-face coaching, now is your chance!

One thing I was told over and over in the days (and minutes) leading up to my wedding was that I was surprisingly calm. I took it as a compliment, but it left me wondering. What was I expected to do? The stereotypical image of a bride is of a neurotic Bridezilla who freaks out if one flower is the wrong shade of pink, who gets anxiety attacks over the thought of her make-up not being perfect, and who envisions the commitment she is about to make and starts plotting her escape route... right? I thought back to what the me of two or three years ago would have done, and that sounded about right.

So, how did I stay calm and end up having the most amazing day? It's been a long way coming, but as so many people seemed interested in my zen-like "skills" I'll try to give you some tips for your own big day (or any other stressful occasion)...

Monday, 20 May 2013

The Hunger For More: What We Really Want and Need

So, exciting moment - I had an article featured on tinybuddha.com, which brought me a lot of new traffic!

The article was something that I wrote truly from the heart, something that I feel is greatly important. Writing something like this isn't easy, though; you have to be in the right frame of mind for the right words to flow. But here it is. It's about that feeling inside you, that hunger for more, and one of the ways that we can satisfy it.

"As a child, I was obsessed with other worlds—reading about alien planets, writing fantasy stories, or just playing video games. As a teenager, I longed to know as much as possible— who we were, why we are here, the meaning of life.

Later on, I started traveling. There was so much to see, so much to do, so many ways to look at the world. I wanted to see it all, touch it all, experience it all.

This need for more has existed throughout my life in its many forms, and I can thank it for always driving me to do great, exciting things. But at the same time, it has never allowed me to stay still, to just enjoy myself the way so many people seem to.

When I ignore this feeling, it starts gnawing away at me from the inside. It tells me that I am not doing enough, that I’m lazy, a time-waster. Some would call the feeling a feeling of becoming stir-crazy, cabin fever, ennui.

I look at it as a hunger. When I ignore that hunger, when I stop traveling or learning or creating or just doing, the weight of the world piles up on me and life suddenly feels like a suffocating, restricting place."

Read the rest HERE!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

The Confidence to Perform! (video entry)

Hello there!

I want to give a big "WELCOME" to all the new subscribers I got recently... very exciting! I'm glad to have you here, and I hope that together we can help you find what you're looking for.

Today's episode of "Tea with Gwynnie" stars my friend, musician/actress/vocal coach Rowen Bridler, my lovely, talented friend who recently came into my life.

Rowen is no stranger to the topic of confidence - she not only has to conquer it when she goes to auditions, but she helps her coaching clients to build up their confidence and become better singers and public speakers.

Over a nice cup of tea, we talked about the wonderful work she does with her clients and discussed some tricks that you can use at home to build up your own confidence. She also did a little singing coaching with me, but I've saved your ears by only including a tiny clip! I have to say - she was great at spotting my bad habits straight away, and had no problem with pointing them out to me - great stuff.

If you're a singer, actor or performer of any kind, you might find this useful - but it's applicable for everyone else, too. Have you ever had to give a speech at work and frozen up? Ever wished you could project your voice, or just appear more confident? Have a look... this lady might be able to help you!




You can find out more about Rowen at howtosingforyourlife.com, or check out www.rowenbridler.com to hear her music.







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Friday, 10 May 2013

How To Handle Rejection


Mmmm, rejection... don't we all love a bit of that? If you're anything like me (and most people), rejection not only is responsible for some pretty painful memories; it can also stop you from trying new things.
(From sheknows.com)

Imagine the situation: you want to start your own business, but you worry about whether people will actually like you. You browse the jobs pages, but you don't actually apply, because you don't think you'll get the job anyway. You watch that cute guy/girl from the corner of your eye, but you don't dare to make a move, in case they walk away in disgust.

The reason for all of the above, whether you realise it or not, is simple: you are terrified of rejection. The thought of someone saying "no", of turning you down or even giving you a piece of negative feedback, freezes you up. You can't be hurt if you don't try, right? Better to stay in your safe little cocoon, where nobody will reject you, and nothing will ever change.

It isn't only death and taxes that are inevitable. As long as you interact with other humans, rejection is unavoidable. If you want to change your life, you're going to have to deal with a bit of rejection along the way... so, instead of hiding from it, it's time to learn how to handle it!

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Making Big Leaps + My First Video Entry!

"Too late for second-guessing, too late to go back to sleep, it's time to trust my instincts, close my eyes and leap..." sings Elphaba in one of my favourite musicals, Wicked, moments before she breaks away from what is expected of her and starts to fly.

While things didn't go so well for her, there are many people out there who would tell you that their lives just wouldn't be as good now if they hadn't taken a big leap at some point in their past. You don't have to learn to actually fly and cast magic to shake things up. If you have a big career change, you're moving countries or there's a big shift coming up in your personal life, you might find yourself freaking out and wondering how to cope. Changes are scary.

I moved to Japan in 2010, having never visited the place before. Lots of people told me "I wish I could do something like that!" Less than two years later, I was moving to Prague (with the fiancé that I found in Japan, oh yes) with even less certainty - no job, no idea where I'd live, just a pocket full of dreams (well, and a little cash; it does help).

In my first ever VIDEO ENTRY I talk about making big leaps in your life. My video entries are delightfully named Tea with Gwynnie, because I'm so very British that I just can't resist sipping on a cup of tea while talking to you. Posting a video is a bit of a leap for me, too, as I cringe when I watch myself on camera... but I figured hey, I might as well see how it goes.

So, here it is... enjoy!



If you liked that, then check out my new Shine with Self-Confidence course! You'll learn how to find the courage to make big leaps, whether you're moving countries or changing your career path!



Monday, 15 April 2013

Do You Listen to Your Confidence or Your Paranoia?



I've been a massive Red Dwarf fan since I first watched it as a child, and recently I realised that one of its earlier episodes was strongly connected to something I've been talking about recently.

In the episode Confidence and Paranoia, Lister (Craig Charles) talks about those two voices in his head that we're all familiar with: "It's like everyone's got two people inside you. You've got your confidence and paranoia. And your confidence's the guy who goes, 'Hey you're great.
  You're dead sexy! Everybody loves you!' And your paranoia says, 'You're stupid. You're useless. You're ugly. And everybody hates you
.'"

Of course, later on he gets sick and his hallucinations actually come to life, but the point is that for most of us these two 'people' exist inside our heads. The problem is that many of us take on the voice of Paranoia and mistake it for our own thoughts, while dismissing anything that Confidence might have to say as silly and unrealistic. If you tend to put yourself down, doubt your abilities and only notice your flaws, then it might be time to look at what you're telling yourself.

Friday, 29 March 2013

7 Tips for Giving your Opinions with Confidence


Opinions. We all have them, whether they are carefully researched or something we've absorbed by 

Show 'em you're right! (from 12 Angry Men)
skimming the headlines of the Daily Mail. Sometimes it's better to keep them to yourself and a small number of other people (for example, if you think that Fifty Shades of Grey is the most well-written piece of literature of our time, or that, say, parents should be allowed to execute their children), but there are times when you need to state your opinions clearly and articulately. You might be asked at a meeting for your thoughts on the current project. You might find yourself in a heated debate, giving opinions on everything from corporal punishment to the reunion of Steps.

This doesn't seem to be a problem for some people, but many of us find that our brains and tongues fail us when we need them the most. If you've ever found yourself stumbling and tongue-tied when asked your opinion, feeling like an idiot and later kicking yourself with "I should have said THAT!" you'll know what I mean. Being embarrassed in public can make you feel like crap, and the less faith you have in your own opinions, the less secure you can feel speaking up in front of people.  

Thursday, 28 February 2013

How to Stop Letting People Walk All Over You

Do you ever feel as if the people in your life walk all over you? Do you wish that you could tell your boss that you don't want to work Saturdays, your friend that you'd like her to listen to you for a change, or those telephone salesmen to leave you alone? Do you find your brain saying "Leave me alone!" but your mouth saying "Yes, of course I will!"?

STOP - I don't want another flyer!
(Source: jacksanfernandes.com)
Being clear about what you want and don't want is far harder than it should be. Throughout our lives, we are given confusing messages - don't complain, keep a stiff upper lip, turn the other cheek, but stick up for yourself. While nobody wants to be treated like a doormat, the thought of standing up to others can be terrifying. After all, it might lead to confrontation or cause people to dislike us.

I realised, recently, that I had lived most of my life afraid to speak up for what I wanted. Even the thought of asking somebody to get out of my way on a bus filled me with cold dread.


Monday, 18 February 2013

What's Your Assertiveness Style?

It’s hard to get what we want in life. It’s even harder when we’re so afraid to tell other people what we want that we sit around hoping they’ll read our minds. How often do you have the guts to tell somebody that you want, or don’t want, something? Do you ever feel as if you let people walk all over you? Does the thought of complaining in a restaurant fill you will cold dread?

"Honey, of COURSE I don't mind if you still talk to your
ex every day...." (mysuccessprinciples.com)
It might be something you've never thought about, but picture this: You’re waiting for the bus, trying to balance your take-out coffee in one hand and your mobile in the other. Suddenly, you feel something slamming into you, spilling your coffee and making you drop your phone. You look around and see that a stranger, absorbed in their own phone, just crashed into you without a word of apology. Do you:
a)    Scream at them, telling them to watch where they’re f***ing going!
b)    Silently pick up your coffee and phone, thinking about how much the world steps on you
c)    Say nothing but curse under your breath, perhaps loudly shouting “ouch!”
d)    Approach the stranger and kindly point out what they did

 OK, so this situation obviously depends on a lot of things. You don’t want to miss your bus, and you don’t want to accidentally enrage a stranger, just in case they’re the next serial killer and respond to your “kind” request with a punch in the face, or worse. Besides, they might have a legitimate reason for being in such a hurry, meaning that you’d feel guilty for saying anything. Generally, though, the response you felt the most drawn to gives a clue about how assertive you are.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Making New Year's Resolutions That Stick


How familiar does the following scenario sound? The New Year comes around and you make a list of all the things you need to change - to lose weight, to stop smoking, to drink less. After sleeping off your Jan 1st hangover, you get up ready to kick some ass. For a few days you avoid alcohol, you only eat salads and you go to the gym. A few days, or weeks, later it all goes wrong. You find yourself craving that late-night cheeseburger more and more, and you find excuses for avoiding the gym (it's raining, your leg hurts, you don't quite have time, something more important came up...). You try to stay strong, but you fail, and within a few days you've gone back to exactly the way you were before. You think that New Year's Resolutions are pointless, or, worse, that you are weak-willed, a failure and unable to change. You might smile and think "Oh, well, this is just the way that I am!" and smoke your tenth cigarette of the morning with pride.


As you probably know - you're not alone. Many, or most, of my friends no longer believe in setting resolutions at the turn of the year; after all, they're not going to stick to them anyway. For those of us looking for an excuse to stay the same, writing off these promises to change as impossible to keep makes a nice excuse, but for those of us who genuinely want to better ourselves, it can seem frustrating. So what can we do to stick to our resolutions?