Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Eating right, moving and being in nature - my new project

I haven't written for a long time, but I wanted to let you know what's been going on.

I've been working on a new project with a friend from my Masters course. Together, we realised that we share a passion for eating healthily (that means no packaged/processed food, a lot of fruit and vegetables, and a balanced diet), looking after the environment and spending time in nature. These things are vital for our well-being on an individual and a global level - it's all well and good achieving your goals and dreams, but what about making sure that the planet is still going to be in a fit state for you to live out those dreams in a few years down the line?

Christina and I have created Greenjoy Living - a blog full of healthy recipes, advice, and news on living a healthy, happy, sustainable life. You can visit the new website here:

Greenjoy Living

I'm not stopping this blog - just taking a little time to work on the other project for now! I'd love it if you went over and had a look! 

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

10 Ways to Save Money While Travelling

People often assume that travelling costs a lot of money, but it doesn't have to. Usually, the cheaper ways you find to explore new places, the more interesting your time there will be.
Vang Vieng, Laos

During July and August, my husband and I honeymooned around Thailand, Viet Nam and Laos on a budget of £12 a day. OK, so we went over that a little - but we didn't break the bank. I've been asked how we could afford to spend seven weeks in Asia, so I thought I'd share with you some of our techniques (and some great websites that you might not have heard about).

1. Travel to cheap countries. It might sound obvious, but there's no way we could have spent so little per day if we had been in Australia, Finland or Japan. The beauty of Thailand is that you can get a meal for less than £1, and a 20-minute taxi ride would rarely reach £2. Research countries that have a low cost of living, but that still have things that you want to see and do.

2. Buy a phone/SIM card IN the country. A lot of people use roaming charges when they take their phone to a new country. This can be extortionate (if your phone even works there) and is one of the reasons travellers spend a lot of money. Wait until you're in the country, and pick up a SIM card - you can often buy them at the airport. I found a very basic phone in Thailand for around £8, and their call/text charges are really low. That way, if you need to call your hotel to find out where it is, you won't end up paying more than the nightly rate for the phone call.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Self-esteem versus Self-Compassion: Love Yourself Right!

When you miss out on a job prospect or the man of your dreams turns you down, how do you react? Do you let yourself feel defeated, beat yourself up with thoughts like "you're not good enough, anyway"; or do you accept the situation, give yourself a hug, and move on? Or, perhaps, do you feel angry - how dare they not recognise how amazing you are?! There's a difference between self-esteem, which we've all heard of, and self-compassion - which isn't as well-known.
Source: Scientific American

You may think that having high self-esteem is always a good thing. It's the fuel that makes you get out of bed and ready to kick some ass. In the 80's, America was swept by the self-esteem movement - the idea that, if kids had high self-esteem, they could face life's challenges and rise to any occasion. You might have heard of stories where teachers were forbidden from marking papers with crosses, to avoid the risk of damaging a child's self-esteem. What actually happened, some argue, was the production of a generation of self-entitled brats with massive, unfounded egos - who couldn't handle the merest hint of criticism. There's a great article about it (and Jersey Shore) here.

In the world of Psychology, some researchers are arguing that the downsides of having high self-esteem is a great deal of narcissism and lack of empathy for others. Our generation get accused of thinking we're special and wonderful all the time, but it's clearer to see in others. We probably all know someone who poses for countless selfies, who obsesses over their clothes and make-up, and who seem to only talk about themselves. Despite having high "self-esteem", those people are often the most sensitive when it comes to criticism, too - their ego may be big, but it's fragile.

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! 

Friday, 4 October 2013

"Why Can't I Be Happy?" - The Dark Side of the Positive Thinking Movement

Be happy! Cheer up! You’ve got to strive towards happiness! As you trawl through shelves of self-help
Barbara Ehrenreich promoting her book Smile or Die
paperbacks, the message is the same: you’ve got to become happy. Happiness will make you live longer, improve your health and prospects, magically make everything better and perhaps even land you your dream job.

The pursuit of happiness has long been defined as a basic part of being human – it’s even a constitutional right. When you break it down, whether we’re trying to climb the career ladder, find a partner or fill our day with fun, we’re all striving towards the same goal – happiness. But is there a wrong way, or a wrong time, to strive for happiness? Could there be a dark side to this modern obsession with being happy?

Psychologists are starting to question whether actively chasing happiness might actually be causing us to become unhappier. Think about it; while there may be times that you wouldn’t expect to bring joy (such as the death of a loved one or when you lose your job), when things are going well but you just don’t feel right, you might find yourself asking “Why can’t I be happy?”

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.