Self-acceptance in nine words

This week has been a big one for me and my Life Well Lived project. On Tuesday I pressed "Publish" on my first podcast interview, with Jessica Robson of Run Talk Run. A couple of days later I was sitting down to talk with another inspirational…

Jour sans

Last weekend I made the short trip from my home to Kells for some of the events of Tailteann, a festival of sports and sport-writing put on by the organisers of the summer's Hinterland literary festival in the town. The weekend's final event…

Oasis B-sides, memory and the synapses of the brain

As I was got into the car to set off for the day at shortly after 6.30am the other morning, I idly flicked on the radio. I'm not a regular radio listener, not any more. These days I'm more a hummingbird type, hovering and flitting until I…
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Technology and Distraction – The Third Paradox of Life and Living in 2018

The 21st century is characterised by unprecedented technology and distraction and opportunity. Our challenge right now is to take advantage of the omnipresent opportunities while lifting ourselves above the omnipresent noise. This is the…

Agreeableness and amiability

I started my TEDx talk about depression and happiness last year by saying, "For as long as I can remember, I've loved words." Words fascinate me endlessly. Not just in their shape and meaning, but also in their different uses and interpretations. In…
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Happiness - the second paradox of life and living in 2018

Yesterday I published the first in this short series of paradoxes of life and living in 2018. Today is the second instalment in this series. Paradox 2: People's lives have never been better, and yet there has never been so much happiness The…
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Five paradoxes of life and living: Black, white and grey

The more I think about how to live a life well lived, how to be our best selves both out in the world and inside our own head, the more I realise that life is full of paradoxes and conflicts. Over the next week or so I will present five short…

The words we use, and how we use them

Talk is cheap, as they say. What I've come to realise is not just how cheap talk is, and it can be very cheap, but how inadequate it is, too. The trivial consequence: How often have you thought of the perfect retort ... hours after the opportunity…

Work-related stress and the future

The news loves reports. A ready-made headline, of a 27% rise in this or a 42% fall in that, or one in three teenagers doing one thing or four in five pensioners doing the other. I tend to take such stuff with a pinch of salt, knowing that…

Reworking the definition of happiness

I sometimes think that the biggest obstacle to achieving happiness is that so many of us really, really, really don't know what it actually is. On Sunday, I read an article in Ireland's Sunday Independent. (Note to self: Stop reading newspapers,…

Lessons for living from William Goldman's lessons for writing

Obituaries are both the most inspiring and saddest of any newspaper. The expanse of a life, distilled to an adulatory headline, a few hundred words, two dates—date of birth and date of death—and, space permitting, maybe a picture. I've…

Gary Vee on happiness — the ultimate return on investment

I've been paying attention to Gary Vaynerchuk for about two years now. I really like his intelligence, his integrity and authenticity and his combination of absolute humility and unbreakable confidence. His expletive-laden speeches and…

The life-changing magic of skill stacking

Usefulness—the feeling of being useful, to ourselves, to our loved ones, to society—is a powerful contributor to overall happiness, and the concept of skill stacking can, I believe, be a great way of increasing our feelings of usefulness…

Pessimism is a game that's impossible to win

One of the enemies of happiness, of peace of mind in the moment, is pessimism: the uncertainty, anxiety and fear we have about the future at any given point in time. Jane Austen, the 19th century novelist, has a line in Emma that goes: "Perfect…

Acceptance vs Ambition (Part 2)

Last week I wrote a piece about acceptance, ambition and profound truth. Since then I've been thinking more about acceptance, and how for some reason it's both important to have acceptance, and to resist acceptance and aim for ambition instead. And…