23 April 2012

Tips from Successful People

A favourite saying which has guided, inspired - or simply cheered, them time and again throughout their life - small and useful details that can make a difference to a person's quality of life.

  • Get a facial ... and a cleaner (Anne Robinson, TV presenter).  But remember that having a cleaner doesn't mean that you never do any housework as there are so much cleaning which gets done 'as it happens' - you're not going to leave a puddle of milk on the floor 'for the cleaner to deal with' if she's not coming 'til tomorrow!  However, a regular facial sounds an excellent idea - perhaps tied in with a massage too?!
  • No regrets - no self-pity; no over-sentimentality (Terry Waite, British religious adviser who, while negotiating for the release of prisoners in the Middle East, was captured and spent 1,563 days in captivity, almost four years of it in solitary confinement).  What Terry had to deal with puts into perspective any regrets or self pity which we ordinary mortals may have experienced.  If Terry can feels like that, then we can at least try!
  • If you love something, then set it free.  If it comes back to you, it's yours, if it doesn't, it never was. Our friends, lovers, children, belong only to themselves and possessive, controlling relationships are as harmful as neglect. (Alison Willcocks, head of Bedales School).  Very important to remember as a mother, it's difficult to let go - but we must.
  • Get out of your chair and move. Travel turns your life into an education, it makes you think for yourself and helps you challenge everything you were ever taught. (Anite Roddick, founder of the Body Shop).  It's life-changing visiting other cultures and reassessing attitudes (even in our own country).  I also wondered if 'get out of your chair and move' was a suggestion that we try to be more fit, something which I vow to do fairly often.
  • Make major decisions from the heart. Make decisions because they 'feel right', they must come from deep inside your being, even though you may need to explain them away. (Prof David Cantor, director, Centre for Investigative psychology, University of Liverpool).  Someone once said to me: Jenny, if you've been thinking recently using just your heart, then start using your head; and if you've been only using your head to think, then it's time to think from the heart'.  Advice which I've tried to remember to follow ever since.
  • Appreciate the work women do.  Women do two-thirds of the world's work, invisibly, unrecognised and often unwaged.  By telling ourselves about it, we strengthen ourselves.  So,  if a man tries to intimidate you, step back and visualise all the women's work, without which he couldn't even be! (Margarette D'Arcy, playwright).  Sounds good advice!
  • Weed with love in your heart.  When overwhelmed by the weeds in your garden - encourage them to grow and even flower. Look at them with love and appreciate the wonders of nature.  This way, you will avoid grinding your teeth over them   and if you one day decided to reduce them, you will do so with sympathy, not soul-destroying rancour (Rachel Billington, novelist).  When I'm not sure if it's a weed or a plant, I remove all except one, then see how it grows.  If it isn't a 'thug' and take over, then it's welcome to stay.

  • Beware free advice as free advice is usually worth roughly what you pay for it.  (Lord Puttnam of Queensgate, film-maker and chairman of the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts).  A difficult one to remember.
  • Don't forget the flowers.  If you have two pennies to spend, spend one on bread that you may live; spend the other on a flower so that you have a reason for living. An old chinese saying. (Dannie Alise, doctor and writer).  An important point - one very cheap pleasure I have is cutting nice pictures out of magazines and sticking them in scrap books, then when feeling like something soothing I leaf through the pages and feel uplifted.
  • Don't go east.  Jet lag can infallibly be avoided by following these simple rules: Go west by day; Don't go east; if you must go east, go by night; set your watch to the arrival time before take-off; 'think' arrival time (never think what time it is where you came from; on arrival, behave as if you had been there all along, to go work, a party, whatever.   This way tiredness and 'body time' cancel out.  (Peter Jay, well-travelled journalist).  Yes, had a big problem when I flew to Tasmania many years ago, it took about a week to get back to normal - but had no problem when flying west to get back home.
  • Use your luck to help others.  If you're lucky, you must reckon you are privileged and you must use your privilege to hel other people.  If you want to be happy, make use of such opportunities whenever you find yourself. (Lord Longford, campaigning Labour peer). I've found that giving probably gives me as much, if not more, pleasure than the people who are on the receiving end.
  • Never be afraid to leave a job. It's soul-destroying to waste to many of your waking hours (Lesley Grant-Adamson, novelist). A difficult one which I wish I'd read many years ago, it would have made quite a difference.
  • Exploit the inevitable.  A pragmatic piece of advice as, however difficult it seems at the time, every cloud has a silver lining (Sir Arthur C Clarke, science writer).  One to try and remember.
  • Get the happiness habit.  You can get hooked on happiness, just as you can on nicotine, it's just a question of taking a regular, daily dose of the stuff (June Thomson, author).  Also on the lines of 'smile and world smiles with you - cry and you cry on your own'.
  • Don't let anyone else become your whole world.  If you do this you will be heartbroken one day.  There is no suffering greater than a broken heart.  Spread your love among several people so that no-one has to groan beneath the weight of it all.  This is the kind of love that makes it easier for others to love you in return (Louis de Bernieres, author).  Good point!
  • Learn to love solitude as it's immensely useful.  It means you never get bored or dread being alone.  It's vital to teach to your children - to cultivate their own resources, so they never fear aloneness. (Angela Huth, author).  Perhaps an important one to remember as we prepare for old age.
  • Never miss an opportunity for kindness.  'I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it.'  Attributed to Stephen Grellet (1773 - 1835).  I think it's wonderful (Jilly Cooper, writer).  yes!
  • Be dogged. Starting things is easy - a business, a novel, a war, a baby. Keeping them going is a lot harder, it's just as important as imagination (Prue Leith, cook, novelist and chairman of the Royal Society of the Arts).  One I find difficult to follow, it easy when the enthusiasm's there, but to carry on day after day is much more of a challenge.
  • Make sure that everyone you love knows it.  Make the most of every moment.  (Stuart Prebble, chief executive, ONdigital).  Why we like Valentine's Day, Mother's Day etc as they remind us.
  • Have close friends of all ages.  In these long-lived times, have close friends of all ages. So many people are left alone after surviving their contemporaries.  To stick only to your own age-group is one of the most uncivilised customs of today.  (Ronald Blythe, writer).  Something I was told many years ago, it keeps the mind open (like a parachute, the mind works better when open!).
  • Distress, not stress, is the killer.  It isn't stress that kills you, it's distress. enjoy the stress.  Realise that distress is the killer. (Joe Ashton, MP and director, Sheffield Wednesday FC).  Insufficient stress makes us then find it more difficult to cope with stress when it comes.
  • Ask friends what you do well.  If you're wondering what to do with your life, ask ten friends to tell you just one thing which they think you do well.  List all these positive aspects of yourself and you'll have the outline of the next step in your life. (Charles Handy, international management guru).  Must try this one ...
  • If in doubt, dont, as second thoughts are often best.  Don't write an angry, apologetic or flattering letter which you may have cause to regret.  Don't do anything for a dare, or to impress - it will end in tears.  Don't go with the crowd if you feel it's against your nature.  (Sir Ludovic Kennedy, broadcaster).  What mothers used to tell their daughters many years ago, but it doesn't just apply to girls out with their boyfriends!
  • Carry on the conversation once you are married.  The best bit of advice about marriage is: don't do it unless you can't bear not to.  The best description of marriage is from RL Stevenson: 'Marriage is one long conversation, chequered by disputes.  Two persons more and more adapt their notions to suit the other and, in the process of time, they conduct each other into new worlds of thought' The only real essential is to carry on the conversation that you started.  (Libby Purves, journalist).   And not just about which DIY jobs are going to be done this weekend!
  • Never take a job you can do. Learning new things while stryhing to do the impossible makes work exciting, prevents boredom and encourages creativity.  (Elizabeth Filkin, parliamentary commissioner for standards).  But don't take on a job that's so difficult that you can't cope and then your self-esteem will plummet.  Tackle a step at a time.
  • Think before you sink or Don't spit in the well, you might need a drink of water.  This old Russian proverb means: do not discard people who have upset you or behaved badly, friends, anyone - you might need them later (Nina Petrova, actress).  Be nice to people when you're on your way up, you may well meet them when you're on the way back down ......

From Seize the Day (Chatto & Windus, ISBN 0701169389)

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