Being Happiness Podcast 5 – What the World Needs.

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Ben looks at purpose anxiety and possible solutions, and how to feel like the king of the world!

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

Things mentioned in today’s episode…

2 episodes from the Tim Ferriss show:

A.J. Jacobs — 10 Strategies to Be Happier Through Gratitude – The guy who thanked everyone for his coffee.

How to Make a Difference and Find Your Purpose — Blake Mycoskie – Founder of Tom’s shoes.


Patrick Collison — CEO of Stripe – Not mentioned in today’s episode, but incredibly interesting on many levels. Fascinating to hang out with a very bright mind for an hour or so…

Being Happiness Podcast 4 – Too Many Cows

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In today’s episode Ben talks about how our body can let us know when we are doing the right thing or not, and tells a favourite tale from long ago that can help us enormously to see what we might better be focusing on in life.

Mentioned in today’s episode:

The One Thing by Gary Keller

Please do subscribe to the Being Happiness podcast in Apple Podcasts/iTunes. If you rate and review the show there too, it’ll help more people find it. Thanks!

Being Happiness Podcast 3 – What Fulfills Us

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In today’s episode Ben talks about a surprising day where he learned a lot about what leads to fulfillment in life, how easy it is to abandon our needs in favour of achievement-seeking, and how to reconnect with what those needs really are.

Things mentioned in this podcast

– Ben’s blog post: Dear Mum, I can’t change the world

– Non-Violent Communication, by Marshall Rosenberg: This workshop video on YouTube is pretty comprehensive. If you prefer just audio I also very much like this 2 hour, 2 part audio program from Sounds True, Speaking Peace. If you want the most complete experience, the original 5 hour Non-violent Communication audiobook is wonderful.

Non-Violent Communication has completely changed the way I communicate with and listen to my wife and kids, all to the benefit of our relationships. More on that in another episode…

Being Happiness Podcast 2 – Look After Today

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In today’s Being Happiness podcast, ‘Look After Today’, Ben talks about the origins of his interest in mindfulness, trips to Plum Village, and the importance of looking after every day as the best way we have of taking care of the future.

Links to books and podcasts mentioned in this episode:

Peace is Every Step – Thich Nhat Hanh – The book that introduced me to mindfulness and led me to Plum Village.

Being Peace in a World of Trauma – On Being podcast with Police Officer Cheri Maples and Thich Nhat Hanh – ‘I know that if you know how to handle the present moment right, with our best [intention], then that is about everything you can do for the future. That is why I’m at peace with myself.’

‘10% Happier with Dan Harris’ and George Mumford – The mindful sports coach – ‘Manage this moment and then that will affect the next moment. Manage this day and it will affect the next. It really is as simple as that’.

Please do subscribe to the Being Happiness podcast in Apple Podcasts/iTunes. If you rate and review the show there too, it’ll help more people find it. Thanks!

Being Happiness Podcast 1 – Planet Earth is Still Wonderful

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Welcome to the first episode of the Being Happiness podcast, I’d love it if you listen and leave me a comment. In this show I look at the idea that beyond today’s media, if we listen to the voices that show human life is improving, and look at the beauty of the world around us, we can find great happiness and meaning in our lives.

Please do subscribe to the podcast in Apple Podcasts/iTunes. If you rate and review the show there too, it’ll help more people find it. Thanks!

About starting this podcast (and anything new).

I set about starting this podcast a year ago, recorded an episode, became filled with doubt (‘is it the right thing to do with my time right now?’) and imposter’s syndrome (‘who am I to talk about such important things as meaning and happiness?’), and shelved the idea. Now I’m ready to do it, and perhaps that’s just the way life works, but I also realised a few important things in the past week or so:

1. There is no point in not doing something because it might mean I don’t do something else I’m not doing either.

2. If I don’t do something, I can’t find out where it might take me.

3. Doubt and imposters syndrome are negative mental constructs that are not self-serving or in any way interesting if you want to pursue an interesting, meaningful life. They are to be gotten over!

And with that, here is the first episode of the Being Happiness podcast. Please subscribe in Apple Podcasts/iTunes if you use them, do leave me a comment, and let’s see where this goes.

The book mentioned in this podcast is Enlightenment Now by Stephen Pinker.

A New Kind of Yardstick for Life

Images in this post: Shape and Light and Moment in Madrid

Did I do something to relax today?

Did I take it slowly instead of rushing at some point today, just once?

Did I do something playful and purposeless today, perhaps reading, biking, playing with the kids?

Did I look after my body, even doing something nice for it for 2 minutes, today?

Did I smile at someone today? To myself?

Did I wish myself happiness, ease?

If I did any one of those things I can count this as a wonderful day. And if I didn’t, and I notice, and I smile at myself for noticing and think, ‘doesn’t matter at all’, then I can still call it a wonderful day.

None of this was taught to me as being important, I was taught to look at other yardsticks in measuring my success in life: ladder-climbing, being recognised as being incredible in some way or another, getting on in the world, earning lots and having lots, striving away tirelessly, on and on and on.

This left me with a peculiar sense of ‘purpose’, a need that can drive me into turmoil, wanting to do great things, wanting to do more than ‘enough’. A sense of purpose that I can also be very grateful for, as it’s helped me enormously to achieve things that make my life wonderful in so many ways. Without our purposeful striving and effort, my wife and I wouldn’t have our business – Notes in Spanish – that pays the bills and makes lots of people happy as we help them to learn Spanish. Without the hard work and skills and yardsticks I learned at school, I wouldn’t have the free time to write this post.

But my purpose-yardstick is way out of proportion to a happy life. It always asks too much of me, which is what leads to the inner turmoil. I think I can calm it down enormously, so it looks more like this:

Did I do something that fulfils even in the tiniest way my need for meaning and purpose today? Perhaps work a little on our business, write a little, share something wonderful, do something for the family or be a good husband or dad? Just put one foot forward in any of those directions? Any of the above will do, even just 2 minutes of a single one of them. That’s enough. And if I didn’t, I can smile at myself again for noticing and think, ‘doesn’t matter at all, you are only human’, or ‘it’s fine, you’re on holiday!’ and I can still call it a wonderful day just for having been alive in it, and to have experienced this great life passing by.

Selfish walking meditation photography

After loving photography for most of my childhood and adult life, I sort of gave up a few years ago, put off by the amount of time it was bringing me back to the computer – where I was spending far too much time for work already. But recently that has changed…

I bought a new camera to make videos for our Spanish learning website, and it has got me back out onto the streets again….

I’ve also been inspred by a couple of photographers I discovered randomly on the web, Mattias Burling, and Eric Kim, especially his posts on Selfish Photography and Walking Meditation in Street Photography

So I’ve been spending a lot of time walking the streets of Madrid and El Escorial (the first three pictures in this post), taking Selfish Photos – photos I like, rather than thinking how many likes they may get on Instagram…

I was particularly keen on getting an umbrella photo…

I love this one, ‘greeting the chef…’

This dog on the train, such doleful eyes… so loving…

A wonderful building rising from the trees like a great ship…

Eric Kim says it takes 100,000 photos to get a good one, and he may be right. I took these last two about ten years ago, and I think they are my current favourites of all time. From the streets of Cordoba, and Madrid.

I’m thinking it’s worth far more to get out onto the streets of Madrid to do something that makes me happy, than to be thinking about happiness all the time 🙂