How to do everything and be happy

self help and personal development book how to do everything and be happy by Peter JonesHow to do everything and be happy is a great book by a very nice man called Peter Jones (no, not the Dragon – an easier going, smilier type). It’s not one of the big hitters of the self help & personal development genre, and I’m sure Peter would be fairly happy for me to say that. In fact, Peter’s own write up of the book states:

Every now and then a self-help book comes along that questions the very nature of happiness, shakes the very foundation of all the things you hold dear, and forces you to reconsider every assumption you’ve ever made. This isn’t one of those books.

How to Do Everything and Be Happy is a book for ordinary people. With ordinary lives. It’s for people who have been ambling along and wondering why they’re not – well – just that little bit happier. It’s a book for most people. It’s a book for you.

And do you know what? It’s a bloody gem! I came across it quite by chance while scrolling through the new personal development titles section on the Audible mobile store, and thought it looked like a nice addition to my (now slightly overwhelming) personal development audio library.

Peter reads the book and is instantly charming through his very easy-to-listen-to voice and “cheeky chappy” accent. He relates personal experiences, and those of friends of his, that quickly and effectively make you feel like it could be you he’s talking about.

The essential themes of the book are as follows:

  1. Make time for yourself, and for doing what you want
  2. Know what it is that you want for yourself
  3. Take the necessary actions to get there
But it’s so pleasantly written, and easy going that you start making progress on these steps from the very first 30 minutes of the book. Peter is clearly a calendar/diary obsessive, and puts forward a strong case for the use of diaries. So close that I am now using a diary consistently having not managed to use one consistently… well… ever! There are no painfully challenging pieces of self discovery to go through, and no tough concepts to try to get your teeth into. Just simple, clear advice about how to get what you want out of life and make progress.
Because it’s not too over the top, and not too in depth, it’s a good read. So good that I read/listened to it 6 times in the first two weeks. Not because I needed to, but because I wanted to.I could have left it at one read, but I really wanted to get familiar with the material and there’s just something about Peter’s reading of the book that makes it a thoroughly enjoyable and beneficial experience. I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone from a self-help novice, to a personal development guru. You WILL get something out of it. Some might see it as a little lightweight, but that’s really not fair when you look at the way the book is approached, and how much you can get out of it without feeling overwhelmed by new techniques and strange exercises and visualisations like you might find in a weighty Tony Robbins tome!
You can buy the How to do everything and be happy on Audible and visit the How to do everything and be happy website here. Peter also wrote a very nice blog post about me entitled The Wisdom of Jamie Anderson about my Facebook cover image – I’ll expand on that soon.
So, please buy the book and give it a try! Thank you Peter Jones for an excellent, thoroughly enjoyable, and very useful “happiness manual”.


Behavioural Economics

Professor Dan Ariely is a marvellous man. If you’ve not heard of him, or read any of his material, or heard him speak then I urge you to head over to YouTube immediately and look him up. Prof. Ariely was involved in a horrendous car accident as a youth which left him with terrible burns all over his body. He spent many, many months in hospital having painful bandage-changing procedures each and every day to encourage regrowth of skin. He had plenty of time to think and watch people and the way they behaved. He became fascinated with human behaviour.

The nurses performing his bandage changes used the “short sharp” method of bandage removal that we are all familiar with from parents removing plasters/band-aids when we were children. But was this method proven to be better than slow, gradual removal? Sure, we know it’s conventional wisdom – so it must be right? Prof Ariely actually discovered that the short sharp method caused more pain and distress than the slow method, so how come these caring, wonderful people had chosen to repeatedly use a method that inflicted more pain? This was one of the mysteries that led Prof Ariely to the world of behavioural economics –  the study of the effects of social, cognitive and emotional factors on the economic (and other) decisions of individuals and institutions and the consequences for market prices, returns and the resource allocation.

Professor Ariely’s book: Predictably Irrational is a fantastic book looking at the various reasons why we do behave so irrationally in so many circumstances, and why these irrational behaviours occur in a predictable fashion. You’ll learn a lot about yourself, those around you, and business decisions by reading the book. It’s thoroughly entertaining too – I’ve read it about 20 times, and still enjoy it now.

In this fantastic presentation, Prof Ariely gives a delightful overview of what behavioural economics can show us and how predictably irrational we all are!