Category Archives: Happiness

My forecast for your life: Bad stuff. Do you want the details?

I have a brother who has a thankless job.

He’s a severe weather warning meteorologist, covering southern Ontario in Canada.

Whenever there is severe weather, be it expected or unexpected, I can find him in the news. He’ll get interviewed and quoted by journalists (most recently, at time of writing, here).

Tornadoes, lightning strikes, blizzards, hurricanes . . . . . for all of them, he’s the face of Environment Canada’s weather forecasting service.

Get the forecast right, and he doesn’t get thanked, he’s just doing his job. Get it wrong . . . . . and he gets it in the neck.

What peeves me about this most recent blizzard event in New England is not that the forecasters got it wrong. They didn’t. They predicted a blizzard, and there was one. It just wasn’t as severe (in New York City, at least) as their mathematical models and scientific judgement predicted.

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Fear! The city is rife with it!

Fear is really just a chronic disease that we’re all afflicted with.

Potentially, but not necessarily, fatal. No cure, but plenty of treatment for the symptoms. You can develop terrific coping strategies, if you listen to the right specialists and advisors.


(Hint: That might mean ditching your current specialists in favour of new ones.)

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Confessions of a Canadian expat – Part 1

As a kid growing up in Québec, I was always intrigued (and perplexed) by news stories about native Canadians protesting over what they saw as improper use of land they claimed as their ancestral burial site.”What’s the big deal?” I would think. “It’s only land! Your ancestors are all dead, aren’t they?”

Then in 1997, I found a glimmer of understanding.

I uprooted (or as one of my teenagers suggests, repotted) the family from Guelph, Ontario, where we’d spent eight happy years, and settled in Bristol, England.

It was supposed to be for one year. Continue reading

Today, I am (insert positive feature)

In the middle of the night, I woke up thinking (as you do), Aaahh, when I finally get that business successful and have made my fortune, I’ll be the articulate, self-confident I’ve always wanted to be.

Almost immediately, an authoritative, almost smirking voice in the back of my head said, Are you sure?

I did not grow up as a supremely self-confident, high-energy individual.

On the contrary. I was a shy, geeky, bespectacled, rake-thin teenager, with terrible self-esteem. (I would learn much later that my parents similarly had terrible self-esteem, so they couldn’t exactly correct my thinking.) Continue reading

Look out for #2. And #3, and #4, and . . . . .

Interesting post in Business Insider today by one Michael Lewis. He argues that successful people really need to acknowledge that they owe their success to one thing: luck.

I don’t completely agree. I think successful people are owed some credit for grabbing those unforeseen lucky opportunities that come their way, and capitalising on them. Most people don’t, looking this way and that for the hidden camera, asking themselves what’s the catch, and eventually walking away.

He’s bang on, though, in declaring the emperor’s real state of (un)dress: Without those lucky opportunities, successful people would be screwed just like the rest of us. They have been blessed by a Higher Power, and not because of any merit on their part.

He ends by encouraging the lucky to show some gratitude to the unlucky.

Nice one. Continue reading

How to live with office muppets

And now for something completely different . . . . . .

The scene: Easy chair. Laptop, steaming java, beside the french doors, looking into the backyard, the odd robin flitting through the hedge. OK, the weather is typically English, damp, overcast, and not warm, but I still like this scene. Can’t help but reflect backwards.

Trying to think about all the hard times and hassles. Not succeeding.

I just can’t remember most of them. And those that I can, just don’t seem so hassle-ish any more. One or two life-changing tragedies, perhaps. And their pain still lingers.

But the hassles and hard times?

Insignificant. Continue reading

In praise of people-watchers

November just past, I bought myself a guitar. Went to a small guitar shop in the Cotswold town of Dursley, intending to check out his stock. Came home with a white 6-string electric, and little practice amp. Knew I shoulda left the credit cards at home.

My oldest daughter later posted on Facebook: Daddy came home with new guitar and amp. Mom’s face = Priceless.

For the record: Mom has forgiven me.

I am slowly learning the New Beast. Got about a half-dozen chords down reasonably well now.

My real passion, though, is the bass. The 6-string is a blast, but the bass will always be my musical home. Been playing one for over 15 years. I picked one up for a lark when the church I was then attending had only one bassist, a pal of mine, who was a firefighter, and therefore could only play two Sundays out of four because of shiftwork. Came across one for $175, which seemed like a steal, so I thought Yeah I’ll have a go.

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Laugh, please!

After my usual Saturday morning ritual of coffee in bed with my wife, I started downstairs with the tray, ready to attack an untidy house with sponge and soap. (Impressed? I’ve been a dervish of housecleaning activity this morning.) My wife picks up the phone to find out what time she’s supposed to be over at Joanne’s.

As I’m putting away the coffee stuff, I hear her laugh. And then laugh again. Several minutes of giggling from upstairs.

My heart jumps.

Well now, that’s weird.

Why do I suddenly feel a bit better just because I can hear my wife laugh?


I wasn’t miserable beforehand. But I’m struck by how a simple laugh or giggle from my main squeeze or my kids can give me an injection of joy, while time stands still.

I wonder how often I’ve laughed, and thereby somebody’s life has suddenly brightened up? (I have a reputation as a good guffaw.)

Guess I’ll never know.

Think I’ll be wacky today. Somebody’s sure to benefit.