Habits and Happiness: Part 5: Don’t Get Derailed by Setbacks

Habits and Happiness: Part 5: Don’t Get Derailed by Setbacks

Just back from our Annual Conference in Manchester and it was a learning and networking triumph. Nick Baylis positively wowed us with his captivating session “The Rough Guide to Happiness”. Nick was inspiring funny, serious and challenging as he literally balanced our need for achievement, our striving and our work-life with our need as animals to get physical. We need to do stuff which makes us use our bodies when most of our jobs use only our minds. If we don’t we get anxious and unhappy. That’s brought me to tracking progress. Well I have been doing it all the way through with my goal/guild grid so here’s the news and it’s not that good. I wasn’t so much derailed as crashed into the buffers at high speed.

Goal Result Progress
Work-out at health club at last 3 x weekly Monday to Friday Didn’t manage once as I was in Manchester. Bad Failed
Eat healthy diet cutting down on saturate fats Lost it lost of big breakfasts and conference evening eating and drinking Failed
Stop drinking on days when work follows and when I do offset it by drinking less on weekends. Lots of drinking which is a great way of connecting with colleagues and unwinding but not a great way to lose the weight I need to lose. Failed


Manchester as that depressing but beautiful Smith’s song goes, has “so much to answer for.” Conferences can be opportunities for excess and I indulged. Big breakfasts, long drinking sessions and I forgot to bring my swimming gear so that I could at least go in the pool. Even most manual jobs except digging holes , harvesting produce etc. are not that physical so we need more than ever to exercise. Exercise also helps us connect with our minds again through learning. That is a significant incentive to me as I really value learning.

So I was delighted to stumble on research by one of my favourite writers John Ratey. Ratey’s book "The Brain; A Users Guide" is one of the most accessible guides to neuroscience available. It’s up there with Susan Greenfield’s excellent book on the brain. Ratey a clinical researcher and neuro-scientist has taken a further giant step for mankind with his brilliant study of how exercise literally powers learning. His book isn’t just a work of science it’s a real “call to activity”, from Ratey who is also a medical doctor. Citing research which shows the statistically verified impact of exercise on learning among previously sluggish school pupils. Ratey sees our indolence and sloth as a real betrayal of our evolutionary heritage and like Baylis fingers it as the culprit for our increasing anxiety, stress and depression. Here is a summary of some of the research.



We programmed to vigorously exercise, as we did when we ran away from animals which wanted to eat us or ran after animals we fancied for lunch. Now we vegetate abetted by our technological cocoon. Ratey puts it best.

We’ve become cyber slaves to an easy life, and we don’t have to move much at all. Our clickers and videos entertain us and keep us in our seats and we have become too sedentary and solitary…

Even a little bit of activity goes a, long way. Running after a bus is a good example. Ok now I know that and energised by Nick Baylis’s brilliant session I am going to get physical in a much more determined way. I will get back on track. I’ll have the benefit that I will be sharper and better. I am going to set up five a side football league in work so that I can run around. For too long I have been content with the life of the mind but it is genuinely mindless to neglect your body as I have been doing. Onwards and upwards.

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