Category Archives: Happiness

Christmas 2019

Audio Total in minutes and seconds, listening duration 08:30 :   Reading average 05:00

Part 1  How to alleviate the stress by not losing sight of the central theme of Christmas 

Christmas 2019

Christmas memories

Most Christmas’ I usually find myself watching the Charles Dickens classic ‘Scrooge’ staring Alistair Sim. The movie adaptation brings back memories from my childhood as being a part of the family Christmas morning ritual. 

Warm feelings are anchored to the giving and receiving of non-expensive gifts between the adults, with non-wrapped toys under the tree for me. All leading to the Christmas roast and a feeling of family togetherness.


As serendipity would have it, this year I came across ‘The Christmas Memory’, Truman Capote’s 1956 autobiographical story of his life as a 7-year-old in rural Alabama. 

He had a special bond of friendship with his elderly and eccentric female cousin. Both suffered stress within a very authoritarian household. Yet together they were able to weather those difficulties and build upon their enduring friendship. 

Even though they were poor, they would scheme and plot to save every spare dime, (or make a dime), which would result in a flurry of activity and a yearly holiday ritual in the act of giving, sometimes to complete strangers. Resulting in many Christmas-time adventures.  


Humorous and touching his account of one specific Christmas was first scripted and televised in 1966. 

Meaningful personal memories are evoked.

The worn-film images and saccharin music in the movie, add to an authentic atmosphere for its time.

Whilst the central theme of childhood innocence and friendship has an evocative effect by rousing personal memories from the recesses of the viewers’ mind.

I came across a review from a woman who read his original short story, and it brought back memories of her early childhood and a beloved elderly neighbour who taught her many skills that help her to this day!

For others, the story setting or circumstances may not be anything like their childhood, but it captures the true feeling of the meaning of Christmas.  A powerful message, which may have been forgotten.

My memory of a family that pulled together in difficult times.

Although not as poor as the family depicted in ‘The Christmas Memory’, it was during that era that my family experienced hardship. And like a lot of families in our area at that time, I can recall the four of us living in two rented rooms, in the South end of Liverpool.

We became close with the family who lived below us as we shared the one bathroom on the first-floor landing.

My parents worked every hour they could to provide us with the essentials of daily life, and we always celebrated Christmas.  It was five years later when we received the news that we had qualified due to a points system and were to be offered our own council house.  Wow, lots of space and my own room! That of itself was our Christmas gift!

Part of the learning that I’ve carried with me. 

Building resilience and keeping in pursuit of one’s dreams pays dividends; collaboration can be a key factor too. And sometimes it means that the results can be even better than expected!  So keep going, one step at a time!

An adaptation of Truman Capote’s ‘A Christmas Memory’ was broadcast 21st December 1966 and the duration is 50 minutes and it can be found on U-Tube.  The short story can be found in paperback, and for kindle in Amazon.

Part 2 Creating your central Theme for Christmas – what’s your message?

Zip forward to 2019, and it’s easy to see how people may feel trapped by the growth in commercialisation as Christmas. The media pressure, and ‘keeping up with the Jones’.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Does it?

I’m coming across more and more people who are toning down the commercial side of the season, through mutual agreement within families, or between friends, and in their unique ways.

“It’s the thought that counts.”

Being thoughtful counts and that’s because just like in ‘The Christmas Memory’ when ‘thoughtfulness’ is expressed, or a genuine act of caring is enacted, it brings a feeling of love, connection and a shared humility to the giver as well as the receiver. 

And that can result in joyful memories that stay with us for life.

It can be the simple things in life that matter the most, whatever our circumstances!

  • To think before we speak, being fair and equally compromising over the Christmas period.
  • To appreciate the thought behind any simple act of kindness. Noticing those things can make us feel good within ourselves.
  • Enjoying the creativity or sourcing of a meaningful object or meal to share.
  • The time that’s given to show a stranger we’re thinking of them.
  • The fun and love we share with animals who bring joy to our hearts due to their ‘presence’.

Truman Capote’s ‘The Christmas Memory’ reminds us of all these things and more. 

  • (U-Tube link at the bottom of this page under source material)

What children have said about the meaning of Christmas? (source CBBC Newsround 2006)

Christmas has different meanings for different people and can change over time! These children would now be in their twenties! And here’s some of the things they said:

  • “I think Christmas is more about giving than getting and being around people who love you and who you love.” Leila Aged 10
  • “I think Christmas is about presents and family” Declan aged 11
  • “I think Christmas is a religious time, not just for Christianity but for Judaism and Islam. I celebrate the season in a Christian way.” Emma Aged 10

So what if we view Christmas as a holiday!

With the frenetic and commercial stresses leading up to the national holiday, where for 24 hours most shops and businesses close, people can choose to come together in sharing the message of Christmas within their communities. 


Whether its spending time with family, friends, giving and sharing with those you love. Sending good thoughts or acting to help others who are not choosing to be alone.

“Christmas is not exclusive its message is to be inclusive.”

Embracing the simplicity of the Christmas message of kindness and love.

Do people of different faiths celebrate the holiday?

Well, Christians might make the celebration of the “Christ-Mass” in the birth of Jesus.


In places like the UK, Christmas is everywhere. It’s in the high street, the internet, TV and Radio. It’s celebrated in school nativities, in the workplace, and as part of the local council budget we get pretty streetlights. 

Which means that Christmas becomes integrated as part of an inclusive community holiday for many people of different faiths. 

It doesn’t mean that all people of all faiths will join in on all the commercial excess though. But they may embrace the simple act of putting up a Christmas tree, having a family meal and/or giving to charity and wishing those they see on the day a Merry Christmas.

How will you be celebrating Christmas 2019?

Whether your spending it alone and watching TV all day – going for walks, or spending time with those you love. May I wish all my readers and listeners a very Merry Christmas and the creation of at least one warming memory during your day.

Part 3  Difficulties at Christmas?

Here a previous blog I wrote last year, which might give you a starting point to get some help and advice and find a way through. (click on the pic below) for ‘How to avoid debt’. Which includes who to turn to for advice if you run into post-Christmas problems.

You’ll also find other articles on the Christmas theme of stress, loneliness AND even fun at Christmas! Just click on the back links on the left at the bottom of each page.

Christmas 2019

Avoid: Debt at Christmas

Too late this year?  What about planning for next year?

Here’s an interesting blog by Kate Connors with tips on how to make Christmas not about excess

A practical guide

Christmas Simplicity





Source material: Copy and paste into your browser.

  • ‘What does Christmas mean to you:  CBBC
  • U-Tube  and search for   Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory (1966 Emmy Winner);  Staring Geraldine Page Duration 50 minutes.

Happy New Year resolutions 2019

Happy New Year resolutions to one and all!

How do you cultivate your happiness in 2019?

Happy New Year 2019

Da-Dah- a curious start to 2019!

And I wonder what you intend to focus on in 2019? Any ideas?  What New Year wish means happiness for you and what one thing would you love to achieve?

Sometimes we have the big picture of what we would like to happen – it’s the getting there that can seem to evade us. Before we know it, we’re saying ‘Hey Happy New Year 2019!’ Wow! Time flies!

The most reportedly popular New Year Resolutions that people seek appears to fall into these categories.


  • Health and physical fitness
  • Money
  • Finding a career or changing your job
  • Ditching bad relationships, creating stable and loving ones.
  • Having fun and that can also mean time for yourself.

Do you hanker to revisit a beloved activity; from sewing to your artistic flair? Or finding something new like learning a language or becoming a bit of a Master chef.

  • Spending more time face to face with people which means less time on social media!
  • Giving back to your community by becoming active in a cause or donating cash.
  • Caring for another – be that family, pets or your favourite garden plant-life.

Or maybe you have something that’s unique which means creating the time to plan for the New Year. That’s very often the issue isn’t it TIME TO PLAN?  The ticking clock can become the blunt instrument that we always beat ourselves up with because we feel the pressure. And it can lead to all sorts of unhelpful messages about our ability to gain traction and achieve what we do want.

Time is a construct! – Use a bit of ‘time-trickery!’

New Year Resolution 2019

With just a little effort

It was in the 19th Century that the 80/20 rule was given light by a chap called Wilfred Pareto.   He discovered that 80 percent of the world’s worth was in the hands of just 20 percent of the population. And further investigation shows that this simple rule is a pattern found in many areas in life. For example, if you were to examine how you live your life you might notice how you spend,

  • 80 percent of your time focused on 20 percent of the problems that created you’re worrying.
  • 80 percent of your achievements remarkably comes from 20 percent of the effort you put in.

This rule can even impact the clothing you wear, so that

  • 80 percent of the time you find yourself wearing only 20 percent of what’s in your wardrobe.

Does this pattern ring a bell for you?

Where are you spending most of your energy? How would you better use that power to get the results that are important to you?

What kind of things do you need to do towards achieving a sense of meaning and purpose that results in higher happiness in 2019!

Procrastination is not a New Year option?

Rather than procrastinating because you need to find the time to plan. Stop just for 30 minutes and ask yourself these following questions. In answering them, (write your answers down), you could continue your journey towards an exciting year and progressive steps to feeling better.

People, places, things

  1. What are the 20 percent activities and areas of your life which involve 80 percent feelings of unwelcome pressure? (That could be stress or anxiety at work, in your home life, or something else?)
  2. What are the 20 percent things that you do in which you can acknowledge you have 80 percent of your happiness?
  3. Who are the 20 percent people in your life that you share 80 percent of your most enjoyable experiences?
  4. When it comes to feeling energised and happy, who or what comes to mind? And in the same vein what or who causes you to feel drained of energy?

Time to take action this New Year 2019

Happy New Year 2019

To one and all

Take a look at your responses to those questions. Your answers can indicate what you could be doing more of and where you could genuinely make a start.

Realising you have a choice can give you a sense of what you value and what you need to start attracting in your health goals, relationships, your work, and in seeking out more fun times too.

If you were able to attract more of what makes you happy in your life, what things would you choose to focus more wholeheartedly on in 2019?

What would you be doing to reap more joyful long-term benefits? You may be surprised at how you can focus more on your direction by starting with one small action!

Doing those things which give you a sense of optimism and worth about yourself and your future is like gaining a new skill or gradually changing old habits.

Make the first step to a better new year a simple one

Focus more of your attention on the positive steps you will be taking.

For example, it’s easier to change your bedtime routine, so that you aren’t wound up from watching the 10 pm news on TV. A simple choice could be to read or watch something more light-hearted instead.  In other words, go to bed with happier thoughts!

Whereas making different friendship choices – that’s who you spend your downtime with, maybe more of a gradual process. As is your health goals and the small things you could be doing to make improvements.

By sticking to the completion of a first step, you’ll be making a change towards giving more quality focus and action on a percentage that enriches you and gives you a sense of accomplishment.

What will you gain?  What will you lose?

With any New Year wish it’s wise to take into account what you may gain as well as what you may lose. If letting go of the old and bringing on the new causes you to grow then that’s a good thing, as is also being considerate of others and acting honourably.

Where to start?

When we consider how ‘time is precious’ if you only had a year to achieve one aspect of your purpose or desire, what are the things you would choose to put to one side?  To cut down on the feeling of being overwhelmed which limits your focus.  It may be a matter of delegation; it may be that you just need to let that go.

Focusing more wholeheartedly on what brings you greater benefits means taking small action steps. That’s how you could be getting closer to making those strides all connect into a significant achievement.

Keeping in mind that it’s not always the destination but the journey along the way that can bring you a real sense of satisfaction. And sometimes this approach can reveal new ideas, thoughts, and directions which are exciting.

Starting as you mean to go on.

Positive psychology contains many tactics for retraining the brain to seek out more optimistic patterns.  Choosing to tune into optimism has many health benefits including reducing stress.

Every night before you go to sleep, give thanks as you review from life those things that make you feel grateful.

Decide that 2019 will be a period of growth. That means that even if there are downs as well as ups, you’ll be able to celebrate the learning. All the potential for an increase in skills, resourcefulness, resilience and insights when 2019 comes to its conclusion.

Every day, follow your instincts by taking gradual steps. No matter how small, they all add-up towards you getting a step closer to your goal and continuing on the path of happiness.

Letting go of Limiting Beliefs – what stops you completing New Year Resolutions?

A-ha – those gremlins can be a bummer!  If something in your mind is stopping you, a fear, sheer anxiety or procrastination. Is self-doubt stopping you from taking steps towards a better life? Then maybe 2019 could be the right time to seek professional help and guidance.

Or do you want to wait until 2020…2021…2022?

Would you like to learn more about the habits of happier people?

Subscribe by clicking on the link below and receive five tips to help you to cultivate more happiness in the New Year 2019.

5 tips to cultivate happiness New Year

Have you heard of:

 Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology? He postulates that while our genetics and environment determine 60 percent of happiness, the remaining 40 percent is up to us.

May I wish you all a brilliant 2019, including good health, happiness, and prosperity.

And as always thanks for reading.

Maria Richards Cognitive Hypnotherapy

Click the pic to make contact

Whether it’s stress, anxiety or building your confidence in finding your life purpose, I’m here to help. Click on my image to find my contact me page

Gratitude on a winters day

Thinking about Gratitude:

Audio duration 04:15 Reading duration 04:00 average


It’s those fleeting moments of joy in your day that can make all the difference to your day. How to train your brain to notice them more.

#gratitude #acts of kindness #happiness

Yesterday I was out in the freezing cold of London on my way to visit the dentist! It turns out I had an excellent toothy peg cleanse. (fab hygienist skills – thanks), with no pain involved. As a reward, I followed my appointment with a beautiful cup of hot java at the local organic food café. I recalled this particular quote which I added to a photo I snapped in my garden one summer.

I wondered have you ever found happiness where you least expected it?

Go on spoil yourself or someone else today. After all, it’s the simple actions that can bring the most joy to our self, or when we take special care in doing something for another.

It’s good to become more aware of fleeting moments of happiness because they all add up to the possibilities of feeling better.

Gratitude journal: A positive psychology technique.

What does gratitude mean to you? Some may say it’s looking for those things that have changed for the better in your life.

Whereas to appreciate could mean that even if something was frustrating while you were experiencing it, you could look back now in appreciation of what you learned.

So even if it’s hard to feel grateful, we can still appreciate an insight which adds to our resources for resilience.

When you reminisce, what are those things in life where you feel a sense of gratitude?

Broaden your perspective:

For example, have you thought of being grateful for eventually understanding a hard problem you have been trying to solve?

If there where people in your life you feel thankful for who would those people be?

Broaden the circle of gratitude:

Include actions from people you don’t know like the smile that the cashier at the supermarket gave you.

The difference that makes the difference to your day.

Consider the possibility that the more we recognise and appreciate the things in life, (our efforts no matter how small, the kindness of others), the more we get those things in our life.

It’s like a brain training exercise to notice even those fleeting moments of happiness and positivity.

Hmm here’s to the taste of a good cuppa coffee or tea after a dental-cleanse! ;-D

Making gratitude a pleasurable task:

Allowing your unconscious to collect three positive things to look back on at the end of each day can continue to give you a better experience in life.

And when you write them down you have a lovely collection of memories to boost you if there should be a grey, cold winter day.

You may be interested in a few tips from those who practice happiness in their daily live click to read an earlier blog on this.

What is gratitude and its role in positive psychology – definitions and tools

If you’re interested in increasing your knowledge on this topic take a peek at this site by clicking here


Maria Richards Cognitive Hypnotherapist

There’s no time like the present. If there is something you’ve been meaning to get sorted to help you feel better, or to build confidence then take courage.  If you’d like some help to get there – click on my image to find my contact me page and drop me an email.  


Rewire your thinking brain!

Reading time 2minutes 30.  Listening time 3.00 minutes

Important warning: When listening to any audio content please ensure you’re not concentrating on anything else like driving a vehicle or operating machinery! With your safety in mind,

Change the brain from the inside out

Change your perception change your thoughts

I once had a client who came to me believing that she couldn’t change her negative patterns of thinking and behaving.  She believed she had “wonky brain wiring.”  One of the most powerful things she learned was that the ‘beliefs’ that created her thoughts were not necessarily true.

Its really  possible to change the landscape of the brain in its ability to produce more positive, kind, authentic and supportive equations.

It starts with a subtle nudge towards a change in your perspective.

So that over time any unhelpful attitudes you may have learned begin to change. Those limiting beliefs that have been unique to you can transform into a healthier self esteem, self awareness and self confidence.

What difference would such a change bring to your life?

So rather than seeing the world as happening to you and responding accordingly, you shift towards a mindset where you can make different choices.  Building upon those resources you already have within you AND creating new ones.

This shift is called gaining an internal locus of control. It can break old patterns that your brain has been running due to, for example, outdated life scripts and well worn habits.

When we set our intention to make the decision to create change we can be freed to open up new perspectives.  That means creating changes in how we respond towards our self (what we can control) and those things external to us (or outside our control).

What’s not to like about the possibility for updating the way the brain works, if it means creating even better versions of the self?  So that irrespective of what happens in your day you feel a natural freedom to choose the meaning of it and how you respond to it.

The Brainy Science bit:

The brain is ‘plastic’  – or to be more accurate – patterns of thinking can change because of something called Neuro-plasticity within the brain.  (Try saying neuro-plasticity!)

Here’s an interesting snippet from article I came across recently on this point:

“The mainstream view in neuroscience and medicine today is that the living brain is actually “neuroplastic”—meaning that its “circuits” are constantly changing in response to what we actually do out in the world. As we think, perceive, form memories or learn new skills, the connections between brain cells also change and strengthen. Far from being hard-wired, the brain has circuits that very rapidly form, un-form and reform. This capacity is the foundation for the brain’s distinctive way of healing. ” Article Wall Street Journal : Our Amazingly Plastic brains.

*  Neuroplasticity: Any habit molds the very structure of your brain in ways that strengthen your proclivity for that habit.

Scientific article of brain plasticity…source

As a great guy once said,  “When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.”  Wayne Dyer.





Raising the default level of happiness in your life:

Theories abound about what it is that brings us true happiness. Like for example, “60% of our happiness is determined by genetics and our environment and that the other 40% is up to us”.

What’s for sure is that happiness can be something different for every one of us.

Research within the field of positive psychology has shown that the pursuit of ‘pleasure’ in itself, does not necessarily have any contribution to lasting fulfillment and happiness.

Rather ‘pleasure’ is the icing on the cake for those of us leading satisfactory lives which has meaning and purpose, and where we have a sense of engagement by being in-flow with what we are doing.

Yes, indeed this is possible to do. In the rush of our lives, it’s sometimes too easy to overlook those things that could make a difference in raising our perceptions and happiness levels.

Here’s are few tips from those who practice happiness within their daily lives.

Surrounding yourself with other happy people:

Well, who needs to be brought down by other peoples negative attitudes and behaviours?

If we feel that we are surrounded by people behaving or thinking in a certain way, it’s so easy to take on the same way of thinking and being.

Make a change and find people who are more joyous and playful – that too is just as contagious.

Cultivate resilience:

Okay, so something you’ve tried out may not be successful at first. To succeed we have to be willing to fail, then we can start coming up with the golden moments.

Take small steps towards what it is you want to do and remember to look out and celebrate the smaller victories too.

Appreciate simple pleasures:

At the end of your day, and just before you go to sleep, there is a ‘positive psychology’ tactic you can try out.

Take a moment to allow your unconscious to bring forward 1 to 3 gifts from the day.

For example, it could be help from a stranger, the beauty of the sky, or a flower, a piece of music, something you did to help another.

Whatever it is that would be a good thing to have happened because of, or while you were present.

Choosing to tune into optimism has many health benefits including reducing stress.

Learning ‘mindfulness’ or ‘meditation:

Giving you a chance to put to one side the cares of the day. Switch off technology and find a place to be at peace, just for 10 to 20 minutes once or twice a day.

Using mindfulness or meditation techniques can lower your stress levels, recharge your brain functions and increase your resilience.

Connect with your environment in a new way:

By tapping into different habits, you could make a difference to your day, or your week. Learning to make choices in how we interact with ourselves and the world around us more positively.
For example, some people help themselves by creating a better experience of their day by choosing a different route through the park or a new street.
Opening up their awareness to the amazing things that surround us.

For many more tips and the route to background studies and research, I’d like to share with you this excellent blog from the Huffington post:

The Habits of Extremely Happy people

To your good health,


Cognitive Hypnotherapy offers a range of techniques and hypnotic downloads.  They can help you to relax or release you from the strains of stress and anxiety. 

New Year Resolutions

Maria Richards Cognitive Hypnotherapist

If stress or anxiety are causing you a problem you could contact me, click on my picture. And let’s see how we can help you take back control and create a much better experience in your life. 

You may also be interested in a previous blog on mindfulness – the spin cycle of stress – a small change can really help.