Is ‘Medium Chill’ The Answer To Happiness?

Ever since I started delving into the world of self development, around the same time I started this blog nine years ago, the topic of happiness has fascinated me.

What makes people happy? Why are some people happier than others? What part does money play in happiness? And the biggest question of all, how can I be happy?

As humans our main purpose is survival, but with most daily risks to our survival now taken care of, this gives way to a new purpose. The pursuit of happiness. If you ask most people what they want it will either be happiness, or something they perceive will bring them happiness, usually money.

I’ve been so busy recently I haven’t had much chance to ponder things let alone blog about them, but today I stumbled across the idea of the ‘medium chill’. It reminded me of some of the books I read a few (nine is a few as you get older) years ago. Medium chill reminded me of The Fulfillment Curve, the idea of ‘enough’.

Medium Chill is the idea that we should all stop striving to own the latest car or the bigger house, although when it comes to size I think TVs are the new way to prove who is the bigger man (or woman)? Medium Chill is about deciding what’s enough and sticking to it, and spending the rest of your time building relationships and enjoying your ‘free’ time. It also suggests we shouldn’t look to further our careers or take the ‘next step’.

This is all instead of the Big Chill which is all about “doing today what others won’t, so you can do tomorrow what others can’t” (this is a quote that has been requoted so many times I don’t know who started it, but a lot of entrepreneurs buy into this idea. In short, you work like a dog until you’re about 40 and then you retire on a beach somewhere. It’s a nice idea but I’ve never met any entrepreneur type that could actually lay on a beach for eight hours a day and suppress the urge to create.

So if the Big Chill is just a fantasy, is Medium Chill the answer? Would we be happy if we all just slowed down a bit and stopped our striving?

I think there are two issues here that need to be addressed.

1. Work makes people unhappy
2. Money makes people happy

Money doesn’t make people happy. Ok, that’s not entirely true. Money does make people happy but not as much as we think. If you’re incredibly poor then a bit more money will obviously improve your lifestyle which may lead to increased happiness. In general though it has been proven that whether good or bad things happen in your life, you eventually swing back to you usual level of happiness. We all end up about the same amount of happy, regardless of what we own. The amount of happy we are comes from how happy we decide to be. Happiness isn’t related to things so much as it is simply a decision. Most of the time you can just ‘decide’ to be happy (some life events will obviously affect this).

Work doesn’t make people unhappy.
The type and amount of work people feel pressured into doing is what makes them unhappy. If your job was to watch TV all day, eventually you would begin to resent it if you had to do it for 10 hours a day straight. If you have a job as a chocolate taster and you had to eat 10 boxes of chocolates a day, it would soon become a chore. You’d be unhappy. To be happy, we need to find work that has variety, that is fulfilling, that allows us the space to do other things if we want to. If you find the right work, something you are passionate about, it doesn’t feel like a chore to do it for long hours.

The key to happiness in my opinion, is simply to refuse to race. The rat race is a race that none of us can win. There will always be someone who has more. Always.

Rather than refusing to strive and going Medium Chill, which I find the idea of a bit boring, I think the answer is to create a new race. A race with yourself. Humans naturally want to develop and achieve. If we focus on being more, rather than having more, that could be really fulfilling? Nobody can be more you than you, but you can be more than you have been. It’s a race we can all win. You don’t have to always rely on stuff for status. When you set personal goals and reach them, people respect you, respect brings status. When you help others achieve, this also brings respect, which brings status. It’s not all about what you own, it’s the effect you can have on people too.

I’ve come to the conclusion that neither the Big Chill or the the Medium Chill is for me. I’m going to continue running in my own race, and I’m going to encourage other people to run alongside me (in their own race). They will cheer me on, and I will cheer them on. And all that matters is that we beat our own times and create a life’s work that we can be proud of.

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Low Flying Planes at Maho Beach, St Maarten

One of the highlights of our Caribbean cruise was our day at Maho Beach. We’d seen the pictures and videos on the internet and we wanted to go and witness it for ourselves.

We enjoyed a few cocktails and a paddle in the sea, and then this happened…

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My 2014 in Pictures

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A Family Cook Up with Galloway Cheddar

Last month Erin and I accepted a challenge from a lovely lady from Galloway (the cheese company, not the place – although she may well have been from Galloway). They sent us a hamper of ingredients, including a few Scottish favourites and challenged us to make some dishes.
Galloway
Our box included haggis, chorizo, turnip, macaroni and of course a huge hunk of Galloway cheddar.

We kicked think of with some Chorizo and Cheese Quesadillas, these are great for quick lunches or as after school snacks. Simply pop a little oil into a frying pan and lay one flour tortilla flat, sprinkle over some grated cheese and top with fried slices of chorizo. Place the other flour tortilla and flip until both sides are golden. Erin doesn’t like onion but I had a little red onion on mine too. Serve with a side salad and if you have it, some salsa.

Our second dish was a bit of an experiment which we named ‘Scottage Pie’. It’s cottage pie with a Scottish twist. I’m not a fan of haggis so this was also a twist on Haggis, Neeps and Tatties. Simply cook your cottage pie as usual and instead of layering the mash straight on, add a layer of mashed turnip first, then your mash on top and of course a generous grating of cheddar.
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Our final dish was one that I’ve been wanting to teach Erin to make for ages, Macaroni Cheese. I learned to make a roux based cheese sauce at high school and it’s helped me make many a lasagne and macaroni over the years – definitely a staple skill in the kitchen.

Win Your Own Family Meal with Galloway

1. Claim your free family meal by spending a minimum of £10 on a shop which includes a promotional pack of Galloway Cheddar. Upload your receipt to www.gallowaycheddar.co.uk – your £5 cash back will be sent to you along with some recipe ideas.

2. Upload a photo of your family dinner and be in with a chance of winning a Galloway serving dish, perfect for your Macaroni Cheese or Scottage Pie!

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Edinburgh Panto: Aladdin

As we settled into our seats for this year’s pantomime at the King’s Theatre I started to think about how you might explain pantomime to someone from another country. It’s a very British thing; men dressed up as women, the slapstick comedy, the audience participation. It’s an unusual set of ingredients that just seems to work, the whole family can take something from it and I think that’s what makes it so popular.Aladdin King's Theatre

The much loved trio of Allan Stewart, Grant Stott and Andy Gray featured in the King’s panto this year alongside Greg Barrowman (who, if I’ve done my research correctly, is the cousin of John Barrowman).

This year’s show is packed full of special effects which keeps the interest up for kids. Adults will enjoy the hidden jokes and subtle innuendo. The story is the one we all know and love, Aladdin goes on a quest to find the lamp and is bequeathed three wishes by the genie. Evil Abanazar has other ideas and steals the lamp and kidnaps Aladdin’s love Princess Jasmine. While the show often goes off on a tangent from the main story, they are welcome tangents. A great variety performance with a bit of everything thrown into the pot.
Edinburgh Pantomime
Allan Stewart steals the show with gag after gag, a few daring stunts and a big ballad performance of This Is The Moment.

Alex who isn’t usually a fan said it was the best panto yet, and I’d be inclined to agree with him. Fantastic Christmas fun for all the family, a must-do alongside the Winter Wonderland.

Aladdin at the King’s Theatre runs until 18th January. Tickets start from £14. More details and ticket bookings here.

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St Thomas & Tortola

After our day in the Bahamas our cruise visited St Thomas.

During our day at St Thomas we decided to take an excursion to swim with dolphins. We hadn’t realised that the excursion would take us through passport control and into another country! It was a full on day but it was worth it for Erin and Alex to have the chance to swim with dolphins, I’d previously done it in Florida so I sat at the side and took the photos.

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Royal Yacht Britannia

Erin’s been wanting to visit the Royal Yacht Britannia for a while, we attempted a visit last year but it was too busy – it’s a very popular attraction, especially for tourists to Edinburgh who want their Royal fix.

The opportunity came up to visit as part of the ‘St Andrew’s Day Out’ campaign. Over 200 venues and attractions participated, offering visitors special deals. You can see all the offers here, a few are still ongoing.

Before we’d even got onto Royal Yacht Britannia, Erin had whipped her camera and was keenly snapping away.

RYB 1

The tour begins on the upper decks. There’s special commentary for children which Erin seemed to enjoy. In fact she supplied me with a few facts for this blog post, so it must have been interesting!

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For example, did you know that shouting on board Britannia was forbidden. Apparently all orders had to be whispered to avoid disturbing the Royal family and their guests.

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There are two things we love on a day out, one is a gift shop and the other is a tearoom.

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We were delighted to find a lovely tearoom serving scones and tea, as well as soup and sandwiches (which looked lovely!)

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The tour continues and you get to see the Queen’s bedroom, the formal dining room, private offices and the lounge area.

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The most fascinating part of the tour for me was the staff quarters, you get a real feel for what a trip might have been like for them. Everything has been kept as it was, even the naafi is still there and selling sweets to visitors.

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We had a lovely day and would highly recommend a visit, at £12.50 for an adult ticket I think it represents good value too. Find out more about Royal Yacht Britannia here.

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Have you discovered Toothpick yet?

ToothpickIf you’re anything like me, most of the household admin is done online. I manage banking, book hairdresser appointments and do food shopping online. If it can be done quickly and efficiently online then I’m on board. I was interested then to hear of a new online booking system, one that lets you book your dentist appointment online.

Toothpick is the UK’s leading online booking platform for dentist appointments. Launched in 2013, one million people have now used the technology to book their appointments.

Toothpick are on a mission to make dentistry more consumer friendly, by making it easy to access up to date information on both NHS and private dentists near you – including prices and reviews! They say that 50 percent of bookings are now being made outside of dental practices’ usual opening hours and 60 percent on mobile devices. For busy parents, not being restricted to fitting everything into the 9-5 is very helpful. It’s been so popular that Toothpick is now being rolled out in Holland, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

Once you’ve made your choice, you can book an appointment in under 60 seconds.

Follow these three simple steps to book your appointment;

Search

Select a treatment, and search by location, practice or dentist name.

Browse

View and narrow your results, to show for example NHS/private or dentists who treat children.

Book

Click on an appointment time to start your booking. We’ll verify and confirm it via email. You’re booked in!

This post is brought to you by Toothpick

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There Is Only One Success

I love this.

Freedom

Cars and houses are nice, but freedom and choice are the real markers of success in my opinion.

Is success being tied to a well paying job that you hate, that someone could take away from you at any moment? Employment is fine, but getting to the point where you are there by choice has got be part of the success barometer? Likewise with assets, if you don’t actually own those houses and cars and you’re only acquiring them to show off, can that really be classed as successful? Because I think our society currently doesn’t look past these superficial things to find out what real success looks and feels like.

In my opinion, success isn’t a collection of assets.

It’s a feeling.

It’s being completely at ease with where you are in life and how you spend your time and money. It’s having the freedom and choice to do what you want to do and not be beholden to someone else and whatever agenda they may have for you. Beholden is the key word here, employment is the right road for many people, but success is knowing that if you ever wanted to leave you could. Success is having the courage to beat down your own path whether society values and classes that as ‘successful’ or not.

I was chatting to a friend yesterday and we were saying how important and valuable the ‘can’t wait to go to work’ feeling is (as opposed to the dreading Monday morning feeling). Time and the way we spend it is far more valuable than money. There are always ways to make more money, time is finite, once it’s spent you can’t make more. We should value time more highly than money and only spend it on things that are really important to us. Yet too often people ‘work for the weekend’, spend years in jobs they hate (and spend years moaning about it), and put off pursuing hobbies and taking trips for when they have more time. I realised on a trip recently that there would never be ‘more time’. Time in the future is not guaranteed, all I have is the time I have now so I figured I’d better start using it. That’s resulted in adjusting work patterns, spending more time with family and actually using some of my time to pursue hobbies and plan the trips I’ve been looking ‘forward’ to. I’ve got a better deal on our mortgage and started saving more too, I realised that if I wanted to feel successful in the future and have the same level of freedom and choice, that I would had to spend a little bit of my time, and a lot of my money protecting it.

Of course one person’s successful feeling is not the same as another, but on the whole most of us (really deep down, past that ego bit) value similar things; family, a comfortable home, fulfilling work, time for hobbies, a bit of travel… We are often made to believe these things are out of our reach, but if you turn down the noise on a lot of the things that we don’t need (that we are told we do), then you usually find that the important stuff is well within reach.

Right, I’m off to play my new cornet. I thought playing a musical instrument was quite a wasteful use of my time, I’ve realised that doing non-money making things actually gives the money-making activities more point and context. Feels much better to do a bit of the living now and not just saving it all up for some non specific time in the future.

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RBS Finding Scotland’s Real Heroes: Community Entrepreneur Winner

Scotland HeroesI blogged a few weeks ago about attending the RBS Finding Scotland’s Real Heroes awards ceremony.

I was delighted at the end of the ceremony to meet the winner of the Community Entrepreneur of the Year category, Vicki McCarthy.

Vicki, who is inspired by her daughter who has autism, set up REACH for Autism. REACH for Autism provides a variety of support and services such as group workshops, training days and events aimed at bringing those living with autism together.
Scotland Heroes
Vicki says, ‘The Reach Way’ focuses on Relationships, Education, Action. Community and Health. By connecting these five areas we can work together to help anyone living with autism.

Vicki is the Founder and Executive Director of Reach for Autism and mum of a teenage daughter with autism. She has supported many parents over the years and has been delivering parent workshops in her local community and surrounding areas in recent years. Vicki has worked as a nurse in the UK and USA but felt compelled to change direction and study autism after her daughter was diagnosed in 2005. Vicki is passionate about helping people with autism and their families to reach their full potential and to become valued members of their local community.

On receiving her award Vicki said, “I wasn’t expecting this at all. My amazing daughter is the inspiration behind REACH For Autism”

Congratulations to Vicki and all the other finalists.

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Tempus, Edinburgh

To say October was a busy month is an understatement, in amongst all of the other excitement we were invited to Tempus on George Street.

Tempus is part of The George Hotel, now I’ll be the first to admit that hotel restaurants can be disappointing but Tempus is different. Firstly it has a seperate front door entrance to the hotel meaning that it’s not just hotel guests that are dining at Tempus. This means that Tempus is competing with every other restaurant in Edinburgh, so the standard has to be good or better.

Edinburgh Restaurant

Tempus Dining Room

The entrance leads to a bustling bar and informal dining area, as you make your way to the back you discover a larger dining room. The dining room has a bit of a wow factor that you don’t expect, it’s one of the best furnished restaurants I’ve been in. It was a bit empty when we were in during the week, but I expect the vibe is much more buzzy at the weekend.

Edinburgh Restaurant

Breakfast Martini

After a tough day at work a cocktail was called for. I ordered a breakfast martini and noticed how tranquil the dining room was in comparison to the bar, almost none of the noise carried through.

Edinburgh Restaurant

Crab Cake & Poached Egg

Alex ordered the crab cake with poached egg, which seemed to go down well. The poached egg was perfectly cooked.

Edinburgh Restaurant

Peas & Parma Ham

I had the peas and parma ham which was lovely and fresh. The pea puree could have done with a touch more seasoning but that’s a minor gripe.

Edinburgh Restaurant

Bread & Olives

We also ordered some bread and olives to share with Erin who had joined us (Tempus isn’t really a kids place but they were happy to accommodate). There was a good selection of breads served with olive oil and vinegar and some tasty grissini.

For main I chose the lamb dish, I don’t usually choose lamb and I did end up with food envy when Alex’ steak arrived. Unfortunately my picture of the lamb didn’t turn out but it was served with carrot and cumin puree and kale. It was on the lighter side so most people would opt to have a side of mash. The carrot puree was a bit earthy for me so I was glad I’d ordered the mash which was buttery and the perfect accompaniment.

Edinburgh Restaurant

Steak & Pepper Sauce

Alex’s steak was good, the pepper sauce was freshly made and had a good hit of pepper – I ended up dipping my lamb it was so tasty.

Edinburgh Restaurant

Mini Fish & Chips


There was no children’s menu but our waitress was quick to offer the bar menu which had a range of mini dishes to choose from. Erin had fish and chips which was the perfect size and she was delighted when it arrived in little buckets.

Edinburgh Restaurant

Chocolate Orange Tart & Pecan Brittle

There wasn’t much I fancied on the dessert menu so I shared the chocolate orange tart and pecan brittle with Erin. Unfortunately the pastry wasn’t crumbly and fresh tasting, it felt bought in and/or refrigerated. The pecan brittle was lovely though.

Edinburgh Restaurant

Banoffee Pie


The banoffee pie was much better. An individually encased pie with banana ice cream and burnt banana puree which was the star of the show.

On the whole a lovely meal, if you fancy somewhere reliable with good quality food and an impressive dining room then Tempus is a good choice.

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Home Is Where The Heart (And A Good Kitchen) Is

We moved house two years ago, from an older two bedroom house to a new build in our village. There was a small part of us that were a bit unsure about the move at the time, we would be tripling our mortgage repayments overnight. After a lot of thought we made the move, and it wasn’t without its stress. Here we are though and on reflection it was absolutely the right decision for us. We live in a lovely street with great neighbours, no through traffic, walking distance from the primary school, and the bus stop for the high school is at the top of the road. We couldn’t ask for much more. For where we are in our lives right now it’s perfect.

It’s fun to dream about the future though, and we often think about where we’ll move to next and what kind of house it will be. One of our favourite programmes is Grand Designs, over the last ten years of watching we’ve learned the things we love (wood, lots of space, mezzanines, good offices and kitchens), and what we don’t (concrete, harsh lines, built up areas, uber modern uncomfortable furniture).

My current future dream is to live in a barn conversion type property. We already live in a more rural area and there are quite a few properties like this in the area, it’s not the right time yet, but one day it will be.

Kitchens
Betta Living
In my next house I’d like a modern kitchen with a larder and island, I’d also like a slightly bigger kitchen. All my homes so far have had bigger kitchens, the one I have now is the smallest I’ve had and a bit more space would be nice.

I like this Phoenix Aubergine kitchen.

Bathrooms
Bathroom
After having a browse on Betta Living I’ve discovered that my preference is for modern bathrooms. I live the stone and glass in this one.

Bedrooms
Bedroom
I’ve got this thing about having a sloping roof in my next bedroom, there’s something cosy about it. Wooden wardrobes like these ones, and white linen with a grey or muted tartan throw (like this) on the bed.

So that’s my future dream, but in all honesty I’m pretty happy with where I am right now and I think we have quite a few happy years ahead of us here before we think seriously about moving.

This post is in collaboration with Betta Living

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36 Hours Onboard Quantum of the Seas

What can you fit into just 36 hours onboard the World’s first ‘smart’ ship? Looking back on my photos, the answer is quite a lot!

Smart check-in (staff have tablets to enable quick check in) meant that we were able to board the ship within minutes.

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The decor in the cabins has been poshed up a bit and it was good to see that there were loungers and foot stools rather than a table and chairs, I think this will be a popular change. You still have a room card, but now there’s also a handy wristband which you can use instead, I loved this feature as I’m always worried about mislaying my card. After a quick freshen up I met my fellow bloggers, who were already on their phones Tweeting and Instagramming using the ship’s wifi.

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Our muster drill was inside Vintages where they have smart wine stations to allow you to select and pour your own drink – great for wine tasting.

The dining aboard Quantum of the Seas is a bit different, they’ve chosen to move away from the traditional main dining room and instead there are four complimentary restaurants to choose from. We ate in The Grande which is the most formal of the restaurants, guests are encouraged to dress up and the restaurant is decorated and furnished in a classic style. The menu features lobster, beef fillet and prawn cocktail. After dinner we had a quick look at the Bionic Bar (robotic arms that make your drink for you), before settling into our seats for Mamma Mia. We were going to be sensible and head to bed, but after a bit of a dance at the end of Mamma Mia we were left wanting more so we made our way to the Music Hall where an 80’s band called the Wild Boys were playing.

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We were up bright and early the next morning* (*might be a slight exaggeration). After breakfast a couple of bloggers braved the iFly, Quantum’s skydiving simulator, I chose the more sedate bumper cars in the SeaPlex. The SeaPlex is a fantastic new activity zone that will host not only the bumper cars but sports tournaments, DJ’s, and circus skills sessions. I can imagine teenagers spending ALL their time here. All the excitement pushed me over the edge a bit and I flopped down for a pit stop and lunch at Johnny Rockets. A couple of hours relaxation was called for in the Solarium before we got ready for the evening entertainment.

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Our final evening began with a trip on the North Star which gives fantastic views over the sea and back across the pool deck of Quantum of the Seas. Dinner was at the Alice in Wonderland inspired restaurant, Wonderland (more on that in another post!). After dinner entertainment was in the Two70 Theatre, Star Water is a Las Vegas style dance show with a huge digital backdrop and robotic screens. Once again we ended our evening at the Music Hall where 60’s band The Overtures entertained the crowd.

We managed to experience a bit of everything during our 36 hours but I could have easily spent a whole week or two having fun with the family on this ship. Overall I felt the ship was best suited to couples travelling alone or families with teenagers.

Here are myself and fellow Royal Mum bloggers choosing our WOW Quantum moments.

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