Thank you for the reviews for ‘Made in Thailand’ so far.

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“Enjoyed every page. Fantastic. Would read it again and honestly I couldn’t put it down !!!” – Kamonchanok, Bangkok, Thailand

“Brilliant. Well worth reading. What an absolute, magnificent read !” – Toni, London, UK

“I enjoyed this book so much I bought it for my friend who loves Thailand. She loved it and enjoyed reading it just as much.” – Neil, London, UK

“This reminded me of my childhood. Loved every page. I felt like wanting to be that person who sat next to you on the first day when you just moved to Patana.” – Rose, London, UK

18. THE POSITIVITY PROJECT – ONE EMAIL TO READ BEFORE WORK (DAY 10)

Get your AM brain into gear by signing up to gohighbrow.com’s fun email-learning platform. It sends a five-minute lesson (on a huge range of subjects – money, art, tech, health) straight to your inbox each morning for ten days.

Day 10 – Wrapping It Up

From Highbrow:

Congrats, you made it till the end of this 10-day course. Now it’s time to wrap things up.

You have now made the first steps to apply the science of happiness to your life. You have not only read but also experienced the lessons and activities in this email course first-hand. But it takes time and effort to master a new skill as well as it takes time and effort to develop self-confidence.

This ten-day framework provided an intro to the topic but it needs more continuous effort to really make a lasting difference. Besides, there are a huge variety of more topics that positive psychologists and neuroscientists are researching at the moment.

Among others, there’s how to discover and use your strengths to become happier and more effective at work. There’s also a lot of research on what makes happy relationships stand out from others, how to find happiness in the moment and much more.

To end this course, you can try this a method called sentence stem completion. This exercise can be used to facilitate your personal growth. You can use this exercise to consolidate the insights you had throughout the course. Find at least 10 endings to this sentence stem:

Living happily to me means…

For example, one of my sentence stem exercises looked like this:

Living happily to me means …

… having dinner with my family.

… working on a project that makes the world a better place.

… having good food in my home.

… making a positive difference in the world.

… enjoying the company of others.

… spending some time alone.

… having someone to talk to.

17. THE POSITIVITY PROJECT – ONE EMAIL TO READ BEFORE WORK (DAY 9)

Get your AM brain into gear by signing up to gohighbrow.com’s fun email-learning platform. It sends a five-minute lesson (on a huge range of subjects – money, art, tech, health) straight to your inbox each morning for ten days.

Day 9 – Understanding self-compassion

From Highbrow:

Do you treat yourself as well as you treat your close friends and your family? People who find it easy to be supportive and understanding to others are often surprisingly self-deprecating. They beat themselves up for small failures like being overweight or not exercising.

One way to deal with this overly harsh self-treatment is to be more forgiving with ourselves. And that’s where we enter the realm of self-compassion.

It’s often easier to understand self-compassion when we first understand what it means to have compassion for others. Compassion basically involves three components: When we are compassionate, we first notice another person’s suffering. Then we respond kindly and caringly. And last, we remind them that they are not alone and every human being shares these experiences.

Let’s say you have a close friend who tells you about something that’s wrong in her life. If you have compassion you sense her suffering. You respond kindly and wholeheartedly to this suffering, give support, maybe even a hug. And then, you might tell your friend that she is not alone, that it’s an experience that everyone shares once in a while.

Self-compassion works in pretty much the same way. Rather than beating ourselves up when we don’t stick to a diet or get a bad mark on an important exam, it’s much more beneficial to respond in a self-compassionate way:

First, we need to notice that we are suffering. That can often be harder than we initially think. Because in a difficult or stressful situation we hardly ever take time to step back and recognize how hard it is for us in the moment.

Second, stop judging ourselves and start bringing kindness to ourselves. Often the reason for our suffering is that we judge ourselves too harshly. When we’re self-compassionate we remember that it’s really hard to feel inadequate or ashamed.

And thirdly, remember that suffering and imperfection is part of the shared human experience. Not everything in life is perfect – everyone on earth makes mistakes and experiences negative emotions.

Tal Ben-Shahar, former Harvard professor, gives the example that there are only two kinds of people who do not experience negative emotions. The first group are psychopaths. By definition, they do not experience emotions like shame or embarrassment. And the second group of people who don’t experience negative emotions are dead. So if we look at it from this perspective, it’s good if we experience negative emotions. Because it means that we are still alive and not a psychopath.

Often the initial reaction of many people sounds something like this: ‘Hmm I am not sure about this self-compassion thing. I need to be harsh with myself, otherwise I’ll never make the change.’

But in reality, this deprecating self-criticism is not at all helpful. We are not making ourselves a better person by beating ourselves up all the time. We are just causing ourselves to feel inadequate and insecure while we should be kind and supportive to ourselves when we most need it. Practicing self-compassion has now been researched for over a decade and by now there is a lot of evidence showing it’s a powerful way to open the door to real and lasting happiness.

14. THE POSITIVITY PROJECT – ONE EMAIL TO READ BEFORE WORK (DAY 6)

Get your AM brain into gear by signing up to gohighbrow.com’s fun email-learning platform. It sends a five-minute lesson (on a huge range of subjects – money, art, tech, health) straight to your inbox each morning for ten days.

Day 6 – Practice Gratitude

From Highbrow:

Practicing gratitude reminds many people of saying ‘thank you’ for a present. But being grateful can be much more than that. The leading gratitude researcher Robert Emmons defines it as a feeling of wonder, thankfulness and appreciation of life. His research from the last decade has shown a host of benefits; from stronger immune systems and better sleep to more happiness and better relationships.

Human beings like novelty and we adapt fast to new circumstances such as a new apartment or the last promotion. Gratitude helps because it allows us to benefit from the things we usually take for granted. There are many things in our lives, both large and small, that we might be grateful for. When we are grateful for something, we appreciate its value. And that’s why practicing gratitude on a regular basis allows us to notice the positives more and that magnifies what’s good in our lives.

But gratitude does even more good to us! It also blocks toxic emotions such as envy and resentment. You can’t, for example, feel gratitude and envy at the same time. Try to be truly grateful and at the same time envy someone for having something that you don’t have. It’s impossible, they are incompatible feelings.

If you want something to engage in, take this easy exercise: Throughout today, take notice of things you can be grateful for. Make a list of these things – no matter if small or big. And in the evening, take some time to revisit the list. You can ask yourself what your life would be like if those things were missing. And you can try to experience a bit  of gratitude for things that you probably haven’t noticed in a while.

11. THE POSITIVITY PROJECT – TAKE THE 21-DAY GRATITUDE CHALLENGE (DAY 4)

Record one thing you’re grateful for (flatmates with the same shoe size, a FaceTime chat with your mum, that free coffee in Pret – it’s all relative) each day for three weeks. Research says it can improve your mood, sleep and energy.

DAY 4 – Made in Thailand Sequel

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Once again, I would like to thank those who have purchased and supported Made in Thailand, and because of how well it is doing, I have decided to bring out a sequel, where the autobiography will have a broader focus on my life in 90’s Bangkok and much more. It is already in the works alongside the sequel to Who We Were. The sequel to Made in Thailand would not have come to plan if it wasn’t for the supportive bloggers, readers and fans. I thank you all, and hope that we can make the sequel an even better success.  

8. The Positivity Project – One Email to Read Before Work (Day 3)

Get your AM brain into gear by signing up to gohighbrow.com’s fun email-learning platform. It sends a five-minute lesson (on a huge range of subjects – money, art, tech, health) straight to your inbox each morning for ten days.

Day 3 – Myths of Happiness

From Highbrow:

Nearly all of us buy into what Sonya Lyubomirsky – one of the leading happiness researchers – calls the myths of happiness. Those myths are beliefs that certain achievements in our lives will make us forever happy and that certain failures will make us forever unhappy. People believe they will be happy once they’re married or have a certain job or income. At the same time, many people tend to believe that having health problems or having only little money will leave them forever unhappy.

The beliefs are called myths because research has convincingly shown that they are wrong. There is no ultimate life event that changes people’s feelings forever. The myth is not that achieving those dreams won’t make us happy. They almost certainly will. The myth in this belief is that we tend to think the happiness we get will last forever. The problem, though, is that the happiness we get is not as intense and by far not as long-lasting as we believe it will be.

So here are the two kinds of happiness myths: The first myth of happiness is our mistaken belief that we need certain events or situations in our lives to finally become happy. It is the notion that I’ll be happy when ____ (fill in the blank). I’ll be happy when I get that promotion, when I have a baby, when I’m rich, and so on.

Similarly wrong is the other kind of happiness myth. This myth is the belief that I can’t be happy when ____ (again, fill in the blank). For example, I can’t be happy as long as I don’t have a partner. I can’t be happy when I’m broke. Or I can’t be happy as long as I’m so much overweight.

When something negative happens in people’s lives, they often overreact. They feel that they can never be happy again, and that their life as they know it is now over. That’s the second type of happiness myths and it’s equally wrong. People adapt to almost all circumstances over time. Lottery winners for example are just as happy as people who never won the lottery. Even many people with paraplegia return – after some time – to the level of happiness they had before they became disabled.

7. The Positivity Project – One Email to Read Before Work (Day 2)

Get your AM brain into gear by signing up to gohighbrow.com’s fun email-learning platform. It sends a five-minute lesson (on a huge range of subjects – money, art, tech, health) straight to your inbox each morning for ten days.

Day 2 – What is happiness?

From Highbrow:

A course to increase one’s happiness cannot help but start with a definition of happiness. That’s important because if the goal is to increase happiness, we have to first understand it.

Psychologists look at happiness from various different angles. The definition of happiness we use here is based on the work of Paul Dolan (author of the book ‘Happiness by Design’) and includes two components. Happiness from this perspective is best understood as experiences of pleasure and purpose.

Pleasure is about feeling good versus feeling bad. Pleasure as part of our definition of happiness refers to the range of positive emotions we can experience. From joy and excitement to fun and contentment. Feeling bad, on the other hand, means to suffer. This suffering encompasses all the negative emotions we can feel – from anxiety and stress to sadness and anger. Happiness – from the pleasure perspective – is having more of the positive feelings and less of the negative ones.

However, there is another component to happiness: Feelings of purpose versus feelings of meaninglessness. Feelings of purpose always come up when we do something worthwhile, something that’s meaningful and fulfills us. These feelings are different to feelings of pleasure, even though they often come together. An example would be working on a project that you really feel makes a positive difference in other people’s lives. Or teaching your child how to ride a bicycle.

The opposite of purpose is meaninglessness and many of us won’t have to think hard to come up with an experience that falls into this category. It can be anything from washing the dishes to preparing a report at work that you know will end up in the drawer.

To sum up, happiness consists of pleasure plus purpose. To be truly happy you need to feel both. Different people want different combinations of pleasure and purpose. But real happiness requires both to some degree – feelings of pleasure and purpose.