Try these simple techniques to help you handle some of life’s most common issues.

Self-help books can be hitand miss. Sometimes acompassionate author canlift your mood while you’rereading, but the actual advice givenis lacklustre. Others may be written in astyle that drives you mad but are so full ofuseful suggestions, you’re willing to readon regardless. Cut the Crap and FeelAmazing by Ailsa Frank (Hay House,£10.99) is one such book. Written in a veryAmerican tone, it doesn’t just capitalise theword AMAZING, it uses it as much as 13times a page. That said, it’s packed withsimple ways to beat stress, meet yourgoals and generally feel good. Here area few of our favourite tips from the book.


Smile technique: If you’d like to feel‘amazing’ more of the time, the answeris surprisingly simple. Just smile more.Whether you’re cleaning your teeth,walking round the supermarket or facingyour biggest fear, smiling makes you feelbetter. Period. What’s more, it helpsyou become more solution-focused.

Why it works: Research shows smilingreduces your body’s stress response,whether or not you feel happy. One studyeven found that people who smile whenstressed have lower heart-rate levelsthan those who don’t smile.



Kickboxing technique: Want to feel invincible? Harness the energy of a kickboxer. Begin in a wide-legged stance, one foot in front of the other, and throwpunches in a one-two formation. Then, kickyour back leg forward and up, and lowerback into a wide-legged squat, as you say,‘I can do this’ or ‘I am doing this’.

Why it works: This technique releasesmood-boosting endorphins and uses yourbody’s muscle memory patterns to trainyou to believe in yourself.


Red triangle technique: Under pressure?Take a few moments to visualise a redtriangle in your mind, then imagine placingyour fears and negative thoughts inside it.visualise the triangle shrinking until it’s justa tiny speck of dust. Finally, take a deepbreath in and, on a long exhale, imagineblowing the speck of dust away.

Why it works: When you’re anxious, it’shard to think creatively about problemsolving. Taking the emotional charge out ofnegative thoughts allows new solutions in.


Chocolate brownie technique: Eatenwarm, a brownie is soft, light andcomforting – take it straight from the fridgeand it’s cold, solid and hard to digest.Bottom line? You’re eating the same thingbut the experience is totally different. Whenyou need to talk to a friend or colleagueon a difficult subject, think of a chocolatebrownie. Choose your words and toneof voice to bring out the softness in them,rather than a cold, brittle response.

Why it works: Compassionatecommunication prevents people becomingdefensive, so you can both be more honestwithout hurting each others’ feelings.


Wave technique: Imagine you’re on abeach, standing at the water’s edge. Tuneinto the rhythm of waves, feeling how theygently tumble towards you, before softlydrifting away. Observe how each wave isdifferent – some cascading down withabandon, others creeping into the shore.

Why it works: Every wave is fluid, thesame way each day is fluid. Flowing with what comes and goes in your life allowsyou to be open to new opportunities andlet go of what doesn’t serve you.


Each issue, we bring you the best advice from the self-help classics.

This month we look at Flow: ThePsychology of Optimal Experienceby Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (HarperPerennial Modern Classics, $15.99)In a nutshell: Do you rememberbeing so absorbed in an activity youfelt you could go on for ever? Youwere probably in a state of flow –alert, energised, un-selfconscious.Here,0 the Hungarian psychologistshows you how to achieve thishighly focused mental state, and theresulting fulfilment it brings,

A nugget: ‘The best momentsusually occur when a person’s bodyor mind is stretched to its limitsin a voluntary effort to accomplishsomething difficult and worthwhile.’

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