Kinda Nice!


In Dr David Hamilton’s blog post, ‘Born to be Kind’, he explains how we have been conditioned to show kindness through our heredity. No wonder being kind makes us feel better – it’s part of our genetic makeup. 

Our bodies have evolved to produce a hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin is sometimes referred to as the ‘cuddle chemical’ or the ‘hug hormone’, with good reason. It helps us to emotionally bond with each other.

We don’t just produce oxytocin when we’re being kind, but even when we’re thinking about being kind. So all those hours spent looking at cute animal videos on YouTube weren’t wasted after all!

Even small expressions of support between family members and friends will stimulate the release of oxytocin. As will quality time with your pets. Or someone else’s pets.

Not only do we get to feel better, which improves our mental health, but there are many physical benefits of oxytocin being released too. Love, trust and sincerity can prompt our inner healing process.

Oxytocin can increase the body’s healing rates and slow ageing rates. It can lower blood pressure and decrease intestinal inflammation. The list goes on.

So if you’re being kind to someone else, they benefit and so do you – it’s not just kinda nice, it’s kinda win-win! 

Can’t See the Wood for the Trees

I always used to get stressed about leaving for work on time – because parking space is at a premium. In fact, if you’re not in there by 8.20am, you’re more likely to find a chilled-out T-Rex than an empty rectangular piece of car-sized tarmac.

So, I’m often left doing the ‘Car Park Shuffle’ – using short term parking, then moving on! We have several store car parks within walking distance of our building. The only problem is that they are limited to a maximum of two hours – some even less. And if you should accidentally go over your allotted time, you’re looking at a King’s Ransom in fines.

But if I can’t change the car parking situation, which, short of buying an Aldi store and levelling it, I can’t – there has to be another solution. I’ve had to look at things differently in an attempt to turn the negatives into positives.

There is a distant land where cars can stay, without fear of time limit or ticket. In the middle of a local park there are normally spaces to spare. But there is a downside – the long walk.

Realistically, the walk is less than 15 minutes each way. And now the British Spring has sprung, it’s a pleasant-enough hike on a tree-fringed tarmac path. And since I’m looking to increase my daily step count, it’s all good!  

And through the seasons, while walking through the park I’ve been inspired to use my phone and take a photo or two of something that catches my eye. Be it a beautiful winter wonderland, a spring flower bed in full bloom, or a travelling fair setting up.

Sometimes there’s hardly a person in sight, but often there are little kids zooming around on push scooters, being taken to school by their parents. Or small groups of dog walkers who stop to moan about the weather, just as the sun breaks through the dark clouds. 

A gardener occasionally chugs past on an industrial lawn mover like he’s in a Formula 1 Grand Prix race. A couple of the scooter kids give chase, leaving their parents trailing in their wake.

My route takes me past a big new-build house that I think looks perfect. I imagine myself living there, the owners having kindly moved out and handed me the keys. 

The gardener seems to be happily driving at half speed, now the kids have been drawn away by the urgent ringing of a distant school bell. 

And before I know, it I’m onto the road and outside my office building. Why did I ever think this option was a last resort? 

On some days, I find myself walking around the park in my lunch break, taking different routes, and soaking up the atmosphere.

So what was all the fuss about? Maybe I really couldn’t see the wood for the trees.  

Keeping it Real?


mannequin-head         Photo: Mannequin Head by Peter Griffin 

Our connection to the outside world is governed by our senses. The human brain can process as much as 400 billion bits of information a second, but we are consciously aware of only about 2,000 bits a second. This means we filter out most of our ‘reality’.

The data we’re left with, is what our brain considers to be important. The information it thinks we need to thrive and survive. But our brain takes shortcuts based on generalisations. What was once important to us stays there unless new connections render the old ones obsolete.

Over time, we establish thought patterns and beliefs that determine how we expect ‘reality’ to behave. Anything confirming that view is allowed through, but conflicting information is generally disregarded. Constant conditioning.

But we don’t have to keep the same modes of thinking. It’s possible to consciously reset some of our filters.

For instance, if you tend to look on the negative side of things, you can make a deliberate practice of not worrying about things beyond your control. Stuff happens! Your challenge is to make your situation better, whatever your starting point.

Try and look for solutions rather than being stuck with your problems. Find a few things to be grateful for each day. Sometimes this can be tough, but if you’re reading this post, you’re probably more affluent than most people in the world.

For a few minutes, you can ‘live in the now’, focusing on your senses and nothing else. It can give you a chance to choose a better version of your own reality. Why not give it a try?

Life Lessons from an All-You-Can-Eat Restaurant

indian-food Photo: Indian Food by Jm Verastigue


Last night, together with my wife and a couple of friends, I had a meal in an All-You-Can-Eat Restaurant. In the UK, it’s not that common to have an all-you-can-eat-buffet, outside of breakfast or lunch-time specials.

It was a huge Pan-Asian restaurant, and there were sections for Chinese, Indian, Thai, Japanese and many more types of food. Even British-style fish and chips (maybe that’s what the ‘Pan’ part meant!)

The selection seemed almost infinite. And when one food tray was starting to run low, it was soon replaced with a full one. A small army of staff kept everything running smoothly. As soon as you had emptied your plate, it was whisked away, and you were free to help yourself to another, and fill it with whatever you wished.

Not being used to the idea, it was very tempting to overdo it. And I did. Each time I went back for another helping, I thought, I’ve got to get my money’s worth!

By the end of our two hour table reservation, I was completely stuffed, to the point of being uncomfortable. But why?

Apart from the obvious answer being ‘Greed’, a part of me must still be focusing on a ‘lack’ mentality. That I’ve got to ‘get it while I can’, and if I don’t it will be taken away from me. Instead of stopping when I was comfortably full, I had to take more than my fair share.

And yet, like Universal Supply, I knew my own supply of food wasn’t going to run out. There was clearly more than enough to go around. And me taking whatever I wanted wouldn’t result in someone else going without.

Maybe I should go there more often, until finally I ‘get it’! Or maybe I should make more of an effort to ‘get it’ in practice, rather than just in theory.

Sometimes, ‘self-help’ and ‘helping yourself’ can mean the same thing.

Music to Your Ears

Music in You

Photo: Background 350 Sabine Sauermaul


Listen, when you’ve got Life’s Blues,

Stop snoring, snoring, snoring, snooze!

Get up – Rock your day!

Pop out the Country way.

Dance your Soul with Classical pizzazz,

Carpe Diem, and all that Jazz!


This is my contribution to Trifextra: Week Ninety-Five, 33 word Challenge:  

We want you to choose a word and use it three times in your 33 words. However, it must be either a verb, noun or adjective and the form of the word cannot change, it must appear exactly the same three times.

Click on the logo to view the other entries.