Category Archives: Misc

8 Tiny Ways to Improve Your Life – A lesson from Alastair Humphreys

Estimated Reading Time: 10 minutes

Many of the regular readers know of Alastair Humphreys. Motivational speaker and the man who cycled around the world for four years, he has also written some great articles. One of which I will like to share with you today, as I thought it was fantastic. In it he talks about the idea of small steps giving you big changes in your life and your outlook of it. In the same way that you can get the same out of a microadventure as you can a full on around the world expedition.

In that same vein, interior designers always say start with your bedroom in redecorating, as it is the first thing you see and the last thing at night and because of this can have a huge effect on how you feel as you go to bed and wake up.

Here is an extract from Alastair’s post “8 tiny ways in which I’m improving my life” (original here). Additional bolding of words added:

First the list, then the explanations:

Press ups

1. Time. If you get up a mere 10 minutes earlier each day, and go to bed 10 minutes later you will have created for yourself 5 extra days per year. That’s almost one extra year, gratis, in a lifetime. How much would you give for 5 extra days each year? You don’t need to pay: this is time for free. Time to be used. Free time!

2. Turn off your TV. Give this a try: do not turn on your TV for a day. Come home from work and use those evening hours to do something different, something creative. Once you’ve mastered a day without TV, try a week…

3. Have a shower. Sound advice indeed! But take a cold shower every day. It will save the planet, save you cash, and it feels great too! It sounds unpleasant, and the first step is pretty daunting. But once you’re in you realise it’s not so bad. And you feel so good once you have finished. Apart from being a great metaphor for much of what I try to do in life, a cold shower also sets you up well for the day. If you can endure something bad just moments after leaving your warm, cozy bed then the rest of the day will be a breeze in comparison! I’ve been doing this for a month or two now and reckon I have mastered it. I’ve now moved to showering outside under the hosepipe as my way of ramping up the challenge a bit, but I can appreciate that that may make me sound like a bit of a weirdo! Whether that will last into the winter remains to be seen…

4. Take a Photograph Everyday for a Year. I began doing this as my New Year’s Resolution for 2009. I started it to improve my photography skills. But I have come to value the challenge for the daily dollop of self-discipline it requires and because it forces me, however dull my day, to look around for something positive or interesting or beautiful. There is always something.

5. Run. Go for a run before breakfast. If you hate running go for a walk, or a bike ride. I find this a bit like the cold shower: when I wake up I don’t want to get out of my nice bed and go running. But I never ever regret it once I’ve done it. It doesn’t need to be long, just long enough to stir the blood, blow away the cobwebs, freshen you up, and remind you that you are alive and need to get on with life! If you don’t have time then just get off the Tube or bus one stop earlier and walk the rest of the way to work.

6. Read. Use the time you’ve saved by getting up 10 minutes earlier and by turning off your TV to read more. Most of us want to read more books. But by setting myself a quantifiable target (to read one book of fiction and one book of non-fiction every month) I have become more focused about getting stuck into all those books I want to read. Need some ideas of books to read? Try the 100 Greatest Adventure Books of all time for starters. Or one of my books!

7. Press ups. Another metaphor for my lessons from the road (think big, start small): if you do two press ups today, then three tomorrow (and so on), then eventually you’ll be able to do 100 consecutive press-ups… Sound interesting?

8. Pause. When I boil the kettle I used to do what most normal people do: see how many press ups I could do before the kettle clicked. (Waiting for toast to pop I would do sit ups, and I can do ten chin ups on my kitchen bar in the time the espresso machine takes to make a cup of coffee.)
But now I have a different tactic. Now when I am waiting for the kettle I take a seat, close my eyes, sit very still and just pause. I spend so much of my time rushing around that, to my surprise, I have come to really value these brief pinpricks of calm in my day. I try to empty my mind, but of course it continues racing on. Yet in the couple of minutes of quiet I feel my mind really starting to settle and to sift through the maelstrom for the good ideas, the important thoughts for the day.

If you like to read more from Alastair Humphreys, check out these other posts and his blog.

Alastair Humphreys – Do Lecture – 4 Years Around the World on a Bike

Alastair Humphreys – The Why of Adventure

Books by Alastair on Amazon:

The Young Ones BBC – Inspirational TV in the UK Shock Horror!

Over the past week there has been a superb program on some old British stars, who now in their 70s and 80s are finding life very boring, hard and unfulfilling. As part of an experiment they were put in a house together which was decorated in 1970s gear, and everything they were allowed to see, e.g. Newspapers, and TV were from 1975. The scientists then put together subtle tasks to make them feel like they were in the 70s again, a period of time they all felt was the best time fo their lives. They did cognitive and physiological tests before and after the one week to see how much they improved.

Even without the tests, you could tell how much better everyone was. Smiling, being active etc. One 88 year old who had had several strokes walked without crutches, when she entered the house in a wheelchair. All this just from one week of positive experiences. It helped them gain confidence, and remind them of what value they had and still can have in society. It was nothing to do with being in 1975, that was just a trigger for change.

I believe it doe not matter what your age is, sometimes whether you are 60 or 30 you can feel old, and that your best times have passed you, yet its all about state of mind and getting up and doing. Whether that’s going out for a meal with friends, or taking a walk in fresh air. The less your do, the more tired you are. I’m sure any gym goers who have had a time where they don’t go for a week feel that. If you keep the mind active, it will look after your body for you.

For these pensioners who used to be in demand TV and Media stars, it changed their state of minds, and their lives around in just one week even at their age. Its all about living life to the fullest you can.

If you are in the UK you can watch this on BBC iPlayer

Hello world!

Hey everyone. This is the Blog of two friends Will Hardy and Lewis Taylor-Needham. We are both from Lincolnshire in the UK, and love to travel and do interesting things! This blog was set up primarily to inspire us and our friends and put together a bunch of reading excerpts, videos and audio lectures that we find inspirational. If you have something you think we will like contact us.  We both have travelled to many parts of the world, and even randomly ran into each other in Bangkok, Thailand! We love to experience new cultures and ideas.  We hope our blog reflects this.