“You are the driver of your journey through life - you set the co-ordinates.”
Jim MacLeod, motivational speaker, coach and entrepreneur, wants everyone to know that they have the power to set their own compass - to choose between being happy or sad, a victim or a survivor - and to find their true north.
He evens keeps a compass in a prominent position in his living room. “This is my reality check - when things aren’t going right it reminds me I am on a journey and I direct the route,” he says.
Jim told The Social Medicine that he lives by a series of rules which aim to help make us happy and help us stay positive.
It isn’t easy, says Jim - “life is simple, it just isn’t easy” - and it isn’t a pick-and-mix. If you choose to live by the rules you have to follow them all, all of the time. But he maintains that living by the rules has made a massive difference in his life.
Jim’s first set of rules are Dr Anthony Clare’s seven steps to happiness. Dr Clare was an acclaimed psychiatrist, famous for his BBC Radio Four interview series, In The Psychiatrist’s Chair, in which he spoke to famous people about mental health, happiness and depression.
The seven steps are:
1. Cultivate a passion. Find something you really enjoy doing, that will sustain and delight you when everything else fails. It can be something like building a model railway, singing in a choir, or dancing.
2. Be a leaf on a tree. You are unique, just like a leaf, but it’s also good to be part of something bigger, such as a family, a community, a company or a club. Being part of something means social involvement and creates better wellbeing.
3. Break the mirror. Stop looking at yourself, leave narcissism and self-regard behind. Avoid introspection - self-awareness is good, but self-regard is fatal.
4. Don’t resist change. Rocking the boat can be good for you.
5. Audit your happiness. Work out how much time each day you’re spending doing things that make you happy, and things that don’t.
6. Live in the moment. Stop thinking about what is coming next and stop checking your mobile phone. Seize the day.
7. Put on a happy face. Choose to be an optimist. When you are happy people around you are happy as well.
When it comes to staying positive, Jim has another set of rules to achieve this:
1. Wait to worry. Don’t sweat the small stuff in life.
2. Keep an attitude of gratitude. Be appreciative. Think about it - how many times do you say ‘thank-you’ to a shop assistant?
3. Your health is your wealth. Health is like money - you never have a true idea of its value until it’s gone. Keep active.
4. ‘Joy boomerangs’. Fling a smile a mile - it will boomerang back at you. Smiling is infectious.
5. Learn to say no graciously. Sometimes saying no is the right thing, but also the most difficult thing. Cushion it with kindness or a compliment.
6. Learn the power of self-discipline. This isn’t a characteristic, it is something you can cultivate through practice.
7. Laugh every day. Humour is one of the best things for you.
8. Contemplate and write. Keep a journal. Write a letter of gratitude to a friend or someone who has done you a kindness.
9. Keep the faith. Believe in yourself and this journey.
10. Surround yourself with positive people. Know that you can’t change a negative person; they have to want to change. And don’t have regrets. When you make a decision you make it based on the information you had and your circumstances at the time.
Embracing these rules can help you find your true north, says Jim. Know your vision and your direction, and once you set it don’t allow yourself to be deviated from it.