A series of short articles on everything, from practical ways of getting things done, to how to handle your feelings and find peace in a hectic world.

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83. How Green is Your Mind?

We have all heard of carbon emissions; either we do our part by reducing our travel, recycling our rubbish and paying our dues into a carbon emission fund, or we quietly continue as we are. But is our use of carbon fuels the only way we pollute the planet? This week's tip asks whether our thinking processes can be just as bad. 'Suppose you were a car and your thoughts were the exhaust pipe. Every time you had a negative thought, criticism or judgment - about yourself, another or others - your exhaust would be giving off fumes. How much of a polluter are you?' So asks Robin Shohet, an experienced therapist and author who has been supervising people in the helping professions for over t

82. Take a Risk This Week

We are risk-averse. Most of us anyway. You get the occasional crazy person, like Philippe Petit, who strung a tightrope between the twin towers and then walked across it, but on the whole we like to keep safe. The trouble is that there is no sure way of assessing what constitutes safety and what constitutes danger, which is why some people happily speak in public, ask people that they fancy out for a date, and grab the mike at karaoke parties, while others don't. The same people, however, may be absolutely terrified of having an intimate conversation with another person, or of being on their own, and avoid such situations like the plague. At some point in our lives, earlier than we might

81. Be Careful Where You Spend Your Time

There are places where we spend a great deal of time, and yet often we don't even notice them. But what if our environments are quietly defining our experience without our knowledge? This week's tip explores. A number of years ago, when I was attending the Hay Literary Festival with my husband and two children, our accommodation was changed at the last minute due to an infestation of fleas at the cottage we had originally booked. We found ourselves, instead, at a cottage in the wilds, where access was on foot over grass hills and bracken, where sheep lived undisturbed, and where mobile reception became a dim and distant memory. Although the agent had assured us that it was accessible by c