How to Combat Facebook Envy (and Save Lives)

We all walk around, all day every day, thinking that everyone else has their sh-t together.

We all think that everyone else has a normal background, and normal parents, and a normal, successful career and successful relationships.

Then we get on Facebook and it compounds it. “This person’s getting married!” “That person has a happy family with kids!” “this person doesn’t have kids and so they went on vacation to Costa Rica!” “That person’s making six figures in her business!” – and it just COMPOUNDS that feeling of, “Everyone else has their sh-t together but me”.

That feeling is shame. And what shame does, is builds this metal fortress around you, cutting you off from everyone else.

But then, someone…

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What REALLY happens when you disable your Facebook account

“A year ago, I shut down my Facebook account.” One of the things my clients often worry about, is that their story is not exciting enough to be told. They believe that, for anyone to want to keep reading or listening, there has to be HIGH DRAMA  – life-threatening illnesses, helicopter chases and/or bears. My…

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The one (fun!) thing you MUST do to become an excellent storyteller

It’s very important to understand THIS about the culture of the London Underground:

It’s not just that the passengers don’t talk to each other.
It’s that they don’t communicate IN ANY WAY.

Even when you’re smushed right up against your neighbour, your head jammed into the gap between their face and neck, the custom in London is to do everything you possibly can to act as if you are the sole occupant of that subway carriage. Casually check your phone. Read your book, even though it’s three inches from your eyes. Listen to your music on full volume, the tinny sounds trinkling out of your headphones. It’s surreal. But it’s What We Do.

On this particular morning, I had a seat – one of the advantages of living quite far from the centre. I had my headphones on, but there was no music, and the voice that I was listening to was quiet and calm – which made it even easier for everyone around me to imagine that I wasn’t there.

Suddenly, I gasped – and with the sharp in-breath, a loud, high-pitched noise escaped from my mouth before I clapped both hands over it.

Everyone in the carriage – EVERYONE – jerked their heads to look at me…

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When I tell this story, it feels like ACTUAL Time Travel

Sitting in the packed room, I was trembling with nerves – and excitement. I’d been daydreaming about doing this for almost a year – and now it was actually happening!

After obsessively listening to every Moth story I could get my hands on, I’d spent months wondering what my story would be, if I ever told one on stage. At the time, this seemed like some kind of magical dream that might never happen – after all, The Moth was a show in New York; I lived in London. But I love a daydream, and so I continued to wonder. And figured it would most likely be something to do with my (very eccentric, mostly Russian) family.

I then discovered True Stories Told Live – a London show, inspired by the Moth, that had offshoots in other cities. I was a monthly attendee and massive fan and, after they’d seen me at every show, they’d ask me to tell my own story onstage.

There I was, about to finally do it. And when I did – telling the story you’re about to hear – I had the strangest feeling…

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Feeling called to do something inconvenient or scary? This one’s for you!

You know what it’s like:

You get offered an opportunity. Maybe it’s something big, like telling your story onstage. Maybe it’s something more personal, like having an awesome friend come to visit. You know you should do it. You know you kind of want to do it. But at the same time… it requires effort, and inconvenience.

Here’s why I think you should always say yes…

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You’re supposed to use it for your bum. Not for THIS.

“Perfect timing!” my mum cried, as I climbed back in the car, and shook my head at her.

We’d just spent 10 days in Thailand, babysitting my tiny niece, while my brother and his wife were away. I was leaving a few days before they got back, and had just checked in my bags at the airport. An airport, which is very close to a beach.

My mum – ever the maximiser, and the rule-breaker – had suggested that, having dropped off my suitcase, we jump back in the car, drive to the sea, and I have a quick, last swim, before I get on the plane.

I really like airports, and LOVE sitting around by myself, reading while waiting for a plane. But… once my mum gets what she thinks is a great idea in her head for something fun to do, if you don’t have a really good reason, it’s hard to dissuade her. So I was going for a quick, last swim, before I got on the plane.

Pulling up at the beach, I grabbed a towel, kicked off my flip-flops and, with my swimmers on underneath, pulled off my dress. Leaving my niece with my mum on the sand, as I clambered into the waves and shouted over my shoulder, “I’ll just plough up and down for five minutes!”

It wasn’t very deep, but the water was rough, so I stayed in the shallows. I figured I’d do a bit of breast-stroke, in one direction and then back, and keep my hair relatively dry before I got on the air conditioned plane for the 15 hour journey back to London. Just as I was thinking of wading back out –
THUNK-SWSH!

– a huge wave picked me up, and chucked me under the water.

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I met my hero. My hair looked like a wig. It did not start well.

“You don’t. Understand.”

I was using that gritted-teeth, quiet but solid tone of voice. The kind you use when you really, really want to scream your words out, but know that you can’t. In this case, I couldn’t because:

(1) I understood that she was just being nice and trying to help, and
(2) on some level, deep below the surface, I knew I was being wildly unreasonable.

It was Saturday night, and I was getting ready to meet my hero…

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What happened when I – a skeptic – did Horse Therapy

Sometimes, you’re in so much pain that you seem to push right through to the other side. It’s like your pain went 360 degrees around, and the wholeness feels almost as satisfying as it does wretched.

It was March and the coldest day of the year so far. The sun was shining fiercely, one of these perfect, crisp, Winter days we get in Ontario. My friend Jenn and I were driving through the countryside to her farm.

She’s a business buddy, a former therapist who now does Equine Therapy – therapy for people, using horses. I’d been curious about it ever since I read (one of my heroes) Martha Beck talk about it. But also, I was secretly a bit skeptical. I mean, it’s a horse. What can it do for me?

A few weeks before, I’d been telling Jenn that i…

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How my patronising altruism WILDLY benefitted me

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t publicly admit having had this thought process. It shows that I can sometimes be an egotistical dick. But I like the end of it so much that I want to tell you.

I come to you from the train I’m taking from St Catharines (no apostrophe) back to Toronto. Last night I ran a workshop – my third in a year – for Brock University, on Networking That’s Effective and Actually Fun, for their entrepreneurial students in their BioLinc incubator.

One of the things I teach the students was how important it is to add value to people, long before you ask for anything.

An amazing way to add value is to thank people for teachings you’ve enjoyed, being specific where you can. Another is offering to make…

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This small tweak makes people feel amazing (and is more fun for you!)

“Even as you’re telling me that everybody does this, I’m thinking, ‘Not me, I’m different’ – and that’s an example of me doing the exact thing you’re talking about!” I wailed.

“I know,” he said. “We all do it. It’s really hard not to.
“But if you can move beyond it, to level two – that’s when you can make a difference. So many people spend their whole lives talking at or with people but without ever really just being heard, so to connect at level two is to give a gift and fill a fundamental craving we all have.”

My friend Aaron was teaching me something new, and I was flipping out.
One of my FAVOURITE…

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