Tag Archives: mindfulness

How to be happy in 8 easy steps


It’s depressingly cold, a long way from summer  – and even further away lies Christmas 2016.  So how can you make yourself happier right now – in the depths of miserable winter?

Here’s a list of 8 things that are guaranteed to make you not feel worse. If they do make you feel worse, I can take no responsibility. To do so would be to make me unhappy. Read on at your own risk.

If you think I’ve missed any happiness tricks, why not share them in the comments? It’s January – face it, you’ve got nothing else to do.

  1. Keep taking your anti-depressants, booze, heroin or other drug of choice. Don’t just stop taking them because you’re skint or because you want a new start. I’m no doctor, but I can tell you you’ll feel worse if you suddenly go cold turkey without having the courtesy to inform your brain and heart.
  2. Stop thinking about the meaning of life. If you believe in god, don’t ram it down other people’s throats as they are likely to tell you to piss off – and that will make you unhappy.
  3. Do meditation. Even if it doesn’t work, it gives you an excuse to do nothing for a while – away from everyone in the house.
  4. Do yoga. Even if it doesn’t work – and you can’t do it – you can marvel at how flexible your yoga teacher is.
  5. Go for long walks in the countryside. If nothing else, you can marvel at the eccentricities of your fellow countrymen and women. Hanging bags of dogshit from tree branches is eccentric isn’t it? But if you don’t like outside don’t go on long walks. Just get settled in front of the fire.
  6. Smile. Even if it’s fake smile, it apparently makes you feel better. Just put a Twix bar sideways in your mouth and let it dissolve – that way you get twice as happy.
  7. Do new things and learn new skills. This will make time appear to go slower. On second thoughts, if you want time to go faster, do the same things again and again. That way your life will whiz by
  8. Spend time with people you like. If you detest your spouse or partner then you may want to think about a divorce. If you hate your friends, you may want to consult a psychiatrist.

Or you could check all the jokes on this site. Some of them are even funny.

Like this one:

What’s the difference between ignorance and apathy?
I don’t know and I don’t care.

And this one:

My pencil isn’t prone to making Freudian Slips, but my penis.

It’s no surprise that the jokes are the most-read part of this site.


Zen and the art of moustache maintenance: 6 ways to keep calm in Movember

The third trimester of Movember approaches apace: moustaches across the world are turning reasonable-looking men into creeps.

And another Movember-based blog is written by an itchy participant.

Growing a moustache for a whole month poses more physical and psychological dangers than you may think. (The actual number of dangers is six – as I wrote earlier in Movember.)

To counter these apparent dangers, I offer a helpful – and spiritual – guide to moustache growing.

As many of my loyal readers know, I’m a fan of the ancient Buddhist practice of mindfulness meditation.

This is a useful practice to help maintain a healthy level of sanity and calm. You basically just try (and keep failing) to concentrate on your breath as you sit quietly.

Now, there are several attitudes that underpin the practice of mindfulness meditation.

And, strangely enough, you can use these attitudes to help you relish the third trimester of Movember.

Here’s how:

1. Non-judging
It’s easy to fall into the trap of judging your moustache. Comments such as these are common during Movember:

‘It has major gaps in it that mean I look like a freak.’

‘It’s really ginger – and my hair has never been ginger. How unfair is that?’
‘It makes me look like someone on the Sex Offenders’ Register.’

Much better not to look in the mirror, so you’re not tempted to complain about your appearance during the month.

2. Patience
Growing a moustache doesn’t happen overnight – it’s not like a Botox jab or teeth-whitening procedure.
In fact for most of us, nothing really grows for some time.
If you didn’t practise patience you could become annoyed with people constantly asking:
‘I thought you were doing Movember this year.’

3. Trust

Peter Mandelson relaxing next to a mirror with his moustache.

Peter Mandelson relaxing next to a mirror with his moustache.

Trusting that your partner won’t finish your relationship on the grounds that you look like you’re on the Sex Offenders’ Register is vital if you’re going to relax into Movember.

4. Non-striving
Dousing hair-growing lotion on your top lip does not speed growth. Don’t strive for this result.

5. Acceptance
Accepting whatever grows – or doesn’t grow – is your only option during Movember, unless you want to invest in a top lip toupee. You know the right answer here.

6. Letting go

Einstein kept his moustache after the end of Movember. You don't have to.

Einstein kept his moustache after the end of Movember. You don’t have to.

And when you reach midnight on 30 November, you can watch the bristles disappear down the plug-hole without an ounce of regret.

Feeling all relaxed and in tune with humanity now?  You can sponsor my moustache here. Thank you!

You can get an email alert whenever I publish a new post. If you’re on a mobile you can sign up below. If you’re on a computer, sign up at the top right-hand of the page.

And you can follow me @simlington on Twitter
Copyright simlington 2014


Four things you can do to feel a bit happier even if you’re a bit mental like me

by Simon Henry @simlington

Writing a blog on your birthday? Are you mental?
Well, as it happens, yes. A bit.

I have a diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder, chronic depression and anxiety disorder.

Physically, I have a diagnosis of fibromyalgia (pain all over the place.)
So you could say I have some ‘issues’ that may affect my level of bliss on this earth.

But having these conditions don’t mean I can’t have many moments of calm.
And it doesn’t mean I can’t see the joy in life.
It does mean, though, that I have to work at it.

If you’re suffering from any, some, or all of these things – or even if you just get a bit peeved from time to time – here’s the Henry Birthday Recipe To Feeling A Bit Better.

1. Being in awe is good for you.


LEGO is awesome

I know ‘awesome’ is an overused word since the Lego movie.

But there really is some awesome stuff all around you.

You just have to take a bit of time to look, hear, feel, smell …

Awesome things I like to stare at or think about include:
– Ants carrying leaves and other ant stuff that’s several times bigger and heavier than they are.

– Cats jumping on to walls that are several times higher than they are.

– The blue sky, especially if there are some green leaves in front of it to provide a bit of contrast.

– The feel of a cotton shirt against my body (especially if it’s from somewhere good like Gap).

– The sound of the cats crunching on their food.

– The smell of Miller’s gin – even though I don’t touch the stuff.

You get my point. Awesome is absolutely everywhere – we just have to decide to look for it.
And once you do, you can’t stop.

The world is just full of awesome stuff waiting to make you smile or gasp.

2. Let’s get physical

Before you do anything else, watch this clip from Olivia Newton John’s Let’s Get Physical (3 mins 43 secs). It’s utterly dreadful – a mix of  mid-70s porno and early-80s breakfast TV fitness sessions.

(How can I pinpoint porno to a particular part of the 1970s? There’s surely another blog in that one.)

Anyway, when I was a lot younger, I used to sit around all day, drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes and watching TV. I know this sounds like bliss to a lot of people but stay with me.

I would do this all day without getting any exercise at all.

Then I’d wonder why I couldn’t sleep at night and felt generally terrible about myself.

A bit of advice: if you possibly can, walk – even if it’s up and down the road.

Some might say I’ve taken my love of walking to extremes. My favourite walk is now a 26-mile excruciatingly difficult walk in the Yorkshire Dales – the Three Peaks. I’m doing it tomorrow – as a birthday treat. I warned you at the start I’m mental.

For the more mundane days when I’m not allowed to spend 10 hours surrounded by sheep and grass, I encourage myself to walk with the help of technology.

I’ve downloaded the Pedometer++ app on my iPhone. You tell it how many steps you want to do in a day.

Then it shows you whether you’ve hit your target with a simple red (bad), orange (neither good nor bad) and green (good) colour-coded graph.

A pedometer can encourage you to get off your fat arse and do some walking.

A pedometer can encourage you to get off your fat arse and do some walking.

3. Do something for other people or for the world.

You could try to take some kittens for a walk. Good luck with that.

You could try to take some kittens for a walk. Good luck with that.

I’ve started giving blood.

I know this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But you do get one afterwards. And unlimited Club or Penguin biscuits, too.

And the tiny inconvenience of having your blood let is far ourweighed by the sense of wellbeing you get afterwards. (Unless you faint or die, but I’m told the risk is minscule.)

If, like me, you can tend to feel a bit cast adrift from the rest of the world, like you don’t really belong or fit in, it quite literally connect you to the rest of the human race.

After all, your blood ends up pumping round someone else’s body! Wow. That’s a bit awesome. (See 1 – I knew this blog had a plan to it.)

Don’t underestimate this one for lifting your spirits.

And if you can’t give blood, you could hold a door open for someone, smile at someone on the bus, or chat to someone in a queue at the Post Office.

I know human beings can be really, really annoying.

I mean, I wouldn’t fancy being stuck in a train with a load of Mormons – and don’t get me started on right-wing Christians in general.

But small things that connect you to the rest of the human race really can make you a bit happier. Go on, have a go.

4. Train your mind to stop it being quite so annoying

This is scientifically verifiable.

This is scientifically verifiable.

I’ve already written some blogs about a new thing called ‘mindfulness’.

Actually, that’s stretching the meaning of the word ‘new’ as it’s over 2,500 years old.

Let me just summarise what it is – and why I think you’d be mental not to try it, even if you don’t have a diagnosis.

a. Start by being aware of what is going on in your mind.

You’ll find quite a lot of it is not really welcome, like thoughts about a kid at school you hated 20 or 30 years ago, or the thought of getting cancer or dying.

b. Do some exercises to start being more aware of what is going on in said mind.

This is just like exercising your legs to firm up the muscles. You can train to become more aware of what is going on. And just think – you don’t have to go to the gym and smell all that sweat.

c. If you are aware of what is going on – whether that is your body tensing against pain or stress, or your brain going into meltdown years ago – you can do something about it.

d. That something is to accept what is happening and then to consciously anchor yourself in the present moment by meditating.

A lot of people meditate on the breath, but you could meditate on your right nostril, your left nipple or your central bum hole.

If you’re thinking about what is happening right now in your physical body or brain, you cannot possibly worry about the future or the past.

And the more you practise being in the present, the more you become aware of how little time you actually spend here.

And you also realise how much time you spend pointlessly worrying about things you can’t change.

Then you realise it’s actually quite nice concentrating on the present – and you do actually feel better when you spend more time in the here and now.

It doesn’t work instantly – in my case it has taken the best part of two years for it to start having an impact.

But it’s worth the wait. If you like your fixes quick, this ain’t it. But show a bit of patience, eh?

Why not have a go at any or all of these?

I’m off to meditate on how much my feet are going to hurt, how awesome the sheep will look and whether I’ll need a blood transfusion after the Three Peaks.

If you enjoyed this, you may like a recent post, How Mindfulness can make us all a bit happier

Or have a squiz round the rest of the site – there’s quite a bit in here about how to be a bit happier.

You can get an email alert whenever I publish a new post. If you’re on a mobile you can sign up below. If you’re on a computer, sign up at the top right-hand of the page.

And you can follow me @simlington on Twitter

Copyright Simon Henry @simlington 2014

How mindfulness can make us all a bit happier

by Simon Henry @simlington

Happiness is one of those things that increases the more you share it.

When you make other people happy, you get happier too.

Unlike nits, political opinions or holiday photos, sharing happiness has no victims.

Tell a joke, give a present, call someone out of the blue. These are simple ways to make someone else happier.

(Unless the joke’s really offensive to the listener, you’re re-gifting something really rubbish, or you call the wrong number.)

If any of the above apply to you, you probably need more specialist help than I can offer.

‘Share and Enjoy’

This is a song from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, so the concept must be sound.

So, I’m going to share a way for you to enjoy things more and be a bit happier. Then, when you’re happier, I’ll feel happier too.

This guy seems pretty happy. Though I'm not sure he understands English.

This guy seems pretty happy. Though I’m not sure he understands English.

And you’ll feel so happy, you’ll want to share it with others. And when they’re happier, you’ll feel happier – and so I’ll feel happier.

A pyramid scheme of joy with no innocent victims – just everyone feeling a bit happier.

Try it and share it. Who knows where it could end?

Mindfulness the feline way

An easy, cheap and simple way to make yourself a bit happier is through mindfulness.

So what is mindfulness? Does it hurt? And aren’t our minds already full – of passwords, quotes from The Simpsons and other 21st century stuff?

'To alcohol! The cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems.'

Homer: ‘To alcohol. The cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.’

The next time you watch a cat murdering a mouse, you’ll see its whole attention is fixed on the job in hand.

It isn’t regretting the bird that escaped its clutches yesterday. And it’s not worrying about being knocked over tomorrow.

All it cares about is getting maximum value from torturing this mouse in this present moment.

The past and the future are irrelevant.

There is a suspicion the Grumpy Cat's demeanour is a ploy to make money. The cat may actually quite happy inside

There is a suspicion the Grumpy Cat’s demeanour is a ploy to make money. The cat may actually be quite happy inside

And apart from Grumpy Cat, you don’t see a sad cat.

I’m not even sure Grumpy Cat is sad – he’s a millionaire and probably gets fed sirloin steaks and lean chicken.

Mindfulness for humans

As humans, we spend much of our time anywhere but in the present moment.

Things from my distant past and non-existent future that I waste time on include:

– Failing my grade 5 double bass exam. (This happened in 1987 and had no impact whatsoever on my life.)

– What I’d do if I found someone threatening to jump off a cliff. (I don’t live near any cliffs.)

There are thousands more but I won’t bore you. I’ll save them for my psychiatrist.

You will have your own examples of ridiculous ‘mithering’. (Making a fuss, moaning. 17th century origins, Northern England.)

Mindfulness teaches you to keep your mind in the present moment.

This means you can appreciate what’s going on right now instead of drifting off to regrets about the past or worries about the future.

It means if things are going well you can appreciate them fully – and feel even more smug than you were before.

If they’re not going well, you can clearly see what’s wrong – and actually do something positive to change things for the better.

So how can you start being more mindful?

Find a bit of peace and quiet, close your eyes and concentrate on your breath going in and out. Don’t force the breath – just let it go in and out by itself.

And notice where you can feel the breath – your belly may go in and out, perhaps you feel it in your nostrils, or your ribs.

If you can’t feel it anywhere you may be dead, so you’d better call a doctor. 

This sounds really easy doesn’t it?

But I guarantee after about 30 seconds, your mind will wander to a worry, or a memory or something else that’s not happening right now.

When you realise you’re not actually thinking about your breath, just escort your mind back to the breath. You’re not being stupid or doing it wrong.

It happens to everyone. The mind is like an untrained dog – it’ll sniff around all over the place unless you give it some lessons. You don’t want your mind going where a dog’s nose goes, now do you?

Alternatively, you might just fall asleep. (This is what the cat does after it’s tortured and killed the mouse.)

Do this mindfulness practice every day for 10 or 15 minutes and you should feel happier, more contented and calmer. And you’ll find yourself naturally appreciating the present moment even when you’re not doing the meditation.

It may take a few months or years – and even if nothing appears to happen, the quarter of an hour you give yourself each day is time that’s just yours. What a lovely present to give yourself.

Here are some lovely experts to help you

Jon Kabat-Zin is one of the world’s top experts. A wonderful introduction to the subject.

Vidyamala Burch and Danny Penman have written a book called Mindfulness for Health that can help you if you’re stressed or even if you’re in physical pain.

Pema Chodron is a very kind Buddhist nun who just wants to make the world a happier place. Her talks aren’t religious at all. If they were I’d run a mile.

I’d recommend getting them on Audible – the audio versions of their books have exercises that can help to keep you awake while you’re trying to meditate.

And here are some extra free mantras – your reward for reading all the way down here.

Mantras should be as silly as possible

Mantras should be as silly as possible

But they can hold deep truths

But they can hold deep truths

You don't have to be mad to do mindfulness ...

You don’t have to be mad to do mindfulness …

If you enjoyed this, you may like my post that contains some of the best jokes known to humankind.

You can get an email alert whenever I publish a new post. If you’re on a mobile you can sign up below. If you’re on a computer, sign up at the top right-hand of the page.

And you can follow me @simlington on Twitter

Copyright Simon Henry @simlington 2014

Happiness: 7 easy things that could make you happier

by Simon Henry @simlington

The things on this list require no equipment, no expenditure and very little time.

Why not try one of them and see if you feel a bit happier?

I won’t bore you with any definitions of ‘happiness’ – definitions won’t make you happy.

Simple ways to be happier

1. Write a short list of things that make you happy and then try to do one of them.

Some things on my list are at the end. They include: ‘Cutting my toe nails so I stop making holes in my socks.’

So the good news is that mundane things can make us happy.

We really don’t have to try that hard. Just try a little bit, that’s all.

2. Look at something in the natural world. Clouds are good. Or – if you get a stiff neck looking up – leaves are good too.

So are slugs and birds.

Frogs can improve any day. They're just green and springy. What's not to love?

Frogs can improve any day. They’re just green and springy. What’s not to love?

And if you see a frog, it may just make your day.

3. Do something kind or give something away. Giving blood makes you feel wonderful – honestly – and you get unlimited free chocolate biscuits afterwards.

If this sounds a bit extreme, you could give a homeless person a quid, or hold a door open for someone. If you’ve got kids you’ve got this part covered (about 1,000 times a day).

4. Spend a few minutes not actually doing anything.

Why not do a bit of meditating? This isn’t anything mystical or weird.

All you do is feel your breath going in and out of your body. Then when you realise you’re thinking about something else – you just bring your attention back to the breath. More about meditation.

Or you could think about something nice, like a holiday or your favourite band. You might even pray.

Anything, as long as you just stop and give yourself a break from your routine. 

5. Find something to make you smile or laugh. Here’s a list of great short jokes.

Or you could watch a video of the happiest penguin ever (44 secs).

Or Peter Kay talking about misheard song lyrics. (This is very, very good. 6 minutes 30 seconds of silly bliss.)

Our world has countless opportunities to smile, laugh, giggle and even wet yourself.

Why waste them?

6. Always look on the bright side of life. Here’s the video from the Life of Brian (3 mins 10 secs).

It’s possibly the best advice any film has ever given humankind.

7. Go for a walk. It doesn’t have to be a long walk – but it’s amazing how many of us just don’t give our bodies any exercise at all.

Even a 10 minute stroll to the local shop could make you start feeling a bit better.


If all else fails here’s Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need – updated for 2014.

If anyone claims you can have a meaningful life without a good WiFi connection, they're probably ill. And wrong.

If anyone claims you can have a meaningful life without a good WiFi connection, they’re probably very ill.

Just make sure you’ve got a good WiFi connection – and everything else will fit into place.

Some stuff that made me happy one day last week

The sound of the cats crunching their biscuits in the dark while I was dozing.

The sound of my shoes squeaking on the floor.

Hearing a man shout ‘Hello’ to someone across the street.

Hearing a bird’s wings flapping.

Having a wee when I was desperate.

Playing some music on the piano that I haven’t played for ages.

Watching a video of two baby elephants messing about in a paddling pool.

The sound of ducks quacking.

Getting an email that had some swearing in it.

Brushing my teeth and hearing them squeak

Seeing a silhouette of the church against the sky.

Being followed by a friendly black and white cat walking down the street.

Looking at the buds on a cherry tree.

Seeing the first bee of 2014.

Spotting a little man wearing a flat cap and a mac. He looked like he was from the 1930s.

Feeling the cold on my nose.

Hearing the whir of bicycle wheels going past.

If you enjoyed this, you may enjoy my post about why Failure is often better than success. Or just have a browse around – there should be something that makes you a bit happier.

You can get an email alert whenever I publish a new post. If you’re on a mobile you can sign up below. If you’re on a computer, sign up at the top right-hand of the page.

And you can follow me @simlington on Twitter

Copyright Simon Henry @simlington 2014

8 reasons why being a fool can help your career and life

by Simon Henry @simlington

April Fool’s Day may be over, but the foolish life is still available to us all.

There are two schools of thought on this subject. .

1. ‘Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools speak because they have to say something.’ (Plato)

2. ‘Everyone likes a nice arse; no-one likes a smart arse.’ (Normal people)

No-one really understands what Plato was on about, whereas nice arses are universally admired.

To underline this point, here’s the Rear of the Year site. It has women’s and men’s bottoms on – so it passes the sexism test.

Flavia Cacace's and Vincent Simone's bottoms. (They won the prize in 2013.)

Flavia Cacace’s and Vincent Simone’s bottoms. (They won the prize in 2013.)

I’m glad we’ve got that cleared up.

Here’s how being a fool can help your career and your life:

1. You don’t get promoted beyond your abilities. There are enough people in this awkward position. Have a look round your office. You don’t need to join them do you?

2. People like fools – especially if you know some jokes. Here are some of the world’s best jokes to get you started.

3. People feel sorry for you. Sympathy is good – it means you’re less likely to get the crap jobs.

4. You’re not trusted to do important things. This means you don’t have to do presentations in front of scary bosses.

5. If you’re right all the time, people stop listening to you and think you’re a smart arse. That’s why I always put mistakes in my blog posts.

6. If you have really strong principles, you become predictable. And people stop listening to you. I don’t really believe that. Or maybe I do.

7. Being a fool leaves lots of room for self-improvement. As the famous Zen phrase goes:

In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.‘ (Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind). One brilliant thing to do to improve your life is to start practising Mindfulness. No joke!

8. You don’t have to use horrible office jargon – like ‘Going forward’, ‘Thought leadership’ and ‘Boulders on the runway.’ Here’s the full A to Z of horrible office jargon as used in 2014. It makes really uncomfortable reading. Read it, then forget it. Fools don’t need this stuff. Only the successful do.

What about if those eight strong reasons haven’t convinced you?

If you’re still undecided about the virtues of the foolish life, read this from Cole Porter’s Be A Clown:

All the world loves a clown. Act a fool, play the calf, And you’ll always have the last laugh.

Okay, so he could have rhymed ‘play the calf‘ with ‘take a selfie in the bath‘ (Ricky Gervais does this – and everyone loves him.)

Ricky Gervais looking gorgeous in the bath

Ricky Gervais looking gorgeous in the bath. He tells his followers they can use hispictures as porography

So lighten up, be a fool, and be happy. 

And in case you’re interested in April Fool’s jokes, there’s a site about them.

Some of the classics are:

In 1957, BBC’s Panorama said a mild winter had eliminated the spaghetti weevil pest, and Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. Here they are harvesting it:

Spaghetti harvest in Switzerland. (BBC prank.)

Spaghetti harvest in Switzerland. (BBC prank.)

In 1962, Swedish telly announced that viewers could convert their black and white tellies to colour by pulling a nylon stocking over the screen.

And in 1992, National Public Radio said Richard Nixon was running for President again with a new slogan: ‘I didn’t do anything wrong, and I won’t do it again.’

Remember, it would be foolish not to read some of my other blogs.

Don’t be shy – follow me @simlington for more nonsense and here’s a bit more about me – if you’re still a bit nervous.

Verbal tics, cliches and catchphrases – to be brutally honest they’re basically not alrighty

Office Space

Office Space: It would be just great to watch it again. Nice matching tie and braces, annoying boss man

By Simon Henry @simlington

If you don’t want to be despised by your colleagues in the office, it’s probably best not to say ‘Yeah?’ really aggressively at the end of each sentence.

You’ll find they say ‘No’ to you quite a lot.

Saying ‘to be honest’ to your partner may arouse the suspicion that you’re not 100% trustworthy.

Saying ‘Exactamundo’ whenever you agree with your boss will not help your chances of promotion. Not exactly the best way to advance your career.

Verbal tics are everywhere and most of us use them. Lots. More than we realise.

So here’s a list of those you may want to avoid if you want a more successful career and a more stable personal life.

My definition of a verbal tic is: ‘A word or phrase repeated unconsciously to the potential annoyance of the listener.’

See how many you recognise or – worse – use yourself. Then read on for tips on how to reduce your Verbal Tic Count – and enjoy a better life.

I’ve ignored TLAs (three letter acronyms) like LOL, WTF and TBH as well as most catchphrases from TV and film. I plan to dig these rich seams in a later post.

And I’m not talking about people who suffer from disorders like Tourette’s. I’m talking about those of us lucky enough to be able to control what we say – but just don’t bother.

The list of shame is this way

Actually – Means nothing, actually.

Alrighty – Okay for Flanders or Ace Ventura. Not okay for real people. Ever.

Am I right or am I wrong? and Am I right or am I right? – After several minutes expounding a point, the speaker uses either of these tics, not as a question, but as a statement that they are indeed right.

And so on and so forth – You could just say ‘et cetera’ and save four words.

And what have you – This begs the question: ‘What have I?’. Again ‘et cetera’ saves time.

And what not – Ditto.

As far as I know – Surely implied in whatever you say without you spelling it out?

As I said before – Tip: You probably don’t want to remind your listener that you repeat yourself.

As you said or Like you said – Sycophantic and grating when used more than once in a conversation.

At the end of the day – Classic cliché. ‘At the end of the day it gets dark.’


LEGO is awesome. Saying ‘awesome’ in an office should be a sackable offence

Awesome – Yes we all love LEGO. But use this if you’re over 13 and you won’t be loved.

Basically – Classic filler. ‘Basically’ just adds three syllables to your sentence, basically.

Cool – Was cool in the 70s for a bit. Great, Super and Magic fit into this category too. Reminders of the Bee Gees aren’t good.

Don’t mean to be rude / disrespectful / awful … – Yes, we’re all just waiting for the but aren’t we?

Do you hear me? – Aggressive and likely to make your listener stop hearing anything you ever say again.

Do you understand? – Ditto. Only worse.

Dunno – The teenager’s answer to 97% of questions. Forgiveable in teenagers. Unforgivable if you aspire to be an intelligent, mature, reasonable person.

Eh? – Used at the end of a sentence is extremely annoying. Isn’t it, eh?

Enjoy! – It’s likely they won’t after you’ve said this.

Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera – Used to cover ignorance. You don’t actually have other examples to bolster your argument, do you? Fine if you’re quoting from The
King And I, though.

Exactly or Exactamundo – Used instead of ‘Yes’ to emphasise agreement. ‘Yes’ is better. In the same category as Perfectamundo and Correctamundo.

Friend – Doesn’t really mean ‘friend’ at all – and is much slimier than the more neutral salutation tic, ‘mate’.

F**ing – I have actually heard people say: ‘F***ing. I f***ing went this f***ing morning and I’m f***ed if I’m f***ing going this afterf***ingnoon.” Overuse destroys
the effect of this otherwise excellent word.

Frankly – Similar to ‘honestly’, but possibly even more insincere.

Hello? – As in ‘Hello? Is anyone at home?’ Aggressive and likely to ensure no-one’s in.

Honestly – So your other comments are dishonest?

Um and ah, erm – Classic tics. The majority of us use them when we’re thinking of a word or phrase. You could try to replace them with nothing. Silence is wonderful. Awkward silence is even better.

Innit / Innit tho’ – Urban slang deriving from ‘Isn’t it?’ and ‘Isn’t it though?’ Pretty ugly, innit though?

It is what it is – What? Of course it is, or else it would be something else, wouldn’t it?

Know what I’m saying? – It’s not a question is it? It’s just a tic, know what I’m saying?

Know what I mean? – No I probably don’t. Popularised by Frank ‘Know what I mean, Harry?’ Bruno. Nice chap, but not really a conversational role model.

Newcastle Brown Ale, like

Newcastle Brown Ale, like

Like – The habit of repeating this word several times in a sentence gained notoriety in Beverley Hills 90210. Only acceptable when used in a Geordie accent. ‘Get us a
brown ale, like’ sounds absolutely splendid, like.

Literally – As in ‘You could literally knock me down with a feather’. ‘Literally’ expands sentences with redundant syllables that make you sound very silly.

Listen or Look – Patronising attempt to control a conversation. First popularised in the UK by the former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, attempting to sound sincere when he didn’t believe a word of what he was saying.

Myself – Used instead of I. ‘Myself and Steve will be taking questions.’ Gulp.

… Not, as used in Wayne’s World – ‘We’ve hit all our sales targets … not’ isn’t very professional. No wonder you’re in trouble.

Not a problem / Not an issue / No probs – Lazy Customer Service speak. On the plus side, ‘Not an issue’ rhymes with ‘Mogadishu’.

Right? – It’s not a question. Just an annoyance – a patronising, insulting annoyance, right?

So (at the start of a sentence) – ‘So’ is a conjunction, so it begs for something before it to make sense of what comes next. Use it to introduce a new concept or argument and you are being so annoying.

Sort of / Sorta – Doesn’t add anything to what you’re saying: ‘Are you OK?’ ‘I’ve got a sorta headache.’ Unless a sorta headache is a type of migraine. Dunno.

That would be great – Used by bosses favouring the passive-aggressive Just F***ing Do It management technique. It would be great if you watched Office Space.

The thing is – Usually a prelude to bad news.

Think about it – Implying that unless you tell me to think, I won’t actually do it myself.

To be honest – Implying the things you say without this tic are lies.

To be brutally honest – Implying the other things you say are particularly dishonest.

Trust me – Is unlikely to bolster the listener’s confidence in you.

Yeah? – When said aggressively at the end of a sentence will make your listener think ‘No’.

You know? or Y’ know? – Even if I did know, you’re not really asking me. You’re just padding out your sentence, you know?

We are where we are – See ‘It is what it is’.

Whatever – Thankfully waning but sometimes reappears in the mouths of bosses who are trying and abysmally failing to be ‘cool’. Accompanied by the two thumb and index finger ‘W’ sign. You really don’t want to be like them, do you? The answer is No.

End of the List of Shame

So now you’re thoroughly ashamed at how many you use, what can you do to stop yourself?

Some people say you should record yourself when you do a speech or a presentation. That sounds boring and hard work.

You could just accept that’s the way things are. This is more likely – but you’re better than that. You’re reading this blog, so you’re an intelligent, reflective, thoughtful person.

The third thing to consider is Mindfulness.

Instead of yabbering on mindlessly, you could try to be more conscious of what you’re saying.

Then, when you’re about to say ‘To be brutally honest it’s like literally awesome’, you may just keep your mouth shut instead. Silence is golden.

And if you can’t be bothered with that, you can have good fun counting the number of times other people use their favourite tics. Tic Tac Toe as a fun alternative to office Buzzword Bingo.


My A-Z of Office Jargon is growing by the week and I hope this list will develop similarly. Please let me know if you think I’ve missed any out.

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Feel free to follow me @simlington if you like too.

With thanks to Lisa Henry, Christine Brucker, Eleanor Goold, Dennis Hodgson and Scott C Allen for their suggestions.

Copyright Simon Henry @simlington 2014