So many of us strive so hard for material success that you might think there was a clear relationship between wealth and well-being. From school onwards, we're taught that long term well-being stems from achievement and economic prosperity - from 'getting on' or 'making it', accumulating more and more wealth, achievement and success.
As we wave the dregs of the last 12 months down the plughole and prepare to celebrate Christmas, I've realised that a huge amount of positives have come out of the negatives that I've endured... So I thought I'd write them down and share them - if nothing else, because I can refer back and chivvy myself up if things start going wonky again in 2015.
Jo is the epitome of human strength, courage and love. Her daily commitment to focusing her attention on being thankful can teach us all a thing or two about gratitude. Giving thanks is giving Jo her life back by reminding her what she still has right now. As such, gratitude is incredibly powerful and comforting.
In my ignorance I had reduced this 3,000 year old practice into a simple exercise class. I wasn't in it for the 'hippy dippy' chanting and veganism, I was in it for the abs. Irrespective of the whole 'cool' new revival you wouldn't catch me chanting cross legged, or wearing a red bracelet. I liked meat, wine and enjoying life. I liked having fun.
It would be misinformed to imply that the suffering of Robin Williams and so many other ill-fated stars has been brought on solely by their fame, their 'success', of course. It's both impossible and futile to say whether the pressures of fame cause those conditions or whether those conditions motivate the vulnerable to pursue that fame. But what I think is important is to draw what positivity we can from such a tragedy.
Our bodies are cleverer than our minds. When we are truly tired, we will fall asleep. Sleeping is a natural action. You don't have to do anything to get to sleep. It is not humanly possible to stay awake forever. The one topic that mustn't be on one's list of worries is sleep itself. That is what can stop you from sleeping and make you ill, both physically and psychologically.
It is as a teenager that we face the greatest test of self-esteem. We become aware of how we look, how others see us and worst of all we become aware of a world that judges us. From every angle teens are told to be prettier, sexier, skinnier, to wax, to colour and to fake it. Very few talk about anything other than they we look.