Book Friday: Plan a Happy Life by Stephanie Fleming

It would seem strange if, after showing you my extensive planner collection (not complete: never complete. Like all enthusiasts, if you offer me a new planner, I will say yes) I didn’t follow up with a book on planning.

Planning can be a real pain in the posterior, especially if you read a dour, dry business planning manual. Even the most popular time management technique books are focused more on the content than the kerb appeal, with pages of text and dry illustrations. They’re useful, but not inclined to make my heart sing and I need to SING with my planning or it just doesn’t get done.

I’ve seen Happy Planners, on blogs or on Amazon, before now and scrolled through their website for ideas, but truthfully the thought of another and different system to get used to stops me from buying a planner. I love the idea, and would give it a go, but I shy away from starting another collection of anything, when what I really need to do at this stage in life is stick to one path and follow it through.

But when I saw the book pop up in my recommendations a few times, I decided to take a plunge and see what use it could be. Happiness and planning… good combination. We all need a little more of both in our lives, don’t we?

Plan a Happy Life has been written by Stephanie Fleming who, with her mother Terri, set up Me and My Big Ideas as a source of stickers and resources for scrapbooking. The company has morphed gradually into making memory-keeping an easier, less time intensive job. If you can keep a planner and fill it with memories, it’s essentially scrapbooking on the run. This isn’t a time management book, though. It’s a lot better than that. This book is about creating your own plan for a good life.

The book is a very solid 8 inches by 6 inches hardback, good quality pages and full colour illustrations throughout. It’s well-planned (unsurprisingly) to help you live by the company’s two mottoes: Live Creatively and Plan a Happy Life. Planning won’t guarantee happiness, of course not, but it does help you define what you want, how to get there and how creativity will help you with that aim. It’s a way of finding the kernel of your life and building a life that works around that.

The book is broken into four parts: Defining Happy; The Four Ps; Nurturing Happiness; and Living Happy. Each part is subdivided into chapters, and each chapter has a focus on something that will help you be happier, such as delineating what exactly makes you happy, the building blocks of a happy and healthy life, how to identify your purpose and how to enjoy life just as it is now. It’s no use planning a perfect future, if you can’t find something to be happy with now.

Each section has inspirational quotes, actions for you to take and space for you to fill in your own ideas on what makes you happy, what certain topics mean to you or space for intentions or promises to make to yourself.

Defining Happy deals with creativity and how we express our individuality through it. Identifying what makes you happy, not what you think should make you happy, is important. For example, I had a fine time this Sunday afternoon sitting listening to a jazz band in the park, but another member of the group I was with finally broke and asked if we could move. The jazz made her grit her teeth, and she hates jazz with a passion. Loves and hates all involve passion, don’t they, and recognising what we cannot be part of as well as what we need to grow is important.

I love the idea of a vision board, a space to collect goals, inspiration and affirmation together in one place. I like the idea of having a smaller size one inside my daily planner: a reminder to move towards my goals and a reassurance that I am good just as I am at the same time.

The Four Ps (Part 2) sets out Purpose, Planning, Positivity and Persistence as the four pillars that support a happy life. If we know what we are here for, plan the steps that will get us there and use positivity (gratitude and positive inner voice) and persistence to help us reach our goals, we will be happier. There is lots of advice here and ways to use a planner as a resource to support you, including brain dumping, today lists and to do lists. I can vouch for the brain saving power of writing everything that is swirling around your head down, as long as you then give your brain permission to leave them alone while you sleep or get on with the immediate need.

Nurturing Happiness is about examining what brings you joy, who inspires you and how we can inspire others. It takes a holistic approach to happiness, since you may find that happiness is harder to achieve if you are eating badly, sleeping little and stressing about health. Recording your wellness journey (in, I don’t know, a convenient space like, say, your planner) is a recognised way of boosting health.

The final part, Living Happy is about the daily actions we can do to keep happy. Setting boundaries, saying no, living in the moment, celebrating success and keeping track of achievements. Stephanie sets out ideas that we may (or may not) want to do, but the fundamental ethos behind them all is to enjoy life, to be present in life, to live for experiences and people, not things.

Stephanie says herself that she is not a life coach or a self-help expert. Even so, she’s managed to write a book that works well as a very practical introduction to creating a happier life(with planners) that will work as a first guide for someone new to planning and happiness research or as a useful reboot for older, wiser or more cynical planners. I’ve read it twice now, and though there was little absolutely new, I really enjoyed Stephanie’s method of putting her ideas across. She has a bubbly and infectious style, her memories create a bond and she is very good at telling you what she does and hey you could trythis without it tipping over into bossy You Must Do This Or Else. I suppose that’s the least you could expect from the creator of The Happy Planner which, with its ring-bound system, is designed to be versatile and change to suit your needs. You can follow The Happy Planner on Instagram and Pinterest as well as their own website, although I’m sad there isn’t a blog to read and glean ideas from.

I’ll leave you with a flipthrough as always. Do, please, note that the quality of the pages was so good that I had trouble flipping them, while the book is well-bound enough not to want to lay flat. I apologise if you see too much of my slim and slender arm on the video.

The header today is the book, with my daily planner (back in my red Filofax at the moment: the small blue was both too small and too blue) and some artful cherries. I’m on a diet again, and fruit, veg, water and herbal tisanes will be the bulk of what I eat. Wish me luck. Besides which, life is just a bowl of cherries, isn’t it?

How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted to me or bought by me with my everyday wages or donations from supporters. Every book I review has been bought and read by me, unless stated otherwise.

I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. It always feels good if you get a book back in return for some money. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:

Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little things in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human.

Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better.

How to Hygge Your Summer: Hygge isn’t just about candles, throws and fireside cuppas (if indeed it is ever actually about them) and this book gives you ideas for creating hygge ready spaces and paces of life throughout the summer.

If you’d like to support me, but don’t want to buy a book, I have a Paypal.Me account as Hygge Jem. Every little helps, so even a few pence goes towards the books, goods and courses I use and recommend on the site. I’m grateful for every little bit that brings me closer to my dream of full-time writing, and I know I couldn’t still be writing if it weren’t for the support of many readers and friends out there. Thank you all for every little bit of support, emotional, physical and financial, you give me.

If you’ve enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it or save it so others can enjoy reading and thinking about hygge as well.

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