Welcome to Keep Calm and Relax.This website was inspired by the profound and insightful wisdom of courageous people throughout the ages. Historically events and circumstances that can cause us stress, have remained surprisingly unchanged. These words are my interpretation of how the inspirational philosophy of yesterday can be a positive influence on how we cope with tomorrow. I have woven my thoughts on coping with difficult times and how to survive them around the wise and wonderful words of great men and women.

Do get in touch if you agree or disagree with anything I have to say. I don't have answers just my thoughts and the thoughts of wise men and women that might just make you think differently.

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Were you ever the best at something?  At school were you the best runner, the best speller, the best performer in the school play?  Have you come top in exams, been the best in interview, achieved the best sales record?

Best is the highest position you can hold, it is a great achievement, but if being best comes easily to you it cannot be classed as a victory. Being best is not always about beating the opposition; it can be about beating your personal best, about being the best you can be. St. Francis de Sales said “Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly”  

If being the best is what you demand of yourself then you can be sure others will expect the same of you, but if you only insist on doing your best, no one will have any expectations and if you always go one step further than you think you can, it may be that you create a reputation for being better than you think you are. Helen Keller wrote “When we do the best that we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life or in the life of another

There is no limit on how good you can be except the limit of your own self doubt, you can do more, go further, become all you are capable of  becoming. Success in life is never about needing to be the best, it’s about knowing the odds against you succeeding  and doing your best anyway. You would be surprised when someone has become the best they can be, how often others see them as simply the best.

 “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go”  T.S.Elliot

Title quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson



Do you often wish you could step out of your life for a while? Just stand aside and watch it happening from a distance.  If we could see it over time would it have a pattern? On the graph of our lives would the line be soft, meandering up and down, never too high or too low, a constant with no sharp edges or sudden ends.  Or would it be sharp and stuttering, stopping and starting where the line has dropped off the graph or is broken altogether, never quite getting into a regular rhythm. I suspect most of us would have a life line that is a mixture of both but when the line suddenly switches without warning we have no choice but to cope with the change of pace. Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote, “I sit astride life like a bad rider on a horse.  I only owe it to the horse's good nature that I am not thrown off at this very moment.”   

There are times when life walks over us whilst we are sleeping, and times when simply waking up means preparing for war. Sudden disasters happen when we least expect them and if we have been living life on the high road we are not prepared for the shock as we free fall into the lowlands. When life is good we feel good, we feel empowered and strong, we expect that if things go wrong we will be able to face them and move on. The reality is often that after the event, with the air forced out of us, wounded and in a dark place the opposite happens, the way back seems impossible, and stripped bare we have lost the armour that our previous happiness provided. Frederick Buechner wrote “Here is the world.  Beautiful and terrible things will happen.  Don't be afraid”. 

It is so easy when life has kicked us to the bottom to give up, to feel there is no way back, but as Winston Churchill said “If you are going through hell keep going”. This not the time to stop and if you are striving to get through hard times, then moving on is the easy option. So if you don’t like what you’ve got, go back to what you had, and by sheer will you can make the line on your graph rise again. With that will come the realisation that there are times you have to leave happiness behind, but as the graph of your life rises it is a state you will return to eventually. 

Life is not fair, nor has it ever been, but the morning seems determined to dawn until it is.  ~Robert Brault,

Title quote by unknown author




Winters dark and gloomy mood is often a time when depression takes hold and even small efforts can seem too much.  It is often the irritating nature of day to day life that we are expected to deal with that can become overwhelming.

It is so much easier to escape under the bed clothes, to draw the curtains and not acknowledge the world outside, peering out from under the covers unable to see beyond the dark. Walter Bagehot wrote “All the best stories in the world are but one story in reality - the story of escape. It is the only thing which interests us all and at all times, how to escape”.     

 Winter can seem like a train going through a long dark tunnel, you know there is light at the end and that the relentless movement of the train will eventually get you there but whilst you are on the train you just can’t see it, it is so much easier just to pull up misery around our ears like a quilt and wallow.

 Darkness is not always barren, nature chooses darkness as a safe place for new life to be conceived and carried. Shorter days can make life seem cosier and richer for being condensed, and like photographs many things develop in the dark. Mushrooms, cheese and good wine all mature in dark and gloomy places, and like spring bulbs once out in the light again they enrich our lives. Jean Genet wrote” A man must dream a long time in order to act with grandeur, and dreaming is nursed in darkness”.

 In a world where everything is negotiable, you can execute your escape plan and use the gloom to lay dormant and unproductive, waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel. Or you can be glad that winter is a time when life is narrow and confined, giving us time to dream and plan.  Creating light in dark dusty corners will make life seem bigger, fuller and less gloomy.

 “Every life is narrow. Our only escape is not to run away, but to learn to love the people we are and the world in which we find ourselves”.    Mark Haddon

Title quote by Carl Jung



Dark thoughts and troubled minds are part of the process of making sense of life and take up a room in our lives like bed and breakfast guests. Often unexpected they usually arrive at night and demand that we accommodate them, and of course we do. It’s late and we are tired and sensing we are vulnerable they already have one foot in the door, it is easier to let them in than to try to shut them out. Mostly they are familiar, we recognise them, we have entertained them before, they wear us out and drag us down but like all guests eventually they leave and we can rest up and recuperate.

Chekhov wrote “Any idiot can face a crisis, it’s the day to day living that wears you out” What of those who live their entire lives dominated by mental turmoil, where there is no escape from the chattering mind. Irrational thoughts dominate every moment of the day and long into the night like uninvited guests at the spectacle of our lives. The mind becomes a ruthless and implacable tyrant to be appeased and kept calm at all costs, and so the rituals begin. Instead of confronting our fears with reason and forbearance we learn coping mechanisms. If we control our environment by repetition and ritual we can keep the mind calm and we can convince ourselves we are in control. How ever life is not predictable and circumstance can cause us to deviate from the path or change the plan, and that’s when it all comes tumbling down and the anxious mind, unforgiving and possessive takes over. Ovid wrote “All human beings hang by a slender thread, the strongest fall with a sudden crash”

Anxiety confronted can halt the racing mind, regressive thoughts always have the potential to become progressive and the path can be found again. Put a high value on yourself, make sure your confidence is well fed leaving no crumbs of anxiety to feed your doubts. Build up mental walls so that when anxiety is winning, you won’t pull yourself together only to fall apart again. Squash anxious thoughts before they can race away with you, for as an old African proverb says “When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside can’t hurt”.

Title quote by Henry Thoreau



What makes you happy? Not on a grand scale like falling in love or giving birth. Not in a life changing way like winning the lottery or inheriting a winery in Provence from an uncle you didn’t know you had. But the minutiae of life that brings a smile to your face or provides unexpected joy on even the darkest day. You find a five pound note in an old pair of trousers maybe or just for once the train arrives on time. The man who always scowls at you in the bank smiles and says thank you, or you are just in time to get the last seat on the bus.

Mignon McLaughlin wrote "Many things can make you miserable for weeks; few can bring you a whole day of happiness”. We soon discover that it is not the much anticipated big occasions that bring lasting happiness, often these are followed by a sense of anti climax. It isn’t the big events in life that make us happy on a day to day basis, of course they create sweeping  highs on the graph of our life but like all highs they are often followed by a low and life then feels dull in comparison. If we need to live life on a roller coaster in order to register happiness, every high will  need to be ever higher than the one before, leaving us with much further to fall.

It is much more a state of well being; feeling safe, being loved, and having unwavering support are the building blocks of our happiness.  If we build on these foundations we can treat times of even the most abject misery  as a diversion in the path of  life, to be endured, to travel along for only as long as it lasts, and then to return to a road that is familiar and less fraught, where we can begin to feel happy again.

The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance, the wise grows it under his feet.”    James Oppenheim

Title quote by John Barrymore

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