Have you lost some sparkle in your life?

It is remarkable how many people complain of life becoming mundane and boring. When we grow up we seem to become absorbed in the roles that we feel we should fulfil. We ‘settle down’. We become permanently employed. We may become a wife or husband, father or mother. Passing time can creep up on us.

I may never be the rock star of my dreams but I can still pick up my guitar and sing!

Our work can take us over. On each street or housing estate, families rise at the same time each morning, children are bundled into cars for school, dropped at the school gate; adults proceed to the workplace, have lunch (if not too busy), return home, put the dinner on, check homework, light the fire, watch television and head to bed. Often we surrender to a daily routine and possibilities for experiencing psychological flow become limited.

Flow comes from doing the things we love most, the things we are best at or even in doing new things – as we become ‘stretched’ in the new activity. ‘Stretched’ describes the process when we are internally driven and exhibiting a sense of purpose and curiosity that is autotelic. We become absorbed by the task at hand. In flow our awareness of time evaporates as we become immersed in meaningful activity.

A woman once described her life to me in this way. She said that there was no sparkle any more. She loved her husband and realised that she was blessed with four lovely children, but she felt tired and uninspired. I  asked her whether there was anything she loved doing. She gazed at me blankly. ‘Like what?’ she said. I asked if she had any hobby or pastime. She explained how she no longer had time for hobbies. By the time she cooked the dinner, helped the children with their homework and settled them for bedtime, she was exhausted. Her husband worked most nights.

Many people experience flow in their gardens. I’ve often said that there is therapy in the clay.

I then asked if she had ever had a hobby. Her eyes lit up as she started to recall her passionate love of opera. It was a passion she had completely abandoned. I knew that she’d had no children for the first four years of her marriage so I probed further by asking whether she’d had time for opera then. Her answer was that her husband had no interest in opera. She had accompanied him to rugby games instead. Often the lack of fulfilment in our lives can be down to our own decisions. Giving up hobbies or being too busy to try something new reduces opportunities for psychological flow in our lives. It is easier to feel deprived or hard done by when we only work and sleep. It’s critical for life satisfaction that we have some flow in our lives. I have often spoken with people who openly admit to me, ‘I get nothing. All I do is work and more work.’ And they wonder why they aren’t happy!

Children experience more flow than adults. Their wide imaginations help

Sadly, when we become adults many of us leave behind the activities that made us happy, such as musicians no longer playing music, or artists with unfinished paintings in the attic since getting married or becoming a parent. But we need flow even more during the challenges and the crises that life poses. When we are in flow, our worries and anxieties are not in the room with us. And we all experience anxieties and worries. We would benefit greatly from ‘switching the channel’ sometimes. I will always remember an old man in a tiny cottage pointing to his garden and saying, ‘You’re a therapist, aren’t you?’ before continuing, ‘I’ll tell you where the therapy is. It’s in the clay of that garden. I lose days in my garden.’ This wise man spends many evenings in his kingdom. I often feel that his daily ritual of flow has served him well. Indeed, it has often been said that there is ‘therapy’ in the clay!

© Shane Martin


Three public seminars with psychologist Shane Martin will take place over the coming weeks at venues in ANTRIM, NAVAN and DUBLIN. Places are limited. It’s important to book your place as soon as possible because there are no plans for any further seminars for the foreseeable future.

Total fee €65  


ANTRIM Saturday 7th March 2020 (09.00- 1.00 p.m.)  Dunsilly Hotel, 20 Dunsilly Rd, Antrim BT41 2JH CLICK HERE TO BOOK FOR ANTRIM SEMINAR

NAVAN Saturday 14th March 2020 (09.00 -1.00 p.m.) Ardboyne Hotel, Dublin Road, Navan CLICK HERE TO BOOK NAVAN SEMINAR

DUBLIN Saturday 28th March 2020 (09.00 -1.00 p.m.) Project Room, Malahide Castle, Malahide, Co. Dublin K36 YP65   CLICK HERE TO BOOK FOR DUBLIN SEMINAR

For all details about the seminar including timetable and content  – see below

The LIVE LIFE WELL seminars provide people with an opportunity to create a space for themselves to get away from their daily stresses and strains. Participants will have an opportunity to reflect on their lives and learn what science has uncovered about becoming healthier, happier and more resilient. The focus will be on simple yet powerful practices to enhance the quality of your life.

The LIVE LIFE WELL seminars contain the best material that Shane teaches condensed into a single day. The no-nonsense practical ideas from his best selling book ‘Your Precious Life-How to Live it Well’ will be delivered in his customary animated and humourous style.

The seminar will not intrude on anyone’s privacy. There will be some discussion but no one will feel under pressure to talk. It is important to know that the seminar is for the general public and why people attend remains their own business. Often people working within the health profession attend for professional reasons. Sometimes an interest in psychology draws people to these events. However, most people attend because they want to take time-out from a busy life schedule to learn simple evidence-based strategies linked to a better quality of life.

The seminar costs €65


The timetable for the morning is as follows:

09.00 Registration

09.30-11.00 MINDING OURSELVES How to Avoid Unnecessary Stress:

We cannot avoid being stressed. Indeed, we need to experience stress in order to achieve our goals. However, many people annoy themselves needlessly about things that don’t matter. What causes this kind of stress? What can we do to alleviate it? How can we cope better with the unavoidable stresses of life? Shane will offer evidence-based explanations and remedies.

11.00 -11.15 TEA/COFFEE BREAK

11.55-1.00 LIVING LIFE WELL: How to Enhance the Quality of Lives:

Essentially, Shane introduces you to evidence-based strategies linked to greater health and happiness. This is an opportunity to step outside the circle, remove yourself from the ‘noise’ of life and consider the most important things and how we can achieve them.The hope is that the material will uplift and inspire change in your life but even more importantly inspire you to incorporate it into your home, workplace and community.