Reaching old age

What does it feel like to be old?

What does it feel like to be old? Not middle-aged, or late-middle-aged, but one of the members of the fastest-growing group of people in Ireland. This is a question I have asked myself for the past couple of years, now that I am in that age group. The gradual loss of energy is one of the most unpleasant side effects of the aging process. The onslaught of old age diseases, the pain in your knees and hips are all the results of old age. The engine is wearing out and even though lucky that the mental capacity remains good. A lot of these infirmities can happen at any stage in life. Even a 30-year-old may complain that he no longer feels able to keep up with the younger guys at hurling or football.

Of course, no one should expect to be rushing around in their 70s like they did in their 20s, and yet the idea that energy levels drop as every year passes, rather like the gasoline dial on a long car journey, is misleading. In fact, many people make radical lifestyle changes in later life and find that they have as much energy as ever before.

The mind affects the body and the body affects the mind. If you keep telling yourself that you have no energy and can’t do this or that, do not be surprised if your body responds accordingly. Some people seem to take great pleasure in telling others how awful they feel or how much more energy they had when they were young. This is absurd. If you start to think old you will feel old. Do not say to yourself “well, now I have turned 40 I can no longer do X or Y”. It is as if people imagine that on the morning of their 70th or 80th birthday, they can no longer do what they did the day before. Do not bow to the tyranny of meaningless numbers. If you expect to feel more exhausted at 70 than at 69, then you will.

Finally, you must embrace the time in which you are living. The older people get more inclined to live in the past, to indulge in nostalgia and reminiscing about days gone by. They try and convince themselves that everything was better when they were children. Even people in their 40s and 50s do this. Convince yourself of such nonsense and what do you think will happen? Obviously, the present will seem flat, dull, and hardly worth bothering with, if your thoughts think that way. And once that happens, your motivation goes, taking your physical energy with it. Instead, remain curious, interested in life and have a positive input. Keep up with politics, fashion, scientific advances, technology and so on.

If you wish to boost your energy levels, you must first consider the way you live. What needs to be changed? The key to boosting your energy is improving everything: diet, sleep patterns, exercise regime, and even outlook.  Do not overestimate how healthy you are. We have all been guilty of wishful thinking on occasion. Sometimes we will catch ourselves thinking about a perfect future, or be looking back on things that happened through rose-tinted glasses.

This is a perfectly normal and healthy activity and one that can help to make the world seem a little more tolerable even when things aren’t going according to plan. The key is that we need to remain at least somewhat detached from this wishful thinking. In other words, we need to take it for what it is and acknowledge that it is not reality.  When predicting future outcomes, all of us are prone to be somewhat overly positive. This is sometimes explained as being due to an attempt to resolve the ‘conflict’ between what we want and what we know to be true.  However, it can also be described as our egocentrism, our belief that the world revolves around us – partly as a result of perspective, and as a coping mechanism to help us deal with negative realities.

The brain is a prediction machine and its purpose is to help us make the best decisions in order to increase our likelihood of survival and of passing on our genetic plusses to the next generation. This starts when we imagine the outcome we want: we want the political climate to improve, we want to be rich, we don’t want to become ill.

If we were to assume the worst and to assume that we would have no impact on future outcomes, then we would not be motivated to continue or to make positive changes in our lives. Likewise, if we were unable to imagine the future we wanted, then we would be unable to plot a course to help us achieve the best outcomes for ourselves.

Wishful thinking is not a problem in itself but can be problematic if it isn’t kept under control. As we have seen, it is normal, healthy and adaptive to spend time imagining better outcomes for ourselves and it can even be healthy under some circumstances to deny reality. There is no harm in indulging yourself in a little wishful thinking from time to time and especially once you understand the mechanisms that give rise to it. What’s important though is that you recognize it for what it is and that you always take a reality check before making any important life decisions. Positivity is a good thing but not to the point of self-delusion!

Old age will come either you like it or not, and you are lucky to have reached a long life spanning many decades. Live every day,  as each day is precious and will never return. Getting to old age has many benefits. Make good use of them. You are worth it.

Peg Hanafin, MSc 18/5/2018



Compassion and its meaning

What does it mean to be compassionate?

Compassion is not the same as empathy or altruism, though the concepts are related. While empathy refers more generally to our ability to take the perspective of and feel the emotions of another person, compassion is when those feelings and thoughts include the desire to help. Altruism, in turn, is the kind, selfless behaviour often prompted by feelings of compassion, though one can feel compassion without acting on it, and altruism isn’t always motivated by compassion.

Compassion is neither empathy nor sympathy but requires both. Empathy is responding to another person’s emotions with emotions that are similar. Sympathy is a feeling of regret for another person’s suffering. Compassion is caring about another person’s happiness as if it were your own. The challenge with this definition, however, is how easily it causes us to mistakenly infer that compassion means giving to people, and that may not be always the right thing to do. It may leave them happy for a short time but usually leaves them without the motivation to take on challenges and make changes. People often want what is not good for them like the child who wants to play outside instead of doing homework, the gambler who wants to bet what he cannot afford, the alcoholic who wants to drink, or the drug addict who want to get a drugs fix.

If our aim is to help others surmount a problem we must apply our own judgment to the actions we are asked to take on their behalf.  Compassion without wisdom is dangerous and can do more harm than good. Acting compassionately may often be inconvenient, but if you find yourself sacrificing your own happiness in some significant way, you have allowed yourself to be deceived into thinking one person’s happiness is more important than another’s—your own. A wise person’s own happiness matters as much to him or her as the happiness of others—no more and no less. In fact, sometimes you may care about another person’s happiness but find that other person not only beyond your help but a serious risk to your happiness. In such cases, the person toward whom you must turn your compassion is yourself.

Many believe having compassion requires you to adopt a supportive, non-violent attitude and express only loving caring and kindness at all times. Though compassion may have to be all those things to be effective, compassion must sometimes also be harsh, tough, and truthful as to the real situation. True compassion expects no reward or recognition. If you want thanks it means you risk shifting your focus from increasing the happiness of others to the gratification of your own ego, which then risks behaviour that harms instead of help. There is no requirement that you like anyone in order to be a compassionate person. You can actively dislike someone towards whom you feel great compassion. Being compassionate may mean thinking generously about a person despite their flaws, but it does not mean pretending those flaws don’t exist. You don’t have to pretend that people don’t upset you, nor do you have to open yourself up to establishing a personal relationship with people you try to help.  Genuinely wish that this person experiences something positive or healing. Even though it may be hard, focus your thoughts and feelings on giving a gift of mercy or compassion. Be consciously aware of the thoughts, feelings, and physical responses you have as you cultivate compassion, kindness, and mercy for a person.

Compassionate people are givers who never expect anything in return. They are normally referred to as kind-hearted people who have a belief that what you give to the universe is what you get in return. This is often referred to as karma.


Peg Hanafin, MSc. s 17/5/2018



The Erosion of Morality

   The erosion of morality and its legacy

Between the idea and the reality … falls the shadow.” So wrote TS Eliot in 1925.

The European Values Study is a pan-European research project focusing especially on values associated with work, religion, lifestyles and other issues. Its most recent data gathering exercise was in 2008, the fourth of its kind. This study focuses on changing religious values in Ireland over the span of the EVS (1981-2008) and examines the rise in secularism and the rapid decrease in church participation that brings Ireland much closer to European norms. In the 2011 census, it emerged that 84% of the people of the Irish Republic described themselves as “Roman Catholic”. The number of atheists and agnostics and diverse other faiths was up too, but Roman Catholics remained the vast majority.

If religious and social values and attitudes are changing, what are the implications for Irish society? As we become an increasingly educated society, what is happening to our value and belief systems? Does the erosion of church practice mean the erosion of values or are we simply witnessing transference of allegiance from institutions to something else? Like drugs, sex, murder, pornography, or social media. Some suggest that the reduction of care and concern for others, a reduced sense of God, and a minimised approach to things religious, along with a rise in liberalism, are not of themselves a forerunner of prosperity and joy for society; the opposite many people believe is true, and will result in decreased happiness and increased isolation especially for the elderly, the poor and the disabled. Is it undeniable that Ireland is fast becoming different from even thirty years ago, and will be different in the future?  Society will have to take into account the diversity of immigrants and people disenfranchised by society. This is becoming especially true in relation to institutional religion. As the Irish let go of things deeply rooted in their culture and tradition, is this simply implying that we are becoming a “mature” nation amongst the nations of Europe? Or have we come to accept that “anything goes” at the peril of future boundaries and happiness.

When it comes to personal morality, the gap between what people say and do is often equally unclear and difficult to understand. Just look at all the lame promises from those in power to address the many problems in our country, from health, education, finances and the total lack of accountability to the detriment of taxpayers who are at their wits end to support a corrupt governance. Disapproving of a thing is not the same as not doing it. Many disapprove of the actions of others but end up doing it themselves. It is still mesmerizing to see what people in Ireland consider to be beyond the moral pale and then what they shrug off as unimportant. At opposite ends of that spectrum lie two very different worlds. One is pre-marital sex, which has clearly lost its stigma and nearly a requirement now before marriage. It is accepted by old and young that this is modern living. We look at how quickly moral values can shift once a society starts to change. It was not so long ago that Catholic Ireland would have taken a much dimmer view that this was considered unwise, unacceptable and sinful. On the other end of the scale, there is drink driving, which attracts a disapproval of the vast majority, and there is almost universal disapproval of the practice.

Though one does have to ask: has the shadow fallen once more between the idea and the reality?

In recent years an erosion of what was once an absolute requirement for public servants appear to be totally lost with neither integrity, honesty or truthfulness being given, and as work practices are questionable to the detriment of our citizens. Or how equality and justice in health services, education, and the workplace appear to be non-existent? Or the lack of services that are required for mental health, poverty, and social injustices. The total lack of compassion and truthfulness for people suffering from errors made in many organizations, including banks, hospitals, the Gardai, and our politicians. All of these equate to the erosion of morality.

We never hear any more preachers giving homilies about the Ten Commandments, The Corporal Works of Mercy or the Seven Deadly Sins.  These were all recognized as a way to bring clarity to how we should live in a just society. They were the signposts for a happy and inclusive living and encouraged people not to infringe on others or cause pain. What are the values, qualities, and parameters are we leaving for another generation, or for those coming down the tracks? Is life going to be a free for all, get all you can, do what you like, abuse others or take away someone’s happiness? This is where unhappy citizens, unhappy childhoods, unhappy marriages, or unhappy families are fostered and left to decay. Or will it be too late to row back from the precipice of sinking under a non-redeemable life of lies, dishonesty, lack of accountability, deceit, and debauchery?

The time has come for every person, young or old to take stock and see if all this free-living and “anything goes” becomes the norm, and start with themselves to affect change in their own homes. When all levels of immorality and injustice will be the acceptable order of the day. It will be a very tragic day, groping in the darkness of human failure, for those hoping to live happy and fulfilled lives in the future, on this glorious island where we are lucky to live.

Peg Hanafin, MSc.

Author of Getting More out of Life, Thoughts for your Journey, Never Give Up,  and I Wish I had Known. A columnist with newspapers and magazines.





Work and its benefits

The value of being a good worker and its benefits

When I was growing up there was never a need to use the word  bored. You were always kept busy doing the little jobs you were capable of doing, from jobs around the house, to farmyard chores. My mother use to say “you can have all the brains and talents in the world, but if you are not a good worker you will never succeed”

A good worker is a valuable person in any organisation. You are only in a job an hour or less, when you will be recognised as a good worker or a slacker.

Parents now think it is their duty to give their children everything they possibly can, things that they never enjoyed when they were young. Firstly they were not available and secondly the great outdoors was all that you needed to enjoy every day. Some children are not asked to do any chores, but are allowed to spend their time on their mobile phones or computers. Parents try to compensate for the time they must spend at work rather than in the home. Both parents must work to pay the escalating bills and debts, that threaten family interaction. The effects of these actions on both parents and children are negative and are becoming a real problem. Consider some of the following points and maybe you can make some good changes in your life which will affect the rest of your life.

Society is telling us that there are so many fun things to have. The media tells us that to be happy we must have it all, big houses, big cars, ostentatious living. We must have it now, as immediate gratification is the new buzz word. Parents are getting sucked into this. This means that more parents must spend every day in the work place instead of with their families.

Who, then, is taking care of their children? Either day care facilities or, if children are old enough, nobody. Either way, children are not being nurtured in the home as much as they need to be. Parents should remember that their love for their children cannot be bought and have the most value.  Parents often feel that it is a necessity to provide name-brand clothes, cell phones, game systems, entertainment systems, and what-not, all at the expense of spending communication with their children.  No time to teach them values in the home, or to show their children love, qualities that will last a lifetime. If you can recognize some of your own experiences in this description, think about changing it.

Work is an essential principle, it has an amazing influence how we live and think about life. The laws of nature say that you cannot have something for nothing. “You must earn your bread by the sweat of your brow” was an old valued rule. However, society is telling you that this is not true. We are encouraged to think that we are entitled to whatever we want with no thought of working for it, or who is providing your daily bread. This is the very mindset which has driven the world’s economy to its knees. There is more than honesty involved in the principle of work. It is a fact that after you have earned your own money you value it more. You know how much work and effort it has taken to earn a certain amount of money. Once you, yourself, have put the work in, you will not be so likely to spend your money on frivolous things. You will learn that you cannot have everything and you will learn to set your own priorities. This principle should be taught to children from an early age, and if they want pocket money they must contribute to the family resources.

The value of hard work is one of the most valuable and essential lessons that parents teach their children. However, do not think that it is too late for you to learn the value of work if you have not been taught it in your home. If you get a part-time job, and are allowed to spend all your money on the extras for yourself that is a bad start in life. All earners living at home should be asked to contribute, even a small amount to the “kitty” in the house. Young adults will begin to appreciate more the things that they enjoy in living at home, and be much happier to know that they are contributing. The satisfaction that comes from earning your own way is indescribable.

This does not mean that you should drop out of school to work, or have studies interrupted, because education is also very important. The satisfaction of a job well done applies to far more than just earning money but of getting experience of things that matter in life, like being careful with your money, learning new skills and developing integrity, honesty and commitment. If you have a good work ethic, that principle will be applied to whatever you undertake, whether that is a job, school work, personal projects, or helping those around you.

Learning the value of hard work early in life will help you shape the rest of your future. Appreciation for what you have and for what others have done for you can only come by working yourself. Parents certainly have the responsibility for providing the basic necessities of life for their children. Many would argue that parents also have a responsibility to provide a stress free life for their children, but children will never fully appreciate the sacrifices their parents have made for them until they learn to work themselves.

The value of work does not necessarily have to be learned through a formal job. Children can be given responsibilities around the home to work for allowances or privileges.

The principle of the matter is that you are not given everything for nothing. Your work ethic is something you will carry with you throughout your entire life and will affect nearly every aspect of your life. If you want to be truly happy, then you need to make sure you have a good work ethic. Every employer wants a worker who is reliable, honest, flexible and capable. By always being busy and productive will give you the edge over those who are unable to work and will be noticed by both bosses and peers.

People will never know how much history or geography you know, but it only takes a short while to recognise a good worker. A good boss will recognise that maturity comes from years of life and work experience and makes for workers who get less “rattled” when problems occur.  Setting an example for other employees is an intangible value many business owners appreciate. Older workers make excellent mentors and role models, which makes training other employees less difficult.  Knowing when and how to communicate–evolve through years of experience. Older workers understand workplace politics and know how to diplomatically convey their ideas to the boss. So always consider yourself lucky if you have an older person lead the way while you are learning the tricks of the trade.  Organizational skills among older workers mean employers who hire them are less likely to be a part of this startling statistic that more than a million man hours are lost each year simply due to workplace disorganization. Being efficient and the confidence to share their recommendations and ideas, make older workers give good example to younger inexperienced workers. Their years of experience in the workplace give them a superior understanding of how jobs can be done more efficiently, which saves companies money. Their confidence, built up through the years, means they won’t hesitate to share their ideas with management or peers. Pride in a job well done has become an increasingly rare commodity among younger employees. Younger workers want to put in their time at work and leave, while older employees are more willingly to stay later to get a job done because of their sense of pride in the final product. These are all the benefits you can learn and become a valuable cog in the wheel of any workforce.

Peg Hanafin MSc.

Author of; Getting more out of life,

Thoughts for your journey,

Never give up,

I wish I had known.


The value of Integrity






The Value of Integrity

The six “Pillars of Character”recognized and taught by the Josephson Institute of Ethics, California, are values that are not political, religious or culturally biased. But they are a good foundation for a decent and an honourable way of living that promotes integrity and honesty. Maybe it is time to look at these values, and introduce them in our schools across the country and promote and instill these values to a younger generation as a better way of living.

Let us examine the six core ethical values or pillars of character promoted by the Josephson Institute of Ethics, and seek out their value for us all.


Be honest • Don’t deceive, cheat or steal • Be reliable — do what you say you’ll do • Have the courage to do the right thing • Build a good reputation • Be loyal — stand by your family, friends, and country.


Treat others with respect; follow the Golden Rule • Be tolerant of differences • Use good manners, not bad language • Be considerate of the feelings of others • Don’t threaten, hit or hurt anyone • Deal peacefully with anger, insults, and disagreements


Do what you are supposed to do • Persevere: keep on trying! • Always do your best • Use self-control • Be self-disciplined • Think before you act — consider the consequences • Be accountable for your choices.


Play by the rules • Take turns and share • Be open-minded; listen to others • Don’t take advantage of others • Don’t blame others carelessly.


Be kind • Be compassionate and show you care • Express gratitude • Forgive others, help people in need.


Do your share to make your neighbourhood and community better • Co-operate • Get involved in community affairs • Stay informed • Be a good neighbour • Obey laws and rules • Respect authority • Protect the environment


Wouldn’t the world be a far happier place if people lived by these values and rules? We wouldn’t have cause to be dismayed by all the scandals we are witnessing today in our country if we practiced these values as a better way of living.


Every day we are bombarded by a raft of new scandals,   dishonesty and a lack of accountability from those in positions of power, trust, and care. The example being given to a younger generation leaves a lot to be desired. Even though a new report by CPI has found Ireland to be among the top 20 least corrupt countries on the planet, it does not appear that way to ordinary citizens at this point in time. While we have slipped from joint 17th position to joint 18th, this still puts us ahead of a host of other European nations, like France, Portugal, and Spain. But it still does not absolve and calls into question those in powerful positions that mismanage and erode the finances and ethics of our country.

Are these statistics realistic when we see all the corruption, dishonesty, mismanagement of tax-payers money and falsehoods that are being exposed on a daily basis to the detriment of society at large? And how is it going to be halted?

Successes will come and go, but integrity is how you live your life and the virtues you extol. Integrity means doing the right thing at all times and in all circumstances, whether or not anyone will ever know or find out. It takes having the courage to do the right thing, no matter what the consequences. Building a reputation of integrity takes years, but it takes only one misdemeanor to lose.

We live in a world where integrity is not discussed nearly enough, nor the values that should be part of how all people, whether in positions of power or just ordinary citizens, live. Every day new scandals that are gobsmacking and unbelievable are coming into the public domain.  The lack of integrity and honesty from government bodies, voluntary organisations, the banking and business sector, that are causing worry, pain, and suffering to many innocent lives, leaves a lot to be desired and highlights the disintegration of values once held dear. We live in a world where “the end justifies the means”  with no accountability to those who pay the piper.

Lack of honesty and integrity appears to be the acceptable school of thought and modus operandi, be they the enforcers of the law, health, justice, educational, social services, or financial systems. We look at ordinary lives where trust and respect are being eroded on a daily basis by the scandals being perpetrated by those who were relied upon and who should be giving better example to the public at large.  Too many lives have been left shattered and broken by their actions.  Society has been left bereft of leadership, accountability, and transparency. The rules of law and order only apply to some.

“ If it is alright for them well what’s wrong with it for us syndrome” is fast becoming a way of thinking and acting by otherwise decent people.


Integrity is being honest and having strong moral principles and being morally upright. It is a personal choice to hold oneself to having unwavering moral and ethical standards.  Integrity is regarded by many people as being honest and truthful in one’s actions and words. Integrity is behaving and thinking consistently with one’s personal values and beliefs. Put another way, integrity is doing what you believe to be right, irrespective of the costs, downside, or hardships involved. What is the message being promoted today? Surely not these values that are much needed for a just and equitable society.

Having integrity means doing the right thing in a dependable and trusted way. It is a personality trait that is admirable since it means a person has a conscience that discerns right from wrong and that doesn’t waver. Some people see integrity as virtue, honesty or goodness of some kind.

Examining our own conscience

Ask yourself whether integrity has any place in your life. Assuming you want to build your own personal integrity, how about reflecting from time to time on what you believe? Come to understand yourself and your world-view a little better by self-examination. Every time you must make a choice, consider the options, even the unpalatable ones, and ask yourself which options are most consistent with what you believe. Reflect on your choice, with the benefit of hindsight, and see if it could have been done better. Did the choice feel honourable, or did it cause you some unease or some kind of contradiction of beliefs and attitudes?

Associate with other people recognized for their integrity. Their definitions of “right” and “wrong” may differ from yours, but the way they remain faithful to them might inspire you to do the same.

Discuss integrity with your family members, your peers, your workmates, your friends. Explore the issues, the trade-offs, the costs and the rewards.

The value of the trust others have in you is far beyond anything that can be measured.  For you, it means having an army of people that are willing to go the extra mile to help you. The value of the trust others have in you, goes beyond anything that can be measured because it brings along with it limitless opportunities and endless possibilities.

Contrast that with the person who cannot be trusted as a person of integrity.  When employers are looking for people to hire, they look for these qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy.  And if they don’t have the first one, smart employers won’t offer that person a job. A person’s dishonesty will eventually catch up with them. It may not be today,  but you can rest assured that at some point there will always be a reckoning. This is what is happening in our country today.

To those who are striving for a reputation of integrity: Avoid those who are not trustworthy. Do not do business with them. Do not associate with them. Do not make excuses for them.  Do not allow yourself to get enticed into believing that “while they may be dishonest with others, they would never be dishonest with me.” If someone is dishonest in any aspect of life, you can be guaranteed that he will be dishonest in many other aspects of his life also. You cannot dismiss little acts of dishonesty, such as the person who takes two newspapers from the stand when they paid for only one or hop on a bus with no ticket, or take small things that do not belong to them. After all, if a person cannot be trusted in the simplest matters of honesty, then how can they possibly be trusted to uphold the trust you place in them.

Surround yourself with people of integrity as inevitably we become more and more like the people we associate ourselves with every day. If we spend time with people who are dishonest and willing to cut corners to get ahead, then we will find ourselves following a pattern of first enduring their behaviour, then accepting their behaviour, and finally adopting their behaviour. If you want to build a reputation pick your company carefully.

A person who has lost their ability to be trusted as a person of integrity, which is the most valuable quality anyone can have in their life, is at a huge disadvantage.  So how do we reclaim our integrity in the country we live in today? A tough task that remains to be seen.

“Integrity has no need of rules.” Albert Camus

Peg Hanafin, MSc,

Author of  Getting more out of life

Thoughts for your journey

Never give up

IWish I had Known





living your own life


The challenge of living your own life

As our Leaving Certificate students ponder on what course to take when they finish second level schooling in a few short months, many are bedeviled with the thoughts of what they want out of life. However, all the data available for successful people, believe that when you follow the subjects and the passion you have for some specific career, you are more likely to excel and become successful in your future.

There is no greater challenge and no greater reward than to be the master of your own destiny. The meaning of life for every person is as unique as their fingerprints, so it is important to ponder and ask yourself “Am I leading the life that I want to live, or am I being dictated to by teachers, peers, family or friends”? Are you making choices based on your values, beliefs or your own needs? Or are you living your life based on the expectations of others? Our personalities, interests, abilities, and dreams are not set in stone and we are all adaptable to change, as long as we understand what it is we want to change. In order to live your own life, you must prioritize the things in life that makes you happy and more fulfilled. Searching for your own unique path takes time, trial and error and an understanding of the journey ahead.

For many of us, just knowing what we want to do with our lives is a real challenge. However, when you define what you absolutely want will eventually allow you to reach your goal. Once you know what you want to achieve in life and set that goal, with determination and tenacity you will get there. Following your dreams and what you passionately desire, and recognizing the people in your life that you care about, is a big part of becoming happy and contented with your life.

When you are following the pathway you have chosen, the return will be far greater in your workplace or career, and you are more likely to succeed when you are doing what you really like. In a recent study, it was found that the stronger the internal motivation for doing something, rather than the external rewards, the more likely you are to succeed. In other words, when you are doing something you love, you will put more energy into it. Our identity is created by our early carers, be that parents or others, and we often try reliving their personalities rather than developing our own. That is why children reared in destructive environments carry those traits into adult life. According to Dr. R. Firestone, a person’s true identity can be affected throughout their lives by the experiences they have had, that either damage or support their personality.

In order to live our own lives and fulfill our own dreams and goals, we must distance ourselves and our thoughts from destructive family and societal influences. Most young people take on the value systems and the beliefs of the family and culture they grew up in, or they rebel and become defiant in opposition to what rules they were reared by.

To become your own person, and in order to live your own life, it is important to develop your own personal values and qualities, rather than accepting or rejecting the values and beliefs of those who reared you. When you become a mature adult, you should follow your own principles that will give your life more meaning and belonging. When you are able to differentiate the negative influences of the past, it allows you to become the person you truly are to follow your own desires and be able to live a fulfilling life. We must strive to live our own lives rather than the lives our parents, families or even what society expects from us.

It is important that you know what your own core values are and to set goals that are achievable and that you can accomplish. Write down what you want to achieve, and keep them small to make things easy to do, in the beginning. In a recent study, it showed that people were significantly more likely to reach their target if they wrote them down. Make a note of progress as there are no shortcuts to having a meaningful life. Get rid of negative thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes that diminish your self-belief and self-esteem. There will always be challenges and our own thoughts and self- critic are our own worst enemies. If you want to make changes in your life for the better, you must get rid of the inner critic that will constantly attack how you feel and think. Remind yourself that these are just critical inner thoughts that can be nasty and be taunting towards your ambitions for success.

This inner critic will infiltrate your thoughts with a long list of how or why you cannot attain success, so you must break free from those negative thoughts and develop positive thoughts about how you are going to be successful. The inner voice often tries to undermine your efforts by filling your head with self-doubts or encouraging procrastination. These thoughts often hone in on your weak spots and undermine your confidence. Believing in your personal power is essential if you want to live your own life. When you believe in your strengths, have confidence and acknowledge your competences, you will realize you have all the requirements needed to be successful and master of your own destiny.

Here,  are 7 tips to help you improve your life:

  1. Be grateful for what you have. Start your day the night before.
  • Be ready to grow up. Drop the attitude. 5. Don’t ignore your emotions, but remember that feelings aren’t facts. 6.  Watch out for negative thinking.  7.  Set up and stick to a routine.


.              Peg Hanafin, MSc.

Author of Getting More out of life

Thoughts for your journey

Never Give Up

I wish I had known




Tipp Star 26/1/2017








The facts and effects of cannabis on Teenagers

Do you think that the use of cannabis is harmless? Well read on and find out the facts and then decide. There is a lot of talk about drugs in society today.  Some of it is true, some not. Much of what is being “promoted” actually comes from those selling them. Reformed drug dealers have confessed that they would have said anything to get others to buy drugs. People have unlimited access to all kinds of illegal drugs in every part of Ireland today. So what are the consequences for those who use?

Everyone knows about cannabis, it has been around for centuries, so what’s all the fuss about now? Cannabis describes any of the different drugs that come from Indian hemp, including marijuana, and a whole range of other street names as well as hashish. One of the reasons cannabis is big news today is that the nature of the drug has changed a lot over the years. Cannabis has become one of the most trafficked illegal drugs in the world. It no longer just grows naturally but is grown under conditions that make it much more potent.

The potency relates to the THC content –  the chemical in cannabis that gets you “high”. Some types of cannabis are grown for its potency and are extremely high in THC. This means that there is a higher risk of negative and damaging effects from using it. The more potent forms are grown to be more addictive. The potency varies between the different types of cannabis ie. resin, marijuana, or hashish, which is made from the resin of Indian hemp and is six times stronger than marijuana. Unlike alcohol, cannabis does not come with a label telling you how strong it is. You cannot tell from just looking at it. Regardless of the name, this drug causes hallucinations and has a substance which distorts how the mind perceives the world you live in. So one never knows what strength this drug is or the resulting harm caused by its use.

What are the risks?

Cannabis or marijuana is one of the drugs young people use the most. The effect is usually felt within minutes. The immediate sensations include increased heart rate, lessened co-ordination and balance, and a dreamy unreal state of mind. It also creates a severe impact on the lungs. The mental consequences for users are equally severe with users having amongst other dangers, poorer memories and decreased mental aptitude.  Cannabis can trigger underlying mental health problems. It has hallucinogenic properties which can make you feel paranoid, anxious and in some people, lead to a psychotic episode.

Recent studies, including from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, showed the connection between cannabis use in adolescence and schizophrenia. These studies state that it doubles your risk of developing schizophrenia as an adult. Previous research has shown that young adolescents who started using cannabis/marijuana before the age of sixteen are at greater risk of permanent brain damage and have a significantly higher incidence of psychiatric disorders. This is the critical period in life during which drug use can be damaging and cause permanent health risks.

TEENAGE YEARS are the worst time in a person’s life to smoke cannabis, a prominent Irish child and adolescent psychiatrist has said.

Dr. Bobby Smyth was reacting to a study concerning the drug’s effect on the adolescent brain. He works for the HSE at the Youth Drug and Alcohol Service in Tallaght and referred to the growing evidence that cannabis has a long-term negative impact on the developing brain.

A study published yesterday in American journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found cannabis can lower the IQ of young teenagers and may cause permanent mental impairment. The most persistent users suffered an average eight-point decline in IQ between adolescence and adulthood.

Users experienced significantly more attention and memory problems than non-users, the study found. This was the case even after taking account of different educational backgrounds and use of alcohol and other drugs.

The tests showed wide-ranging mental decline among men and women who began taking cannabis at a young age and continued using the drug regularly for more than 20 years.

A disturbing new study from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, USA, highlights and confirms the dangers of adolescents smoking cannabis.

Results of this research have also shown that young people who regularly smoke cannabis or weed have a greater risk of schizophrenia and can suffer long-lasting brain damage. Researchers say the drug is particularly dangerous for a group of people who may have underlying tendencies to a genetic mental disorder or have mental health issues. It also highlights the dangers of teenagers smoking cannabis during their formative years. The study found that even short- term exposure to cannabis impairs brain activity with the damage continuing into adulthood.

A separate study carried out only last month by the Imperial College, London, revealed that long-term use of cannabis destroys dopamine, the feel-good chemical in the brain that inspires a spirit of get up and go. It suggests that it can lead to individuals becoming withdrawn, lethargic, listless, apathetic or indifferent. Cannabis users who partook in the study said they had all experienced psychotic-like symptoms, such as having strange sensations and having feelings of paranoia and fear. Dr. Michael Bloomfield, of the above college, said there is mounting evidence that the idea that cannabis is a harmless drug is untrue.  He has noted short-term side effects include a decrease in short-term memorydry mouth, impaired motor skills, red eyes, and feelings of paranoia or anxiety.  Long-term side effects include addiction and decreased mental ability in those who started as teenagers. Also noted was the behavioral problems in children whose mothers used cannabis during pregnancy.

Aside from a skewed or twisted change in perception and mood, the most common short-term physical, and impact on the structure of the nervous system, include increased heart rate, increased appetite and consumption of food, lowered blood pressure, impairment of short-term and working memory,  lack of coordination, depression, panic attacks , anxiety and concentration. Users also suffer from bronchitis and brain abnormalities.

Some users experienced episodes of acute psychosis, or psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, mania that is marked by delusions, hallucinations, incoherence and distorted perceptions of reality, which usually abates after six hours, but in rare instances, heavy users may find the symptoms continuing for many days. So why are we ignoring these horrendous side effects of cannabis?

A reduced quality of life is associated with heavy cannabis use.  Society appears to have accepted the use of cannabis as a recreational drug, but when the effects of its use show such alarming after effects, is it not time that all parents educated their children and themselves about its immediate and long-term dangers. The younger you are when you start using, the higher your risk of becoming addicted to cannabis. Heavy and long-term users experience withdrawal symptoms that include:  Anxiety and restlessness,  insomnia, loss of appetite,  depression and problems with concentration and attention. Cannabis in all its forms is now readily available, and young people have no problem accessing it. It is long overdue that users be made fully aware of the dangers they are putting themselves in.

It is interesting to note that animals given marijuana by researchers have suffered structural damage to the brain.

Is smoking a joint the same as drinking alcohol?

The facts are that alcohol contains one chemical substance only; ethanol. Cannabis/marijuana and all its associates contain more than 400 known chemicals, including cancer-causing substances found in tobacco smoke. Unlike cigarette smokers, “pot” smokers tend to inhale deeply and hold the smoke as long as possible to increase the effect of the drug, worsening the damage to the lungs.  Alcohol is eliminated from the body in a few hours but THC stays in the body for weeks, possibly months, depending on the length and intensity of usage. THC damage the immune system, alcohol does not. I am not proposing using alcohol, far from it, but these are the facts about cannabis.

Some users in the research project experienced an episode of acute psychosis, or a psychiatric disorder such as schizophrenia, mania that is marked by delusions, hallucinations, incoherence and distorted perceptions of reality, which usually abates after six hours, but in rare instances, heavy users may find the symptoms continuing for many days.

A reduced quality of life is associated with heavy cannabis use.  Society may have accepted the use of cannabis as a recreational drug, but when the effects of its use show such alarming after effects, it is time that all parents educated themselves and their children about its dangers. Cannabis in all its forms is now readily available, so it behoves society that the time is long past for users to be made fully aware of the dangers they are putting themselves in.

Cannabis/Marijuana changes the structure of sperm cells, deforming them and even small amounts can cause temporary sterility in men. It can also upset a woman’s menstrual cycle. It is one of the few drugs which causes abnormal cell division which leads to severe hereditary defects. Studies also found that mothers who “use” before birth may result in their baby having mental abnormalities, reduced initiative, and lessened abilities to concentrate and pursue life goals as well as an increased risk of leukemia in their children.

These are the facts from renowned institutions and researchers for you to study, and allow you to make an informed judgment for you and your children.

Peg Hanafin, MSc. Rehab/Psych/Couns.   18/4/2017

Author of Getting more out of life, Thoughts for your journey and Never Give up.





The Golden Rule is “do unto others what you want others to do unto you” or “don’t do unto others what you don’t want done unto you”.

One of the highest forms of disrespect is deceit, especially from a trusted friend, family, business partner, or partner in life. Being disrespectful can range from being dishonest in our words and actions, to deception and cheating.  Some people never learn to be respectful of people. Some may have had a bad day or in a bad humour and take it out on others not bothering with being polite or courteous. Some think that they are superior to you and speak in disrespectful tones. They think that by being disrespectful to others it makes them look superior, when in actual fact it diminishes them in the eyes of others who treat others with respect. They are insecure within themselves so they get an ego boost from making someone else feel inferior. The problem is, they have no self belief and if ignored they must keep doing it to feel better about themselves. They lack self-confidence and self-esteem and don’t know who they are, and sometimes do not know their place in society.

One of the reasons people disrespect another is because of the inability to empathise and to know how others feel. It also shows a lack of sensitivity, understanding and empathy. Disrespectful people often don’t realise the words they speak hurt others in an injurious way. But if one has  a positive mindset they just take it as a nasty experience, rather than turn it into an emotional and personal way to respond to those stinging words. Be calm and take it that not all people have manners or dignity. Learn a lesson from it, as how not to live. Being aware of, yet completely indifferent to someone else, is the highest or lowest form of disrespect.  Everyday people look at a starving, homeless person, but think nothing of throwing out the best of food when they go home.  Pretending someone doesn’t exist, especially when they are suffering, is also an offence that causes hurt. People who are intolerant and have no patience can often be very disrespectful.  Also other people’s erroneous perceptions about another, contributes to disrespect, especially if they feel that they are better, or suffer from grandiosity. Thinking this way is already a form of disrespect in it by itself.

Sometimes people disrespect each other out of retaliation for feeling that they themselves have been disrespected first.  That can never be justified, but we do live in a world that believes that  an “eye for an eye” is more gratifying  than turning the other cheek.  It has a lot to do with ego in which it can lead one person to believe that they are being disrespected when perhaps the other didn’t mean it that way.  When someone is rude—especially if they’re making personal comments about you—makes it easy to get upset. But you always have a choice about how you react. By taking the power out of their rudeness and choosing to treat it as their problem, not your problem, will shatter their beliefs. Most rudeness is senseless, so you are better off if you can cheerfully ignore it.

If you feel like raising your voice at a rude person, don’t. Joining in the drama will only escalate the situation. Whether you are dealing with a drama queen who is doing it on purpose, or an inconsiderate idiot  whose rudeness is unintentional, you can win by your own attitude.  Keep your dignity intact by not letting your behaviour provoke you into a tantrum of your own. Rudeness is hurtful, but removing yourself from the situation is the fastest and surest way to avoid an escalation of disrespectful behaviour from the same person. Walk away, even if they are still talking to you! If they are a stranger, you will never have to deal with them again. If they are a friend or colleague, they will soon learn that being rude to you gets them exactly nowhere, and make them aware that you will not  tolerate disrespect and maybe that will prompt them to be nicer next time. Some rudeness is a simple case of bad manners. But often, a person who is rude to you does so because they feel frustrated about something—and if it is within your power to resolve their frustration, you may see them switch from rudeness to gratitude in seconds.

Some people are rude simply because they are always rude, and  know no better. Once rudeness becomes a habit, it can be difficult to shake off even if they truly want to behave better. Habitual rudeness should never be taken personally; it is just a pattern that is hard to break, especially if it is their modus operandi.  You can never make someone be polite if they choose to be rude. In fact, trying to force a change in their behaviour will often make them behave worse instead of better. Sometimes your best option is to accept or ignore that their rudeness is not your fault and let them find their own solutions. Don’t let rudeness make you respond with more of the same. The best way to defuse rude behaviour is to stay friendly, calm and helpful, giving the other person a chance to adjust their behaviour to become more tolerant and courteous.

Not everyone always deserves total respect.  Since being respectful is treated as synonymous with being nice, disrespect can be treated as  ugliness.  And yet none of us can or should respect everything and everybody equally. To do so would be to surrender our powers of discernment, of evaluating the quality of one person’s views and actions. To accuse someone of being disrespectful is itself an act of such discernment, judging one person more inappropriate than others. We can’t live by the idea of “criticize critical people” without being hypocritical ourselves. After all, in criticizing the critical we ourselves are being critical.  A different way would be to disrespect ideas and actions. A total ban on disrespect is unworkable.  We need a different approach to disrespect.  Disrespect is not the sin it is made out to be. You must earn respect and if your actions are unacceptable well then, showing your feelings might be a more honourable and ruthful way to live. But there are many ways to skin the cat!!!!!!


Getting back to being happy


“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” ~ Melody Beattie

Regardless of what problems you are going through today, you have many  choices, you just need to make them.  You can ask yourself questions like “Will I allow this to upset or annoy me?” “Will I choose to make this good or bad?” “Will I choose to stay or walk away?” “Will I choose to say no or yes?” “Will I choose to react or take the time to respond?”  We all go through pain and anxiety. We all have times in our life when we feel lost, sad, insulted, belittled, abandoned, betrayed, hurt, abused or unfairly treated. When the moment arrives when we feel we can’t put up with this feeling any longer, when we no longer feel as happy, as outgoing or as courageous as we used to be, we can stay stuck or we can choose to change. When we are feeling down and dispirited, it is very hard to get back on track, to let go of the negatives and start to smile again, even if we have little to smile about.

Stop bullying yourself and stop the self-criticism. Stop beating yourself up and find compassion and forgiveness of self. Let go of the need to think you should be feeling a lot better by now, and that it is not alright to feel sad or upset for so long. Try being kind to yourself and maybe have a little pampering. Treat yourself with consideration and understanding, instead of complaining about all the things you think is wrong in your life, and appreciate all the gifts that you might be taking for granted. Having strength, concern, empathy, courage, and resilience is a blessing during times of trials and challenges.

When we don’t make an effort to think positive thoughts we risk being depressed, feeling bad and then living a life from a dark, fearful, unhappy and a useless place. You have to make an effort yourself to confront the things you don’t feel like doing so that you can brush off the sadness, hopelessness and boost your energy. When you make the effort and join with others who are in a better frame of mind than your own, your levels of energy and interest in life will increase and you will become more upbeat. Try and think positive and encouraging thoughts that will turn your sad feelings into a more buoyant and happier way to live. It is very easy to let sad feelings turn into a habit that very quickly escalates into depression that may be hard to redeem yourself from.

Finding happiness is not always simple, but is about keeping your thoughts positive, especially when they are elusive after a downward spiral in life. Being happy is finding satisfaction, fulfillment and contentment, being cheerful, and a sense that your life is meaningful in spite of all the problems we are bound to have.  Nobody is living a life of excitement all the time, but some appear to be more fulfilled and fortunate than others. Many studies found that happiness has little to do with comfort, wealth, status or possessions, and more to do with gratitude, which is the biggest indicator of happiness.

Getting back to happy feelings comes when we accept the issues that made us feel down in spirits in the first place. When things are outside of our control we should start by examining the hard truth that sometimes changing your situation is not possible or simply not possible soon enough. You can’t get a new job in an instant, or get away from people who are negative or hurtful, who may be family or close friends. You can’t make someone else change their actions or how they treat you and you certainly can’t erase the past. But you can always change your stance on how you view them.  By always choosing an attitude that moves you forward, will help you change things from the inside out, and allows you to let go of the things over which you have no control.
Worrying about the future is the biggest enemy of the present time. Your inner peace does not depend on external conditions, so surrender your thoughts and worries to the Almighty, that will bring a change of perspective. When you spend time worrying, you are just using your imagination to create experiences that might never happen and especially ones you don’t want.
Peace of mind arrives when you can rationalise what is bothering you, and happens when you let go of the need to be anywhere but where you are, physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally at this moment. This is the only way of accepting the way things are and creates the basis for inner peace and quiet. Identify the thoughts that have been troubling you, and then imagine how life would change if you got rid of these thoughts. Would you treat yourself and others differently? How would you feel?  How would you act if the same thoughts appeared again?  What would you be able to achieve if your thoughts were optimistic? How would it change your outlook on your current life situation?

Occupy your mind with positive thoughts, and train your thoughts to see good in all things. Seeking or working on goals that will give you satisfaction, self-esteem and humming a little tune, for happy effects on the mind and body will overcome most unhappy thoughts. Only when you feel grateful for all the things in your life can you start to regain being happy again.

Peg Hanafin, MSc 11/4/2018  wp


Bad Behaviour

Bad behaviour

Children need to be taught from an early age that there is a consequence, be it positive or negative, to every action. These consequences, or correction, will teach children to make the right choices in the future. If children do not understand these consequences, or if they are not enforced, they cannot benefit from them. Some children need to realize that doing good things will result in positive consequences, while doing bad things will lead to negative ones. If your child doesn’t understand the concept of consequences, or punishment meted out if they do bad things, you may be able to get them to behave properly by pointing out the presence of what awaits them in consequences and withdrawal of privileges. These must inflict some measure of pain to gain results.

No child is an angel all of the time, but some children display bad behaviour more than others. If your child seems to misbehave more than is normal, especially if there is an audience, this could be the result of an diversity of issues. Try and determine what issues are at the root of the problem, so that bad behaviour can be  dealt with more effectively.

For some children, misbehaving and creating a scene is a way of getting attention. Children who feel that they aren’t given enough attention, or who require more attention because of other issues in the home, may turn to tantrums and other bad behaviours to force parents to pay attention to them. In some cases, children will display attention-seeking behaviour at home to demand their parents’ attention, and sometimes they will engage in disruptive behaviour in the classroom to get the teacher’s undivided attention. Children are smart and know the time to press your buttons to get the most attention.  You might be in the middle of doing something and they want your sole attention, so they start demanding your time.

While most adults have the ability to think before they act

irrationally, children do not have this skill and will act on sudden urges to get their own way. Nearly all children are impulsive, but some with disorders like ADHD, are exceedingly impulsive and impetuous. If your child doesn’t  recognise wrongdoing or why he did something he knows he will be punished for, or, when queried, replies that, “ I just wanted it now” childhood spontaneity could be the force that is propelling him toward misbehaviour. Disagreements can rise out of nowhere in  tantrums, upsets, and arguments that may seem to happen over small occurrences, so these characteristics in a child need to be handled with care.

Children are not born knowing how to behave. If children are not taught good behaviour, or encouraged by example, they may be apt to misbehave and do it over and over again. If you fail to create a discipline plan for your child, give them good example by how you speak and act, you may put him at a disadvantage when he goes to school. He will be required to be disciplined in the academic setting and, if he has no experience of doing what he is told, he will not know how to behave in a setting with other children. That will cause untold problems including bullying and even isolation.

Children whose behaviour is severely out of the normal acceptable activities, may suffer from a diagnosable behaviour-related disorder. The  Mental Health Association reports, that between 1 and 4 per cent of all children between the ages of 7 and 17 suffer from a disorder of this type. Children who suffer from a conduct disorder may be incapable of following structured rules, or who suffer from mental issues that make following rules and expectations seven more challenging for them. If you think that your child may have a problem, voice your concerns to your paediatrician or ask your school for a psychological assessment.

Peg Hanafin, MSc   24/4/2018  wp