Cherish the small stuff

Today’s guest post is from my husband Adrian. He is not a blogger (yet … I am working on him! ;) ) As I mentioned in many of my posts, Adrian is a huge inspiration for me. He is one of those people that ‘walks the talk.’

I have often found I get more pleasure from the small things in life.  The obvious clichés like watching a sunset, or enjoying a good meal, for example. I have also become to believe there is a benefit to this. At times when I have bought an expensive purchase, I have done so with high expectations, much higher than small purchases. This higher expectation leads to a greater chance of disappointment.  This has been demonstrated often in customer car surveys. The small, cheap cars often rank higher than the large, luxurious and expensive models. The magazines conducting these surveys, in their conclusions, often say this can be attributed to the fact that if you buy a car that promises more than you will obviously expect more. If the cheap car has a few rattles, so what? It’s not cost you much if the expensive one has similar rattles; you start to question where the differences are between the cars, for the extra expense.

With this in mind, I have come to the opinion that downsizing your life, as my wife and I have, and enjoying the simple things, can be even more rewarding than working more in order to earn more, so as to be able to buy more. Obviously, I’m not suggesting this will be the case for everyone, but it’s worth thinking about as it may be an option you haven’t explored that could bring you more contentment and happiness in your life.

So maybe give it some thought. If the things that make you truly happy are the small things, pursue them. You may find your life changes for the better, spiritually and financially.

Simple things that bring me pleasure

A good drill machine needs the best drill bits

Getting a buzz when I see squirrels. Now, this may sound like a strange one but, anyone who delights in observing an animal that appeals to them can probably relate to this. I have often tried to describe why I enjoy spotting them, I think it has to be something about my perceiving their behavior and movements as being playful and living in the moment.

Eating Italian style pizza. I wouldn’t say I LOVE  bread, or cheese, or tomatoes, or basil but, put these together and create a pizza and I find the smell and taste absolutely divine!

The sense of freedom that comes from owning an old car. No worrying if gets scratched, second hand (cheaper) parts available, less chance of it getting stolen, and of course less expensive to buy than a new one.

What small things in life bring you pleasure?

Visualisation: The Art of Mental Rehearsal

I am delighted to welcome today’s guest post from Ben Lumley, a blogger from the UK who writes about self development at 6aliens.com. You can connect with Ben on Twitter @benlumley6 or if you liked this article then why not subscribe to his RSS Feed?

The brain is a truly powerful thing to behold. Able to process billions of pieces of information, it makes the most sophisticated modern day computers look like a 1980 Casio calculator watch.

But many of us have trouble shutting of the negativity in our brains that leads to nerves and apprehension.

The self-doubt that resides inside us can have a detrimental effect on us at the most crucial of times. Imagine you are about to give a big presentation at work. The big important people will be there so you’re obviously keen to impress.

You’ve got your slides ready and you’ve practiced, but you’re still nervous and the feeling of “I hope I don’t stuff this up” is building inside of you. As you start, you begin to forget your slide order and you get your speech a bit muddled up. If only the ground would open up and swallow you.

This is a natural human response to a pressurised situation and whether you can relate to that experience directly or indirectly, you will know what that feeling is like. As the nerves build, your brain seems to shut down and you forget the information that you needed to know.

It’s not that you’re thick or stupid it’s simply that your brain is responding to a stressful situation by going in to survival mode. One way to combat this is a technique known as visualisation.

What is visualisation?

Visualisation is a technique that allows you to mentally rehearse something in your mind before you do it. It allows you to calmly and rationally go through the task you need to perform in fine detail exactly the way you want to.

It works by essentially tricking your brain into thinking that it has already experienced an event. You see your brain has real trouble distinguishing between reality and imagination which is why if you stress and worry about something then it usually turns out bad.

For example if your partner sends you a message saying that you need to talk, what do you do? Well if that’s all the message says, most of us go into panic mode assuming the worst and trying to think of all the possible things you could have done wrong.

This is natural because maybe in the past you’ve had messages like this that have resulted in a relationship ending. The thing is; your partner might want to talk to you about anything. What you’re having for dinner that night, if you want to go to a party on Saturday night, or what you’re going to watching on TV that night. But due to a past experience your brain instantly assumed the worse.

What visualisation does is allows you to experience something in your imagination in a calm and relaxed manner before you actually experience the event. By doing this, providing that you imagine it going really well, your brain doesn’t switch into panic mode expecting the worst because it thinks that you’ve already been here and last time it went really well. For me, it’s one of the best brain hacks around.

How it’s done?

What I’m going to do is take you through a basic visualisation exercise that can be adapted to pretty much any situation. It’s best done in a quiet and calm environment. It’s also best to sit to do the exercise, as if you’re laying down you may end up falling asleep half way through – it’s quite relaxing you see.

Is everyone sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

Find a comfy place to sit. No need to worry about sitting in a particular position with one leg behind your head and one arm in the air. Just find a position that’s comfortable to you and remember to be mindful of your posture. Close your eyes and start by taking some calming deep breaths. Try to keep your eyes closed throughout the whole exercise.

Stretch

So that you can visualise your situation properly you need to be really physically relaxed. To do this; gently stretch some of the muscles in your body starting from your head working your way down to your toes. Don’t be afraid to stretch out your arms and legs at this point. Make sure after you stretch each body part that you allow it to relax before you move on to the next one.

Physically Relax

To really chill you out physically try to imagine a warm glowing light in the centre of your body. Allow this light to slowly grow and work through your whole body, relaxing you more and more as it travels through you. By the time you’ve done this, you’ll be relaxed and comfortable.

Mentally Calm

Before you can start to visualise, it helps to be mentally relaxed as well as physically. Take a moment to remember a time when you felt happy and successful. Try to bring yourself totally back to that memory. What did it feel like? What sights, sounds and smells were there? Spend a few minutes savouring that moment.

Rehearse

So far you’ve been doing things to help you become more relaxed, now the really practical bit. Imagine yourself in the situation you want to visualise. Imagine yourself calmly and confidently preparing for it beforehand. You walk in and get yourself ready. You feel confident and relaxed the whole time.

Today is your day and you’re going to be amazing. Imagine you in that situation giving it your absolute best, everything going exactly as you wanted it to. Imagine walking away afterwards with the biggest smile and feeling of satisfaction ever!

Slowly and gently bring yourself back awake, taking your time not to rush as this can leave you feeling lightheaded and cause you to tense up again.

And that’s it.

If you give this exercise a go you’ll notice that you finish it feeling really chilled out and relaxed. You can use this exercise just to calm you down and chill you out after a tough day.

You’ll be a lot calmer and more mentally prepared for what lies ahead as after you do some visualisation, the more relaxed you’ll become and the more you will feel confident about the situation that you need to face.

This is a great exercise to have a go at and I urge everyone reading this to have a try and let Jen know what you think in the comments.

So how’d you get on?

Success

This is a special post about Success, which I have written to celebrate the launch of the ultra-exciting Success Ebook by the one and only Jonny Gibaud of The Life Thing. He’s assembled 30 global bloggers to talk about Success: “What it is” and “How do you achieve it?” I am truly excited and honoured to be one of those bloggers. Don’t delay, step this way now to download your copy!

What comes to mind when you think about the word success? When Jonny asked me to write a post on this topic, I thought long and hard about success and what it means to me. And if I’m honest, I had some pretty outdated and interesting ideas rattling around my brain about what success is! Fast cars, mansions, and lots of money were the first things that came to mind. Now these are all well and good and I certainly wouldn’t refuse them if they came my way :) but if I look deeply within myself, that isn’t my idea of success.

My idea of success

My idea of success, is to be the person I want to be and live how I want to live. For me the person I want to be is adventurous, living life to the full, generous, authentic and kind. I want to live life to the full and dare to follow my dreams!

Be successful (not do successful!)

As I talked about in Who will you be in 2010? us humans often get things topsy turvy. We think by having and doing more, we will be who we want to be. For example, that we will make lots of money, find the person of our dreams and then we will BE successful. However the reality (whether we like it or not) is the other way around. We all know people who think the next bonus, or the new house or the new partner will make them happy … only to forever be chasing their tail!

You are successful right now!

YES! That’s right! Right now. There really is nowhere to get to. :)

Personal development is awesome and my passion, however we have to be careful not to be looking at ourselves as something to improve. I think this can be one of the biggest pitfalls in this field. We are perfect, whole and complete already. There is just more awesomeness to unleash! :)

What’s your definition of success?

What is your success style?

If you want to achieve something, what is your default way of going about it it? And is it usually successful? By getting clear about how you tick in this area, you can honestly assess your strengths and weaknesses. By doing that you can maximise your strengths, improve your weaknesses and move forward.

What’s your default style?

We all have different ways of going for the things we want in life. For example, if I’m completely honest my default way to is usually to dive straight in, really go for it, excited and enthusiasm all the way. I am like a rocket launcher! However, the story further down the line is often very different. I have a tendency to lose interest or burn out.

What are your strengths?

I really love my enthusiasm! It is something that comes very easily if I am genuinely inspired by something. I am a great person to have round to get a project going. What are your positive attributes in this area? If you find it hard to think of them, ask a friend. If this is the case, you may be taking your strengths for granted!

What are your weaknesses?

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, one of my weaknesses in regards to achieving my goals is lacking the commitment and persistency to follow things though in the long haul. Knowing this is powerful for me. I am working on this and finding ways to balance this tendency.

Where are the gaps?

Be completely honest with yourself, what could you do to improve your success style? I know now taking the ‘slow and steady’ approach makes a big difference to me. Persistence and commitment, mixed with a relaxed and steady approach is making all the difference in achieving my current goal to create a successful coaching business.

Save time

There is a lot of great advice out there, but there are only so many hours in the day. I know I don’t need more advice about how to be excited or passionate. I don’t mean that arrogantly and of course we can all do with a dose of inspiration at times. However from knowing how I tick in this area, I know what makes the most difference to me and can save time and head for my own priority area.

You are your own best teacher

One of the things I realised recently is that it is important to know yourself. It helps you be clear what you are about in all areas of your life. There are great people who have achieved things that you may want to achieve. Advice from someone who has done what you want to do is some of the best advice you can take. However, ultimately you are your own best teacher.

I’d love to hear what your style is? What’s great about it? and what you can improve?

The Wisdom of Gandhi

Recently I watched the film ‘Gandhi’, a biographical film of the life of Mahatma Gandhi. Using non-violent resistance Ghandi led the people of India to independence from British Colonial rule.

This is a beautiful film, which gives an insight into how a quiet lawyer ended up being such an inspirational and courageous leader to a whole nation. What really struck me about Gandhi was the simplicity and purity of the principles that he spoke of and lived his life by. These principles are as applicable and needed in today’s world as they were in India during Gandhi’s lifetime. They include:

  • Truth
  • Nonviolence
  • Simplicity
  • Faith

He saw prejudice and discrimination happening around him, firstly in South Africa and then in India when he returned there. He never pretended these things were not happening or buried his head in the sand. He was brave and honest as well as gentle and peaceful. He saw injustice and knew that it was wrong but he also knew that nothing is achieved by retaliating and inflicting the same on another. He knew truth wins in the end, but also that it was necessary to resist the temptation to resort to the same methods as those hurting him. He also had an amazing insight into human psychology. He knew by judging others actions was to deny the fact that we are all capable of doing bad things. Through non-violent non co-operation he shone a light upon the atrocities inflicted upon him and his people and he also described this as a way to teach his aggressors that there is a better way. He wasn’t passive or weak and never advocated that others were. He advocated that evil is always resisted, in a non-violent way. He had amazing faith that truth would win in the end, and it did.

If you haven’t seen this film, I really recommend that you do. It really made me think of the difference applying these principles would make to my own life and the world in general. Gandhi showed that through gentleness, simplicity and truth how we live and our impact on others can be transformed beyond what we might think is possible. I will leave you with some inspiration from the man himself:

“Gentleness, self-sacrifice and generosity are the exclusive possession of no one race or religion.”

“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”

“Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress.”

“Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.”

Who will you BE in 2010?

“Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then do what you love to do, in order to have what you want.” Margaret Young

Who are you going to BE this year?

As the quote points out, we often get things topsy turvy. We often follow the path: have – do – be. We work out what we think we need to HAVE (more time, money, skills) and need to DO, to BE who we want to be. For example, I sometimes think that if I have more time and work harder, my coaching business and website will be more successful and I will BE happy.

However we all know that this approach doesn’t really work. Although we convince ourselves that more DOING will lead us to who we want to BE, how many times have we been proven wrong? How many times have we thought, when my business is doing really well, when I have 100 new subscribers, live in a new place or meet a fantastic partner… I will be happy? And how many times have a new set of problems stopped us in our tracks and stopped us from BEING who we really want to be, despite the fact that we HAVE those things?

The way the process actually works is:

BE – DO – HAVE

It’s all about who we are BEING.

A shortcut

A quick way to decide who you want to be, is to look at what you want to have and think about who you would need to BE, to have that. For example, if you want to be promoted, who do you need to BE to get that promotion? Enthusiastic? Motivated? Inspiring? Another way to look at it is, who would you BE, once you got that promotion? Imagine how you want to behave, walk, talk and BE in that role and BE that way NOW.

100% Responsibility

A powerful point about living our lives form a place of beingness rather than doingness, is that it leaves you 100% in the driving seat of your experience. You don’t have to wait for other people to change, or to get the job of your dreams, to be who you want to be today.

Practice

It can take some practice, to learn how to be the way you want to be, on a consistent basis, but consider that you are always BEING a certain way, whether you are conscious of it or not. Rather than choosing your default ways of being (Unhappy? Happy? Sarcastic? Bubbly? Depressed?) you have a choice.

You can be ANY way you want to be

One of the things I know about myself is that I am often ‘nice’ on default. Now there is nothing wrong with that per se, and I’m not advocating not being nice, but sometimes I feel like I have no other choice but to be ‘nice’, which doesn’t always serve myself or others. Sometimes what’s called for, is to be assertive,  authentic, or just another way of being. I am learning to be the way I want to be in this area. The choices are infinite. Find ways of being that are authentically inspiring for you.

There is nowhere to get to

This is a dichotomy, as in our physical, linear world, there is tomorrow and we have goals we are working towards. However scientists have proven that time is all illusion. Being who we want to be NOW is all there is to do, in each moment of now.

It’s already so

The powerful thing about beingness, is that it is possible to be anything we wish, right now in this moment. Language is so powerful. If you say “I will be happy when XXXX” that is what you will get … your happiness out there in  the future, someday, dependant on something happening to be happy. A powerful affirmation is always in the present moment e.g.: “I am happy and content.”

Then, whatever comes our way shouldn’t matter, we are already the way we want to be. Conversely, the was the universe works is that we attract what we want when we are in alignment with who we really are.

Remind yourself

I find it useful to have reminders for myself about who I want to be (in a notebook that I carry around with me, on my noticeboard at home). In the day to day, it can be easy to forget or get caught up in external events.

2010

As I mentioned, beingness is fluid and limitless and we do have a choice in each moment, of who we want to be. It is also powerful to have a focus for the year, which is my reason for writing this post. This year, the way of being that really appeals to me is gratitude.

Who are you committed to being this year?

If you enjoyed this post, please share it. :)

The Power of “No”

What do you think when you hear the word “No”?

For me there are some negative associations. If I’m honest, “Yes” seems like the cooler of the pair. “Yes” to me, means progress, possibilities and agreement. “No” can mean barriers, difficulty and dead-ends. These are not my fully considered reactions, but just the first things that come to mind when I think of these two words. What are your reactions?

Exercise
Write down (or think about) three words you associate with “Yes” and “No”. Try and be honest and write down the first words that come into your head.

Making friends with “No”
I’ve had an interesting relationship with “no”. I have found “No” difficult to use at times. Not always. Some situations, I find easier than others. As I mentioned in last week’s post, I am a recovering “people pleaser”. There was a time in my life, where I would find it really difficult to say “No” when someone would ask me to do something, even if it didn’t fit in with my life. The consequence of this, that was that I ended up being overloaded, busy all the time and not in control of my life. Ultimately I didn’t end up helping anyone as I was spreading myself so thinly.

Why is “No” the hardest word?
Why is “No” so difficult for some of us to say? I know for me, the honest reaction is that I worried that people wouldn’t like me if I didn’t help them. On a level, I made saying “No”, mean that I was mean, unhelpful, selfish. Around the time I mentioned above, I realized this really isn’t a helpful way to be. Ultimately it wasn’t authentic, it was all about gaining approval, and heck, why was I even doing that? What was so wrong with me, that I had to gain peoples approval this way? After some soul searching, I realised: actually nothing! I’m pretty cool ;) I just needed to start realising that myself and stop looking to others for approval!

The Power of “No”
Guess what? People still like you when you say “No”. Actually, what I have found is that if you are straight forward and honest, saying “No” to a request is really not an issue. I think most sane people, realise that when they ask something of someone, there are basically two possible answers and one of them might be “No”. Sure, sometimes, if people say “No” to you, it can be disappointing but ultimately I know I respect people who have clear boundaries and are able to say “No” as well as “Yes”. Others respect your boundaries, when you respect your boundaries. Sometimes when people say “Yes” to everything that is asked of them, it can leave you wondering if they really want to do what you are asking of them, or if they just feel obligated or unable to say “No” which is never a good place to be!

Helpful tools
I still find it difficult sometimes, but I find that using “No” is like doing exercise. It used to be very hard, and sometimes I would have the thought to say “No” and it just seemed too difficult to do! Gradually, I am building my “No” muscle and learning to trust myself, and if my gut says “No”, to learn to listen to that message. If you sometimes find this difficult and end up saying “Yes” to something when you mean “No”, it’s not the end of the world. Go back and find that person and explain you made a mistake and that you actually can’t help on this occasion. I know for me, sometimes I find it difficult to say “No” on the spot, but another thing I have found useful, is if you hear a request coming your way, give yourself some time to consider it. Let the person know you are considering it, but need to check your schedule, and that you will get back to them. This gives you the time to see if what is being asked of you, works for you too.

You are the architect of your experience
Life is too short to be doing things because we think we “should” be doing them. I am really not talking about being selfish, or not helping other people. That is not what this is about at all. But this is YOUR life, and if you want your life to be the way you want it, you need some boundaries and the ability to decline experiences, as well as accept them. The more we get in touch with who we really are and our mission here on this planet, the clearer what we do and don’t want to do, becomes. Ultimately there are only so many hours in the day and the ability to say “No” helps us to be the architect of our experience and leaves room to say “Yes” to more of the things we want to do and experience.

What are your experiences with “No?”

If you enjoyed this article, please pass it on. :)

33 Ways To Simplify Your Life

1. Spend less money
2. Create a food shopping list each week
3. Cut your gym membership and exercise outside
4. Be picky about what you read
5. Eat more vegetarian food
6. Say “No” more
7. Stop worrying about what other people think
8. Write more
9. Declutter regularly
10. Pass on what you don’t need or use
11. Meditate
12. Spend time alone
13. Do work you love or start working out what that might be
14. Check your email once a day
15. Associate with positive people
16. Take a digital sabattical
17. Stop doing unnecessary tasks
18. Be grateful
19. Take action
20. Be honest with yourself and others
21. Make the most of every day
22. Eliminate the unnecessary
23. Be patient
24. Stop listening to others opinions and listen to your own
25. Spend more time in nature
26. Spend more time “being” and less time doing
27. Cultivate a meaningful and intimate relationship with your inner self
28. Be willing to be true to yourself even if that means upsetting the status quo
29. Walk more
30. Embrace your inner hermit
31. Hang out with positive people
32. Ditch people that try and pull you down
33. Breathe

 

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