Tag Archives | being thankful

REAL RELATIONSHIPS

How often do you tell the people you love that you love them? Or show them how much you care?

How often do you tell the people you work with that you appreciate what they do that makes life easier for you? Or that you enjoy aspects of their personality?

How often do you thank people for the everyday services that they give you? Or tell them when the service was more than you expected?

These questions tend to only occur to us when we lose someone we loved, yet they need to be part of our everyday lives. When someone dies, it reminds us that it could always be too late to say the things that really matter to those we know and care for.

And if we are to live joyfully, relationships we have play a part in that – by paying attention to the good things about our relationships, we both gain more joy and spread more joy.

I don’t understand why we have a cultural tendency to notice the negatives in our relationships. I do not believe that it is inherent – young children don’t do it until we teach them how to. Nor do I understand why we restrict our positive feelings about each other, rather than let our hearts be full – again, young children are extreme in their emotions, so inherently we all are too.

So how about having a month of daring to appreciate, enjoy, and voice the positive in all your relationships, and see what happens!

 

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REGAINING PERSPECTIVE

Have you ever had that one small thing that didn’t go as you wanted?  I say ‘small thing’ but of course, I mean that thing that becomes the only thing that happened that day!!  Somehow, no matter how much goes right in a day, the one thing that doesn’t is the one that takes over your thoughts, your view of yourself and others, and your mood.  We know, logically, that it is a minor part of our life and that we will probably forget it eventually, but emotionally, it fills our world.

So how do we regain our perspective when something catches us like this?

The first task is to distract ourselves.  Our thoughts are busy reinforcing that we are wrong, or were wronged, and finding more and more reasons for being upset or angry, so we need to get out of the spiral.  What makes you forget everything else that is going on?  Is it music, a jigsaw, a good film, a hobby you love, playing with your children?  We need a repertoire of these distractions to call on when this happens, so as to create a space that allows our mind to begin to regain perspective.

Secondly, we need to recognise that the reason something can take over our world like this is that it is linked to something important to us emotionally: maybe someone made you feel small, or stupid, and that hurts; or you made a mistake, and you always want to get things right.  There are lots of possibilities, but most times it does link into some breach of our core values in some way.  So, what was it about the event that upset or angered you?  Now consciously find at least ten counter-examples of when this core value was supported: people liked what you did; you were thoughtful, etc.  This is to remind yourself that your world really isn’t not working all the time!!

Thirdly, we need to forgive.  If others were at fault, see them as children who don’t know any better and let it go.  If you were at fault, remember you are only human, and if you got it right every time, you would be divine!!

By now, you will be beginning to regain perspective, so take a breath, and reward yourself with a treat!  You’ve just put yourself through the mill and started working to put yourself together again, so you need a little pampering!  Be kind to yourself, as you would to a friend who had been through the same thing.

Finally, it’s important to do what you can to avoid a similar battering in the future, so ask yourself: ‘What will I do differently in this sort of situation in the future?’  And, for a moment, see yourself using the alternative approach.

Above all, remember:  most of the time, your life works pretty well!

 

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THE IMPORTANCE OF FRIENDSHIP

I am feeling proud of myself this year!  So far, I have arranged to spend time with five friends that I haven’t seen for ages – well over a year.  It is so easy to let friendships drift in our busy lives, and my friends are very tolerant – they stay friends even through the periods of non-contact.

One of my dear friends died before Christmas, and I hadn’t seen her for about five years, although we had talked on the phone – too much hassle to arrange to go and visit, and now it’s too late.  I vowed to make sure that much of a gap didn’t happen with any other friends, looked at who I hadn’t seen for ages, and started planning.

These people have shared chunks of my life, often been vital in lifting my spirits, and loved me at my best and my worst.  They deserve a little effort on my part!  And there is great pleasure for me in re-connecting with them, catching up, sharing our stories.  Friends matter and cannot be taken for granted.

Who have you drifted away from?  Who would you enjoy seeing again?  Do find a little time to arrange to meet up with them – it’s worth it.

 

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VALIDATING OTHERS

We are very prone to criticism – of ourselves and of others. I do not believe that this is natural, but learnt. Little children do not look for what’s wrong, they look for what’s right, and only when we have taught them to, do they begin the process of finding fault in things…

We forget how powerfully criticism operates in our lives, and how much that undermines our positive qualities, until we experience something that does the opposite – that validates a positive in ourselves.

How about validating your family this evening, telling them each something you love about them?

And what about your work colleagues – can you do the same? It will only take a few moments…

And if you feel really adventurous, how about the checkout person at the supermarket, the barman, the postman, that stranger in the street who looks happy – or sad. Remember, even if you don’t seem to have had a positive effect, you may have sown some useful seeds…

And before I finish, just let me remind you that you too are special – the way you smile, the care you take with some aspects of what you do, the way you are a friend to others. Give yourself a validation too – you deserve it!

 

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POSITIVE NEWS

Every 2 months I receive a newspaper called Positive News. In it, there is news about peace initiatives, ecological breakthroughs and good practice, ethical businesses – the opposite of what is generally called news!

I find that it helps me to keep the depressing ‘reality’ in perspective, and reminds me that it is not that there is nothing good going on in the world, but that we have forgotten how, as a culture to delight in the good news, because we mostly don’t hear about it.

Once upon a time, news was community-based. The village or small town would know primarily what was happening in its own locality. Then, there would be the mixture of good news and bad, and people would both delight in the good and feel sad or cross about the bad. This type of communication still exists in some places, as well as the global awareness. For example, when my partner left, several people in the village spoke sympathetically of my situation to me. And when I sold my house very quickly and easily, several people made the effort to stop me and congratulate me.

This balanced awareness of what’s happening is useful to all of us, and it is not beyond our reach. Within the worlds we work in, we can ensure that both good news and bad is communicated and reacted to. I don’t think that we need to work on the spreading of bad news – that seems to be endemic! So let’s balance it, by actively promoting the good news – celebrating personal and organisational successes, and reminding ourselves that much of life and much of human behaviour is good news!

 

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THE ‘NOT ENOUGH’ SYNDROME

I have had a lovely week this week: I have spent time with friends that I love and haven’t seen for a while, I have been working with people I really enjoy working with, and I have seen a wonderful art exhibition as a special treat. There are also all the everyday miracles: my cat is now well, the vegetables from my garden are delicious, the sun has warmed me, the rain has watered my garden for me, and lots of things have made me laugh. And this is an ordinary week, which also had some not so good moments.

Like all of us, I can look at this week in a lot of different ways, depending on my mood, and the things that have affected me most. Yet culturally, we are trained to notice more of the everyday lacks and irritations, rather than the delights and abundances. So it takes a conscious effort to choose to view our world and our lives as abundant and pleasurable.

When I switch on my tv, I am shown all the things I don’t have, and what is wrong with others and myself, how we are all not good enough, how we all don’t have enough. When I ask people how they are, they tend to tell me the things that are not right, with them or the world. It is the ‘not enough’ syndrome gone mad! Not done enough work, not got enough money, not been kind enough to others ( or ourselves!), not good enough at what I do – the list goes on and on.

And yes, there are many areas where we are not as good as we might be, where the world is not as good as it might be, where we feel lacks, in ourselves, in others, in the world. Yet there are also many moments of abundance, when we are just lovely, when others are kind and delightful, when the world shows its wonder rather than its horror.

When we pay attention to what’s wrong or lacking, we make ourselves feel bad, and risk missing the opportunities for miracles to occur. It doesn’t help us to live our lives well, because it sends us back into the sort of mood that perpetuates the feeling of lack and wrongness.

This is not about wearing rose-tinted spectacles – we don’t have to pretend that everything is rosy, and nothing is wrong. We can recognise the bad bits, without getting caught by them. If we are going to get caught on something, let’s get caught on the good bits! They will help us keep a good frame of mind, so we can deal with the bad bits more constructively, and they will remind us to keep the bad bits in perspective.

Why not join me for a few days in choosing to notice the gifts of your life, the everyday miracles that occur. We may not need to change the world, just view it differently!

 

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VITALITY

The sun is shining this morning as I write this, and if I were a child, I would know that it was a wonderful day.

Yet as an adult, my view of the moment is coloured by all the other things I am told about how the world is working, through the news, magazines etc. so rather than celebrate the glorious day, I can easily get caught up in the difficulties and doom and gloom and forget to just live today.

Who has it right??

It seems that we normally need a life threatening event to wake us up to the beauty of the moment by moment of life, but there is no rule that I know of that says that we have to wait for something traumatic to be able to really appreciate and delight in being alive.

When I was little, I went to Sunday school, and I can still remember being told that I should count my blessings each day. What a lovely concept! And over the years, I have come to understand how useful that can be. We always have a choice: to moan about all the things that are wring, for us personally and in the world in general, or to count our blessings. Which makes me feel better? Which makes me more able to handle whatever comes my way? The answer seems so obvious!

I went to see Bruce Springsteen perform this week. I had a bad back, and could have made it worse by standing in a stadium with thousands of others. But I knew better. I knew that there are few better cures for feeling miserable than to go and be inspired by the sheer joie de vivre of this performer! For three hours, I danced, sung and laughed with delight, as he took us on a journey of celebrating being alive.

As Bruce would say: ‘ How can we get this thing started? Let’s have a party!’ So come on, count your blessings and celebrate being alive!

Homework

  1. Stop for a moment and count your blessings today
  2. Find four things to delight in today
  3. Give yourself a present today
  4. Do this every day for a month, no matter what is going on in your life

 

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THE TROUBLE WITH MONEY

Do you ever worry about not having enough money?  For living, for that holiday, for retirement ……  I know, I can sometimes get caught in the scarcity fears – by the way, if you don’t, please let us know your “secret”?!!

Yet I know that when I think poor, I am poor, and when I think abundance, I notice abundance.  Does this make any sense to you?

We are taught to regard money as the means of being wealthy in our culture, and also to always feel as if we don’t have enough.

Yet we live in an abundant world, where happiness comes from snowdrops flowering, not from money in the bank.  Snowdrops herald the arrival of Spring, first signs of new growth. Money in the bank causes us anxiety, as interest rates go down and it loses value even when we have it.

What would happen if we decided to be rich and enjoy the abundance of the world, instead of worrying about money?  Maybe then it would be put back into perspective.  It’s one of many forms of energy that we can share in.  Perhaps if we paid attention to some of the others, we would reduce the fear, and allow the money we need to come our way!

Just as the fear of losing a relationship can often be enough to become a self-fulfilling prophecy, perhaps the fear of not having enough money is the reason why so many of us seem to not have enough!

Why not experiment with putting money worries to one side for a month and instead enjoy the abundance of new growth in Spring, laughter with friends and the exuberance of children?

Homework :

  1. Buy yourself a small present to make you smile, no matter how poor you feel this month.
  2. Notice what makes you happy that doesn’t require money.
  3. Bless what money you do have and then give a little of it away!

 

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Are You Spiritually Intelligent?

It sounds so high and mighty, doesn’t it – spiritual intelligence..  I know that when I first came across the phrase, I thought that it would be something to do with being saintly and I knew that I would never match up!

Yet actually, it is more to do with being in touch with your heart and living your life to the full. Characteristics of those who have developed their spiritual intelligence are such things as enthusiasm, energy, cheerfulness, persistence, peacefulness and compassion. They are not a million miles away from being a reasonable human being who hasn’t lost all their delightful childlike attributes.

My mother-in law was a prime example of this, although she wouldn’t claim it for herself. Whatever happened, her attitude was ‘oh well, I expect it will work out for the best’ and her only concern was that no-one should be hurt by it. At 82, she delighted in riding her bicycle, going to her clubs, being in her garden, watching the snooker on tv and receiving presents on her birthday – see what I mean about childlike?

We all have these attributes in us – we were born with them. So how are you demonstrating your spiritual intelligence?

Homework

  1. Find 3 things each day to be grateful for
  2. Enjoy and use your sense of humour
  3. Find 5 minutes to be peacefully quiet for the next few weeks

 

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Changing Your Habitual Thinking

Most of us have learnt to think in limiting or negative ways. We consider problems rather than solutions, and notice what’s wrong rather than what’s right.  We do this without even realising it, and it is well engrained as a habit.

So to break it, we need to practice doing something different with our brains: noticing what’s right.

There are simple and enjoyable ways of undertaking this practice. Here are a couple for you to play with.

HOMEWORK

  1. Spend a few minutes thinking about the good points about your family, your work, and being the age you are. List at least ten good points for each category.
  2. Now think of one way you could add another point to each list by taking some action.
  3. And finally, think of a simple way you could show your appreciation for the gifts these categories bring into your life.
  4. Now decide to catch someone doing it right – your partner, child, friend or work colleague. Notice something they do which pleases you and tell them so.

 

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