As many of you will know I’ve always been a glass half-full type of person. I’ve always had a spring in my step (a Tigger bounce some might say) and a positive outlook in life. Our website was originally called ‘metapositive’ and many people still think that’s our actual company name!
I, like many of you I’m sure, have found the last 16 months testing my resilience and my positivity to its limits. At first I could deal with the adversity, the challenges that life was throwing me but, gradually over time, I found it harder to bounce back, harder to find as many positives.
So last week I sat myself down and gave myself a bit of a stern talking to (you know, like the one your dad or your mum used to give you as a teenager when you’d crossed a line or needed picking up and motivating because you were a bit flat). I reminded myself that I am naturally a positive little soul and part of my purpose was to spread that positivity and look for the good in the world. It was time to pick myself up, dust myself down, pick myself up by my bootstraps, and give myself a good metaphorical kick up the bum to get myself up and going again.
It’s amazing that when we talk to ourselves kindly but seriously, how motivated we can get. You see we always have CHOICE – no-one can tell us how to be, no-one or no-thing can influence us unless we allow them to. I realised that I’d been making some passive choices, choices that made me feel like things were being ‘done to me’ and so I decided it was time to make some different choices. Why? Because the passive choices I was making weren’t making me happy!
I made an agreement with myself that I’d start looking for reasons to be cheerful, and do you know what? Since I’ve made that agreement, it’s amazing how many reasons there are to be cheerful! The fog of fear seems to have dispersed, and although I can’t claim to feel great all the time, I am definitely feeling a lot better than I did. I’m making different, more active choices, and if I find myself feeling a bit down I cheer myself up by finding some reasons to be cheerful.
At Meta we’ve always talked about being careful about what you look for in life – if you look for what’s wrong, you’ll find it. If you look for what’s right, you’ll find that too. Now I’m not advocating being positive for positive’s sake, I’m just saying that actually, right now, there are lots of reasons to be cheerful.
Almost all of you reading this will be at least single-jabbed with one of the Covid vaccines and many of you will be double-jabbed. That will be leading to more and more freedoms for us all, and a release of perhaps our biggest fear in the last year and a half – getting Covid. As I write this I’m self-isolating (yes, I got ‘pinged’ from NHS Test and Trace) because my daughter has Covid. Now it’s annoying, not gonna lie, but I also have no doubt that the fact I’m double jabbed has protected me and today, a few days in, I’m still Covid negative. Now that’s a reason to be cheerful right there! As is the fact that my daughter has pretty much no symptoms even though she’s not been jabbed (she’s only 15).
Being at home I’ve got slightly addicted to watching the Olympics – wow, what incredible feats of athleticism have I been witness to. So many medals, so many brave and moving Olympic stories – having the Olympics on while you’re self-isolating? Yep, another reason to be cheerful!
I have a concert coming up with a band I found just before lockdown, who I absolutely LOVE (Another Sky… check them out, they are amazing!). I’d managed to get tickets for a tiny gig in Bristol (just 100 capacity venue), then of course Covid struck, and the concert was postponed. However, a week Friday I shall be dad dancing without a care in the world to their music, my first live concert in two years+ and yes, that’s another reason to be cheerful!
Once you start actively looking, there are so many reasons to be cheerful, so many little positive wins to each day, and in each week – you just have to start looking.
The world is a place of abundance, the world is full of lovely things all waiting to fill your fuel tanks and give you a positive energy boost. It’s easy to get caught by the fog of fear, easy to feel isolated, get a bit negative and lose your bounce-back ability like I did. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s been feeling like this. But with a bit of re-framing, a bit of conscious choosing what we look for, we can reconnect with the abundance and beauty that’s all around us.
There was an interesting piece of research done by the University of California, looking at mental health and well-being, that I overheard on Radio 4’s ‘All in the mind’ programme – about what they called ‘awe-walks’.
We all know that a walk in nature is good for you, we all found that out when we had our government prescribed ‘hour of exercise’ each day during the first lockdown. So many people in the workshops I’ve been running around resilience have talked about one of the positives to come out of this Covid experience is that they’ve reconnected with nature and found so many green spots in their local communities that they didn’t even realise were there!
The research took three groups of people. One group went about their day normally, they were given no extra tasks to do – this group was the control group. The second group got to walk for 30 minutes every day; and the third group were told to find something beautiful, something that made them go WOW on their walks (these were the ‘awe-walkers’). What the researchers were exploring was the wow effect that we get when we are in awe of something. Now, they were keen to highlight that, actually, you can find something awe-some anywhere! It didn’t mean you had to be half-way up the Himalayas, or on a rugged beach, or deep in a wild forest. They were essentially talking about noticing, on a deeper level, the beauty that was all around you. So, for example, maybe taking the time to look at a leaf, look in real detail, then hold it up to the sun see its intricate design and perfect beauty. Maybe to watch the rain as it dances upon a river, allowing yourself the time to get lost in its ripples and dancing droplets. To watch a bee as it happily hums and moves from flower to flower, buzzing its own happy buzz!
What they found was that those who went for the 30minute walk expressed a greater sense of well-being than the control group, and those that went on the ‘awe-walks’ expressed an even higher sense of well-being.
As you know, at Meta we’ve talked for many years about how important it is to fill your fuel tanks, and to me an awe-walk is an ultimate fuel tank filler.
I’ve started making most of my most of my walks ‘awe-walks’ (although not every one). The other day as I was out it started to rain, but rather than run for cover, I decided to turn my face to the sky and feel the rain gently pitter-patter onto my face. It felt like a blessing from the sky, and after all the intense heat we’ve been having recently – a blessed relief!
I didn’t worry about getting wet and I watched the rain as it fell from the sky, dancing on the pavement and creating little puddles that I could jump in and splash around in. I’m sure there were a few raised eyebrows at this 6’7” tall adult splashing in puddles, but you know what? I’m sure there were a few smiles too.
Right now we all need a bit of picking up, a bit of positivity and oomph. So, I’ve decided that now there is no better time to find happiness, no better time to choose to be happy. I saw a brilliant sign in a café in India – it was so simple and yet so profound.
“If you choose to be happy no-one can stop you” it said. And you know what? It’s absolutely right.
When we find our reasons to be cheerful, when we count our blessings, or just choose to look at the world differently – it’s amazing what we can find, it’s amazing what a difference it can make.
I’m choosing to be more positive; I’m choosing that the world is a place of abundance, I’m choosing to pick myself back up and find plenty of reasons to be cheerful.
What do you choose?
I hope today’s blog was useful to you, and I’d like to finish by saying that it’d be lovely to hear what reasons have you found to be cheerful. Send them to me direct at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to – I’d love to hear them!
Have a wonderful summer,
In peace and love – Jo xxx