Tag Archives | emotional intelligence


Feeling valued for the work you do is a foundation for wanting to give of your best. We all respond to being recognised for what we have done, what we contribute.

Yet for many of us, feeling valued is a rare commodity. What tends to get noticed is what we haven’t done or any mistakes we make. After all, if the boss asks us to go and see him or her, few of us are likely to think that they want to acknowledge our good work – we are more likely to worry about what they might say we have done wrong.

So how do we increase the likelihood of being valued for our work and our attitude? We would suggest that you start to value others more: those colleagues you can depend on to do what they said they’d do; that manager who trusts you to just get on with your work without interfering; that person who always makes you smile with their cheerful attitude; that more experienced team member who will explain something to you that you haven’t come across before; the one who speaks up in a meeting, voicing something you were thinking but didn’t want to say.

There are hundreds of everyday examples where someone else makes some form of positive difference to your day. By overtly recognising it, and thanking them for how they’ve contributed to making your day go better, you not only help to make them feel valued, you also are setting an example of valuing others that becomes infectious. By drawing attention to what someone does that is right, you are encouraging them to notice the same thing with others, including you!

I remember being asked by a senior manager to undertake some executive coaching with two of his team. He told me that they were great people to have in the team, and he wanted to encourage them to develop further because they would both be senior managers one day.

When I started to work with them, I realised that they had no idea he thought they were good at their job. In fact, both of them thought they were being coached because there was something lacking in their work or performance – It was a perfect example of not telling people that you saw them as valued members of the team.

I asked them how they felt about him as a manager and they both said that he was a really good manager, and they liked working with him. I suggested that they found an opportunity to tell him that they valued the way he managed them and had learnt a lot from hm. At their next coaching sessions, they both said that they had done what I suggested, and that he had been both surprised and pleased when they had said it. Moreover, he had told them both that he in turn appreciated the way they worked, and that was why they were being given the coaching – a great turn-around for both sides.

So why not try it out yourself? Go and find three people you work with today and tell them what they do that makes a difference to you. Why not make showing someone else that you value and appreciate them one of the daily things to do on your to-do list? There’s a great sense of well being to be had when you genuinely thank someone or let them know that they’ve made a difference to you. And interestingly, just by that subtle act of gratitude, you’ll be spreading that feeling of well being around your team and organisation too.

Have a wonderful month everyone!
In peace,
Di & Jo xx

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We have an opportunity, every year, to make some fresh choices. We can go back to work and resume where we left off, or we can decide to make it work better for ourselves. Those few days away from our normal routines give us a chance to notice how well or poorly those routines work for us. Stepping away for a little while always gives us more perspective. So before you just fall back into old habits, stop and assess.

Firstly, notice what really works for you, what allows you to be at your best. Do you prefer working to a deadline or being prepared and having things sorted in advance? Do you function better at a particular time of day? Do you have some meetings that really feel productive, and what makes them different? We can learn from our own preferences and find ways to implement them more often.

For example, if the meetings that work for you are shorter, or have less people involved, maybe you can transfer that awareness to other meetings and suggest that they are shorter, or that they involve less people.

Then look at what puts you in a bad mood or makes you irritable. The question is less about what it is than how you can make it a bit better. Maybe you need to take a few more 5-minute breaks, to recover yourself before you tackle the next task. Or maybe you need to spend a bit of time just improving your relationship with a colleague, so it is less transactional and impersonal. Just getting to know each other a bit more can change a relationship and help you to have fewer misunderstandings.

Maybe you need to find a quiet space where you can complete difficult tasks in peace, or talk things through with a colleague to clarify your thinking. No matter what we are doing, we can all find small ways to improve the way we work, so we can feel better about it.

And what’s one way you can contribute to making work feel better for someone else? Can you encourage or overtly appreciate someone more often? Can you give someone your attention for a little while when they ask for it? Making life feel better for someone else also makes us feel better – it’s always good to treat someone else more kindly, and helps our own spirits.

And all those small improvements can be made at home too. You could indulge in things that delight you in your life a little more often. You could go home a little earlier more often, and spend time with the children or your partner. You could appreciate the things that friends and family do for you that you normally take for granted.

If we all made a few slight improvements to our own lives, it would make a big difference to all of us: so much better than big resolutions that we don’t maintain, don’t you think?

So make a fresh choice for 2017, and help to make the world a better place.

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I overheard a conversation on the bus the other day, where someone was talking about how she had been to see her child’s teacher, to ask her to help with some minor bullying that had been going on. She had clearly handled it well, with both politeness and firmness – a lovely example of being grown-up – and she had achieved the outcome she wanted. Her finals sentence was: ‘If only I could be like that with my boss!’ and that left me wondering why not as well?

Somehow we have generally learnt to behave more like children than grown-ups at work: there are goody-goodies, shirkers, those who hide at the back of the class, little cliques, the popular ones – it sometimes looks and sounds more like a school playground than a workplace! I know, I am exaggerating, but you know what I mean.. And we give away our control to ‘them’ – some ill-defined stereotypical people in authority, the ‘bosses’ – and then moan about our lack of autonomy.

I think this happens because of the history of the workplace: once upon a time it was generally true that bosses ram the place by command and control, and treated workers as if they were unreliable, unruly children with no intelligence or maturity. But I believe the story has changed, and there is more recognition of the importance of working together to produce results, and of the need for people to feel empowered to achieve that.

However we all then have to choose to be empowered for it to work – no-one can give us empowerment, we have to choose to behave in that way – and we are habituated to being victims of circumstance.

So how do we become more empowered? We have to take responsibility for our own actions and attitudes. If we know that we have done the best we can, we stand by that: if we know we have made a mistake, we own up, apologise, make it right. We recognise if we’re not in the mood for something we have to do, and do something to change that mood. We admit if we need help, and ask for it. And we treat others as we wish to be treated, even if they don’t reciprocate.

And if you are one of those ‘bosses’, then you need to encourage your team members to adopt the behaviours I’ve listed. Notice and acknowledge when they are behaving in a grown-up way. Encourage them to show initiative, to be proud of what they achieve, and to feel Ok about admitting to something that isn’t so good, even if it doesn’t always work out. And don’t fall into the ‘boss’ trap: remember to adopt empowered and empowering attitudes and behaviours yourself.

Most people are grown-ups and are good at making their personal lives work for them. Let’s apply the same attitudes and capabilities in the workplace, and have organisations where people feel in control and valued for being the grown-ups they are.

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What sort of a day have you chosen to have today?

Most of us would respond to this question by starting with: ‘I was OK until such-and such happened,’ or ‘Well, I had to do such-and such, so I was affected by that’, or just with irritation: ‘If only I could choose!’

I’m here to remind you that those are all choices too – that’s the bad news! And the good news is that once we really grasp that it’s always a choice, we can choose differently and feel better for it.

So what do I mean when I say that we always choose? When I first came across this concept, I couldn’t make sense of it. I thought that there were too many outside influences on my life – my work, my relationships, the weather, the state of my finances, the traffic – the list goes on and on! So I rarely felt as if I could choose what my day was like; it depended on what was happening around me. I was a fairly typical victim of circumstance.

Then gradually I began to realise that maybe it was a choice of sorts, to be a victim of circumstance, and that just made me feel worse! When you get this, you just feel cowardly or stupid: why don’t I just walk away from this job, this relationship, that makes me feel like a victim of circumstance?

Eventually I began to grasp that it isn’t necessarily about running away from things that adversely affect you; in fact, that’s not possible. If we are used to being a victim of circumstance, then we will take that attitude into any situation. It is about becoming conscious of what choices we do have in any situation.

The essential distinction is between passive and active choices. A passive choice is where ‘they’ or ‘it’ have made us feel or react this way. We allow the circumstance to be in control of our destiny, our mood, our attitude, and we passively accept its influence. We say, ‘There’s nothing I can do about it.’

Yet this is not how we are naturally wired. For evidence, look at how we handle things as children, before we learn to be passive. Children don’t think, ‘Dad’s in a bad mood today, so I will have to keep quiet and not be a nuisance.’ They think, ‘Dad is in a bad mood today, so I will see if I can make him laugh, or I may go and play with my favourite toys and leave him to it – he’ll get over it.’ Children find a way of making it work for them, by choosing how they react.

We are intended to be in control of our own destiny and we have the ability to do it, by consciously choosing how we react to circumstances. It is up to me to decide how I will react to bad news, someone being unpleasant, a traffic jam, and this is what gives me control. It becomes an active choice.

We are capable of doing this – we all do it sometimes. For example, ‘I’m tired and I had a bad day, but I want to go and see my friends and have fun, so I’ll have a good shower out on my favourite perfume/after shave and put on my glad rags, and then I’ll be up for it.’  So let’s just choose to do this more often!!

  • We can choose to make bad news a reason to allow ourselves an indulgence to make us feel better, or a prompt to make a change in our lives
  • We can choose to let someone being unpleasant keep their attitude to themselves and let it go past us – walk away and leave them to it
  • We can choose to use a traffic jam to listen to our favourite music or an audio-book

By making a conscious, active choice, we take back control of our own mood, our own attitude, our own state of mind. This helps us to make our lives work, no matter what, and keeps us in a place where we feel we can always make a positive difference, should we choose to.

Life is too short to be influenced by the negativity or adversity around us so let’s choose to enjoy our time here and make it work!!

in peace and love Di and Jo xxx

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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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There have been several TV programmes recently that have prompted me to think about understanding. What they have had in common is the theme of really getting to know others and how they think, work, live, and the result of that, which is inevitably a greater sympathy and understanding of their world and the way it works or doesn’t for them.

We talk about understanding something as if it is an intellectual exercise, but the word originally means to stand in their place, and experience it. True understanding will expand our awareness of the possibilities in the world, and will touch us emotionally as well as intellectually.

There have been lovely examples of this in the series called ‘The Secret Millionaire’. Every one of the people who have been giving away money in this series has gone to live in the community for a while, experiencing first-hand the way the community works and the way people live their lives there. And every one has had a change of heart, an emotional experience, a change of attitude – they have also all been moved to tears and seen their experience as a gain for themselves, and not just for those to whom they have given money.

Most of the time, we live in our heads, not because that is natural to us, but because that is what we have learnt to do. As small children, we cannot help but react from our hearts first, but we are good learners, and we soon realise that adults don’t do that. As children, we are also fascinated by other people’s worlds, yet we learn to judge them from our own perspective, and close down to the possibility of learning from them and truly understanding them.

So I have a suggestion: How about finding people whom we have a judgement about and seeing if we can really understand them. These could be our children, our parents, our work colleagues, or a category of people we don’t know at all.

All it requires is being prepared to spend time asking people to talk about their world, and listening with curiosity rather than judgement. Then to really imagine what it would be like to live in that world, and how you would feel if that were your world. For example, many years ago, I was prompted by one of my teachers to ask people begging on the street to tell me their story. It only took a few of those stories to make me realise that it could have happened to me, and that I would probably be an alcoholic or drug addict if it had. It took away my judgement of them, and made me very grateful for my own good fortune in having friends and family that supported me in tough times in my life.

If all of us were just to increase our understanding a little, I think we would change the way the world works!


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It has become fashionable to talk about leaders in organisations rather than managers, and to suggest that everyone can be a leader, so it is not limited to the senior management. Yet the distinction between a leader and a manager is rarely made explicit, and those who are called the leaders still tend to be valued for their management skills rather than leadership skills.

Nonetheless, we at Meta believe that the ideal organisation will only come into reality when there is excellent leadership as well as excellent management.  The excellent manager will ensure that everything runs as smoothly as possible, and people perform well.  The excellent leader sets a vision and direction to the organisation that gives dynamism and growth, to the individual involved and the organisation as a whole.  The manager maintains the status quo well, the leader brings continuous development and enhanced possibilities.

The manager controls.  The leader inspires.  One is not better than the other.  It is not a question of either/or.  Both are necessary for a sustainably successful organisation.

What is an excellent leader like?

When we research the descriptions of excellent leaders, there are some clear groups of characteristics that all will have in common.

  1. 1.  Being a visionary

The excellent leader has a vision of how the organisation could be, and uses that vision to give a direction and motivation to the staff.  Their vision is not just about achieving excellent results, it also covers how people will be, ideally as they go about their work, and how the work environment will be, to encourage them to perform at their best.

In defining the vision, the excellent leader also helps people to understand how they can get there.  He/She suggests the possible approaches to turning the vision into reality, and is explicit about the parameters they will need to work within.  These are guidelines rather than rules, giving the staff freedom to develop without fear of overstretching the line.

The key to a great vision, however, is that it comes across as genuinely desired by the leader.  He/She needs to be clearly personally committed to both the vision , and to staying with the company to work towards the vision.  For example, many organisations have been through the phase of wanting to be “world class“.  Most leaders I have heard state this don’t sound as if they mean it, or have even thought through what it means in their business – they just say it because that’s the vision, and it feels like an excuse to beat up on those who aren’t performing perfectly yet again.

I do remember one particular leader stating this vision and catching his whole team in.  He actually said: “Our vision as a company is to be world class, and I reckon that in our area we can set the example for what that means.  Being world class here isn’t just about processes, productivity and quality.  It’s also about a great spirit in the workplace.  So let’s work out how we can build on what we have and become the first to prove it’s possible.” His enthusiasm, his commitment, shone through him, and his team could see that he really believed it was possible.

  1. 2.  Personal qualities

“This above all, to thine own self be true”  Hamlet, by William Shakespeare

One of the reasons that excellent leaders are distinctive is that they have in common a high level of authenticity.  This means that they are true to themselves, and play straight with others.  Their uniqueness as a human being shows all the time, and they do not hide their individuality behind a cloak of conformity.  This is why some excellent leaders may be charismatic, some may be quiet, unassuming characters, some may be quite bullish in achieving what they want, and some may work quietly away behind the scenes.  What they all do is use their personal strengths well, and come across as real human beings who have feelings, who sometimes make mistakes, who have a sense of humour and perspective.

This level of authenticity also gives people a sense of power from within, so that they don’t need to exert power over others to prove themselves.  They are comfortable with themselves, and this allows them to give credit to others, and encourage others to be the best they can be.

3.  Emotional intelligence

The words emotional intelligence were bandied about quite a lot a few years ago, and the phrase captures a quality that we all recognise.  It is firstly the ability to manage yourself and your emotions well, so that you keep perspective and can deal with the ups and downs of life with resilience, and have a generally positive attitude towards life.  This means that they demonstrate the qualities that allow us to be successful in our lives and set the example.  It also makes it possible for them to show the second strand of emotion intelligence; the ability to “read” others and respond to them in a way that brings out their best

  1. 4.  Working with a team

It is in the area of working with others that 21st century leaders differ from the role models of the past.  The models held up tended to be military – yes, inspiring and courageous, but very much the leader out on his own.  Today’s excellent leaders regard their teams as a vital part of their leadership, and recognise that it is their ability to enable and empower others that elicits success.

This means that they elicit, encourage and draw on the strengths of a team of people, bringing them together to work towards a shared vision.  They acknowledge and respond to others’ ideas, they support the growth and development of their team, and they see their role as making it easy for others to give of their best.

  1. 5.  Thinking systemically

The excellent leader is not totally caught up in the everyday.  He/she takes the time to maintain what we at Meta call treble vision:

  1. Current reality and awareness of what is happening now, throughout the business, which allows them to spot the potential problems before they grow into crises, and to be aware of the potential knock on effect of any change.
  2. Mid term future:  the ability to recognise what is achievable towards the vision, and keep the momentum going.  They also keep the system relatively balanced, by ensuring that the developments undertaken are not just weighed in one aspect of the organisation.
  3. Long term future:  ensuring that whatever is developed is contributing towards the vision in some way, and maintaining that vision as the context.

This way of thinking is very different from the thinking driven by a mixture of crises and shareholder profits, and is often difficult to maintain.

  1. 6.  A change agent

Being a visionary means that the leader wants change.  However, it is also necessary to be a change agent, i.e. to know how to make change happen, rather than just have a wish list.  Change agents know how to:

  1. motivate others to engage fully with change
  2. encourage others to be innovative
  3. involve others fully in all aspects of making change happen.

They also recognise that change is about a way of thinking, not an occasional flurry of activity.  They encourage both development and innovation.  They recognise that experimentation doesn’t always work, but can always lead to learning, and they make learning central to their own and others’ view of what is happening.


The major characteristics listed above create a picture of someone we would all love to work with, the ideal leader.  Yet this is not our usual experience of being led.  Why not?

The inhibitors to excellent leadership

  1. A.  In the individual

We have been generally conditioned to believe that we have to prove ourselves and demonstrate that we are successful to the world at large. Our education and upbringing teach us to be individualistic, conformist and competitive.  We are taught to try to be “the winner” yet in an acceptable way.

This inhibits us in our role as a leader, at an unconscious level.  We use our own bosses as role models, even though they didn’t demonstrate the qualities we would prefer, because we assume they succeeded because of how they were behaving, and we also want to succeed.

  • We are sometimes reluctant to share the glory, because then we will not look like the winner. And we may therefore be reluctant to run with the ideas of others, or use their strengths.
  • We can avoid taking risks, because we want our success to be seen as acceptable.
  • We fear that treating others well, and supporting and encouraging them may lead to them exploiting us, and seeing us as weak.
  1. B.   In the team

Not only do we have this conditioning to inhibit our practice, so do most people around us.  This means that they may push us into their stereotype of the leader, rather than their ideal, because that is what they expect.

  • They may demand answers and decisions rather than help in working something out.
  • They may bring the responsibility back to you, and play the blame game with you and with other colleagues.
  • They may be suspicious when you arte being supportive and encouraging, expecting that you will somehow exploit them if they accept your approach.
  • They may look for evidence of your weakness or failings rather than notice your support of them.
  • And some will take advantage and go off in directions you would prefer them not to.
  1. C.   In the larger context

There are also external inhibitors which can make it difficult to put excellent leadership into practice.

  • The company culture and history.  Every organisation that pre-existed your leadership has its own identity. And people expect it to be maintained.  If yours is a history of conformity, control, bosses, then you are working against the norm, and there are pressures from everyone to stay with the original story.
  • The expectations of your bosses.  For most of us, there is someone above us in the hierarchy, our line managers, the owner, the executive board, the shareholders.  If they have a narrower, shorter term view of what success is in the organisation, then we are obliged to fulfil these expectations, and may find that either this takes all our time and energy, or that anything more is unacceptable.
  • The cultural expectations.  We live in a world where short-term financial viability is king.  Whether it be shareholders, the stock market, the banks. Or the government agencies, they all work on the basis of assessing our current situation, not our longer-term potential.  Because we need to stay profitable and/or financially secure, we may be forced to take steps that short-term improve the situation, but longer-term slow us down.  We are unlikely to be praised for our excellent work with people, even though this is what will lead to the sustainability of our organisation.

With all these inhibitors, the wonder is that leaders do nonetheless demonstrate some of the characteristics of excellence!


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The Rhythm of Life

We all know that we have a natural rhythm – no, I don’t mean your ability to dance! – I mean the rhythm of our energy levels. Some of us are full of energy first thing in the morning, some of us last thing at night, and all of us tend to go up and down during the day in different ways. We know this because if we stop for a moment and reflect on how we are feeling, we will notice that we are sluggish or energised, blurry or focused – you know what I mean..

What is sad is that we are not taught to work with our natural rhythms – in fact the opposite is true for most of us. We are taught to ignore them. Yet if we want to be excellent, our ability to manage our energy is paramount.

We have four types of energy – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Each type need scaring for, and to be given a chance to refresh.

  • If I have sat still for a while, I need to move my body, feed it, and revitalise my physical energy.
  • If I have been concentrating on something mentally, I need to give my mind a rest, by doing something ‘mindless’ or enjoyable  with my mind – or even switching to another form of activity – that walk we need regularly.
  • If I have been engaged in something that is emotionally draining – even if it is a positive form of draining, I need to do something that just gives me joy for a while, without any effort on my part
  • And every so often, I need to make sure that I feel that what I am doing is purposeful and worthwhile, to refresh my spiritual energy – and if it doesn’t feel that way, I need to find ways of feeling that – by switching what I am doing, on a macro- or micro-level.

Scientists have researched our energy levels and what affects them in considerable depth. There is a consensus of opinion that we need to recharge our physical, mental and emotional levels of energy every 1.5 to 2 hours.  How many of us do that? And without the feeling of purposefulness, all of us sink into a dreary view of everything we do – the daily drudgery..

It doesn’t take long to recharge, and as those of you who have been on programmes with us will know, there are many techniques you can use to help you. Without the recharging, we become automatons, and never fulfil our potential. What a waste!

So just stop and reflect on how you can keep yourself charged, and allow yourself to be at your best this month – you will gain from it, and so will the world!


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There is a basic tenet in Eastern Philosophies around being in the present moment.  And we can believe we are living to this when we caught up in our everyday stuff.  Yet there is an important distinction we need to be aware of.

When we are “caught up” in the everyday, we are on automatic, following historical habits of reaction, or thinking.  We are doing the moment, not being in the moment.

When we are truly here now, it is a spacious place, full of possibility.  We have choices about how we react, how we proceed, what we do next, how we think about things.

This is when everything is open to possibility.  Instead of saying “this must come next,” we can say, “what shall I do next?”  Instead of saying,”It’s obvious,” we can say, “what are the possibilities?”

This spaciousness of the moment offers us several very valuable gifts.

  • A release from habitual thinking and doing
  • A break from historical assumptions
  • A sense of controlling our own destiny
  • A broader view of our future

We can apply it to “big stuff” – times of transition in our lives, and we can also get the habit of taking that break by applying it to the “small stuff”- the rush into the next task on the list, the move from duties at work to duties at home.  It takes us a breathspace to move into being in the moment, and a breathspace to recognise we have choices, and one more breathspace to make a choice that is more comfortable and uses possibility instead of necessity as the driver.

Can you spare 3 breathspaces once in  a while in your busy life, to enhance your possibilities? Have a go, and see how much richer life can be, with such a simple application of being in the moment!!


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What Matters

It is so easy to get worked up about the little things in life – the weather, lost keys etc. I know that I can drive myself to distraction at times over the petty irritations of life! Yet in the overall scheme of things, a lost key is replaceable, the weather will be different tomorrow…

So much more important in our lives are things like the love we give to and receive from family and friends, how healthy we feel, how much happiness and enjoyment we can find in our everyday lives.

And these things are much more within our control. We can choose to give love, we can take good care of ourselves to optimise our health, and we can create happiness and enjoyment out of the simple pleasures of being alive.

So ask yourself today: ‘How am I enhancing the things that really matter in my life?’, and use your response to the question to prompt you to pay attention to the things that really matter!

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