Tag Archives | useful thinking


As we start the new year, it seems appropriate to ask how we can make life a happier experience for all of us – let’s make a positive difference.

Keeping your fuel tank filled – see previous blogs – is a good start, because that will help you to be more positive in your outlook on life.

But what about those who have a negative effect on you, and seem to take that positivity away? Not only do they disturb your happiness, they also suffer a lack of happiness themselves – it is the rare person who really feels good when they are causing others to feel bad.

There are ways we can change this effect, to the benefit of all parties involved.

  1. Don’t give away your power! Remember that we choose to allow something to affect us. After all, what to one person is a disaster, to another person is an exciting adventure – they have obviously made different choices about how to react. So choose to react differently to the person. Imagine their comment or attitude as a brief rain shower which temporarily wets you and then dries up. Even better, imagine that you have an invisible shield which protects you from getting wet at all!
  2. Even more powerfully, experiment with how you can change their reaction to you, which causes them to behave in a way which affects you badly. Step into their shoes for as moment. From their perspective, what could you do differently that would provoke a different and more useful behaviour in them? We often unwittingly provoke just the behaviour we don’t like and by making a change in our own attitude or behaviour we can change theirs.


  1. Practise using your invisible shield when someone next seems to want to offend you or upset you in some way.
  2. Take a person that you always seem to have a negative reaction to. Imagine you are them, and ask yourself, ‘what would make me behave more positively with …?’ Use the answer to guide your behaviour next time you encounter them.


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Inside Out

Have you noticed how your mood and state always seem to be how the world is at that time? When we feel good, the world seems full of good news and friendly people; when we feel down, there is always more to be gloomy about!

This is no accident of fate. It is about what we are using to filter the possible information around us. When I feel low, I have on the ‘reasons to feel low’ filter, so I notice lots of them.

It makes sense, therefore, to always work ‘inside out’. That means I work on me first, then start looking outwards. If I can change my mood, I will change what I notice, and will be able to have a more positive impact.


  1. Notice how the world reflects your mood.
  2. Give yourself treats to make you feel good, and notice how the world also feels easier to handle.


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Being Doing Having

Don’t we all say, sometimes: ‘If only I could win the lottery, then I could go on lots of holidays (or whatever our own dream is) and I would be happy.  Yet every ancient philosophy in the world tells us that it actually works the other way round …. ‘If I choose to be happy, then I do things differently, and I can have anything I want’.

This is very challenging for our minds, which have been trained in the western culture of striving to attain.  We almost want to make it impossible to achieve our dreams, because that proves that we were right – only the lucky ones can do that, and they are very few.

Yet at a gut instinct level, we all know that when we are feeling good, we respond to things differently, and the world seems to work better for us.  It seems worth experimenting with, since we are, most of us, not about to win the lottery!  What would happen if you decided to be happy today?

Homework :

  1. Choose to be happy today, and just notice what happens.
  2. Act as if everything is working well for you for a day, and notice what happens.
  3. At least, practise smiling for a day, and notice what happens!
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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?


  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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This week I was having one of those weeks when everything seemed too much: everyone seemed to be making unreasonable demands on me, I had an overwhelming list of things to do and it all looked like drudgery – sound familiar?

And then a good friend phoned and quickly picked up on my mood, and responded by making me laugh – big, belly laughs that continued long after the conversation was finished. My belly ached, but What a gift!! Nothing felt quite so important or overwhelming anymore, the tension had gone out of my body and mind, and paradoxically, I set to with a new vigour on my list of tasks, and cleared heaps of it!

Laughter is such a simple thing, that we sometimes forget how powerful it is. Physically, mentally and emotionally it is a healthy way to release tensions and negativity. Laughter reconnects us to our souls, our child-like nature, to our enjoyment of life.

Laughter is proven to trigger the release of endorphins (our pleasure giving drug) into our brains, and helps refill our ‘feel good’ tank when it is empty. When our energy tanks are full again, it’s always good to share a laugh or two with others, after all laughter was made to share! In fact it is incredibly infectious! So go ahead and spread some Laughter!


  1. What do you have to make you laugh out loud? – Note if your list is short you may need to go out and buy yourself a funny treat!
  2. Help someone else to laugh this month – when life is getting them down make them laugh


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I often hear that work is a means to an end for people. They do it so that they can earn enough money to do other things. What a shame to spend so much of your time doing something which doesn’t have any intrinsic fulfilment!

Yet we also come across all sorts of people doing all sorts of jobs who do feel that their work is worthwhile. What’s the difference? These people have found something to make their work purposeful.

Ways of making your work purposeful can be identified by asking yourself:

  1. How does what I do make a difference in the world? For example you may be contributing to a service or product that improves people’s lives.
  2. How does what I do help other people? For example you may help to make their job easier, or make them feel good by treating them well.
  3. How does what I do use my talents and personal qualities? For example, you may be good at communicating and use that to please your customers, or someone whose sense of humour lightens the day for others.

When our work feels purposeful, we give of our best, and feel satisfaction with what we are doing. It gives meaning to all those hours spent at work. What is the purpose for you of your work?


  1. Ask yourself the questions above and find at least one thing that makes your work feel purposeful.
  2. Encourage others to do the same.


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Knowing it All

One of the things that I was reminded of while I was on retreat in August was the importance of being rather than knowing.

The man who led the retreat has been a teacher for most of his life and has always inspired me and helped me to continue to develop myself. He is now wheelchair-bound and takes a question and answer session each afternoon.

And in those sessions, what comes clear is that he is still learning, and still wanting to develop. So he will say that he doesn’t know the answer to all the questions, he will accept and acknowledge challenges that stimulate him to think more about some of the topics, and of course sometimes his answers are just perfect, coming from a deep knowing that goes beyond the purely intellectual.

I sit there and realise yet again that being comfortable with not knowing is a vital ability in anybody, and allows others to explore for themselves and find what they know at some level. It may be more valuable than being the expert who keeps people as the ‘children’ who don’t know yet.


  1. Next time you don’t know the answer when someone asks you something, feel comfortable about saying that you don’t know, and get the group or individual to explore for themselves
  2. Next time you do think you know the answer, try letting others find it for themselves, and enjoy some of the differences between their version of the answer and yours


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