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Thank God for pain

Three weeks ago, I was unfortunate enough to suffer a tooth abscess. Ordinarily this would have been uncomfortable for a day or two until the antibiotics kicked in and then it would have gone away. The dentist would deal with anything untoward, problem solved.

However, unfortunately for me, this was the fifth abscess in under 12 months and a build up of infection literally knocked me off my feet for three weeks. I was poorly beyond belief.

Three weeks is a long time to be feeling very poorly indeed, and I did, at times, get a bit down. One thing above all else kept me going, and that was that everything comes to an end at some point. It might not have been as soon as I’d liked, but it still came to an end.

On the first day in nearly eight days, I felt well enough to venture outside, even if it was just to our local shop. I went through my habitual ‘dressing for the outside’ ritual, putting on my coat and scarf but as I slid a foot into my shoe, I was suddenly so acutely aware of how good it actually felt to wear a proper shoe rather than slippers. An outside shoe meant fresh air, freedom and good health at that moment in time. Prior to this, putting on an outside shoe meant absolutely nothing to me. I had become as guilty as many other people in getting caught up with the unimportant things, and in doing so I had become blinkered to the simple things that mean so much.

Antony Robbins once said that all problems are relative. One might get upset at putting a dent in their car. They may hold that upset for quite a time until they get made redundant from work maybe. The dent in the car then suddenly becomes irrelevant because there is a much bigger, more pressing problem to overcome. This may consume them until a bigger problem comes along, like the ailing health of a close relative. Lack of work then falls down the list of important things to worry about.

These fundamental things are always there though aren’t they? They don’t disappear from our lives, we just stop noticing them until they are under threat of being taken from us against our will.

The thing is, that we have a choice about what we take notice of. We can choose to notice everything that is not right in our lives or we can focus on all of the important, fundamental things that we already have. Things that, if they were suddenly not there anymore, we would miss like crazy.

Richard Branson has created many businesses from having bad experiences because he knows that he could do better. Until he had those bad experiences, I’m pretty sure that the businesses he later created were not even a fleeting thought.  Something good always comes out of something bad, even if we don’t realise it at the time. It is there, if only you choose to see it.

Pain, be it physical or emotional can be a great resource for you if you allow it to be. We can fall into the trap of walking around with a magnifying glass attached to our eyes, only really stopping to focus on what isn’t right in our lives, at what others have got that we should have or at our pains and discomforts. The reality is that for most of us, the pains and discomforts are such a tiny part of our lives but we make them so big and so overwhelming that we sometimes cannot see, hear or feel anything else. But the ‘anything else’ is still there isn’t it? It hasn’t gone away. It is simply sitting there gathering dust until we remove the magnifying glass and notice it again.

So my question to you is: What have you been not noticing for far longer than you should? What and who do you have around you that, if they suddenly weren’t there anymore, you would miss more than anything?

If answers sprung into your mind whilst reading those questions then maybe it’s time to put the magnifying glass on them instead. You might be surprised at how differently it makes you, and them feel.

Be happy and live with purpose :-)

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Thank God for pain!

Three weeks ago, I was unfortunate enough to suffer a tooth abscess. Ordinarily this would have been uncomfortable for a day or two until the antibiotics kicked in and then it would have gone away. The dentist would deal with anything untoward, problem solved.

However, unfortunately for me, this was the fifth abscess in under 12 months and a build up of infection literally knocked me off my feet for three weeks. I was poorly beyond belief.

Three weeks is a long time to be feeling very poorly indeed, and I did, at times, get a bit down. One thing above all else kept me going, and that was that everything comes to an end at some point. It might not have been as soon as I’d liked, but it still came to an end.

On the first day in nearly 8 days, I felt well enough to venture outside, even if it was just to our local shop. I went through my habitual ‘dressing for the outside’ ritual, putting on my coat and scarf but as I slid a foot into my shoe, I was suddenly so acutely aware of how good it actually felt to wear a proper shoe rather than slippers. An outside shoe meant fresh air, freedom and good health at that moment in time. Prior to this, putting on an outside shoe meant absolutely nothing to me. I had become as guilty as many other people in getting caught up with the unimportant things, and in doing so I had become blinkered to the simple things that mean so much.

Antony Robbins once said that all problems are relative. One might get upset at putting a dent in their car. They may hold that upset for quite a time until they get made redundant from work maybe. The dent in the car then suddenly becomes irrelevant because there is a much bigger, more pressing problem to overcome. This may consume them until a bigger problem comes along, like the ailing health of a close relative. Lack of work then falls down the list of important things to worry about.

These fundamental things are always there though aren’t they? They don’t disappear from our lives, we just stop noticing them until they are under threat of being taken from us against our will.

The thing is, that we have a choice about what we take notice of. We can choose to notice everything that is not right in our lives or we can focus on all of the important, fundamental things that we already have. Things that, if they were suddenly not there anymore, we would miss like crazy.

Richard Branson has created many businesses from having bad experiences because he knows that he could do better. Until he had those bad experiences, I’m pretty sure that the businesses he later created were not even a fleeting thought.  Something good always comes out of something bad, even if we don’t realise it at the time. It is there, if only you choose to see it.

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New Year, new perspectives.

So a new year is upon us, and every year I am amazed at how many people say “good riddance to last year, it was terrible. I hope this new year will be better.” The funny thing is that it is the same people saying this same sentence every single year.

The thing is that every year is going to contain bad things. You will most likely experience upsets, illness, boredom, frustrations, arguments or maybe even a loss of some description. You will also experience laughter, love, contentment and a whole host of other good things besides. You will never experience 365 days of sameness, even if the content of your life doesn’t change, how you feel about it will change, repeatedly.

Lets say you could have the one thing that you feel would make you happy, what ever that may be. It could be money, the perfect partner, the best job, it doesn’t matter. If you had it now, but nothing else, you would begin to get bored with it within a very short space of time. Lets take money as an example. If you suddenly had all the money in the world, yes, it would be novel and exciting to start with but within a few months that newness will have gone and spending money will have soon become a drudge. You will then look to a new challenge for a bit of excitement, or you will focus on what you haven’t got. Maybe you want love or happiness or contentment. However much money you have wont buy you that. You will have to physically make that happen by the things that you do. If you do not make it happen by the end of the year then you can focus on it and say that the past year was awful.

If you really had to think about it and you were pressed to remember all of the great things that had happened in the last 12 months, I am absolutely sure that you could think of many things that would bring a smile to your face. They don’t have to be momentous life changing occasions, just small, simple things that when you add them all up add real spice to your life. Things such as spending some time with someone who was lonely. Maybe you gave to charity or even participated in raising money for charity. Perhaps you spent some time in someone’s company that you don’t particularly like, yet by doing so you brought a little bit of sparkle to them, just for that small amount of time. Maybe you made new friends or started a new relationship. Perhaps you did one or two things at work that was outstanding at the time. Maybe you helped someone in their hour of need; when they were poorly or grieving. There are so many things that you will have done that when you remember them now will make you feel humble. When we focus only on what we have lost or what we haven’t got we will of course feel like we have missed out. yet there will still be hundreds of other things to feel grateful for.

if you thought about it now, what do you currently have which you are taking for granted? Everyday things that you have gotten used to being there but if they were suddenly gone, you would miss them like crazy? Your health? Your partner? Children? Job? Friends? Money? It is these things that you need to be focusing on instead of what hasn’t happened for you or what you have lost.

New year is a time for making resolutions. If you make one resolution, make it to be grateful for all of the things that you do have around you. The ability to go out and get the things that you don’t have. The opportunities that will come your way, whether you take them or not. Your happiness lies within you – not in things or people. It is your choice whether you want to be happy or sad. If you make the choice to be sad and focus on what you don’t have, then at least be happy with being sad.

If things haven’t been going your way, then make a concerted effort to change that. Put the effort in to doing things differently, thinking differently and meeting different people. Sameness breeds contempt and boredom. Make your life exciting and do something different.

Here’s to a new year and a new start. Go and do something amazing. You’ll be glad you did.

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When To Walk Away and When To Get Closer

I had a very interesting chat with a friend of mine today and it brought up a subject that I think will be beneficial to you.

My friend rang me just before taking her 65-year-old mother to hospital to get a diagnosis on a breast lump. The mother has already said that if it is cancer, she doesn’t want any treatment for it. She has her reasons for this, and this is probably another subject to write about another time.

My friend said that her feelings were fluctuating between accepting that her mother is already refusing treatment, which could mean (in the worst case scenario) nursing and watching a much-loved member of her family through a terrible illness. This obviously makes her feel sad. On the other hand, she thinks about how selfish her mother is being. This leads her on to consider all the things her mother should fight for; such as her grandchildren and her children, and this makes her feel angry. She said that she can understand her mother’s wishes but it doesn’t make her feel any more at ease about it. Her attempts to think logically is not congruent with the way that she feels.

A little before this conversation, we had discussed her 22-year-old daughter’s tumultuous relationship with her boyfriend and the simple but disastrous mistakes they were both making. Ultimately, we spoke about stepping back from getting involved. As a mother, my friend had tried to become the peacekeeper, which is admirable. However, as a result she became the burden bearer when anything went wrong. Therefore, not only had she become the shoulder to cry on for her daughter, but also the financial assistant, nanny, chauffeur and bed and breakfast at any given moment. She was frustrated as her daughter was repeatedly making mistakes in the relationship but seemed unwilling to change her behaviour, regardless of the impact it was having on those immediately involved with her, especially her 9 month old daughter.

My friend has tried everything she can to help her daughter but ultimately, she has no control over what other people do, say and think. She has invested a lot of emotional energy into this relationship problem and it has left her feeling frustrated. Particularly because it is impeding on her abilities to focus on how she can effectively deal with the sad news of her mother.

My advice to her was to take a very big step back from it. It is not her relationship and she cannot tell other people how to live their lives. She was ‘investing’ so much of her emotions in her daughter at one stage, that it was almost like it was her relationship.

My friend then asked me what she could do about how to feel at peace with her mother’s decision. I told her this:

In order to really understand someone and to be able to understand their thoughts and behaviours, you have to become them. I don’t just mean saying things to yourself like: “I can see why she did that.” I mean you have to really become them. Step inside their shoes and get under their skin. You need to take on their thoughts, their actions and mannerisms. Consider their version of the world – of their life as they perceive it, not how you perceive it to be. Then, and only then, do you get a true picture of what their life means to them. The decisions that they make and the behaviours they display become far easier to understand and accept.

With regards to her daughter’s relationship, she needed to take a big step back. Back into her own life instead of taking on the burdens of someone else’s. In contrast, in order for my friend to understand her mother’s decisions she needs to step forwards. It is important for her to get so close that she becomes her mother so that she can find a way for her head and her heart to understand and feel the same about whatever decision her mother makes.

Immediately she replied “But that scares me!” I agreed and explained that the reason that it is scary, is because emotions are involved. You may be aware of others that have said “It’s easy to sort out other people’s problems but I can’t sort out my own.” When you are having to deal with something that is close to you it evokes emotion, and normally not pleasant emotions. Our instinct is to run from anything that makes us feel bad. Why? Because it is painful.

Humans are not great lovers of pain. We have devised many ways to deal with our most painful experiences; like pushing them to the back of our minds. This option is not always available to us. Sometimes life forces us to face our fears. These fears can overwhelm us causing anxiety and sometimes panic. More often than not, this is because we are seeing and thinking about the experience from our own point of view. We are thinking about how it will affect me? As a consequence, what will I lose? It stands to reason that saying such things to yourself is going to produce a whole host of answers. These answers will be your worst case scenarios and therefore, you are very likely to feel terrible about it.

Changing your perspective can help enormously. In the case of my friend and her mother, I asked her to put herself in her mother’s shoes. I asked her to consider it as her bad news. That this is happening to her at aged 65 with that life. Having made this decision, how would you want others to react around you? By becoming the other person and therefore looking back at yourself as a third-party, it can bring new perspectives, new lessons to learn from, and new thoughts and feelings that you would never have achieved had you stayed in your perspective only.

We all have relationships, with family, friends, work colleagues and acquaintances. Are there any relationships in your life that you need to move closer to or do you need to back away?

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Excuses Versus Results – Are You Setting Yourself Up To Fail?

How many times have you attempted something, only to fail? You dust yourself down, try again, but ultimately fail. People consistently fail at certain things in all manner of ways, whether they attempt to lose weight, give up smoking, find the right partner, break free from depression; or achieve that all important promotion at work. Here is a question for you. What makes one person repeatedly fail and another person just seem to excel and conquer with astounding ease? Read the rest of this entry »

Emotional Eating – Why We Gain Weight When We Are Upset

There are many reasons as to why people over eat. One of the reasons is the emotional attachment that some of us place on food in times of discontent. If you find that you reach for a pack of biscuits, chocolate bars or cakes when you feel anything less than happy, then there is a very good chance that you have formed an emotional attachment to food. Read the rest of this entry »

Attention! Seeking Happiness?

Attention! Seekers I don't know about you, but I have had the good fortune to have first-hand experience of an attention seeker. You know the kind of person I mean; the ones that constantly go on about their illnesses or how well they have done at something to the exclusion, on most occasions of everything or everyone else. I say good fortune because until you actually meet someone that has to demand attention, you can be in danger of forgetting how well balanced you actually are. Read the rest of this entry »

Are You Awake….or Are You Just Existing?

Whilst listening to the radio the other day, there was a short interview with a member of the clergy who was talking about Spring. He explained how he felt miserable and listless during the dark and grey winter months and how all of a sudden the earth just seems to wake up in spring, with a sudden burst of snowdrops and bluebells and fresh new leaves growing on the trees and bushes. He went on to say that he loved his garden but looked at all of the weeds and grass that were suddenly growing and immediately thought about all of the back breaking work that would be involved in nurturing it and making it look nice again. Read the rest of this entry »

Hitting Rock Bottom – why It Can Be The Best Thing To Ever Happen To You

For most of us, we try our uppermost to avoid hitting rock bottom at all costs. The trouble is, we have little or no idea what rock bottom actually is until we hit it. We know what we don't want and we work hard at not getting what we don't want, but we don't actually know what getting those 'don't wants' really feels like - until we get them. Hitting rock bottom generally feels like there is no other option, no light at the end of the tunnel, hopelessness and despair. It is a horrible place to be. Yet, while rock bottom is avoided at all costs, it can be one of the best things you can ever experience! Read the rest of this entry »

Stress – How We Get it and a Tip To Reduce it

In this video you will discover how to significantly reduce the symptoms of stress and learn how and why we get stressed in the first place. Read the rest of this entry »