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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. ┬áSomething 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 :-)


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.