Taking The Plunge

I broke the bath. Yes, that’s right, you heard me correctly. My vast gravitas was way more than the bath could take when I stood in it to have a shower. It cracked up – couldn’t take me seriously.

The lady of the house, however, took the situation very seriously. She was not amused.

So we needed a new bath.

After months of unfulfilled promises from various vendors, we finally had a new bath fitted. But one of the old bath’s problems remained: the water wouldn’t drain away fast enough. The lady of the house was once more unamused.

I’m not a DIY-kind-of-chap. There aren’t many practical bones in my body (well, actually, all my bones are very practical, but you know what I mean.) I do, however, understand a little bit of Physics. I showed the lady how the bends in the pipe made it physically impossible for the water to drain away. In fact, I was quite proud of my scientific stance on the matter.

We’ve known each other for nine years now. She holds me in deep respect. Typically, she totally ignored me! What did she do? She took a plunger to it. The water flowed away perfectly.

“Science” = 0; “Lady of the House” = 1. Game over!

OK, so what’s the lesson? For me, it was the danger of commitment to an idea that was wrong. I was totally convinced, convicted I tell you, that there was no way the water would ever flow given the existing plumbing. So I stopped trying to fix it. But it was fixable, wasn’t it?

Fancy trying on a new belief for size today?

How about challenging an old one that’s stopping you from taking action?

Is there a belief that you’ve quit on that could do with fresh examination?

Go on, take the plunge!

The Three Gifts

The Three Gifts

I address you today as if you were the richest person in the whole wide World.

I share with you today as if you are the luckiest person in the Universe.

I stand in awe of you today because of the phenomenal power you shall possess.

I believe you are the richest person I know because you have 168 hours to spend every week. No one can take that away from you. Oh, of course, you can trade it to spend on others but it is always yours – and always will be.

You are the luckiest person in the Universe because you have the gift of consciousness. You have self-awareness. You have self-identity. You have self-knowledge.

And the power you have that I stand in awe of is the phenomenal power of choice. With it you can change your future.

 

You can choose how to use the gift of consciousness today in the abundant time you have that no one can take from you.

What will you do with these three gifts?

I Long for Structure

I Long For Structure


If you are of a certain age, you may remember “boring Sundays”. In the UK, when and where I was growing up, most business pressed “pause” on Sundays. There were no shops open, save for a few Newsagents. Everyone, it seemed, rested.

Whilst I now believe this was a good thing, as a child I thought it was boring.

Why? Well, there was “nothing” to do. My time was not structured for me.

I can vividly remember regularly going down to the tennis courts, where the guardian of the key to the courts watched benevolently with his pipe and Red Setter. My sister is four years younger than me, and, at that time, deferred to my seniority, even though she is a great tennis player and knew more about the sport than I did.

So, we would begin to knock a ball back-and-forth, to-and-fro, monotonously.   Boring! Then one of us would wake up!
“Hey!” they’d say, “Let’s play a game!” Suddenly there would be a structure to our Sunday – a purpose.

Where time dragged and energy flagged before, passion would be ignited and the time would fly by. We even say this cliché: “Time flies when you’re having fun!” My sister and I discovered the truth in this.

What we experienced satisfied what is stated as a basic human need by psychologists. Apparently, we crave structure – especially structured time. We may resist a standard 9-5, Monday-Friday routine but it gives us a rhythm to the week.

My Father is now loving the routine he has in his retirement. He finds comfort in structure.

Because of known rhythms to our week, we can have beginnings and endings, and a sense of closure.

As someone who directs my own time, I too often lack this structure, and, as you can well imagine, it causes a lot of stress. Nothing seems to have an end to it. There’s always more to do.

So my suggestion today is to embrace routine like a long-lost friend. Seek structure where it does not currently exist, confident in the knowledge that your psyche longs for this. Add a rhythm to the day.
And, to be utterly specific, break your day into 45 minute segments with a micro-break in-between. Find tasks that can be completed within 45 or 90 minutes. Get closure. More than this, there is s surprise set of benefits awaiting you. Taking a micro-break that involves a shift in posture will “reboot” your lymphatic system, leading to more energy, more creative insights, and a surprising boost to your immune system!

You don’t have to believe me, just test this for yourself!

Then share with me your results!

Life to the Max

Life to the Max?

[Audio version: Life to the Max]

I’ve got a little friend called, “Max.” Max is my neighbour’s dog. He looks like “Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy” if you’ve ever seen the Lynley Dodd books (or care to Google the image).

Max is an enthusiast. Nothing is held back. I have known him try to draw me through the garden fence by the power of his nose suction alone. This little black, wet nozzle of a snozzle finds a tiny gap under the fence and inhales as if his life depends upon it… His wagging tail causes a small tremor that can be felt through the ground… he is truly inspirational!

I think it would be fair to create a verb in Max’s honour: to be Maxed. To be Maxed means to be enthusiastically ‘assaulted’ by an energetic bundle of hairy love!

I’m pretty sure Max’s love is unconditional, or perhaps indiscriminate. It still feels nice – if you’re not wearing your posh togs.

Walking to the shop the other day, I saw Max in the distance, and thought to myself, “Today, I do not wish to be ‘Maxed’!” I wondered how I could politely avoid being pounced upon without offending him or his owner. My concerns were unnecessary. Max was ‘elsewhere’. He had found some fascinating scent along the bottom of another fence and was busy pursuing this trail. Nose down, he was blissfully unaware of anything else.

Max had found joy and freedom through single-minded focus. One thought, one purpose, one pursuit. I don’t think he has many worries, but if he did, he wouldn’t have been troubled at this time. His mind was absorbed.

Could you find joy and freedom in single-minded focus today? Could you make a promise to your brain that you’ll come back to the other stuff it’s fretting about later but in the meantime just focus enthusiastically on something lovely and absorbing?

Live life to the Max.

 

Amazingly Simple

I watched a young child race his mother to the pedestrian crossing. Why did he dash to the crossing? For the amazingly simple pleasure of pushing the button! How many children get a wonderful amount of pleasure from being allowed to push a button or turn on a switch? Of course, celebrities enjoy this too – turning on the Christmas lights or cutting the ribbon to open something.

I’ve just made my first cup of tea of the morning. I was suddenly thrilled by the concept. Here was tea all the way from India (Assam), processed in a way that I simply had to add water to experience that taste of the East in moments – amazing! The experience was made possible by the electric company, the kettle manufacturer, the water company, and the dairy who had prepared the milk to such exacting standards. I was in receipt with a little miracle of modern life… and in touch with it again like the child’s thrill in pressing the button.

Of course, I could go on. My father’s shower is one of the most glorious experiences on the planet! I am very often grateful for the engineering skill that allows me to enjoy hot water coursing over my grateful nerve endings.

And in case you’re thinking I’m the most positive person on the planet… just talk to someone who really knows me. I fight against clouds of gloom on a daily basis but I know that where my attention rests can change my state of mind. I am enormously grateful that I still have a child-like sense of awe about the most seemingly simple of pleasures: the morning tea, the shower, the joy of rain drops on a pond, the sight of a Mistle Thrush…

My hope for you today is that you enjoy that same tingle of pleasure from things that are simply amazing.

 

5 Star Inspiration and 1 Inspiraction

5 Star Inspiration and 1 Inspiraction

There are six great stimulants for open questions. Rudyard Kipling, in a quaintly old-fashioned British way, called them his six serving men:

I keep six honest serving-men

(They taught me all I knew);

Their names are What and Why and When

And How and Where and Who.

The 5 words beginning with “Wh” offer us a great structure for exploring “inspiration”.

The last one, “How”, offers us a path to what I call, “Inspiraction”.

“Inspiration” is such a great word. Literally, it means to in-spire – to breathe in. In my experience this is the opposite of what happens for me. When I am inspired I usually stop breathing for a moment – something makes me catch my breath. I hold my breath and I lean in to gather more from the source of inspiration. I get the point of the word though!

Add a “c” to inspiration, as if to create the future, and you get “Inspiraction” – which is inspired-action or action-on-inspiration!

Let’s get inspired to inspiraction…

  • What inspires you? This could be a work of art, a quotation, or a song…
  • Who inspires you? Who are the people who give you goosebumps!
  • Where inspires you? Where are the locations that make your heart sing?
  • When inspires you? What events in life, days of the week, or even times of the day inspire you? When are you at your most inspired?
  • Why inspires you? Not great English but a great concept: what’s your “Why” in life – why do you do what you do? Why are you here?

And then “Inspiraction”…

  • How can you deliberately turn on the state of being inspired?

One of the answers sits beneath the above list of “Wh” questions. Sitting below your threshold of consciousness is the very operating system of your mind: association.

By just thinking about your sources of inspiration now, you will tap into the feelings of inspiration associated with those magical moments, what matters and the significant people in your life.

You could, of course, create a physical inspiration board – a set of pictures and other reminders of your sources of inspiration. With a little practice, just looking at this inspiration board will be enough to trigger a heightened sense of readiness to be inspired anew!

Chooseday

Chooseday

It’s Tuesday.

Monday hadn’t gone well. I’d pinched a nerve in my spine and my lower back had locked into a spasm of fear. I walked as if I was crippled – as if I’d had an ‘accident’. ‘Everything’ had gone wrong. Of course, it hadn’t, but it seemed as if it had. Good riddance to Monday, I thought.

Tuesday morning came. I tore a sheet off my 1950’s style calendar, and the comment was, “Time for Decision”. I posted: “Good riddance to Monday,” on Facebook, and a new friend challenged me with the thought that today was ‘Chooseday’.  She asked me, very publically, what I would choose today? I was getting a new message, loud and clear.

What would I choose? Well, I chose to look after my back – I took the pain to be a sign that I wasn’t taking good enough care of myself. I chose to defer a couple of meetings to give my body time to reset and heal…

But then I got to thinking. My whole life was off-track. There was compromise leaking from every pore. Wrong job, wrong partners, wrong location, wrong attitude, wrong choices! How had I let matters slide this far off the path? Answer = my choices. Tiny choice by tiny choice.

So, from now on, my Tuesdays are going to be ‘Chooseday’.

A day for good, purposeful, fresh choices.

What will you choose today?

It's Chooseday

It’s Chooseday

Changing History: War and Peace

How could I start making better choices? Something Wayne Dyer had said years ago had captured my imagination,

“I can choose peace rather than this.”

This is fabulously useful in conflict situations but it goes much deeper into what I call, “The Way of Peace.”

The Apostle Paul believed that the Peace of God could guard our heart and mind. I knew that a step away from peace was a step towards war. My heart and my mind were at war – not with each other but with a Universe that wasn’t working for me. The war had raged for years.

It is time for peace. So, today, I choose decisions that bring me peace – decisions where my heart and mind both say, “Yes!”

A Heart Full of Treasure

My heart has something else to contribute to the process. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Is it taking too many liberties to suggest that where your heart is, there will your treasure be also? Could it be that what my heart loves points the way to my treasure?

Just imagine, if I could find something I loved and that my heart and my mind were at peace about, surely I would find my treasure, wouldn’t I? Could it be that success lies along the path of peace and the path of that which we love to do?

Regardless of your personal beliefs, there is wisdom in the Biblical principle of establishing every matter through the testimony of two or three witnesses. I wanted a 3rd way to check the quality of my future choices.

Fullness of Joy

When you’re in the right place, when you’re making the right choices, there is a richness of joy. When something isn’t right, you sense it, and you can lose your joy. So here is my third guide to right choices: joy.

I thus have a trinity of guiding principles:

  • Does this choice bring me peace in my heart and my mind?
  • Does pursuing this choice lead me down a path that I would love to follow?
  • Does this choice bring me joy?

Of course, peace, love and joy are three segments of what is called, “The Fruit of the Spirit.” The ultimate test of any right choice is going to be the quality of the fruit it produces. Good choices produce good fruit, worthwhile treasure.

Is it time to plant new choices, new fruit trees?

I know it is for me.