Ten Good Friends

Ten Good Friends

I am active – feeling full of energy

I am enthusiastic – showing eagerness

I am alert – being quick to notice and act

I am interested – wanting to be involved in something

I am attentive – paying close attention

I am inspired – feeling the desire to do something

I am excited – looking forward to things

I am determined – being resolute, showing determination

I am strong – feeling able to cope with difficulties

I am proud – feeling a real sense of achievement today.

Saying these out loud simply feels good.

I am sure we all recognise these ten good friends. If you are a fan of practical psychological tips, you’re likely to have come across several experiments where hearing positive words and phrases has improved the listeners’ mood and state. When surrounded by positive words, there is a tendency for humans to behave more tolerantly and to be more generous.

I’ve been told, “Be careful what you wish for!” But far more fundamental is, “Be careful what you think about!” What we think about has a habit of expanding until it consumes our attention… and everything we think about has an emotional charge associated with it. Our ten good friends have a positive charge, and they work well together. They are worth thinking about often.

So I got thinking to myself, “What would have to happen for all ten good friends to join me today?” It will be different for all of us, but it’s a fun exercise which I am recommending to you.

To feel full of energy, I certainly would have to have had a good night’s sleep – one undisturbed by bad dreams or too many loo breaks! A good shower and an excellent coffee would allow my child-like curiosity and enthusiasm permission to emerge. I’d also be naturally alert – especially in the morning – my best time. So, assuming I wasn’t aware of anything boring or horrible in the day ahead, I’d be off to a great start with at least three good friends. And knowing how positive friends, like birds of a feather, are likely to flock together, I’m sure the other magnificent seven would check-in somewhen during the day!

I wonder what would jump-start your day in a positive way?

Would you share?

 

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?

Worrier or Warrior?

Worrier or Warrior?

Oh what a difference a couple of vowel movements can make! Swap an “A” for an “O” – and change begins to flow; then a final “E” for an “O” and off we really go!

Two words with the same framework of consonants and one shared vowel in the same place: W-rri-r, but what a different outcome! Of course, the vowel they both share in the same place is the identifying letter, “I”. “I” is the decision-maker!

I’ve been a professional Worrier for years – paralysed by fears.

But I’d rather be a Warrior, ready for action. And I think that this is the difference that makes a difference: taking action. When I focus on worrying, I become frozen and inactive. Everything seizes and ceases. But if I seize the moment and take action, everything changes.   Sometimes gradually; sometimes dramatically.

I can’t pretend to be brave, but perhaps being courageous doesn’t require one to be brave?

Perhaps the courageous person is the one who takes action when other people hesitate?

Through the eyes of my inner Worrier, I have some impossible challenges before me – 50 years of clutter and mess to sort, save or shed.

Through the eyes of my inner Warrior, I have a plan: one box at a time, one shelf at a time, one cupboard at a time. It’s not a battle like so many dear people are having to face for their future at the moment – I am not in dire straits, so it’s important to have a sense of perspective. But emotionally, it is a battle for me.

We are all in a tug of war between our Inner Worrier and our Inner Warrior. Today, I would appeal to your Inner Warrior and simply ask, “What’s the first physical action you can take?”

I wish you a courageous day!

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.

 

A Walk In The Park?

Robin

A Walk in the Park?

[Audio version here: Audio version of the blog]

There are many strange clichés in all cultures. English has its fair share. How about this one, “Life’s a walk in the park!” This means that life is easy and pleasant. This is a wonderful state that we’re all supposed to aspire to. Apparently.

Well the more people I get to know – really know – the more I realise that I don’t know anybody for whom this is true.

Scratch under the surface a bit and you find that all people or their friends and families face battles against poverty, ill-health and all manner of sorrows. None of them have a life that is a walk in the park.

So, should we abandon the dream? Yes, I think we should! The exaggerations of marketing professionals, fashion gurus and media moguls set us up to expect the unrealistic. When the unrealistic is continuously unattained, disappointment and disillusionment can set in… and even despair. Far better, then, to choose a better path – a path of realism.

The path I recommend is a path through the park. Not a walk in the park, but a walk through the park. By this, I mean the conscious decision to take time to enjoy the park each day. The ‘park’ can be anything you take pleasure in. Your loyal and adoring pet. Art. Music. Nature. Whatever your ‘park’ is, is must be cherished each day, at least for a few precious moments.

One of my parks is the park! There’s a recreation field at the top of our cul-de-sac. There, with space to grow and be itself, is a young oak tree. I get a ridiculous amount of pleasure from pausing and just looking at how well it is developing this year. I haven’t seen a single other person pause and enjoy this feast for the senses. For many, it seems the park is an interruption between where they are now and where they are seeking to get to.

May I recommend a walk through the park? And when you do take up this recommendation, may I suggest you pause and drink in the sensory feast prepared there for you? The clouds, the trees, the grass, the birds…

My desire is that, in taking a walk through the park, you find that your life might just become more like a walk in the park.

Making Associations

Make Link Break Link

Making Associations

In an earlier blog, entitled, “Breaking Associations,” I encouraged us to challenge unhelpful links that we’d allowed to define us negatively. The blog post was originally published on Moodscope.  In response, “Hopeful One” said, “There seems to be an underlining assumption that being defined in this way is always negative. In my opinion it’s not so much the definition or the associations but the internal judgements we make that do the damage.”

We are in agreement, Hopeful One!

Associations have their own associations! We can make them mean what we want them to.

For example, we can change the context. One of my favourite film clips is from a rather violent thriller called, “Face Off!” In it, Nicholas Cage and John Travolta swap roles as goody and baddy. In my chosen scene, Judy Garland’s version of, “Somewhere, Over the Rainbow,” plays serenely while a S.W.A.T. team destroys the flat our hero is sheltering in. The association is ‘wrong’ – it shouldn’t work. It works perfectly.

So the flip side of breaking bad associations is to make good associations – deliberately. An association is simply, “This means that,” or “This links to that.”

Naturally occurring associations include hearing a song when you’re having a good time. The song and the feeling of feeling good become linked automatically. The next time you hear the song, you feel good because the two files are linked in the library of your brain! Even more powerful is scent. You may associate an after-shave or perfume with a person. Smell the scent, remember the person.

These links happen naturally and unconsciously. In fact, all the sense data you were receiving at the time becomes linked in your mind to the event. Famous Canadian Neurosurgeon, Wilder Penfield, demonstrated the physical nature of memory by stimulating areas of patients’ brains. The memories that were triggered enabled the patients to relive experiences – along with all the senses recorded at the same moments in time.

This is good news because we can create this process consciously as well as unconsciously. You and I can choose to link a song, a scent, even an object to an emotional feeling. When we sense we are beginning to feel great, we can choose to pop on our “Feel Great” Playlist… and turn up the volume! The brain doesn’t care what comes first, the chicken or the egg! It simply splices the memories together. Do the procedure often enough and you will discover that your “Feel Great” Playlist will remind your mind what it is like to feel great… et voila! You will feel better.

Right, I’m off to find a magic feather… heard some flying elephant dropped one near here.