What can I do ?

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A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst and it sparks extraordinary results.

Wade Boggs.

I often tell people it is not what happens to you but how you handle what happens to you that determine how happy you are in life. Quite often I am told that it is easy to be positive when nothing is wrong but natural to feel negative when faced with adversity. I agree initially, it is quite natural to feel angry, sad, frustrated and hurt when life presents us with a problem or an issue to deal with that we would really rather not have to. However it is not good or healthy for us to remain feeling that way for any length of time. It most certainly will not help us to cope better with any adversity that we may be faced with and is in fact far more likely to add to our misery. So how do we change our attitude and see the positive when feeling only negatively? There is no magic wand to wave that can do it for you it requires conscious effort continuous hard work and determination but the results are well worth it. You will be happier and you will be in charge of your life. How do I know ?Well I live with someone who decided to do just that and I can daily see the positive benefit to his decision as can everyone around us.

My daughter’s partner was just like any other normal active young man until through no fault of his own he was injured in a car accident. Sitting in a queue of cars waiting to get out at a roundabout he looked in his rear window and noticed to his horror another car approaching at speed. With cars in front of him and at the side of him there was nowhere he could go and no action he could take to get out of the way. He braced himself as the car hit his car from the back and pushed him forward. He felt the pain in his knee immediately as the brake pedal he had his foot resting on came up with force. Although in pain and shocked he thanked his lucky stars that no one else was injured and all he appeared to have was a torn cartilage in his knee but that was just the start of his problems. Following surgery he began to develop pain and swelling in a lot of his joints. His knee wasn’t working properly and coming downstairs painful. Further investigations revealed that he had rheumatoid arthritis. He was just 23 years old and suddenly he was no longer able to do the sports to the level he had previously enjoyed and just walking was painful. Various medications were tried all with varying results. His hair began to thin and joints became deformed. Now many people would have felt pretty down at this stage and many might have thought quite naturally “why me?” He could have done that and we would have had every sympathy with him if he had but it would not have done him much good and would more than likely have added to his pain. Instead, however, he chose to tackle what was happening to his body head on. He read all about it and had long conversations with his specialist to determine the best course of treatment for him. He couldn’t play rugby anymore so he decided to take up cycling. He decided to focus his attention on what he could do rather than what he couldn’t  do and he found that it began to make his body feel stronger again and reduced the pain he felt in his joints. He got his work place to get him a chair that made his posture better and helped him be more comfortable. He took up photography and goes for long walks. Now, twelve years after the accident which triggered the whole thing off no one would ever guess there was anything at all wrong with him. He never complains not even when teased about holding his little pinkie finger up when drinking a cup of tea or having a beer. He actually can’t put it down; it is molded to that shape due to the arthritis. He doesn’t care it is a quirky part of him now.  He cycles to his work which is many miles away as often as he can and has cycled a long distance over three days for charity. His new medication means new hair not that I think anyone noticed the previous lack. We were all too busy looking at his pictures or having fun. He has chosen to not let anything stop him from being the person he wants to be. He is in charge of his life not the arthritis. He has a positive attitude and it is infectious. He is happy with his life and those around him are positively impacted by him. His attitude is not unique as there are many people who face difficult and challenging life events with the same positive determination. They all teach us that by adopting a positive attitude and approach to life we can make it better. We do not need to sit down and feel sorry for ourselves. We can all change things for the better if we are determined and focused on what we have and want to have rather than dwelling on what we do not want and do not have. The power to do so comes from our attitude to our circumstances rather than the circumstances themselves.

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Feed the positive and let go the negative.

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Remember ,always give your best. Never get discouraged. Never be petty. Always remember, others may hate you. But those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them. And ,then you destroy yourself. Richard  M Nixon.

Love him or hate him this is actually very good advice .We need to learn to be true to our own beliefs and take responsibility for our own decisions and always make sure we are totally committed to what we are doing to get the best out of our lives

Every decision has a consequence some good, some bad and we cannot avoid that, but if our initial  choice  and subsequent action was based completely on what we believe, with a positive heart and intent, then we are less likely to regret our actions and more likely to learn positively from them and move forward in life.

Sometimes, particularly when we have given a 100% and someone then criticizes us, it is very easy and quite natural to get irritated and angry with them for not recognizing the effort we have made and the positive intention behind it. Sometimes this misunderstanding is created because of poor communication skills and that can easily be resolved. However ,occasionally it is not possible to resolve such issues and we have to accept that we do not always see things the same way as each other and we must just accept that different people have different opinions and let any angst we have had towards them go, as we go on our own way.

The most important thing is not to carry that hurt or anger on with us and allow it to impact our next choice, our next decision or make us not try as hard or even worse withdraw from doing anything. That is actually not achieving anything other than letting someone, who has perhaps wronged you or judged you unfairly win .It means that you are in fact hurting yourself twice as much as they could. Firstly by taking their unfair criticism to heart and secondly by then letting it change you as a person. People only have the power over us we choose to give them. If we change ourselves to solely meet another person’s needs but not our own then we are changing for the worse and not the better. We must learn to have enough self-confidence to have a positive belief in our own abilities, which then enables us work in partnership with others. This in turn creates healthier and happier relationships and a healthier happier life.

Always have a purpose.

 

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Recently I have been very surprised to find the amount of energy you can suddenly find once you have found a purpose to do something. Having a purpose seems to provide us all with real motivation, drive and determination to tackle anything big or small. In our case despite being aware of this we had simply forgotten its phenomenal qualities and have been reminded of them quite by accident.

For many months now our large garage has been used as storage space for spare items. Items we no longer wanted but ones that we hadn’t  quite made up our minds about what to do with them.  We had simply moved them from the house out to the garage intending to deal with them when we had a spare moment but never quite finding that moment. Recently my Mum moved house and having no desire to take everything with her, selected what she wanted and then stored the rest in our garage for us to use or dispose of as we liked. Suddenly our garage was no longer just a bit untidy it was overflowing with stuff. We occasionally looked at it and discussed how we were going to tackle it but then would decide to leave it for another day. A day when we had more time or more energy or any other excuse we could think of. Days passed and these days turned in to weeks and then before we knew it we were a month later and still no attempt had been made to clear out the junk. It was always in the back of our minds that we had to make an effort to do it but we simply didn’t .I am sure that this probably would have continued for quite a while longer but for one thing happening. My husband bought a new car. Not a brand new car but a car that he had wanted to buy for quite some time. As he was excited he was now filled with the necessary energy, drive and enthusiasm to clear out the garage. The garage finally had a purpose and he now began to see it the way he wanted it to be, not the way it was. As he now had a purpose he found that he had motivation. Before long the garage was cleared. Stuff had been disposed of that really was of no further use and other better items had been given to charity to sell. We both felt better and it made us realise that despite pretending to ourselves that we were not bothered about the mess in the garage we actually had been. Knowing it was there and that we still had to deal with it had actually sapped our energy. Despite working very hard to achieve the new clean space, we found that instead of being exhausted as we had thought we would be, we had in fact more energy. The sense of achievement we both felt has spilled over in to other neglected areas. I am now tackling my wardrobe, which appears to be full of clothes I seldom or never wear. I can envisage a nice clear space where I can hang my things easily and actually see what I have available that I like. I am getting rid of stuff that has seen better days and have decided to sell the items that are good but that I simply never wear. Any money raised is going in to the Christmas fund. In my new energised state it is hard for me to understand why I have left it so long to tackle but truthfully I do not think I truly noticed it until now. I suspect that by clearing out the clutter in the garage my awareness of other areas of clutter has been raised. I think life is like that. If we find a reason to change something, tap in to a purpose that gives us direction, we can then see much more clearly all of the areas in our lives that need our attention.  Having a purpose provides us with the energy that we need as well as, the strength and desire to make any changes necessary to bring happiness and contentment in to our lives. Despite being glaringly simple really and very obvious it is all too often forgotten by us as we lead our busy lives. I was grateful to be reminded in such a pleasant way.

Do I know what you are thinking ?

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It is amazing how many mind readers that I have met this week. People with psychic abilities that can tell ,just by looking at their partner or loved ones even people on the street, exactly what it is they are thinking ,feeling and even what it is that they are about to say.

They apparently know when they are being sarcastic or critical, hurt or offended, angry, sad, content, happy, flirtatious or dismissive just by watching them. They are so confident about this that they immediately respond in a manner they feel is appropriate to the mood they believe they are observing. Quite remarkable really and impressive if it was really true, however the problem is that it seldom is, true or accurate or helpful. In fact what usually happens when someone attempts to mind read another  ,they get it wrong .They personalise  how someone is looking at them based upon their own thoughts and feeling when they look  at someone that particular way .They imagine thoughts like they have or are having internally  as they pre judge what the person is truly thinking. Problems always arise when relying on this method of communication with another .It doesn’t actually show how close you are to another if you choose to do this; to me it actually shows a lack of consideration and respect. Both for yourself and for the person that you are choosing to mind read. Neither of these attributes are desirable in a healthy, happy relationship.

I don’t care how long you have known someone and how close you are to them, there is always going to be a time when you judge their mood or thoughts and be wrong. That is unfair  both on them and on yourself .There is no substitute, no quicker way to actually know what someone is thinking, than to stop and really listen to what they are saying. There is a definite need in any good relationship, to spend time communicating and talking to each other. Not as you run past each other on the way out to work or for that matter any other time when you are partly preoccupied doing something else as that too is a recipe for disaster. To communicate in this harassed way is a sure fire way to create problems in any relationship. People need time to explain themselves fully and this cannot be done to someone’s back as they  walk out the door, or run for the bus ,deal with the children ,the messages or any other distraction.

Time is needed to just sit and connect or even reconnect and to explore what both of you are truly thinking and feeling. If something has been said that has come across as hurtful or antagonistic, time is needed to actually explain things a bit more fully before deciding how to react to it. Everything worth doing takes practice and communication is no different. We need to consciously decide that we are going to be good listeners and make the effort to positively follow through with that decision. We need to set aside time for the people we care about to hear what they are thinking and feeling in order to develop healthy, happy and more fulfilling relationships. If we leave mind reading for Fairgrounds and magic shows we can concentrate on truly improving our lives. Simply put anytime we spend developing this quality adds to our character strengths and makes life a bit easier and happier for us all.

As British actress Emma Thompson once wisely said “Any problem, big or small, within a family, always seems to start with bad communication. Someone isn’t listening.”

Learning how to react positively to stress.

 

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In life our reactions to everything can be improved upon the more we learn about ourselves and our ability to handle situations. Nothing is worth making yourself ill over and without putting in to place some sort of structure and strategy to deal with stressful situations people can and do get ill by allowing daily issues to overwhelm and control them

Every day in life we all can be faced by situations that could be considered stressful. Partly what enables us to be happy and relatively stress free is learning how best to distinguish what really is a priority and therefore needs to be dealt with and what can be left until we have more time or energy to deal with it. By consciously making decisions to prioritize the importance level of daily events we can in fact learn to control our stress levels. If we believe everything has the same high importance and must be dealt with immediately then we are creating a very high stress level situation for ourselves to have to cope with. That inability to distinguish between important and not so important can easily cause us to go in to overwhelm and then nothing really gets done. Things start to pile up and before we know it we feel close to a complete meltdown as the pressure to act builds.

So how to decide what needs to be dealt with first? I usually make my decisions based upon the likely impact that taking no immediate action would have and whether I feel comfortable enough delegating it or leaving it until later? I make daily lists up and number in the order in which I consider I need to get things done. Where possible I will delegate tasks that do not necessarily need my particular attention alone to others who may be free to help. It is also important to take time during the day to try to have at least five minutes peace. To be able to sit, have a drink to rehydrate, eat something, take a good few deep relaxing breaths and then start again. I have found that having short breaks actually helps me to be more efficient and effective in dealing with any issues that have need of my attention. A short break often allows me to get a different perspective on a problem and enables me to tackle any issues with renewed vigor. If I don’t fully understand something or I need a different opinion I ask someone I trust for their views  as that can often help me to clarify my own thoughts.

Despite all our best efforts at the end of the day there are sometimes some things which are not fully resolved, some things which need more time and effort to sort out and we just have to learn to be able to accept that too. Fretting and fussing about those types of issues will not alter how quickly they can be effectively dealt with. Some things just need time and patience and it is important to learn how to recognize when you have done as much as you can and then to decide to stop worrying and, just wait and see what if anything is required next.

All of these techniques take conscious effort and practice but the end results are well worth it. As Hans Selye rightly says “It is not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it”.

New Shoes

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I have dogs and live in the country. As a consequence, unless going out somewhere I usually spend my time running around wearing shirts, jeans and trainers. These are all clothes which are suitable and practical to brush off the dog hair and stay reasonably tidy and on my feet when walking and living with them. Recently I tripped and noticed that the sole of my favourite trainers were coming off a little at the toe and I decided to go and buy some new ones. The choice was amazing and so large that it was initially a little bit overwhelming. To help me decide I made a list of what I required from a trainer, firstly I eliminated running shoes. Although I run it is never intentional, always based on pure necessity, usually after one on the dogs and always just a short sprint. Next I eliminated negative heel and ones designed to help me tone up. I need desperately to tone up but trying to balance whilst walking the dogs seemed a little too much like extreme sports for me. Working my way down my list of what I wanted in training shoes I was finally able to focus my attention on an all-round, comfort, walking trainer. Next choice was colour and then design. Finally I had selected my perfect shoe. When they arrived I eagerly put them on and felt silly for feeling so excited. The trainer was indeed comfortable, really nice but every time I looked down at my feet I was very aware of them being there and being brand new .I felt certain that everyone must know they were new as they  were beginning to feel, to me, like I was wearing clown feet. They were bright and cheerful and obvious, I went back to wearing my old trainers .Then tripped again and thought how daft I was being as I had spent money on carefully selected new ones .I decided that I simply had to just bite the bullet and wear them. For the first week I was really conscious of them poking out from underneath my jeans and found myself glancing longingly at my old ones sitting in the hall cupboard every time I opened the cupboard door. I persevered and before long I had was not even aware that I had completely forgotten I was wearing new trainers. Last week I was clearing out the hall cupboard and found my old trainers. They looked really tatty, scruffy and worn. ? Why on earth did I wear these for so long I thought? Then I realised we do that a lot in life with a lot of things and sometimes even with people. We hold on to them because they are familiar and were once comfortable. Even when they start giving us problems we cling on hoping somehow that the problems will just disappear and things will go back to normal. Most of us do not like change and it takes us time to adjust and accept new things, new people. The comforting thing is that if we allow ourselves time to adjust to new circumstances, before long they become familiar to us also and eventually comfortable too. All we really need to do is accept and recognise the need to make a positive change. It doesn’t really matter whether it is a big personal change or silly and small like my trainers the principal for each is the same. Once we have recognised that something is no longer helping us or working for us and decide to start afresh all we need to do is take it a day at a time, each day reminding ourselves what it is that we now want, persevere with the new and much more quickly than you could imagine the change is familiar and no longer new. It becomes comfortable and life will be easier once again.

Feeling sorry for myself ?

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Self-Pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world.

Helen Keller

Helen Keller became blind and deaf at the age of two and yet she still was able to go on to become an author, political activist, lecturer and was the first blind person to obtain a Bachelor of Arts degree. She could have allowed her disabilities to restrict her life but she chose not to and decided instead to push herself to lead as full a life as possible. We need to recognize as she did, that the key to living life fully is not being able to avoid negative life experiences; we can’t really do that no matter how safe we try to stay, but to choose no matter what life flings at us to embrace it as fully as we possibly can.

Too often when the going gets a bit tough and even sometimes just when feeling simply frustrated we can indulge ourselves by allowing our minds to become filled with self-pity. The trouble with this is that these destructive and weakening thoughts can then creep up and take over and completely affect negatively how we see the world. When we spend too much time feeling sorry for ourselves we forget to be grateful for all the things we have around us to be grateful for. We simply cease to be able to see the positives and focus only on the negatives. The shocking thing about this is that the trigger can just as easily be something trivial and yet we allow it to become a big deal and to grow out of proportion in to something we then falsely feel incapable of handling.

So what am I talking about? Surely it is normal to feel a little down at times, everyone can and does indulge a bit in this type of self-pity and occasionally, if it is brief, it can be a good catalyst to help us move on and to shake ourselves down as they say and start all over again. The problems arise when people get stuck in the habit of feeling sorry for themselves and then forget to move on or chose not to. For example relationships can and do break up and obviously that is painful ,but whilst sitting feeling sorry for yourself may feel quite good for a short while and is normal, if allowed the feeling of unhappiness can grow out of all proportion until it becomes all-consuming and can make you feel completely vulnerable, weak, unloved and bitter. When negative thoughts are allowed to grow out of proportion like this you are in fact digging a deep hole which is hard to then get out of. It is not impossible to get out of but it does make it much more of an effort to do. It is far easier to not allow it to take over than to rectify it when it has, so always, no matter what your life circumstances are or how down you feel, practice finding the positives in your life. Concentrate for a while on what you are grateful for. If you are breathing you should be grateful so no one should say ever that they are not grateful for something. If you have life you have the ability to change it. Perhaps not immediately but a day at a time is all any of us can really take. We need to choose to be responsible for our own happiness and to make decisions to change the things that pull us down. If we can’t change what has happened we can change how we look at it and how quickly we enable ourselves to move on. To live life we can choose to capitalise on our strengths or focus on our weaknesses. It is our life and our choice but only one will bring happiness. What would you choose?