The right attitude gives the best experience.

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One of my daughters is getting married and we have been shopping for “the dress”. I rather naively thought this was going to be a straightforward, simple, nice experience for us all to do. I had not realized how times have changes since I went looking for my own dress, many years ago. Nowadays there appears to me to be a lot more pressures on the bride to be than ever before, a whole lot more pressure. Today because of the new celebrity culture that seems to be around, the internet and movies, all manufacturing an image and a perceived standard for the potential bride to be and her friends and family to meet, the pressure is on before you have even ventured out to the shops to look. There is a certain pressure on the shops too as image appears to be everything. Although we found out that even a good external image can be deceptive as I will later explain.

My first surprise was that the present system requires any potential bride to book an appointment to go try on dresses. I thought my daughters were kidding on when they advised me of this. When I was younger (and clearly I am giving away my age now), you just went to look at the shops you wished to look at without having to have pre-arranged your appointment. That doesn’t seem to be possible now and so it was the bridesmaids jobs to phone ahead, weeks in advance to book the shops (bridal boutiques) that my daughter had selected and then having successfully done that, they had to create an online calendar which notified all the relevant parties to save the times and dates .It was done with military precision and required a lot of effort from the girls involved to make sure it all worked and allowed everyone time to get from one place to the next and have lunch in between. Given that we had several hills to climb and were all varying ages and fitness levels that was harder to do than you would think, yet somehow my daughters wonder team managed it.

Our first weekend shopping was done locally and I began to realise why an appointment had been required. There was a huge choice now available and not just in design but in colour, texture, pattern material and accessories. At first my daughter was a bit like a child in a sweetie shop, she wanted to try on everything and had absolutely no idea of what she liked or disliked. Had they not just given us an allotted hour we could have stayed lost in there for days. All thoughts of time went out the window. We all felt rather overwhelmed by the huge selection available and with few exceptions, thought every dress she tried on was lovely but none amazing. Since it was amazing she was after we moved on to shop number two. Shop number two fortunately did not have the layout of number one. You selected from books the dresses you wished to try on and as there was not as much choice we quickly calmed down and were able to focus on the designs and shapes we had liked on her in the previous shop. As there was still no “amazing “feeling we agreed to move on to the next on the list. Shop number three was arranged for the following weekend .It was one my daughter was quite excited about visiting. The dresses were displayed in a way that made them look both glamorous and exciting. We arrived five minutes before our appointment, which was the first of the day. The rain was pouring down as we rang the bell for entry. After a moment the impressive door was opened by the owner who advised us that we would have to wait for another 4 minutes before she would let us in. Attitude is everything as they say so when the door was opened again four minute later and we were allowed in, there was simply no dress in the world that could have made any of us want to purchase from her store .As it was we were not even tempted as most of the dresses my daughter tried on were rather grey having been tried on by many excited brides to be before. Who knows if we had been met by a smile and asked to wait inside in the foyer how differently we might have felt, but, the negative and unfriendly start made us all see every fault there was to see. The stop had lost its sparkle for us and so we moved on to shop number four There we were so pleased to be met by a friendly and helpful owner that we all once again fell in love with nearly every dress she tried on. However, this time one dress stood out and so we went off to lunch to discuss it more fully before making a final decision.

As we sat enjoying our lunch we wondered if we had just seen the perfect dress none of us were completely sure and so we decided that after shop number five, the last on our list for that day, we would go back and ask to try on the dress again and see then how we all felt .

The next shop was like something out of a movie. We were met by a very beautifully dressed, friendly member of staff. She directed us to a waiting area and went off to get our bridal consultant. My daughter whispered to me “Mum, this is going to be too expensive, let’s just try on a few and then leave”.At that moment and before I could reply, the bridal consultant arrived and we were ushered through to the area where we would see her in her chosen dresses.

All around us sat other brides to be with their families and friends along with their consultants making choices. Each of us in our own beautifully laid out area, in a huge room. We all sat looking at each other were all thinking the same thing “expensive”. After making her selection from a computer my daughter was ushered in to the changing room. Her consultant sat with her and went through her selection and asked her why she had chosen each dress, what she had liked and why. Then she suggested that whilst they wait for her dresses to arrive from the storeroom, she would bring her a dress that she thought she might like based on their discussion.

When she stepped out from the changing room I felt a surge rather like an electrical charge go through me, I later found out that we all had felt exactly the same, and suddenly we were all feeling quite emotional. She had found “the one “.What were we going to do, the place looked and felt ridiculously expensive, we had a budget, doesn’t everyone? No dress was ever going to make her look or feel the same. My daughter was smiling from ear to ear as she read my thoughts. ”It’s okay”, she said “we set down a budget before I selected the dresses I was going to try.” I was so pleased that both the shop and my daughter had been practical enough to consider this. Had they not, the chances are that I would have felt I had to try to get her what she really wanted. That potentially could have caused problems and all of that was avoided by common sense and good communication.

So my daughter has her dress and I have had reinforced to me the things that we should always try to remember. Have a plan, know your limits when it comes to financial matters communicate clearly with those around you, never judge a book by its cover, be flexible enough to listen to what others have to say and how having a good attitude and the right experience always counts. All of this I knew, yet had simply let fly out the window as I got drawn in to and carried away by the whole finding the perfect dress experience. Thankfully, my daughter, her sisters and friends managed to get it right. Fortunately, thanks to them I found that I had been wrong about it being a nice experience. It was a really wonderful experience and one I was truly grateful to be able to partake in. Now all we need to do is find the bridesmaid dresses.

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Listen and Learn.

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I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I am going to learn, I must do it by listening.
Larry King.

We all like to be heard. What we think and feel we want to be able to express to others and when we can do it freely we feel better and happier. We all recognize this and appreciate how important it is, so why when we have all this understanding and insight do we frequently fail to truly listen to what others want to say?
Perhaps it is because we feel that we are too busy or under too much pressure to waste time listening to what someone else thinks as we believe we already know the best decision or outcome? Or perhaps, we are too focused on what we need to do next that we simply do not take the time to listen before moving on to our next task or job. We just want to be able to tick off that we have dealt with the matter and move on.
The problem with this strategy is that more often than not we haven’t dealt with anything successfully. All we have really done by communicating in this manner is to potentially create more stress for the future.
Too often when we think that we are communicating we are in fact just barking out orders to others or we are defending ourselves from perceived criticism from others. This sort of communication can end up with us going round and round in circles trying to make our point and failing to do so. All that happens is that we end up feeling more and more exasperated, fed up and no further forward.
We are all guilty of doing this at some point in our lives and the solution to all the frustration and angst that this type of behavior causes us it really simple and straightforward. If we feel that we are not being heard rather than shouting louder and louder we need to stop and listen to what those around us are saying before we can then calmly answer them and express how we are feeling. Good communication requires all parties to be silent at some point and listen to what the others are saying before they actually respond. If we try to get our view over without paying attention to their views we are simply wasting our time. Seldom has anyone ever personally achieved anything constructive or made themselves feel better just by overriding the views of those close to them and imposing their own on any situation.
If we want to be happy, successful and content then it is simply essential to be a good listener. When we spend time listening to others they respect us more and will in turn spend time listening to us when we need them to. We can learn so much from hearing what those close to us have to say and that can help us to grow closer to those we love and to grow stronger as a person. As American psychologist Karl A Menninger once said:
Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.
Sometimes when we feel that we are not being listened to, we ourselves are also not actually listening. The only way to resolve or at least attempt to resolve this type of situation, is to stop trying to get our own point across and spend time hearing what those we believe are ignoring us, are really saying .If once we have listened to them we still feel they are not letting us respond or take our view in to account we need to make a decision about whether they are the right people to surround ourselves with. Either way just by listening we gain knowledge and that always makes us stronger.
If we find that we are the ones who have allowed ourselves to get in to the bad habit of not truly listening and communicating well to those around us, we simply need to decide to stop and change how we have been responding to others and handling things.
It is not difficult as we all have the ability inside us to be able to make such positive changes when we can see the benefit of doing so and know that by changing we will feel better and more in control. We all must learn how to make positive choices in life if we desire happiness. None of us should stick with bad habits or poor strategies that do not work well simply because they take time and a bit of effort to change. That is simply daft and most definitely not a recipe for success. Being able to be flexible enough to adapt and change makes life happier, as we learn what works best for us and for those around us. As I always say though, the choice and the power to make positive life changes lies solely within ourselves. No one can do it for us and we can hold no one responsible other than ourselves if we don’t change when we need to. We all need to learn to make changes today, even if only small positive, ones for a happier tomorrow.

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.

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.

Take a Chance

 

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It is really easy to give a million reasons why you have not achieved whatever it is that you had hoped for or why you haven’t pushed yourself for that new job, new relationship, new business the list could go on and often does. We get in to an easy habit of making excuses for not pushing ourselves forward and the sad fact is that often we come to believe them ourselves. We can even allow our excuses to cloud our judgment and become the reason we are feeling fed up and lethargic. Often we do this because we are too scared to try and fail. We become obsessed with the fear of failing and forget that not to try really is an automatic fail anyway. At least if we try something and fail we have learned something new. That in itself allows us to have energy to try again and move forward in a different, better direction.

I have written about this before and no doubt will do so again, it is too important to ignore .Life can be short or long but it is for living and not just treading water to survive. We all make an impact, no matter how small and everyone has a purpose.

Dale Carnegie once said “Take a chance! All life is a chance. The man who goes farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare “.

If you are perfectly happy with your life exactly as it is then you are getting it right, making the right choices and decisions. If however you feel fed up or frustrated then simply it is time to decide to take a chance on trying something new .It doesn’t matter your age, that is just another excuse. If you check on the internet you will easily find the names of many successful people who did not become successful until late in life and equally the same with young extremely successful people. You can always find information to back up what you are looking for so make sure you look for the positive if you wish to be motivated to succeed. Your background and education do not matter; using either is just another excuse. All that matters is your inner desire to change and occasionally having a dream to follow. Although, to bring some energy and new direction in to your life even having a dream is not necessary, all you really need is a desire to try something new, that’s enough to start with.

Remember there is nothing wrong with behaving like Goldilocks and sampling things until you find the one that is just right for you. Without trying the others first you would never have known what your real preference was and how to achieve it. Every new experience will add to your life and help enrich it, even the ones that do not quite work out .At the very least it will give you something to tell your friends about and give a new energy to your life. At best it can totally transform you. So what are you waiting for?

A different View

 

 

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A short time ago I decided to push myself out of my comfort zone and took on something new, well new to me, Instagram. I was very apprehensive about posting pictures publically and feared getting daft or cheeky comments .Such a silly thing to be bothered about really, as what it would matter I could always have deleted any if they did arise? My conscious mind knew that but the inner me was still a bit concerned that I might well get my feeling hurt.

Well eight months on and I can honestly say that I have found it to be a truly inspiring and uplifting experience. I think that I actually have started to view my surroundings in a different way, by looking to see the beauty in everything. I have seen many, many amazing pictures from around the world that I would have missed out on seeing had I not joined and made friends with people from all corners of the globe. The support and care shown to me throughout this new learning process has also been quite exceptional.

All a fantastic learning experience for me but it is the knock on effect of this supportive environment that has had perhaps the biggest impact upon me. I find now that when I watch the news and feel rather down with all the anger and sadness in it, instead of ruminating on the things I cannot change I change my focus from negative to positive by going to Instagram and view the world again from a different and for me more constructive standpoint. Or, I go out in to my own environment to reconnect and remind myself of the things that give me joy and energy. I can then take a quick pictures to store in my phone for a quick” pick me up” whenever needed and post it on the site in the hope that it will give the same positive lift to others also.

I am sure as everything in life has an opposite that there must be negative and draining people on the site also, but I have not met them. It no longer would worry me if I did, as they can only exist in my world if I give them permission to and I have no intention of doing that.

I guess it is looking at the glass half full or half empty. In order for me to have the personal energy to actually go and do something about the things that I care about, I need to have my internal energy batteries fully charged up. Listening to and viewing only negative things drains me and makes me feel powerless to do anything to help facilitate change. However, when I go on and connect to such a tremendous positive energy source it helps me to see how much more constructive people actually can be and renews my faith in my and every other person’s ability ,should they choose to use it, to be able to change things around and make their world a better place to be. As Mother Teresa once said “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the Ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”

If you have been sitting for too long in your comfort zone as I was, perhaps it is time to stretch yourself a little. Push yourself to learn something new or just go out and, meet new people and expand your horizons. Every little positive thing that you can do in your life can make a much bigger impact than you would at first think possible. Don’t take my word for it, go try it and see.

Moving on.

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All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.

Anatole France

 

My Mum has lived for over twenty years in her much loved, large traditional flat. It has huge bay windows, large airy bright rooms and a view that is spectacular, over countryside with a distant view of the sparkling lights of the city of Glasgow. She is physically fit and active but now eighty. Her home is on a steep hill with stairs up to her front door and again to her back garden. Not a problem twenty years ago but becoming one now. She also has two much loved dogs that she takes out four times every day ,probably why she is so fit, but that is now becoming a problem as the stairs and hill become harder for her to manage. Even more of a problem if the weather is bad.

Very reluctantly and after a fall last year, when she fractured her arm, she has come to the realization that she must move and has started looking for a suitable new home .Despite her deciding to look for another house every house we have seen has been compared unfavorably with her own. Rooms too small, corridors too narrow, no view, the list could go on. Each time after we had viewed a place we would go through the same depressing discussions.

We all felt a little sad and a bit despondent because we have not really known what to say or do to help her adjust. All of the family was very aware of the huge changes that she needed to go through to adapt to a different way of living. The acceptance of these changes had to come from her and we felt powerless, unable to help her come to terms with things.

Then help came from a very surprising source indeed, her solicitor. During a discussion about selling her home and buying a new one she spoke about how miserable it was making her feel to have to move. The solicitor looked at her and said “why, would you rather stay in your gilded cage?” “You have the potential to have a new and much better life adventure in more suitable surroundings and remember it will only be a bit strange for a very short while before it too becomes home. There are many, many worse things that could be happening in your life. This is something nice”. I sat in stunned silence waiting on my Mum’s reaction. It seemed to me that the solicitor had been truthful and clearly well-intentioned but a little too direct and I wondered how Mum would feel. I shouldn’t have been worried as it turned out to be exactly what Mum needed to hear. She was laughing as we left the office and has since decided that she will look on it as a new life adventure. She acknowledges that it will be a bit sad leaving her old flat and moving to something new but feels that her attitude to it now has changed. She is looking at the advantages rather than the disadvantages and she says that she feels so much better.

It is certainly true that in life if we dwell on the negative and sad then we are not going to feel very strong or happy. Life presents us with choices and challenges all the time. We can’t avoid them if we want to live life fully and part of living is accepting that things change. Being able to adapt to those changes and go with them to create something new and positive is the best way to succeed.