Friday, August 04, 2006

fill the happiness bank

I don't want to get into the whole 'what is happiness' debate because, well, I don't know what it is! And I'm aware that it is possibly different for different people. However I know what it takes to make me happy and I know that happiness can sometimes be fleeting. Call it happiness, contentment, fulfilment, I'm talking about that positive state where things seem good for us and life is easy.

So why work HARD to get to a state of EASE?

I am of the opinion, that to achieve a regular positive state, we have to work at it. And there are positive steps that we can take to make us happier. We need to create an environment, routine and state of positivity for ourselves because, well, if we rely on the rest of the world to provide it, we'll be waiting a long time. You only have to turn on the TV at the moment to get very depressed indeed with what's going on in the Middle East.

So, what can we do to increase of chances of happiness? Well, as I said previously I only know what works for me but I'm willing to bet that some of them are universal. The other point to make is that you need to do these consistently, not just when you're feeling a bit down. Because in my experience, it's like we have a happiness bank inside of us and we can store some up for future use. The happier we are consistently, the easier we find it to weather the storms of life and to find a state of contentment even in the most challenging of circumstances.

It's like having a happiness routine that you get into. This may seem a bit weird and bizarrely can be harder to do when you are happy because you find it hard to engage with the times when you don't feel so good, the more distant they are.

Start by sitting in a quiet place and getting to a point of relaxation. Start to visualise or recall times when you were really happy, liked blissed out. I don't mean really excited, but that feeling of contentment, of being in the right place at the right time and that life is GOOD. Breathe.

Where are you? What are doing? Who are you with?

Then start to write a list of things that you know make you happy or have a positive effect on your mood. Don't stop until you have at least 10.

Notice what types of things they are.

Then write a list of people who make you happy. Find at least 5 if you can.

Now you have your lists, take time to think about how you can start to incorporate these 'happy triggers' into your life. Don't be shy. Following on from yesterday's call to decadence, how much happiness can you pack in?

For me, I get my happiness in the following ways;

1. Reading or listening to uplifting, motivational literature every day
2. Blogging several times a week
3. Weekly date nights with my husband
4. Only ever eating food I like and want (n o diets but no junk either!)
5. Getting enough sleep
6. Weekly yoga class
7. Walking outside in a pleasant place (park, countryside etc) every day
8. Keeping a tidy, attractive and comfortable home
9. Spending time with my husband, my sister and my close friends weekly in some case, daily in others
10. Taking time and effort over my appearance every day.

I challenge you to do this exercise as soon as you can and take immediate action to fill your happiness bank. I guarantee that if you take this challenge on, that within 30 days you will understand how to create your own state of happiness and
start to live there, rather than just going to visit from time to time!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Respect: do you command, or demand?

I was walking through town this morning, when Respect by Aretha Franklin came onto my ipod. It reminded me of a conversation I recently had with a work colleague who was bemoaning the lack of respect that someone on his team has for him.

And he's not alone. One thing that I have noticed in a few people that I know is that they are forever talking about how people should give them respect or how so and so doesn't give them the respect they deserve. However, what are they putting out into the world that COMMANDS respect? Or are they just DEMANDING it?

Respect has to be earned - we've all heard that saying. And it's really true. If someone appears to have a lack of respect for us, instead of moaning to our friends and anyone else unfortunate enough to have to listen (!) or blowing up and demanding respect from the 'guilty' party, why don't we look firstly at whether we are sending them the right message? Being honest with ourselves; do we allow this person to walk over us? Have we set clear boundaries? Do we challenge disrespectful behaviour in them? And perhaps more importantly, what do we actually DO to command their respect? Do we demonstrate high self esteem and a deep connection to our values? Or do we whinge, moan, stone wall or become overly passive or aggressive?

Of course there are many people out there who seem to have precious little respect for those around them and are too wrapped up in themselves to notice their own behaviour and how it affects others - but there are also an awful lot of people running through life demanding respect and doing nothing to really EARN it.

Think of someone you know, or even a fiction character, who commands respect. Who seems to have the ear of everyone, has most people seeing them in a positive light, valuing them and their opinions and wanting to be helpful towards them. The sort of person everyone has time for and is universally acknowledged as a good guy (or gal!)

What are their characteristics? What messages are they sending out about themselves?

Some of the things I have noticed about people who command respect are;

They tackle issues head on and don't resort to two faced behaviour
They don't see the strengths of others as a threat to themselves and are happy to celebrate the successes of others
They are proactive
They prefer win-win rather than win-lose as an approach
They treat other people and their opinions with respect
They don't play power games
They look for the positive without being naive
They have high self esteem and are living their values.

Some of the things I've noticed about people who demand respect are;

They are unable to deal with issues face to face because of a lack of confidence and often submit in person, only to complain later, usually when the other person involved isn't around to defend themselves
They make quick judgments about people and can be very critical
They have low self esteem which they parade with helpless, victim behaviour, or mask with arrogance and ego
They have limiting beliefs about people and the world
They go for win-lose or lose-win
They are easily threatened by the strengths and successes of others.

So, are you a commander or a demander?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

treat yourself!

Go on. I dare you. What might you do? Well, oh wanton one, might I suggest;

a massage
an hour long bubble bath
a new book
a beautiful bunch of flowers
unplugging the phone for a whole evening of uninterupted...whatever!
A big bowl of icecream
cooking YOUR favourite meal for dinner for a change
a bottle of champagne and just ONE glass (hick!)

Wicked isn't it? Selfish some would say. Indulgent. Most people, and even more so women, are notoriously bad at treating themselves. Why? Well, for the reasons above and for all the feelings that my request might have stirred in you. We are taught from an early age to put others first, that self indulgence is A. BAD. THING. If we put ourselves first we are selfish. I've even heard the argument recently that self development is selfish because it encourages people to think too much of themselves - as if THAT were possible. It's not selfish to look after your own needs, it's self-ish - geddit? If we don't look after ourselves, how can we expect ourselves to look after others and to contribute fully to the world? And what kind of message are we sending out into the world when we deny ourselves the treats and good things in life?

Let's challenge this notion, let's start to treat ourselves. Weekly, if not daily.

So what will you do? and when? Go on, you're worth it...