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We’re all fairly well versed in first aid for dealing with physical wounds, knocks and bumps, cuts and scratches. We know when to reach for the antiseptic and band aids and apply a liberal dose of sympathy and compassion. I’m guessing we’d probably never find ourselves telling someone with a broken leg or gash in their arm to “just get over it’, “snap out of it” or “go for a walk, get some fresh air, you’ll feel better”!

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I recently read an article about 50 ways to be happier, healthier and more successful.

Looks interesting, I thought, nothing wrong with being more successful. Also being happy and healthy is a state I think every human has a right to experience. I was interested to see what the writer had to say on the subject. I started reading with eager anticipation only to find myself becoming more disgruntled (has anyone ever been “gruntled”?!) and increasingly unhappy the further on I read. I know that “writing style” can influence how we feel and what we think about an article. I know there will be people who find my style intensely irritating, but was it the style that was irritating me? No, not particularly. It wasn’t written as I would write, however there were some interesting points made. I put the article down and thought about it for a while. Then I understood. It was incredibly prescriptive, a bit like a checklist. It came across as being “do these and everything will be fine”. Whilst some points were interesting, some were incredibly difficult to set up, never mind making a start and maintaining momentum. It would probably take more time than I have left on this earth to wade my way through the list. One premise was we could live life on our own terms. However, in my experience life involves interacting with others and they don’t always see things our way! We don’t live in isolation. I found myself muttering things like “it’s not necessarily the same for everyone”, “does it really take 50 things to make us happy, healthy and successful”, “life isn’t a tick list”……… and on I railed.

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I don’t know if this ever happens to you, you’ll be talking to someone, reading, listening to your radio, on your computer or watching tv and you notice the same or similar themes coming through from different sources. When it happens to me I stop and take notice. I figure there’s something in there I need to be aware of, something that perhaps I need to learn or at the very least something I need to check out. Maybe that’s fanciful, or maybe it’s not! Either way I use it as a personal beacon to get me to pay attention and to take a closer look. It happened to me last Sunday. I kept coming across people talking about looking beyond all the negative things happening around us, locally and globally, and looking at what we had to be grateful for. In fact one friend set it as a challenge for the week – to look closely at what in my world was good. Now on the whole, I’m a fairly positive individual. I thought “sweet, simply done”. In fact so easy was the task, I thought, that whilst whistling Monty Python’s “Always look on the bright side of life”, I challenged the Fit for Life Facebook followers to spend all 24hrs of Monday without making a single negative comment. I lasted 3 hours and 5 minutes from waking up until I burst forth with a negative comment. At 9.05 am I had to reset and start again!

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Constructing a building well can make for some impressive results if it’s done properly. Some buildings last for centuries, withstanding the demands of the elements and tests of time. They can be massive or modest, commercial or residential, practical or fanciful. Buildings that last for long periods of time, despite their differences in size or use, all have one thing in common – strong foundations.

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We all have a past. It’s part and parcel of who we are now. The past can be a great teacher, but for some it can be something that is best left well alone. Either way we can find ourselves with “left overs” in our lives. In coaching I’ve discovered those “left overs” seem to fall into a couple of common categories

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In a world of instant gratification, patience is becoming a lost art.

We can contact someone on the other side of the world almost instantly. Gone are the days of writing a letter to your friends and relies overseas and then waiting for a couple of weeks or more for the reply. Now we can download and watch a whole series of our favourite programmes in one sitting. No more gathering with friends to watch the final episode of your favourite soap and then waiting for the next series (like waiting to find out who shot JR on Dynasty!). You could spend days discussing what had gone on between the characters and who said what and who looked sideways at who.

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In our multi sensory world full of noise and distraction it can be incredibly difficult to get a little peace and quiet. I’ve wondered if silence is perceived as being a bit old fashioned? We are constantly surrounded by music, tv, news, talkback and social media and can have email and text conversations 24/7. Silences in conversation are often met with an awkward shuffle and quickly filled with meaningless small talk.

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We humans are social critters by and large. Centuries ago our daily survival depended on being part of a tribe. We needed this for safety and to help with hunting. Besides the tribe providing for our physical needs it helped us to socialise and fulfilled our emotional needs as well. You could say not much has changed in terms of emotional needs. Most of us still need and enjoy social contact to varying degrees. So calling up friends and inviting them to dinner or a movie or to take part in an activity is something we look forward to. But who has experienced the non-committal reply “oh I’ll let you know closer to the time” or “um, not sure at the moment, I’ll get back to you”? Or, are you the person giving the non-committal reply?

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While chatting with friends I was reminded of the movie “Pay it Forward”. It’s a good few years old now. If you don’t know of it or don’t remember it, here’s a brief outline. Pay it Forward is the story of an American social studies teacher who gives an assignment to his junior high school class. They are to think of an idea to change the world for the better and then put it into action. One young student creates a plan for “paying forward” favours, and when he implements his idea he not only affects the life of his struggling single mother, but he sets in motion an unprecedented wave of human kindness.

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If you’ve been reading my columns for a while you may have noticed I’m pretty keen on people identifying and understanding their feelings and general emotional state. I maintain it’s useful to sit with your feelings for a while and really understand what’s going on rather than just pushing things aside, sweeping hard emotions under the carpet or glossing over the more comfortable ones. Why? Well, there’s some really good reasons behind this approach and I thought we’d look at some of the science behind it today.

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