Archive | April 2012

How to avoid being let down

Look. I have a strategy. Why expect anything? If you don’t expect anything, you don’t get disappointed. Patricia McCormick

It’s a horrible feeling when a family member, a friend or someone we think we know disappoints us. Consider this: You’ve cleared a day of your weekend to spend it with a friend. When you call to make final arrangements that morning, they have other plans. You spend the rest of the day feeling let down.

Here’s some tips on how to avoid this situation:

Be organised – make your plan early
Make a plan of what you want to do with that friend. Call them EARLY to discuss your idea and let them know you’re looking forward to it and will confirm details the day before. I suggest making a Plan B in case your original plan falls through – anything can happen at the last minute and it may be outside anyone’s control.

Make a ‘Plan B’
Plan B is very important because it’s all about you. So if you’re crushed with disappointment, you’re not at a complete loose end. Even if it’s as simple as watching a specific movie at home by yourself, taking your dog to the park or baking a cake – make Plan B all about you and select an activity that you will still look forward to.

Communicate
Once you have your plan with your friend sorted, give them a call (the earlier the better) and let them know what you have in mind. Finish the call by telling that person you’re really looking forward to seeing them and you will call the day before to confirm final arrangements including your meeting time and place. That way, the person can pencil it in their calendar without knowing everything.

Follow up
Call your friend the day before your engagement as you promised. Finalise all details. If plans fall through at this point, then you still have time to make other plans with another friend, so don’t let it dishearten you. If plans are going ahead, then great!

Keep ‘Plan B’ in mind
Up until the moment that you see your friend, keep Plan B in mind. This means your plans and happiness aren’t dependant on someone else and outside forces. It’s keeping you in control of the situation. Also remember that your real friends enjoy your company and will also be looking forward to your plans so will be unlikely to disappoint.

In summary – to avoid disappointment:
- Expect the best but prepare for the worst
- Make sure your goals/plans are realistic
- Live to your standards and expectations, be reliable, act with integrity
- Accept that you don’t have control over someone else or outside forces
- Avoid having any expectations
- Don’t rely on anyone or anything for your happiness
- Believe in second chances – some people are just like that – accept it
- Realise that when things don’t work out straight away, it’s not the end of the world – sometimes it can work out even better than you expected.

Being happy with what you have (or how to change it!)

Happiness is self-contentedness. Aristotle

Being happy with what you have is the fastest way to be truly happy every day. Unfortunately, you may have experienced losing something or someone that was making you happy, simply by taking it for granted. Many people don’t learn from this mistake – mostly because they don’t know how and they’re not open to changing their ways.

In 1965 at President Johnson’s second inauguration, Rabbi Hyman Schachtel said: “Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.” Appreciating what you have makes us happy because it gives us the opportunity to step back from the detail and have a look at the overall picture. Honestly appreciating the people in your life and making time to show them your gratitude (by spending time with them or doing small things for them, even just letting them know) will make you a happier person because it gives you presence and helps you to honour your life as it is. Being thankful for these small but significant blessings is a choice, and a simple positive decision can open you to positive feedback.

In fact, research has shown that gratitude enhances your quality of life. A studied by two psychologists (Michael McCollough of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis) showed that daily gratitude resulted in higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism and energy. It also showed less cases of depression and stress, the subjects were more likely to help others, appreciated regular exercise and made greater progress towards achieving goals.

How to appreciate what you have
There is no specific method in learning to appreciate what you have – but there are some exercises you can do to start practising.
1. A gratitude journal. Write down three to ten things you appreciate each day before bed
2. A gratitude letter. Write a letter to someone who has exerted a positive influence in your life but who you haven’t had a chance to properly thank
3. A 21-day challenge. Avoid complaining, criticising or gossiping for 21 days. Experts suggest wearing a coloured wristband throughout your time to keep you constantly aware of the challenge
4. A gratitude charm bracelet. Make and wear a symbol of your gratitude every day to remind you to appreciate the things that you DO have in life
5. Enjoy the moment. The ability to appreciate what’s in front of you has nothing to do with what you actually have. It’s more about how you measure the good things in your life at any given time
6. See every day as an opportunity. Set attainable goals and look at each day as an opportunity to improve on yesterday, rather than focusing on imperfections. By focusing on improvements, you’ll naturally move toward your larger dreams and will respect the way you’re doing things
7. Take action. If something is negative, be positive. If something isn’t right, change it so it is. Be the change you seek and set an example for those around you
8. Be responsible. Be who you want to be and act accordingly. If you don’t like something about yourself, have the courage to start looking at what it is and changing it
9. Want the things you already have. Be mindful of the achievements (and even material possessions) you have obtained in life and use them to your full advantage. Make a list of your achievements and accomplishments. Take time to reflect on how far you have come to appreciate where you are now
10. Understand what makes you happy. Learn to appreciate your individuality – no one is perfect, but you can be the perfect form of yourself
11. Meditate each day on the things that make you happy. Really take the time to focus on these positive things and give thanks
12. Treat yourself regularly. You can only appreciate the people and things around you when you appreciate yourself. Remember to reward yourself (a positive action) when you reach gratitude goals
13. Be grateful for your health. Ensure you maintain peak condition by eating the right foods and participating in regular exercise.
14. Practise seeing what you have. Avoid waiting until you lose something to appreciate it! Start a list of the things you’re grateful for – it may include: family, friends, lovers, health, your environment, your senses, electricity, music, recycling, air conditioning, your happiness etc
15. Volunteer for the less fortunate. Spending time working with the homeless, sick or another disadvantaged group is a great way to put the things you do have into perspective
16. Make a scrapbook of the good things in your life. This will be a visual reminder with pictures or symbolic representations of the things you’re most grateful for
17. Watch a powerful movie such as “The Pursuit of Happyness” or “Pay it Forward” to motivate you to continue taking steps to show your appreciation of life.

Appreciating people in our life
Unfortunately, it’s often people we lose more than material things when we’re taking something for granted. And it isn’t until they’re gone that we realise our behaviour. How can you avoid this?
1. Remember the reasons that person is close to you. What qualities attracted you to them in the first place? How often do you appreciate these qualities? Remember why they’re a part of your life
2. Tell the people in your life you love them and why you think they’re special. Verbalising you’re positive feelings will reinforce them in your heart
3. Recognise the person’s current expressions of the same qualities that attracted you in the beginning. Living in the moment helps us to really see how valuable others are to us
4. Take time to respond when someone you care about is doing something that you appreciate. Send a clear message of appreciation – a smile, a comment, a helping hand, a gift, positive feedback… it can be anything
5. Spend time each day appreciating these special people in your life and listing the reasons why. This will affect your attitude towards the special people in your life – making it positive!

How to change things when you don’t appreciate them
Having the courage to change things when you’re not happy with them can take a lot of courage. Sometimes we are too comfortable with things to change them, sometimes we have good excuses for why we should stick with the way things are (often holding onto hot coals for far too long), and sometimes it’s just laziness.
1. Figure out what you need to change and be clear with yourself why it needs to change
2. Set yourself a goal to break the habit or change the situation – including a deadline
3. Make the change happen. Reward yourself when you complete the change and build a new, positive habit (or situation) in its place.

Living with integrity

Integrity simply means not violating one’s own identity. Erich Fromm

Imagine how great the world would be if everyone did exactly what they said they were going to do, when they said they were going to do it. More and more often procrastination, excuses and other obstacles get in the way preventing a lot of people from delivering this. Before we know it, we’re wearing thin because our integrity is being ignored.

Integrity regards internal consistency as a virtue, and suggests that parties holding apparently conflicting values should account for the discrepancy or alter their beliefs. Essentially, living with integrity is aligning your values with your actions.

A lot of the time when we aren’t living with integrity it is affecting (i.e. letting down) other people. How many times have you heard someone promise something to charity – and not do it? How many times have you been let down socially? What about when working as part of a team in the office? Are you the person you want to be at the moment, or can you see some areas where you are letting yourself and others down?

The importance of integrity
Integrity is important in everybody’s lives as it will lead to strong personal relationships, long term success, consistency in one’s life and it is great for leadership skills. We can’t lead and inspire others if we are not acting with integrity. In fact, if you want to be a positive influence, act with integrity, treat others with respect and live by positive values.

Integrity is first knowing yourself – your values, desires, talents, dreams … and then being true to that self in all actions and interactions. It’s having behaviour that is congruent with your values. When your actions are aligned with your values, you conduct yourself authentically, sincerely and openly. When you clarify your values, it assists with setting goals that are consistent with those values – bringing purposes and passion to your life.

Some values to help you act with integrity
Below are some values to assist you in acting with integrity.
Responsibility
: Take responsibility and ownership of your life, your actions and who you are as a person.
Attitude
: Be confident and comfortable within yourself and you will have no reason to belittle others or act with arrogance. You can build confidence simply by working on your communication skills.
Commitment
: Align your words and actions and follow through with anything you say you will do. When we keep our commitments, trust is built.
Honesty
: Be open about your objectives and motives with other people. Where there is high trust, what you see is what you get.
Values
: Make sure you have a strong set of core beliefs. If you wish to alter any of these, I highly recommend looking into Schema Therapy.
Consistency
: Make the right decisions and do it consistently. Don’t lie to anyone about anything.
Reinforcement
: Choose your behaviour to reflect your values and you’ll move through life with authenticity, sincerity and wholeness. Some examples of aligning your actions with your values may include:
Value: Honesty = be truthful
Value: Commitment = follow through
Value: Independence = do your own thing.

Benefits of living with integrity
Life coach Cheryl Richardson says that living without integrity makes goals harder to reach, attracts people into your life who will make you feel bad, and you start losing faith in yourself.
- People living with integrity are often seen as: trustworthy, decent, honest, moral, virtuous, appropriate, mindful, ethical, authentic, fair and credible.
- When you live with integrity, you succeed. You are open and honest. Your life is uncomplicated and less stressful.
- Integrity can be like a butterfly effect – people follow your example and act more honestly.
- Living with integrity means you live with less regrets – you stick to what you know is right or wrong.
- Integrity helps us handle criticism more easily.
- When you make a mistake, it’s easier to accept responsibility and move forward.

How to live with integrity
(1) Concentrate on how you spend your time and money. To live a life with integrity, you spend your time according to what is of most value to you. This could be working, seeing family, working for charity, taking care of yourself (exercising, meditating/reflecting, cooking, sleeping etc). When it comes to money – maximise your real hourly wage, be conscious of your spending, eliminate spending money on things with low value.
(2) Don’t settle for less than what you deserve in your relationships. Start challenging yourself – ask yourself what life would be like if you had the ideal partner, more supportive friends, a more gratifying job or a happier and more fulfilling life. Ask yourself how those changes look and feel. You’ll find that because they look and feel better than what you’re currently experiencing, you’ll be more compelled to make the changes that align with that new vision of your life.
(3) Ask for what you want. Understanding your needs helps you establish solid boundaries. Making your needs known to those around you, helps you to enforce those boundaries and teaches others how to treat us.
(4) Speak your truth (even if it upsets people). Expressing our truths is one of the most powerful privileges we have as humans. If we speak our truth with caring and respect, then the message can be that much more effective.
(5) Be true to yourself. Make decisions based on your beliefs.

Looking for more information about acting with integrity? Check out this fantastic clip on YouTube by Sagebrush Community!

Discover your dreams

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Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined. Thoreau

If you could do anything in life – what would it be? If you could work anywhere, for anyone – where would it be and who would it be for? What are you passionate about? Struggling to find a direct answer? You’re not alone. This blog will help you get on the path to achieving your dreams and living a life fulfilled with happiness.

Hobbies
How do you spend your spare time? Everyone spends their spare time doing something – a lot of the time it’ll be multiple consistent things – for example – I like blogging, going to the gym, socialising and reading. List these activities and consider whether it’s something you would enjoy doing for a living.

Talents
Everyone has a gift that they could utilise and share with the world in order to live a life of purpose. Consider what you are good at? What areas do you excel in? Listing your achievements in life may also assist in deciphering your talents.

Colleagues
You won’t enjoy your job if you don’t like who you’re working with. Consider who you enjoy working with and list the types of people you enjoy working with: their characteristics, job titles, even list names of people if you wish.

Tools
What do you enjoy working with? Do you enjoy working with computers? People? Art? Particular software programs? Write a list of all the things you enjoy working with.

Environment
What environment do you enjoy working in? Do you like being in the office? Being outdoors? A classroom? A construction site? What gets you excited?

Triggers
Look back on your life and consider what triggers your happiness? From childhood, through adolescence to adulthood – think about the happiest times in your life and what you were doing, who you were with, where you were doing it.

Passion
List your top five passions – if you don’t have five, as many as you can – compare them to each other and rank them in order from top (greatest passion) to bottom (least passion in the list). Look at the top two or three passions and ask yourself if either could be turned into a job. What professions use those passions? Consider how you would get into that profession and whether you would love working in that field.

Visualise
Take some time to think about what your dream job is, visualise: what you are doing, what you are wearing, where you are, who you’re working with, what tools you’re using, the benefits of this job to yourself and others. Write down all the finer details as much as you can. The more real it becomes in your mind, the more it will become a reality – what you conceive, you can achieve.

Planning
Now you have your destination – you just need to plan how to get there. Think backwards – you have your destination, what’s the last step you have to take to get to there? And the step before that? And the one before that? Keep going until you’re at the first step. Sometimes there is more than one way to get to a destination, so it’s ok to brainstorm a few possibilities/branches to get where you’re going. Brainstorm what actions you need to take to get to where you want to go.

Make it happen
Start at the start of your roadmap and take the first step. Pretend you can’t fail – remove all fear of risk and loss and believe in your success.  Live as you want to be remembered. Set an example with what you’re doing and be the best you can be at it every day. Sooner or later, you will get rnoticed for what you are doing – but make sure you act boldly and on purpose.

Research
Learn as much as you can about your dream in any way you can. Read books in the library, look it up on the internet, interview some experts in the field. Become an expert on the topic. Find the people who inspire you in the field and try to meet them. Ask what steps they took to get there, what’s required, how they did it.

Practice
While you’re developing your dream, practice your passion as much as possible. Commit to spending some time on it every day (30 minutes to an hour) or as often as you possibly can, for as long as you can. Make it a habit and you will succeed.

Motivation
Keep yourself motivated and focussed. You know what you’re going for, now don’t give up! Set rewards for yourself at every mini goal you reach – in the step to getting to the end. Only focus on one goal at a time. Inspire yourself, track your progress, join a support group or find a partner on a similar mission.

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