You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. John Bunyan
The efficiencies of the internet are moving us towards a more insular world and it is becoming more difficult to be mindful of helping others. According to the Dalai Lama that is our sole purpose in being here on earth – to share our compassion and help others.
The Pay It Forward movement has been particularly active on Facebook this year. You may have noticed several posts that read:
“To start this year off in a caring way I’m participating in this Pay-It-Forward initiative:
I don’t usually buy into these things, but due to a recent act of generosity I have decided to get involved, this is for real.
The first five people who comment on this status with “I’m in”, will receive a surprise from me at some point in this calendar year – anything from a book, a ticket, a visit, something home grown or made, a postcard, absolutely any surprise!
There will be no warning and it will happen when the mood comes over me and I find something that I believe would suit you and make you happy.
These five people must make the same offer in their Facebook status and distribute their own joy. Simply copy this text onto your profile (don’t share) so we can form a web of connection and kindness.
Let’s do more nice and loving things for each other in 2014, without any reason other than to make each other smile and to show that we think of each other. Here’s to a more enjoyable, more friendly and love-filled year.”
So while our modern world seems to be encouraging selfishness, greed and isolation – Happiness Weekly looks at some ways that you can help others this week without having an agenda of your own. Truly helping others means there’s nothing in it for you – in fact, the person you may help may never be able to repay you and that’s the ultimate aspiration in truly helping others.
The benefits of helping others includes:
- Connecting you to someone in an otherwise very lonely world
- Enhancing someone else’s life
- Making the world a better place to live
Things you can do to help others
- Teach them something new
- Smile and be friendly
- Volunteer for a charity
- Start your own charity
- Make a donation
- Share your knowledge
- Help someone do something – e.g. cross the street, change a flat tyre, get from A to B
- Donate something you don’t use
- Comfort someone
- Buy food for a homeless person
- Listen to someone
- Do a chore for someone
- Send a nice email
- Share your favourite things (movie, song etc) – if you enjoyed it, someone else may too
- Give a loved-one a massage
- Praise someone publicly
- Be patient with someone
- Tutor a child
- Make a care package for someone
- Speak up for someone – sign a petition, write a letter etc.
- Offer to babysit
- Start a charity
- Share what you have
- Find out what’s valuable to someone and get it for them
- Present an opportunity to someone or make them aware of it
- Give transparent feedback to better performance (without being too critical)
- Introduce people to each other, help people network
- Give someone a gift
- Do something nice for someone without expecting anything in return
- Welcome a new neighbour by baking for them
- Use your power to help people around you have a good day
- Only see good in people and treat everyone accordingly
We’re all here together and the only certainty is we have one life and we’re living it now. Help others to be the best they can be where ever you can, because if everyone surrounding you is doing the same, imagine the powerful world we would live in.
Pages that helped inspire this blog:
Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it. Charles Swindoll.
Everyone gets stuck from time to time, but remember – it’s not what happens to us but how we recover that matters the most. Following a traumatic event if you could leap past the awful, paralysing emotions and land safely back into positive, happier times – you would do it in a heartbeat, wouldn’t you?
Unfortunately it’s impossible to predict how long it will take someone to overcome grief – your feelings will come and go and you’ll endure frustrations that will make it feel like it’s two steps forward, followed by three steps back. Time is the best healer.
While we can’t speed up time for you, there are things you can do to help you move on from a traumatic event. This week Happiness Weekly looks at how you can move on as quickly as possible.
Recognise what you’re feeling
It’s really important to recognise what you are feeling rather than judging why you are feeling the way you are. Try not to look at what’s happened, tell yourself it has happened – there is nothing that can be done to change it – and take notice of your feelings when you start thinking of the exciting things the future may have in store for you. It may take time to feel excited about anything again, but eventually that spark will return.
Sit with the pain for two minutes
If you can sit with the pain for two minute increments and then try to distract yourself, whether it’s reading or writing or going for a walk, you will soon find the painful moments will be further and further apart. In fact, you may even be able to experience moments of happiness and peace again. Concentrate on the good moments, but also let yourself have time to grieve as well.
Keep as positive as you can
If the voice inside your head says “I’m never going to love again –” add something to make it more positive “in that way”. Positive thinking will prevent you from dwelling for too long. When you eliminate the negative voice, which can appear so conclusive and certain, you will also take away some of your worries. Keep reminding yourself that there will be a tomorrow – and it may even be better than today!
Make acceptance a priority
It’s important to work on accepting what has happened as soon as possible. Don’t sit with denial for too long. Take charge! Decide to accept what’s happened, regardless of how you feel about it. Take a proactive philosophy to the situation – instead of waiting for your feelings to change in order to take action – take action and trust that your feelings will change as a consequence to your efforts. Remember, every action has a reaction. Feeling outraged by life’s injustices won’t change anything beyond your control – try to remind yourself if it what it is and keep stepping forward.
Grow from the experience
Pretend that everyone is enlightened except for you. Look for every lesson that comes your way. Be open to learning. Practise some patience. This mindset can help improve the way you interpret and respond to even the most painful events in your life. Be honest with yourself during this part of the healing process. As you look back on the relationship you will have an opportunity to learn more about yourself, how you relate to others, and the problems you need to work on. If you are able to objectively examine your own choices and behaviour, including the reasons why the situation happened to you, you’ll be able to see where you went wrong to enable you to make better decisions next time around!
Get set for something better
Avoid turning minor upsets into bigger issues in your mind and look at the bright side. It’s just another challenge – focus on how you’re going to resolve it for the most positive outcome! The faster you step forward, the sooner the pain will stop. Also consider the worst case scenario in your situation – is it really the end of the world? More importantly, is it possible – and probable – that the situation could get a lot better? A higher paying job? A more satisfying relationship? Spend some time considering what could go right.
Work with what you have
It’s easy to get comfortable with the way things are and then feel completely disconnected from who you want to be or what you want to do in life when things go wrong, but this hurdle doesn’t need to annihilate your plans! Use your time to find a new way to achieve your goals and start putting effort into getting there again – it’s the fastest way to turn a bad thing good!
Consider what others would do
Think about how someone with integrity handle the situation. If you have an idol, what would they do in your situation? Identify what you have learned from the situation, pick yourself up with grace and maintain your dignity. Move on to the next goal with your head held high. Acting to someone else’s expectations will eliminate the opportunity for disappointment in yourself if you were to lose control over the situation.
Put it on the backburner for a while
Concentrate on something else rather than worrying about your current situation. Exercise to boost your endorphins – you could go for a walk, practise yoga or do something more fun like rollerblading. Start a new diet. Practice being in the present – do one task at a time, mindfully. Remember: if you don’t mind – it don’t matter.
Start creating new memories as soon as you can
Take new photos to look back on. Enjoy some new experiences. Do things you’ve put off for a long time. Get out and enjoy nature. Speak your truth where you can – it’ll help you to feel authentic, heard and improve your confidence. Avoid procrastinating, generally the anxiety about a task is worse than the task itself. Force change by beginning a new routine – it can be small such as adjusting your sleeping pattern or starting to eat breakfast.
Other quick tips for moving on:
- Allow yourself to cry
- Take time out for yourself
- Smile at old memories if you want to
- Write a letter to say goodbye
- Avoid bottling things up
- Keep a diary of your feelings and memories as you grieve
-Talk to someone about how you’re feeling
- Keep healthy
- Recognise it’s ok to have different feelings
- Give yourself permission to feel and function at a less than optimal level for a period of time
- Get help from a counsellor or psychologist if you need it (recognise when you need it!)
- Remember that moving on is the end goal
- Remind yourself that you still have a future
- Spend time with supportive people who energise you
- Make new friends, don’t just hold onto old or mutual friends
- Reach out to others that have been through your situation, they can be particularly helpful!
The trick is to treat yourself like you’re getting over a bad flu for the first couple of weeks. Get plenty of rest, minimise other sources of stress in your life and reduce your workload if you can.
Always remember – whether you have been through a traumatic event or not: you can’t always get what you want – but you can work at being who you want to be no matter what life throws your way!
Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. William Arthur Ward
Some people get awkward when it comes to saying thank you. It may be that you don’t know how to approach the person, you may feel your gratitude will come across as insincere, or maybe you’re just one of those people who is too busy to acknowledge others. There’s no time like the present to turn over a new leaf! This week, Happiness Weekly looks at how you can say thank you and sincerely show your gratitude to someone.
How to say thank you
Choosing the words can be as challenging as finding the best method to say thank you. Let’s keep it simple – don’t think too deeply on it. The key to thanking someone is to say it at the time of the event or as close to it as possible.
Say what they have done: “Thank you for…”
Then tell them why: “You helped me to…” this will show them you have put thought into it, you have seen the results of what they have done and this will also make the person feel rewarded for helping you – and encourage them to help you again!
Now you can work out the most appropriate way to say it to the person:
A lot of people don’t say thank you out loud. Maybe it’s because they forgot to say thank you, maybe because they don’t think of it or maybe because they don’t realise the impact the person has had. Don’t be one of these people! Stop for a moment and show the person some gratitude by thanking them for what they have done.
Send an email or text
Often we think about our friends and something they have done for us, but when living in such a fast-paced world, we struggle to get around to acknowledging out loud what they have done for us. It only takes a moment while you are at your desk at work or playing with your telephone to send that person an email or text to thank them for what they have done for you.
Write a letter
It’s not often that we receive hand-written letters these days. Take some time to get some nice notepaper and write a beautiful thank you letter. Then take the time to buy a stamp, find out the person’s address and post it to them in the mail. This shows that time and care has been taken to show your gratitude. By going the extra mile, you are showing the person their importance to you.
Write a card
Whether you make it (by hand or on the computer) or buy it, giving a card to say thank you to someone is recommended when someone has gone the extra mile. They can then keep this card and refer back to it. Last year I sent a card to all my close friends, just simply thanking them for being a friend – it brought me a lot closer to many of them.
Get creative! You don’t have to say it or write it, you could simply draw them a picture illustrating your gratitude. It could just be a stick figure picture of you giving them a flower … or a bunch of flowers. Sometimes, it’s the thought that counts and something as simple as this could go a long way!
If the person has really gone above and beyond, you could show your gratitude by buying them a present. It could be something as simple as a coffee, to flowers or chocolates, to a lunch or something bigger like a gift certificate or present. The beauty of giving is that it shows that thought and time has gone into it.
Send an E-Card
There are hundreds of e-cards on the internet that you can choose from. Have a look through them – some come with animation and sound – select one that’s appropriate for your friend and simply email it over. It’s a little more effort than just a standard written email.
Write on their wall
If you both have Facebook, why not say it loudly? Write a message on their wall. Or if you’re truly grateful and want the world to know, why not say it in a status update, tag them in it and say what they have helped you achieve. This will then be visible to all their friends and all your friends!
Return the favour
Do something for them. You may even make them a cake. Keep an eye out for any way that you can help them in the immediate future and return the favour as best you can. Sometimes we can only help in little ways, but what appears small to us may be big for other people.
How have you showed someone your gratitude lately?
For more tips on how to show your gratitude, check out the following blogs:
The mind is everything. What you think you become. Buddha
At a time when things appear to be going wrong, or we’re particularly stressed, we tend to take things more negatively than usual. It’s easy to be irrational and blame our circumstances, but it doesn’t make us feel any better. This week Happiness Weekly looks at how you can control your thoughts in a positive way.
1. Accept it – everyone has bad thoughts every now and then
Acknowledge that everyone has bad thoughts. Everyone has been kept awake from negative thinking, or kept in a state of fear because they can’t switch off. You are not alone! Speak to someone, generally you will find someone who can relate to the way you’re feeling.
2. Thank your thought for coming and send it on its way
Psychologists say (and I have heard this in an introductory session to Landmark Forum, though I never pursued it) – if you have a negative thought, you should listen to what it has to say, thank it for saying its piece (it’s there to protect you and keep you safe) and then send it on its way. It’s like an annoying child: if you listen to it, acknowledge it, and then send it on its way, the child is more likely to leave you alone quickly. Whereas if you ignore it, it will keep annoying you until you have taken action. Our thoughts are similar.
3. Swap the negative thought for a positive one
When you have a negative thought challenge yourself to come up with a positive thought about the exact same thing. For example, someone rudely crosses your path and knocks you without acknowledging you and you think “That person doesn’t like me” – you could think “Wow, they were in a hurry! I hope they get to where ever they are going quickly!” It sounds a bit like something AA Milne would write, but if you continue to think positively about things, other positive thoughts will follow. This isn’t as easy as it sounds – practise makes perfect with this one!
4. Distract yourself until you can talk to someone
When your thoughts get overpowering, you sometimes need an immediate distraction. Go on a brisk walk, keep a list of contacts of your most supportive friends and call through until you find someone that will meet up with you or spend some time doing something you enjoy. Sometimes we need to ignore our negative thoughts while they are hurting us and come back to them later. Generally this is where you need to distract yourself until you have someone you can share your thoughts with that will act as a sounding board and offer you calm, rational advice.
5. Consider the worst scenario
What would happen if your negative thought came true? It’s generally not as scary as it may have felt before you thought it through. Try to be rational as you consider your options. For example, if you stumble when public speaking – a dinosaur is not going to eat you. Someone may laugh, you may lose your place momentarily, but ultimately you will be able to carry on with your presentation or speech. Once you have considered the worst case scenario, accept it for what it is and prepare for it as best you can.
6. Write it out
Negative thoughts generally generate more negative thoughts, then another one, then another one and it’s like a racing track in your mind. It’s easy to panic and let it overwhelm us, but there are things you can do to slow down and start thinking rationally again. Write a letter to yourself as though you’re your best friend and telling yourself about this negative thought you have just had may also help. Generally writing is like meditating; it slows us down and helps us to connect with our rational thoughts. If you feel strange writing a letter to yourself, write it to your best friend – but read it as though your best friend wrote it to you. You could even reply with suggested solutions!
7. Before listening, consider what you want
Before taking a negative thought on board, consider exactly what you want. Start thinking about what you need to do to get what you want. Is this negative thought blocking you? Then you can send it on its way. The trick is to focus more on what you do want than what you don’t want, take control and encourage yourself to maintain a positive thought process.
8. Concentrate on positive affirmations
Tell yourself you can do it, you are positive, you will be great – you are your best cheerleader. Have confidence in yourself, no one can do it for you. Be mindful of all the good things you already have in your life. Follow your positive thoughts with positive actions. Choose to hang around positive, supportive people. Read success stories and things that inspire and motivate you.
I hope you have found these tips helpful. Your turn – how do you control your thoughts in a positive way?
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