Gratitude. It's something few of us really think about until we are saved from the brink of something major. Yet gratitude lifts our mood building confidence and trust in life's abundance. We can be grateful for small things every day which enhance our enjoyment of life such as a beautiful sunset or sunrise, a child's smile, the kindness of a stranger, a good book, the smell of cut grass on a summer's day. Gratitude doesn't have to involve a major event. It encourages mindfulness; being in the moment which can make our lives smoother by focusing on acceptance of situations as they are. We can then work towards change rather than getting stressed about them. This in turn leads to growth, expanding our horizons. When we pay attention with gratitude to the good things that happen to us every day the not so good things are put in to perspective.Doing this can lower stress and give us breathing space to make informed decisions rather than impulsive ones we may regret later. Keeping a note book and writing down what you are grateful for starts the process. It can become part of a daily log or journal of your life journey.
When we compare ourselves to others we fall in to the comparison trap giving our power away in the process. This lowers our self-esteem and has a knock on effect to our happiness and well-being. As we are all unique although connected we cannot judge ourselves against others. We are not after all comparing like with like in for example appearance, lifestyle, beliefs and values. By falling in to the comparison trap we set impossible standards and expectations of ourselves that may leave us feeling dissatisfied as it will never be enough. Having clear goals is fine as long as they are your own, are attainable and realistic. If not why are you setting them? If your answer is to be like someone else why not be the best self you can be instead?
You teach others how you want to be treated by the amount you will tolerate. You also role model to others by your actions rather than words. Children especially pick up on this! Saying no to requests is not impolite but your right although at times difficult. We each have certain situations we find more challenging to say no to than others. Being assertive isn't about aggression. It's about listening with respect and compassion to yourself and others whilst maintaining your own boundaries. It's about balance and being aware of your limits. One of my main indicators in a situation I need to say yes or no to is how I feel in my body; am I tense, how does my gut feel? Over the top enthusiasm can also be an indicator that you may need to stand back and take time to decide! We can take too many things on in good faith then wish we hadn't and try to back out.Over commitment isn't a healthy path in the long-term. If you're being pushed for an answer especially by sales people you are more than likely being bullied. Do you really want to say yes to that?
Choosing your own health and happiness over the fears and thoughts of others can be difficult sometimes.. However, having good personal boundaries, which take your needs in to consideration, is essential for your well-being and that of others. If we push ourselves beyond our limits for health and happiness we may end up being unable to care for others anyway or indeed ourselves. I've always believed good health is a precious gift to be cherished not taken for granted. I've also realized good fences make good neighbors as the saying goes has a lot of truth in it. If we don't know where we stop and others begin we start to enmesh in their lives rather than live our own or let them live theirs. Finding the right balance between being an individual with your own needs and wants and being part of the human community can be a lifelong challenge as well as an opportunity to grow. Everyone is unique and needs a different level of solitude and company. One size doesn't fit all which is the beauty of our human tapestry.
If it's of value to you in some way, you carve out space in your life for it to happen. It can be a useful indicator when you need to move on from a person or situation if you keep putting things off, making excuses and saying you don't have time. It can mean you're simply not that interested. That message will get through whether you say it or not by your actions. However, it's more honest to say no and less time consuming too! We all make choices. It's useful when we're in a situation we don't like to accept we are in fact choosing to stay rather than make a change. Everything comes to a natural end. Accepting that and going with the flow of change will open up new avenues to explore which are a better fit for you now. We all change even if we resist it!
If change happens in small incremental ways it becomes a long-term feature in your life. Change is always simmering under the surface waiting for an opportunity to bring growth and new opportunities. It just needs you to allow it to happen as resistance is what often brings us distress. Change can bring pleasure and joy in to your life but even that can be stressful if there's a lot of it happening at once. What you think about change or any event in your life colors your perception of it. Mindfulness practice can help you gain a wider perspective and also a calmness during times of change.
You've heard people say time is money I expect. What I'm going to suggest is time is life. We all have a limited time on earth so when we give our time to something or someone we are giving part of our life. Situations or people who demand a lot of our time are in fact taking a lot of our life. The question is do you want to give it? Are you giving in resentment or love? If you are simply doing something for approval it's doubtful it's given in love. Next time you are in a position of saying yes or no to a request take time to reflect on if you have the time and resources to get involved. Additionally do you actually want to do it. Being honest but with tact can save a lot of problems later on!
I was at a Holistic Ways Festival health fair recently at the Corn Exchange. It was great seeing old friends and meeting new ones. We all need like minded people around to support us.The many and varied stalls still fascinate me and I usually find something new to explore. The next Edinburgh fair is in October. Check it out! There's a lovely seated cafe area serving awesome food and a range of teas as well.
I've just read a brilliant book called I love me -the science of self-love by David R. Hamilton, PhD. I'd recommend it anyone who wants to increase their sense of well-being and self-esteem. It blends science with spirituality and self-development taking you from I am not enough to I am enough. Easy to read and good exercises to follow at the end of chapters.
Ankhra Laan-Ra. Glasgow based Well-being and Fitness Coach.