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3 Principles of Happiness

These last few weeks I have really enjoyed reading my journals.

Whilst doing so, I was reminded of a little story that I’d love to share.

Before we hastily return to our pre-lockdown life, please consider these three principles that have helped me considerably.

https://youtu.be/5WXckWfM2Tw

Punctured?

Have you ever felt a little flat?.. Yes, me too.

This personal story may help you to see things differently.

Just married and living in the Netherlands in 1994, I recall cycling home from my workplace at a Kaaspakhuis in Woerden when I got a puncture in the back tyre. Frustrated, I eventually made it home and began to repair the damage, in exactly the same manner that my dad had taught me so well growing up in Scotland. Removing the back wheel is always a bit of a pain. A few moments later, as I was busy with the repair, my brother in law arrived. Looking quizzically at me and laughing at the same time, he asked “What are you doing?” Cheekily, I replied “Isn’t it obvious!”

I was then given a life changing lesson on how to repair a puncture π™¬π™žπ™©π™π™€π™ͺ𝙩 having to remove the wheel from the bicycle. An approach I had never considered before, dad always removed the wheel! A simple procedure that every dutch child learns to do at a very young age. Wow!! πŸ˜†

In a like manner, dealing with frustrations and challenges can sometimes puncture our enthusiasm and vitality for life, leaving us feeling flat at times.

I learned a great lesson that day, oftentimes, there is a simple way, a more obvious way to lift the trials from our life.

How about you?

Why don’t you slow down a little, perhaps there is an easier, more obvious answer to the problem at hand that you’ve never considered before!?

Being me

Do you like being you?

My days are filled with being me!

More than just affirming widely held character traits like honesty, kindness and compassion, I believe in π’ƒπ’†π’Šπ’π’ˆ – or in other words π’ƒπ’†π’„π’π’Žπ’Šπ’π’ˆ what I say I believe. Thus these character traits are not just a simple belief, but an actual practice, a way of life, not just a way of thinking.

During many of my coaching conversations magical discoveries are made during the process of self-reflection and self-exploration. Oftentimes, individuals rediscover who they are at their very core. If you are plodding along, day to day, not understanding yourself at all – then perhaps it is time to begin the process of introspection and develop more self awareness. A coach can help you on your way.

Once you are aware of who you are, π’ƒπ’†π’Šπ’π’ˆ who you are is key!

Top Tips:

– Love who you are

– Don’t let others tell you who you are

– Don’t make apologies for who you are

– Have the courage to be different from others

– Laugh at yourself – frequently!

Quickly you’ll learn, like I have, that I am best at π’ƒπ’†π’Šπ’π’ˆ me!

Someday

“π‘Ίπ’π’Žπ’†π’…π’‚π’š” is an all too frequent response I hear over and over again, in many settings including leadership workshops, coaching sessions or even in many simple conversations.

There is a real danger in the word π’”π’π’Žπ’†π’…π’‚π’š – what it actually means is 𝒏𝒐𝒕 today. It is very disheartening. Many discussions focus on the glory days of bygone years, with little desire for others to fulfill their hopes and dreams of a brighter future. The danger of delay is clear, life will catch up with us and we π’˜π’Šπ’π’ run out of time.

How many times have you said π’”π’π’Žπ’†π’…π’‚π’š, postponed or procrastinated something and never got around to it?

Often, doing what matters most will not be easy. It is not supposed to be. But, it is time to change. It is time to start that new job. It is time to make that bold decision. It is time to move forward in a positive new direction. It is time to do what matters most over those things that matter least. It is time to wake up and make those dreams a reality!

There are seven days in the week and someday isn’t one of them. The real winners in life, are the ones who evaluate the situation, make a decision, then act and are not acted upon. Choose to get rid of the π’”π’π’Žπ’†π’…π’‚π’š syndrome and get on with life 𝐭𝐨𝐝𝐚𝐲!

Be true to who you are

Our values are under attack…. personal, societal, organisational – open your eyes and see. This is a momentous challenge of our day.

Actions speak much louder than words. Know your values. Live them. Know your organisations values. Live them. Walk your talk. Be true to yourself, and those who you lead. Act, do not be acted upon.

In organisations when values are ignored and people don’t live by them, they have no meaning. When this occurs, I’ve witnessed business cultures becoming hypocritical, and employees losing respect for the organisation and its leaders. Conversely, when values are put into action, people feel engaged, energy, enthusiasm, and the drive to go beyond the ordinary all come to the fore.

“Vertigo to values brings a special dizziness” – Neal A Maxwell.

Identify the obstacles on your own path, get rid of the roadblocks and eliminate them! Always remember to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong. Strongly-held values create powerful foundations in personal, family, societal and organisation structures. Be true to who you are and stand by your values.

Start today. Pause, reflect, identify your values and what matters most.

Balance

In recent coaching conversations, the topic of “balance” has arisen several times.

There are three areas in life – self, family and work – the key relationships – that need daily attention if balance is to be obtained.

Decide and commit to adopt the goal of balancing self with family and with work. Commit yourself to make yourself do the hard work, including the daily mental effort that is required to bring about this balance. We need to change our thoughts and what we think about, to change our world.

For example, there are three effective times for me every day to consider balance ….

– Early morning as I get out of bed – that first hour allows me to reflect, focus and plan the day ahead.

– Late afternoon or early evening when I return from work and the labour of my day.

– Late evening or when preparing to go to bed.

My top tip – Reserve a small segment of those times every day to consider the important matter of balance. Little things, will prove to be big things. Go on, give it a go!

Are you stubborn?

Are you stubborn? Or obstinate perhaps?

Stubbornness is defined as “having or showing dogged determination not to change one’s attitude or position on something, especially in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so.”

However, stubborn people are driven by a resistance to being forced into doing or experiencing anything that feels against their will, even when all the evidence and opinion is pointing in one direction. A person who is being stubborn will cling to their decision regardless of the consequences. At the root of all stubbornness is the fear of letting go of your own ideas, convictions, decisions and at times, identity. Of course standing your ground I guess can be a good thing when it comes to living your values or defending something that is of great importance. But there is a very fine line between the two.

True stubbornness can and will block our happiness in life, it will harm our relationships, and can hold us back professionally.

The Key

I think the key to overcoming a stubborn streak is to “know thyself” in other words greater self awareness. Recognising too as to whether you are right or wrong in a given situation is vitally important, as I believe there is significant value to looking at something from many different perspectives. Always listen to the other side of the story, seeking to understand, then pause, consider and reflect. Everyone of us can and does make mistakes, and we are all wrong sometimes. Remind yourself that this time might be one of them. When that occurs, then its wise to admit you are wrong, and seek to repair the damage done.

How will you be more sensitive to that stubborn streak of yours?

Self-awareness

“How do I improve my self-awareness?” asked a course delegate. Candidly, I responded, there are many ways, but I know for certain that a personal journal is my absolute favourite. It can be a powerful tool for self-evaluation and self-improvement. Simply stated, we can examine our lives as we come to know ourselves through our journal entries.

I received my first journal on Christmas day,1977.

Forty two years of daily journal entries later, capturing many experiences along the way, I know they have helped to establish stretching goals and to analyse my own personal circumstances. The result is a keener sense of self-awareness.Β  Seen over a period of years, recorded day by day and page by page provides an exclusive personal intimate pattern of your life. My journal is in fact my autobiography, my personal legacy, so I need to keep it carefully.

Journals help you reflect on and overcome challenges. They act as a meaningful compass to guide you through difficult situations. Journals are a potent self awareness tool!

The best day to start a journal was yesterday – then next best is today!Β 

Why not start one now – you will never regret it!

Waiting

“What can I do whilst I’m waiting?”- The thought passed through my mind several times yesterday.

I waited in Starbucks for a hot chocolate. I waited on the train to arrive. 90 minutes later, I waited on another train to depart. I waited on Cristi for an appointment in the bank. Later still, I waited in the queue for cinema tickets with other family members.

What do you do when waiting? How do you use that precious gift of time?

Waiting can be frustrating for many! Here is one view on waiting – “to allow time to go by, especially while staying in one place without doing very much, until someone comes, until something that you are expecting happens or until you can do something.”

Even when we have the right perspective, waiting can be hard. We’ll always be waiting for something. But a season of waiting doesn’t mean sitting still. Conversely our waiting seasons can be a time of great productivity!

Our thoughts are our seeds of action. Someone once said that life is what happens to us while we are making other plans. When you have a time to hand, rather than just waste it – be more productive.

Why not:
– Breathe & enjoy the gift of time
– Keep your eyes open for humour in the present, you can always find something to smile at!
– Pick someone and start a conversation

What can you do to use the gift of waiting?

Shortcomings

How do you measure up to your shortcomings?

At every stage of our lives we can struggle to overcome our weaknesses and shortcomings. This week, I have been in several learning workshops and coaching sessions where the topic of emotional intelligence, specifically self-awareness has been to the fore. Embarking upon a personal, searching inventory of yourself – is always revealing.

It is not an easy thing to uncover a personal weakness or shortcoming. Some people can feel defeated by their personal weaknesses and give way to despair. Others will endeavour to hide, ignore, or compensate for their shortcomings because of pain, embarrassment or their pride simply gets in the way and they procrastinate any actions that need to be taken.

Do you recognise that you have a challenge?

Are you determined to overcome it?

Once we recognise a shortcoming, we need strong determination and substantial effort to overcome it. This challenging process – facing up to our shortcomings – will refine our character and subsequently our weaknesses can become strengths. Facing shortcomings and taking action is acquired in humility.

Look ahead. Don’t let your past shortcomings limit your future potential. Take action.

What will you act upon today?