I was talking to a good friend recently and he asked me, “Mike, can you just write a blog on how to be positive? I turn on the news at the moment, and I just….I’m struggling. Could you write something to help with this please?”

Can you relate to this? So many people at the moment are finding their everyday lives very difficult. We feel overwhelming negative and stressful emotions, there are moments of extreme stress and despair, we are having to deal with so many situations and circumstances that are totally new and feel very alien. I speak with a lot of people and they are hurting. So what can we do?

Firstly, I want to say that whatever situation you are going through I am sure you are doing your best. There’s not many of us that start out the day determined to be miserable and unhappy, to have low standards and upset others. Every one of us began as a beautiful baby full of unlimited potential. But as we move from innocence to experience, often through our own ignorance, we take many knocks, cuts and bruises and they can add up over time. So the suggestions that I offer here are not judgmental in any way of you or your life. They are open hearted suggestions for you if you are, like my friend, wanting to think, feel and live in a way that is more positive and happy.

Here is a 3 part framework that you can use to improve yourself and any of your abilities, applied in this case to the desired outcome of positivity and happiness:

Information
Thinking techniques
Practical tools

In over ten years of teaching and training propel from aged 4-70 and from all around the world I’ve realised they to learn, be successful and make changes in your life you need to use and apply all three components.

Information

Firstly, to be more positive you need to have access to more positive material. So make it a priority to find it! There’s so much on the internet- start with just a google search of positive quotes, positive news stories, positive people. Watch videos, read articles, take in lots of positive information. One of the best things to do is to learn about real life people who have been and done hugely positive things with their life. Some great ones to get your started are:

Les Brown
Louise Hay
Jackie Chan
Tony Robbins
Oprah Winfrey
Jim Kwik
Ellen

In order to think and do more positively, you need to have the information that begins the process. Negative news tends to get a lot more coverage, and so looking for authentic positive people, stories and resources that inspire you is a bit like digging for gold. But it’s out there, and massively valuable to you.

Positive action

Research one positive person today, print off a picture of them and memorise a positive story about them to share with someone you love.

Thinking techniques

So once you have the information, that’s a good start but only step one. You can forget up to 50% of the information that you learn in a 24 period, so we need to do more to help make the positivity a regular part of your life. And this is where you use thinking techniques to train your brain.

One of the best ways to train your brain to think in a better, more positive way, is with calibrated questions. These are very specific questions that you ask yourself daily to help guide your thinking and promote a specific positive response; which your brain will then think about regularly. This will massively help to increase your positivity and happiness.

Begin asking yourself these questions every day. You could start by asking a different one of these each day for a week:

Who do I love the most in my life?
What opportunities are available to me at the moment?
Who can I help today?
What huge difficulties in my past have I already overcome?
What would I like to improve about my life today?
What successes do I want to have today?
What am I grateful for in my life?

Once you begin to ask yourself these questions regularly you will be training the reticular activating system (RAS) part of your brain that filters information in and out. It enables you to pay more attention to what you think about and feel strongly about. So by thinking about the positive questions, your brain will look for more information out in the world to help you achieve this. For example, if you are thinking about being grateful regularly, you will soon become aware that all experiences contain an opportunity to practise gratitude.

Positive action

Use the positive thinking questions, choose one for each day and repeat them throughout the day for a week. Then repeat this four times for a month. It can take your brain around 3-4 weeks to begin to begin to think in different way more naturally.

Positive Actions

So once you are consistently taking in new positive information each day, and focusing your thinking in a more positive way, you need to do something with all this positive potential, or it will go to waste. Here are two well meaning approaches that often get mixed up and mis understood in life. Often we either try to help others so much that we can forget and neglect ourselves, or we spend too much time on ourselves and become either guilty or neurotic and self centred.

It’s been my experience working with clients that the more positive actions they take in taking care of themselves, the better a place they are in to then take care of others. You can, and should aim for both- positivity and happiness for both yourself and your loved ones- and I would also suggest our whole human family too!

Here are some simple positive actions that you can take to look after yourself. Try out each one and enjoy knowing that you are taking positive actions to be well for yourself and for others:

Cook home made meals for yourself often

Listen to music daily

Have a morning routine that gives you plenty
of time to get going in the morning

Read often- something you enjoy

Take time to sit and dream what you want for your life

Have regular hot bubble baths

Take good care of your home and clean it often- one great way is to spend 20 minutes cleaning just one room a day

Spend time alone enjoying just being you

Write a list of all your accomplishments so far and read it often

If you have a health condition(s), make sure you have adequate stocks of the medicine and pain relief that you may need

Once a week get a pen and paper and do some big planning for your life and just dream on the page!

Doing just some of these positive actions regularly will elevate how well you are treating yourself, which is more important than ever if you may be going through a tough time. And when you go out into the world or if you share your home with others, make time for these positive actions to help others:

Cook home made meals for your family

Tell people regularly why you love them

Find ways and means to regularly give- your times, your money, your energy, your skills

When someone talks to you, really listen- people can always tell

Give gifts spontaneously, just because you can
Make the effort to create memories and special moments

Learn some jokes off by heart and tell them to people

Learn an inspirational story and teach it to someone

Consider- what do people really need right now?- and do your best to provide solutions

Positive action

Pick one positive thing from the list for you and the list for others and begin doing them today!

Final thoughts

To experience more positivity in your life you can’t just do some things occasionally, think a few new thoughts or watch one video. You need to make a consistent effort to make it an important part of your life. And it’s such a good habitual practice to cultivate! You can become happiness, healthier and more positive, it is definitely possible.

Remember

Take in new positive material regularly
Train you brain with positive open ended questions
Then do the positive actions that will help to bring joy and happiness into your life, your loved ones and those around you.

Go make it happen! I wish you ever increasing joy and long lasting happiness

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The award winning Russell Bedford International currently have 700 partners with 7500 staff in 350 offices in 100 countries.

I am so pleased to announce that our Kataholos Online Health and Wellbeing Course is now being accessed and enjoyed by Russell Bedford International members all around the world!

And how it all came to be so is an interesting little story…

We are off to the Mediterranean

I first got to experience working with the Russell Bedford International team when delivering a leadership session at their Managers and Young Partners Conference in Malta in November 2019. One of the benefits of being a member of their established accountant networking firm, is that members get to enjoy attending annual conferences held all around the globe, with their most recent before Malta in the Mediterranean being in Sydney in Australia.

And it was at this conference where I first met the CEO of RBI Stephen Hamlet. I was immediately struck by his people skills and how much he took an interest and a care in the experiences of RBI members from India, to Belgium, Spain to Bulgaria. As I watched him and took part in conversations I thought, “these people really care about their people.” This care and concern in nourishing relationship is such a key- sometimes overlooked aspect- of providing value in the business world.

Blogging buddies

Myself and Stephen are both keen bloggers, and whilst in a particularly fruitful period of publishing 8 blogs in 8 weeks, I noticed that Stephen had been enjoying them. With mutual shared interests in leadership, music, offering value, people skills and the deeper aspects of management and leadership, we decided to have a catch up on zoom. It was on this call that I learned of RBI’s consistant efforts to actively continue to provide value for their members at this challenging time for global businesses. It was here that I thought the Kataholos Online Health and Wellbeing Course could be a great fit to help with the mental health, inspiration, motivation and wellbeing of RBI members such as those whom I met in Malta.

A worldwide reach

Fast forward a couple of months and Russell Bedford International have now successfully launched an extensive training and development programme for their global members in 100 countries all over the world. I am very proud that they have included the Kataholos Online Health and Wellbeing Course in what is available to their members, as we aim to empower what we call our world family and RBI seek to continue on their mission of taking you further.

In the first week since the training programme was launched our course has now been accessed and enjoyed by RBI members in England, Ireland, Georgia, America, Mexico, Hong Kong and Australia.

And we are so very proud that our products have begun to have an impact on the global stage that they were designed for…

Learn more about Russell Bedford International and their great work here:

https://www.russellbedford.com

If you’d like to find out more about how the Kataholos Online Health and Wellbeing Course could help empower your people just click here to explore

www.kataholoslearning.com

And message me at michael@kataholos.co.uk

Love and best wishes,

Michael

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Leading from love
Introduction

This is an extract from my framework for loving leadership, which I hope will give you a good feel for the six beliefs that inform thinking as, practising and being a loving leader.

Loving leaders embrace six core beliefs

There is no enemy

This is a very important belief and that is why it is the first. Throughout history fearful leaders have created a narrative where they are often the hero or heroine, and there is an other-some kind of monster who is the enemy and we should be fearful of these people. We should hate them and be scared of them. And fearful leaders have created an enemy out of people for being of a different skin colour, nationality, religious belief, political association, sexuality, the reasons are often completely false and unjustified. The underlying sinister aspect is this- they seek to create a boogeymen, and make others into that monster: and they seek to make is see it as true.

A loving leader sees through such false narratives and understands this: there is no enemy. There never has been. People have only been enemies to each other through-often unconsidered- choices. This narrative that others are our enemies and we are the heroes or heroines is one of the most damaging that we have experienced in our human history. It has resulted in wars, death, prejudice, pain and suffering.

And the wonderful news is that loving leaders choose better, they actively base their actions on the solid foundational belief that we no longer have to be enemies to each other. Take a moment to consider the incredible transformative ramifications of this belief. We do not have to exist in a binary choice of enemy and ally, or friend and foe, or us and them. Consider this for a second, how do you, in your life, define “us”? How do you define “them”? Is it from a starting place of love or a starting place of hate? This first choice can completely revolutionalise the way you lead and the way that you treat people.

Loving leaders do not believe in enemies. They understand they the only enemy you have is the one you choose to have. We can choose better, and they do.

Self reflections questions

Who have been your perceived enemies in the past?

Can you think why this was?

What would it look like if you no longer thought of them as enemies but as flawed humans just trying to do their best?

Grow and develop

Loving leaders understand that they have a duty to grow and develop people.

We all carry huge potential inside us, but so often this potential is unrealised and unfulfilled. A loving leader understands that it is their role to help to provide an environment where people feel safe and comfortable and also challenged and thought highly of, so as to strive to achieve their greatness. From a business point of view, empowered and fully capable teams are absolute dynamite in terms of high performance, loyalty and always, always worth the investment of effort, time and money. If you doubt this, just look at the affect that a favourite teacher of yours from your childhood will have had on you and your classmates- can you remember the positive vibe in the room?

Loving leaders have very high standards and expect a lot from their people; they expect them to put in the effort and by providing opportunities consistently, for their people to embrace them and run with them. So they provide training, mentorship, peer reviews,
two way feedback that is more like an honest conversation than and interview, and always seeks to empower their people to be able to do it themselves. Like a parent teaching their child to ride a bike, a loving leader invests and creates the opportunity, then nurtures a sense of adventure and autonomy in their people, so that they can ride out on their own. The goal is not to encourage people to need you as a leader, but to be self motivated and fully responsible in themselves. The love gives feely of itself, and in doing so new and beautiful things grow and develop.

Self reflections questions

Who truly inspired your growth and development?

What is it about who they were or what they did that inspired you?

How did they encourage you to develop?

Can you show this to your people?

Embrace paradox

Loving leaders understand that the dualistic thinking of something or someone as entirely good or bad, can only take us so far. We must go further and embrace the paradoxical nature of our life and of our relationships.

Dualistic thinking is all about good or bad, hot and cold, light and dark. And too often we can apply overly simplistic and generic thinking towards our people and their circumstances. We see behaviour that we don’t like, so we can label and judge a person, thinking that we are in the right, when so often we may be misinformed, misunderstood or just plain wrong. A loving leader understands that there is always more going on underneath the surface in people’s lives than they show, and makes allowances for this.

Loving leaders know that to label people, circumstances or situations as good of bad exclusively, is very poor judgement, both from a business point of view and definitely as it pertains to people and relationships. Think about it now. Have you ever had a terrible situation that in the long term lead to growth, healing and wonderful things? In that case, might we have judged the thing or person too soon, as the real value has only been revealed over a longer period of time?

Loving leaders know that any judgements made need to be as informed as possible, and are comfortable that something can be both potentially wonderful and terrible at the same time. They look for the flaws in the brilliance and the value in the supposedly useless. This makes them in a business context very sharp, disruptive and flexible, as their humility keeps them always on the lookout for potential to be realised from unlikely places.

Self reflections questions

What situation or which person have you previously considered as either exclusively good or bad?

Can you see them in a different way?

Can you look for the good in supposedly “bad” people and events?

Would you like someone to categorise you as just good or bad?

Relationships are sacred

Loving leaders have the highest of standards for their relationships with their people.

Every sector, the public and private, as well as sport and charity is based on and lived through, people and our relationships. And a loving leader sees the huge importance that quality relationships play in any kind of work, project or goal worth achieving. Consider this- what is the limit on how good a relationship can be? There isn’t one! A loving leader knows this and invests and invests in their relationships, building trust, loyalty, fondness, respect and compassion between members tirelessly. When you treat people this well, suddenly they will open all doors for you, because you made them feel seen, heard and affirmed. You will have shown that you have their back, and so they will be comfortable to show you their true best. I have seen this countless times, and it is truly moving.

Think about all the amazing relationships that you have had in your life so far- friendships, partners, family, colleagues- and consider how much you have achieved together because of your relationships together. Loving leaders understand something important that can be so easily missed- we all belong together, right here and now, with each other. No exceptions, all are welcome. If you can embrace this belief, you will never feel lonely again, you will carry a sense of belonging for and with all, with you always.

Self reflections questions

Think of two of your best relationships in your life.

What makes them to special to you?

What actions take place regularly to make them so good?

How do they make you feel?

Think long term

Loving leaders think very long term- 50 years ahead at least, if not towards future generations, and this focus directs their decisions and subsequent actions.

I first learned to think very long term when I was a teacher. When I was teaching 5 year olds, I would remind myself that they would be 18 in 13 years, and they would probably still remember things that I had taught them and how I treated them. Apply that into a business context. Can you imagine hawk good one of your people would feel if you told them that you were actively planning for their development and growth thinking 20-50 years ahead? Can you imagine how valued and affirmed they would feel? What would that do for their confidence and how much effort they put in for you?

If you are a parent, then you are already a loving leader who thinks long term. You want your children to grow up and have long, healthy, happy lives. And you can treat your people at work exactly the same, and tell them so. This long term focus will help you to make the best considerations for both you and the business: for growth, for direction and for legacy. Can you imagine if three generations of people worked for your company or formed their own and united with yours? Can you imagine the positive value that could generate in the world? That kind of long term thinking is how loving leaders think.

Self reflections questions

What does long term mean to you- 5, 10, 20, 50 years?

How could you improve your approach if you thought of the impact your could have on the next three generations of people?

Choose your meaning

One of the most important choices that the loving leader embraces is the freedom to choose meaning. So much happens in our lives: the incredible, the terrible, the beautiful and the bizarre. And yet even these very words to describe life demonstrate a choice to judge what something means. If one of your people is going through something difficult, and you can help them to discover and find meaning in it and through it, this is your duty as a leader. There is nothing worse for a person than to feel undervalued, that they and what they do is meaningless and hope is something just for other people.

We can choose what something means for us in our lives, we can choose to pursue what is meaningful and reject what is a waste of time. And in doing so we must also remember that what has meaning to someone else, we must be careful with. If something is special to one of your people and is very meaningful to them, regardless of how how you feel about it, by honouring this, you honour them. And the wonderful thing is that others can help you to find your meaning as well. Meaning brings life truly alive- we feel joy, purpose, a sense of achievement and progress and a sense that we really do matter, if only because we decide that we do.

Loving leaders understand that they need to know what is meaningful for their people and to talk in their language. They are careful to protect the meaning and importance of what matters to their people in a way that is always affirmative and encouraging. Because this is one of the great privileges of leadership: you can help a person to discover purpose and find meaning in their life. And once you have experienced the sheer joy which that brings, and how much a person is cable of when they feel that they matter, you will never see a single person as meaningless ever again. Suddenly you will see it, we are all very special.

Self reflections questions

What does leadership mean to you?

How have you come to this meaning?

Would you like to improve and change its meaning?

What one thing could you do today to begin this process of focusing on what means the most to you?

Final thoughts

Can you use this framework of six loving beliefs to begin a transition towards being a more loving and less fearful leader? I hope so. It can begin today for you. Right now, with your decision to do so. Your people will feel safer, more affirmed, confident, capable and valued. There will be more laughter and smiles and less tension and panic. It is never too late to change, to develop and to grow yourself, your relationships and your meaning to yourself and to others.

Love and best wishes to you on your leadership journey,

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Part 1: from fear towards love

Why are so many people leading from a place of fear?

I recently went on a walk with my Dad and we talked a lot about leadership. He has 40 years experience in it, and has so much wisdom. Something that naturally came up was the abuse of power by politicians, and leadership, people who are close minded in their outlooks on life and our experiences of dealing with them.

I asked him, “But what it is Dad that corrupts these people?”
“It’s power Michael, the power they have, they want more.”
I felt there was more to it than that.
“But is it as simple as that, they just want more power? What is driving that need for power? What is underneath that?”

We talked more and one thing that we realised is that somewhere in their development, leaders make a choice.

They chose to lead from love or to lead by fear.

Where fear is useful and where it is not

Fear is very useful. It’s a natural evolutionary response that stops us swimming out too far in the sea, makes us look carefully before crossing the road, makes sure we wear gloves when lifting hot food out of the oven. We have learned that certain things can bring pain and danger, and so we have a level of fear and heightened awareness about them. But that doesn’t mean that we lie awake at night scared of the heat of the oven! It just means that we know things can be dangerous to us, and the fear of pain reminds us to take precautions to protect ourselves.

This is all well and good, but can you imagine trying to describe your leaders like that?

They are dangerous
They can cause you pain
You have to take precautions around them so you don’t get hurt

And yet unfortunately there are many leaders in the world today who are like that.

Consider yourself for a moment- are people scared of you? Are you known for being able to cause pain and suffering? Do people have to take precautions around you to handle you? Hopefully not, but even if so, there is a way forward.

There’s a scene in the excellent sci fi film Donnine Darko where the high school students are shown by their teacher a continuum line with fear on one side and love on the other. Fear is in the “negative energy spectrum” and love is in the “positive energy spectrum.” Students are asked to place life events on either side of the line, either as motivated by fear or love. One student rightly questions the simplicity and reductionism of such an approach, saying it ignores the vast variety of extraneous variables and other emotions outside of these two. Life cannot simply be classed as moments of either fear or love.

So we need to be careful when speaking of our motives and reducing life events down into simplicities, and yet there was some value to be had in the film’s exercise- however badly presented it is by the teacher. We tend to live according to that which we value, so if we value fairness, we try to be fair. If we value integrity, then we do our best to show and live integrity in our lives, as we are acting from a deeper part of ourselves.

What we can learn from the military

Now we have considered how people can often reduce life down into fear and love, to try and apprehend it and make it more manageable, and that we tend to live according to our values, we can use these to look at leadership. Fear is not a value, it is not something that we need to think about, or attempt to show in our lives, it’s part of our evolutionary biology, it’s a survival mechanism built into us. When we are fearful, we are not at our best, we are scared, in a heightened state, often anxious and possibly panicked. People who live in a consistent state of fear can be easily manipulated, intimidated and controlled, because they are so worn down by exposure to the things they are scared of.

Some people I have met think that leading through fear can be useful. They often mix it in with concepts such as discipline and routine and respect. Discipline and routine and respect are all excellent things, but they do not need to be modelled on fear. The marines are know for their infamous drill sergeants, shouting at recruits, and of their incredibly tough training camps. And yet, marine servants when interviewed will tell you that the point of this is not to make the recruits scared of their leaders. It is to get the people to work together, to put themselves to one side and be a team- a place where no person is left behind and the unit can always achieve more together.

My experiences in life with friends and colleagues who are military or ex military has taught me the same. The men and women talk of respect and camaraderie with their team mates. They talk of the discipline of what they had to do, and of high standards. The fear was always there, but it was a natural state that came with combat and seeing death up close. There’s no need to motivate with fear- it is already there. I’ve never heard them talking of fear of their leaders, only love for their team mates.

Fear is such a terrible tool for leaders to use to build their communities, teams and systems: you will never get the best out of people. They will always be looking over their shoulder, they will not show respect or admiration, only fear. There will not be laughter and creativity, only fear, people will not breathe deeply and appreciate where they are with you, there will want to get away from you and what you have created as soon as possible.

In the military my friends told me that you can respect the rank of an officer, or you can respect them as a person. Those that are respected because of their ranks will get efforts from their people. But those who are respected because of who they are often get 100% from their team.

And why is that? It’s because the team can sense the passion, the integrity, the love the leader has for their people, the organisation, their country, or for their family, who they are working to provide for. They are leading from something deeper, a motive that is much bigger than themselves and the fear for their own survival.

One of the strongest of these motives, which can be applied to all contexts, is love.

So how do you lead from love?

What does that look like?

In Part 2, we will be exploring how you can begin to lead from a place of love.

Final thoughts

Before reading Part 2, consider these questions to help you to self reflect:

What and whom do I love?

How do I show it?

Who is the best leader I have experienced and why was that?

Where are the limits of love?

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We all want to be happy. Most of us want to live for as long as possible, and if you asked people if they wanted to live both a long and happy life, most would say absolutely! That would be great.

But how do you actually go about it? And what can actually make the most impact on your health and happiness:

Money?
Education?
Life skills?
Attitude?

My life’s work involves both helping people to be healthy and happy and to become their best selves, so I’m hugely interested in finding these answers. And so too, it turns out, are Harvard University.

The Harvard Study Of Adult Development

Harvard University have conducted the longest long term longitudinal study, totalling over 80 years so far into what truly enables people to be healthy, happy and live a long life. And the answer surprised them. It was having healthy and loving long term relationships. But where it really got interesting was when they looked into the science of why this is.

What they found is that when people spent lots of time among their loving family and friends, feel good chemicals and endorphins were released into and around the brain, resulting in positive changes to the people’s bodies. This time with loved ones literally rewired their brains, flooded their body with feel good chemicals and made them both happier and physically robust, therefore ensuring that were more resilient and lived longer.

Take a minute to really think about that.

If you spend lots of time with your loving family and friends over years, it will have a huge positive impact on your health, wellbeing and ability to live a long happy life. This is more so than any other factor- such as money, education or economic status- the study continues to find to this day. And it gets even better, as they found that your brain does not only fire the feel good chemicals when you speak to or interact with a loved one.

They found that even everyday interactions between any people, when conducted with love and kindness, resulted in the brain firing the feel good chemicals, impacting the nervous system and improving the health and robustness of the individuals studied. This finding has the potential to profoundly impact our everyday interactions with each other, as we can now see scientifically that we are designed and hardwired to benefits from treating each other- both loved one and stranger alike- with loving kindness.

You can learn more about the study by watching Robert Waldinger’s TED Talk here

What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness | Robert Waldinger

So what does this mean for us in our daily lives?

This means that even the smallest of interactions, which we have with each other on a daily basis, can be an opportunity for important growth and development. When we are kind and good to each other, we can have an impact that is not just psychological and feels good, but physiological and neurological. The quality of our relationships are not an added extra or something to be thought lesser of; in a very real physical sense, they are a matter of life and death. Herein lies a wonderful opportunity to do real good in our world, knowing that our actions and consequences matter and are we are very important for each other. It is also worth noting that we feel these benefits when interacting with animals too, which makes sense, considering how many people have pets and treat them like a member of the family.

What can we do? In one word, connect

Walking down the street

When you see someone walking down the street towards you, challenge yourself and say hello to them and smile, especially if you do not know them. This may be a bit difficult and make you feel temporarily awkward for a few seconds, but what usually happens is that they say hello back and smile and you will get a short but very noticeable feel good feeling. This is your brain firing the feel good chemicals that are great for your health, and so will theirs! What a wonderful easy way to look after each other. And even if they do not talk back or even smile, your brain knows you have made the effort and will begin the physiological response.

Be aware of the limitations of technology

This is a very important insight that the Harvard study found: the brain did not fire the chemicals when people talked on the phone or engaged with any form of technology. The brain seems to be clever enough to know that if you see someone on a screen video call, that screen is not the person, you are speaking to a representation of that person. So social media, phone and video calls are brilliant for connecting, but for the long lasting health benefits, it is face to face human interaction that we are hardwired for. If you can get some hugs in, even better!

Daily acts of kindness

Here is another chance to re think how important kindness is in our daily lives. Think about this: if you find ways and means to help others and be kind each day, you are actually increasing the chances- on a very real physical level- of benefitting and improving the lives of not only yourself, but every single person that you come into contact with. Remember, the study found that it was quality relationships- both with close loved ones and ordinary everyday social interactions- that was the number one cause of a healthy, happy and long life. When you allow the importance of this to sink into your mind, you will never see kindness, or any good deed that you do ever again, as unimportant. Every kind deed counts. You could be making the difference and saving someone’s life: both in their number of years and the years within their numbers.

Affirming people

Interestingly, I’ve found in my work with people over the last 10 years- both adults and children- that we all want to be affirmed so badly. We want to know that someone cares for us, that we matter. And now we can see why, when we are treated as such and cared for, both our bodies and those of the ones who affirm us, receive psychological and physiological benefits. So try this, the next time you are with someone who is upset, just be there with them. Listen to them and resist the urge to solve their problems. Allow a warm space to open up between the two of you and the silence within to simply say, I understand and I’m here for you. That is often all that we want when we are in our need. For anyone who doubts how powerful and incredible doing this is with no words needed, just try spending just one minute with a dog who is happy to see you- you are will feel amazing straight away!

Thinking long term

And finally, think long term. When someone you love, or even a stranger is treating you badly, think- is it worth ruining your health and peace of mind over? Is it worth giving up what may be a long, health and happy life over? The chances are that it isn’t. The vast majority of cases when people treat us terribly reflect back on them, and often we are just there in the wrong place at the wrong time. This allows us a chance to build and practise our resilience- another key factor in a long healthy life- by taking things less personally.

The next time someone really upsets you, try thinking of them as an innocent child, or of them on their death bed and how they will be reflecting back on what really mattered in their life. They will always carry who they are and what they do with them- you don’t have to carry it for them. Instead, you can lessen their load, and someone else can lessen yours- to the benefit of all. Keep this thought in your mind, I’m going to live a healthy, happy long life and anyone I come into contact with, I have the chance to help to do the same. Keeping this in your mind, with what you now understand about the brain science and sociological findings behind it, could transform your entire life for the better.

Final thoughts

I like to think of life as a journey that we all make together. We have come from somewhere, we don’t know where. Then we have our time together here, which is temporary. Then when our time is up, we go home. This simple yet profound image reminds me that we are all of the same making, we share the same place and we belong together in infinity. No one should be left out. It is my hope that we can all learn to understand just how important we are to each other, just how much good we can do to and for each other while we are still here.

And that every day offers us a chance at growth, at connection, and at a love that is life changing, if we take it.

Life is always reaching out to you- take hold and don’t let go.

Love and best wishes,

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Part 3 Empathy

Do you feel me?…

Empathy is all about our ability to understand and share the feelings of others, and it is one of the most important habits of your mind and heart that you can cultivate.

We all want to belong, to feel loved, and understood, and to practice empathy for others is one of the best and truest ways that we can achieve this love that we want.

Think about when you were a child and in pain. You reached out to a family member, probably a parent, and told them how you felt. Perhaps you showed them where your cut or bruise was, or you described to them something that had happened, and how it had upset you and hurt your feelings. Hopefully that family member will have listened, and soothed you with kind words such as “it’s ok” “I understand” “you poor thing” and helped you with a hug, a kiss, a smile or something similar. You felt affirmed, you felt understood, and all of a sudden, you felt a little better. Just look at mothers and fathers with young babies and children- they are often able to do this in seconds! It’s very impressive.

And as we grow up we hopefully still have close family and friend members whom we can go to who will empathise with us: they will listen to our problems, perhaps offer advice and potential help and solutions. But most importantly, they say with their very presence, “I get it, I understand, that must be very difficult” and “I’m here for you.” With that, we feel supported, connected and understood. This is incredibly important for our health and wellbeing.

But somewhere along the line, we all can be guilty of failing to practice empathy with others, and most often, with ourselves. By looking at this for a moment and understanding it, we can gain a deeper understanding of how we can make a positive change, starting today, towards helping others and ourselves in a more authentic and real way.

You’re not like me….

In some ways, our world today is the best it’s ever been in our ability to understand and support the wonderful diversity that our human family offers: in sexuality, gender, religion, culture, lifestyle and abilities. And yet there is also a danger that we can get too wrapped up in ourselves and those who are only like us. We may only hang out with people just like us, we don’t make the effort to engage with people we disagree with, we think of others as strange and bizarre and potentially monstrous. We cannot see ourselves in other people, and so we cannot feel for them as we might do.

I would like to suggest that we make a consistent and heartfelt effort to think, to act, and to feel deeper than this. Could you see that how someone acts in a moment could be exactly how you would in the same situation? Can you therefore feel what it might be like to be them? Or could you respect their right to be completely different and contrary to you and that be ok too?

Does their difference or their strength really make you feel afraid or weak? Hopefully, you will see that someone else being strong does not make us weak and the other that we cannot empathise with is often an idea in our heads, rather than the real life person in front of us. Sometimes what we dislike in others is what we see that we don’t like in ourselves, and we blame them for it; rather than consider that we are all just trying to do our best and to be as happy as we can.

That’s not like me at all….

As we get older we tend to hold an idealised version of ourselves in our minds. We have hopefully gotten to know ourselves a bit over the years, we know what we like and don’t like, what our values are, what our body is capable of- we feel that we have a bit of an understanding of who we are as people. And that is a very good thing. But if we do not live up to this image-if we make mistakes, mess up, fail to live up to this image we have of ourselves- we can be our worst critic and completely lack empathy for ourselves.

I have seen people who care and feel so much for others, and not themselves. Where does this habit come from? We don’t learn it in school. It often comes from years of not bringing a lot of empathy, understanding and kind consideration towards ourselves when things don’t turn out the way we want them. By offering empathy towards ourselves, we can transcend the often shallow images that we have of ourselves. This can bring about a greater self love and compassion that wouldn’t be possible if we didn’t allow ourselves to feel deeply towards the other aspect of ourselves.

Strengthening our ability to feel

If you have a friend or family member who is going through a hard time and is upset

  • Don’t try and solve their problem for them, be with them (in person or online) and just ask them open ended questions. Resist the urge to tell them what to do or how you would like to solve the issue. They probably don’t want that, they just want to know they you get it, you feel for them and that you care.

If you see someone in your day who is suffering and it upsets you

  • Think, why are you upset? Is it because you wouldn’t want this situation for yourself? Or is it that you feel a sense of justice and loving kindness they doesn’t want to see anyone suffer? Follow those feelings! They can lead to wonderful acts and moments of kindness and love.

If you encounter someone who is having problems in your work life

  • Ask an open ended question to show you are there for them such as, “what is it that is upsetting you?” Listen to their answer. Allow some silence and then perhaps ask another open ended question, such as, “how would you like things to be?” And just listen and be with them in that moment. You may not feel like you are doing much, but you are, you are affirming them that someone understands them and someone cares for them.

Final thoughts

Over these last three blogs we have looked at cultivating appreciation, wonder and empathy in your heart to allow you to be happy and fulfilled in life. Hopefully you can see, that these gifts of the heart are truly incredible; they are not selfish motives that benefit only ourselves. They are abundant resources that never run out and every day offers us endless opportunities to practice and make moments where we:

Appreciate and are grateful

We wonder and consider the miracle of this life

We allow ourselves to feel deeply and express love towards both others and ourselves

Don’t think of your heart as a small fist sized organ inside your body. See your heart as an incredible loving place, the size of a house or bigger, where everyone is welcome to dwell in and reside.

If you grow your heart to this size, then everyone whom you come into contact with has the potential to love and take shelter within the love that you have for them.

Love and best wishes,

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Part 2 Wonder

Do you ever just sit and think, wow, life is an incredible, crazy, powerful, beautiful, terrible yet precious thing?Having an element of wonder in your life is an incredibly powerful way to keep your ongoing experience of life as fresh, fascinating and deep as possible.
Here are three ways you can make wonder a part of your life today.

Everyday wonder

Have a look around where you are, right now. Look at the colours, the shapes, pay attention to the edges of things. Look at what is smooth, what is rough, feel textures, listen for sounds. You can bring this sense of wonderful and profound exploration towards anything. Let’s use some examples.

Try going out today for a walk and finding a tree and just stop and have a good look at it in wonder. Trees are always giving the gift of life to the world through oxygen. They change colours and sleep in the winter, they stand strong and yet bend and move with extreme weather conditions. They outwardly compete for sunlight on the surface, yet share nourishment and vitamins with each other through their roots in the deep dark beneath the surface.

Have a look at the palm of your hand. Really look at it. Have you ever noticed how many lines there are? All the different patterns? Did you know that your skin is a semi-permeable membrane- so you are actually getting a slight glimpse into what you look like on the inside? Try flexing your hand, making a fist, rotating your wrist, seeing all the different shapes you can make. Consider all the different objects that your hand has touched, places it has been, things it has created, people it has hurt and comforted. Our hands, which we use everyday, can be profound tools of wonder, if we just take the time to truly see and consider them.

Self reflection-making time for wonder

Try once a week looking through the photos in your phones, or any notes you have made that week. And just be in wonder of all that has happened to you that week: the people, the places, the beautiful, the terrible, the surprising, the new, the exciting, the painful. And take a moment to see that there is so much in your life, where there could be nothing at all. There are people who love you, and yet there might not have been. There have been moments when you laughed, and smiled and were happy, and you were not entitled to them, but they happened freely. There were new, surprising and different things; life is continually evolving and offering you new opportunities, every single day.

Your life cold be cold, and dark and alone. And it is not. It is fully of people, colours, textures, opportunities, joys, pains, feelings, experiences, special moments. And you never had to pay any money for your life or ask to be born. You were just given it all completely freely. Take a minute to truly thing about your life like that- it could completely change your perspective on it.

Keep learning to experience wonder

Learning new skills, trying out new things and having new experiences are all fantastic ways to keep your experience of life fresh and exciting. It can be easy to get stuck in arut, through routines and habits and to become bored. Then you may begin thinking that life is less a wonderful adventure and more just the same things each day, with a bit of novelty.
I have found that the more that you learn, the more you become aware of what is going on in life and what it is continually offering you. There is actually so much, it is impossible to get your head around! If you doubt this, try googling how many stars there are in the universe, how big it is and the amount of people in just our one world at the moment!

So our boredom, sometimes depression, and sense of lifelessness can come from us shutting ourselves off from life, often as a way of protecting ourselves. Whilst this can be useful in the short term, and even necessary, being brave and opening back up to life will ensure that you get to experience it to its full.

When you learn something new, you realise how much you actually do not know, or ever will, how much there is to life and how small a part of it you are. Some people can find that scary, but try thinking of it like this. It is much better to be a tiny part in a huge, rich, diverse and exhilarating world, than being the main person in a tiny, small, predictable world where there’s only so much to do and to learn and to be and everyone is the same as you. The gorgeousness of life lies in its diversity and its challenge, in our differences and ability to adapt to become the best version of ourselves. The surging river of evolution flowing throughout life compels us forwards, to join in, to adapt, to learn to swim and to enjoy the water. Just think of it like swimming in the sea- anyone who has swam in the ocean will tell you how exhilarating an experience it is!

Final thoughts

Once, I felt old and worn out. I felt bored by life, knocked by its devastating events and very low. I was told that the light had “gone out of my eyes.” And I remember once looking up at the stars at night and having a thought that changed how I viewed my life forever. Not matter how old we are, or how long we live, we will never be as old as those beautiful stars, who continue to give heat and light for billions of years. And so, in comparison to them, we will always be young, fresh, vital- we will never be old. That wonderful thought has helped me when I have struggled since and I hope it helps you too.

You will always be a child of this universe- loved, young, full of energy, wide eyed and capable of anything.

Love and best wishes,

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Part 1 Appreciation
I am so fortunate in that I get to work with and help so many different people from all walks of life. I listen to them a lot, and I’ve learned over the years that so many of us want the same things in life: to be understood, to belong, to be appreciated and loved, and to have purpose. So we build our lives and as we go, we often hope that these things will just appear as destinations that we will be able to inhabit forever. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. It seems more true that if we want these things to come from others and from our lives, we have to begin by cultivating them ourselves.
So how can we do this?
Here are 3 inner habits that I, and many others I have met and learned from, have learned to cultivate in our lives in order for them to feel and be how we want them to.
The first is Appreciation
We hear a lot about being thankful for what we have and there are many practices that you can do: writing gratitude lists, saying prayers of thanks, writing thank you cards and taking moments to sit and feel grateful.
And I feel that appreciation can go much deeper than that. True appreciation involves trying every day to understand that we are alive, right now, often in good health, in this incredible experience that we call life.
There are different specific numbers around but many now agree that the odds of us being born at all in the first place are one in trillions. That is truly remarkable. So take a minute today to consider that when you woke up, you might not have done.
Cultivating appreciation for your life can develop in levels
The first involves being appreciative when things go your way or you get something that you want in life: a specific result, event, feeling, situation. And it’s a good thing to appreciate these things and the good moments.
The next level is when you take the time to regularly consider all of the good things in your life: family, friends, health, your home, your favorite things etc. This is good, as it is a bit more proactive; making this a habit through a practice such as writing a daily gratitude list has become very popular.
The next deeper level is when you are willing to try and be grateful for all things in your life-both bad and good. The ill health that make you appreciate your usual good health. The death in the family that shocked you and makes you grateful for the family that you do have. The failures, pains and frustrations that can lead to character growth and development. This is a lot more difficult to do, and it can be easy to lose sight of our ability to do this, and retreat back to level 2, when we just want our favorite things, and nice experiences with good people, and when we do not get these, we are no longer appreciative.
Then there is another, much deeper level of appreciation, where we are able to hold and trust that no matters what happens, we will be appreciative; for we knew that there are meanings, purposes and connections beyond what we can understand and piece together. At this point we know death is coming, so we appreciate life. We know pain is unavoidable, so we endure it patiently, knowing it will end. We experience disappointments, break ups and set backs, and yet our appreciation remains a source of strength for us throughout. We appreciate absolutely all that we have and all that we are, for we now know that we cannot hope to understand the true meaning or purpose of everything, and that’s ok. Instead, we are grateful for whatever comes: for all leads to growth, experience, and all is an equally valid part of life. Acceptance with no judgement is a part of our appreciation at this level. We no longer just expect life to give us nice experiences, there is much more deeper activity going on under the surface than that.
Final thoughts
So where are you currently in your appreciation?
If you are anything like most of us, you will move between levels, often daily. And that’s fine. But know this. If you’re willing to self reflect, endure and appreciate regularly, your understanding and experience of life can transform dramatically- as your perceptions deepen and you begin to take off the glasses and see things for what they really are- which will lead to both wonder and empathy.
In the second part of this series we will look at how cultivating wonder can bring real joy into your life.
Love and best wishes,

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Today marks the start of Ramadan, and I have such fondness and admiration for the Islamic faith. So I’d like to share with you something based on the writings of one of my favourite poets, the 13th century Muslim Poet Rumi, who said:
“What you seek is seeking you”
This fascinating and seemingly paradoxical phrase has stayed with me for years and been a great starting point, when I have tried to reflect deeply and consider deeper meanings and purpose in life.
So what could it mean for you in your life?
We tend to focus a lot on what we want in life and go out and get it:
  • We want a healthy body so we work out
  • We want a successful business so we attract clients
  • We want to learn a skill so we practice
  • We want something, so we put the work in
And that is brilliant. The ability to self motivate and then put in the work to achieve an outcome is one of the most important life skills that we can have and use in a variety of different contexts. However, the problem with it is, that if we cannot give 100% at all times, or we do not know exactly our direction or what we want, we can become extremely frustrated, depressed, angry, overwhelmed or even worse, think that our life is only the result of the efforts we have put in.
Can you relate to some of these circumstances?
  1. We get injured and so cannot train and think we will lose our fitness
  2. Our business fails and so we feel we are a failure
  3. We lose a resource and so cannot practise our skill and feel that it is lost
  4. A relationship ends despite our best efforts
  5. We have to have time away from work due to stress
The problem here is that we may be thinking in a narrow, shallow way about our lives, by thinking that our effort, and our will alone, is the only important factor in our happiness and our success in life. It is here that Rumi’s phrase can offer a beautiful and liberating way of thinking differently.
The first part “what you seek” does not mean what you desire, what you want, material items, the latest tech, the things that seem so important in a moment and then fade quickly. It means something deeper. What we often seek is meaning, purpose, authenticity, connection, to fulfil our potential, to be loved and to belong. These are the aspects that we seek, that we yearn for, that our soul longs for and our heart cry out loudly for. What you seek in your life you will have always have been attracted to and looking for; it’s those situations and areas that you are always interested in, wanting to explore, where you feel you belong, nobody has to tell you about them, you are just drawn towards them.
And so we go after what we seek, we go looking, we make efforts and strive, and like I said before, that is all good to do. And yet, sometimes, it’s still not enough.
So what can we do?
Here is where the beauty of the second part of the phrase has its power, “what you seek…is seeking you.”
Let’s explore what this could mean for you in a variety of contexts.

Religious and spiritual

You do not need to go looking for God, as if you will find him/her under a rock. They gave you your life because they loved you and when your life ends, you will go home to them. Their arms are always open for communion with you and your life offers you endless opportunities to connect with them. Also, God does not need you to accomplish or be successful in any way, they love you unconditionally, especially on the days when you are a mess. They gave you the gift of love in life to understand how special the connection is between you and them.

Relationships

If you are single and looking for that special person, they are looking for you too! They are alive right now and exist in the world, and it’s only a matter of time until you find them. And their search for you is just as important to them as your search for them is to you. What a wonderful thought! The special person they are looking for is you and they are yours too.

Your body

Your body wants to be healthy and thrive. Just consider, for a moment, that your body actually heals itself when it is injured. What a wonderful aspect of our bodies to appreciate! Your body cares for you and wants to look after you so much that is is constantly healing, digesting, growing, changing, adapting and doing its best to bring you optimal health and wellbeing.

Your profession

Your ideal role and the places where you feel most at home are known to you deep down. And you may have had one role or one position or several, but each will have been brought to you to teach you something about yourself, if you take a moment to consider. The best and most successful moments in our professions are often when we are being the most authentic, we are just being us, and opportunities seem to keep presenting themselves. This can be a great balm to thinking that we have to consistently keep flogging ourself with the notion that we must work or be productive all of our waking hours.
Working hard and making efforts are indeed very important in life, but Rumi helps us to see that the true deeper aspects of our life transcend our ideas of work and striving, and offers deeper, wider concepts of attraction, connection, non-striving and acceptance. Of having the eyes to see just how much beauty is offering itself to us very single day- from the nature we love to walk in to the people we love of be with.
Here are 3 self reflections you can try this week to allow yourself to remember this beautiful empowering phrase
  1. Write down all the blessings in your life that you have been freely given, such as your body, your family and your life
  2. Think of all the wonderful events and situations that are ahead of you which will require no action from you
  3. Think about a time where you felt truly connectedness and affirmed by someone or a situation, when you felt at home, with no need for effort on your part
Final thoughts…
It’s a wonderful thought to think that right at this moment, whatever or whomever you are seeking is looking for you too, today, right now. And it is only a matter of time until you will be together.
That could be your relationship with God, your best self, a partner, the satisfaction you crave or the love that you need. They are on their way to you, they will meet you half way, and you will feel at home in the eyes of the other.
Love and best wishes,

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How we see something is everything. It can make all the difference between happiness and success and sadness and failure- it’s all in how you look at it.
I’d like to tell you a short story about my boiler and how it has been teaching me a new way of looking at, and classifying, daily problems in the hope that it can help you too.
My boiler is a combi-boiler and so provides both hot water and heats my home. It’s old and will eventually need replacing, and so I’ve had several people out to look at it several times recently. Currently I’ve got some heating that comes and goes a bit randomly and a bit of hot water, there might be 30 seconds of hot water in a shower, or a surprise scolding ten seconds of hot water when doing the dishes! It’s infrequent, it’s unreliable, it’s infuriating.
And it got me thinking. Why was it bugging me so much? Well firstly because I’d like it to be fixed, probably with a new boiler. But at the moment, that’s not an option, therefore I currently have to make do with it for the near future – I have a “boiler problem.”
Have you got a boiler problem? Something in your life that isn’t how you want it and is currently beyond your control to fix, improve or sort and so you are having to make do for now? You are not alone. At the moment, there are so many people whom I talk to and interact with who tell me such, from small annoying things to very large and challenging circumstances. They all share the same characteristics- unusual circumstances- problem- cannot be solved for now-have to make do. We are all currently experiencing boiler problems, things that normally would not be an issue or a hassle, but are, through not fault of our own, currently a challenge.
Examples of boiler problems we are currently experiencing
A boiler problem- a difficult circumstance, which you are currently unable to solve and this make due, caused by exceptionally unusual circumstances
Here are some examples of boiler problems, which I have gleaned from family, friends and business colleagues recently:
• Having to queue for an hour just to go inside a supermarket and go shopping
• Going to a pharmacy and being told medicines will not be available for a week
• Not being able to leave the house more than once a day
• Having to cut your own hair
• Losing certain parts of your income for your business
• Not being able to hug anyone
• Not being able to visit family and friends
• Feeling a sense of helplessness regularly – usually daily
• Everyday activities requiring much more effort than normal
• Emotional exhaustion coming to the surface seemingly out of nowhere
Have you experienced any of these recently?
Can you relate to them?
What we can do about them
Here is a simple five step mental re-framing tool to help you to deal with these situations.

Recognise and classify

When you’re experiencing a problem, take a minute to classify it. If there’s something positive you can do to start a solution, go for it. If there’s absolutely nothing you can do, then leave it. But if there are small things you can do to make do for now, until a better opportunity comes in the future, then it’s a boiler problem – and there’s still plenty of positives that can come from it.

Accept and endure

If it’s something you have to endure for now, then accept it. There is nothing to be gained from denying something, or pretending it isn’t happening. Accepting that you will have to endure it for now sets your mental parameters and provides you with the fact that you are currently having to make do, and sometimes, that can be ok for a short time. Also, by accepting it, you will not be wasting mental energy trying to solve something that is at the moment, beyond your control. That acceptance will help to calm you down and allow you to move onto the next step, which is all about how to handle the problem.

Be kind to yourself

Boiler problems are usually not our own doing – so there’s no need to beat yourself up. Be kind to yourself and recognise that you are experiencing some situations and circumstances that are beyond your control – like the weather. Now is not the time for self criticism, that can come later. Follow the five steps and speak to yourself kindly, like you would a loved one or a close friend. Boiler problems can be the worst, because they can come out of nowhere and make us feel helpless – but you are not helpless. You can control your reactions; and even if you can’t and have moments when you freak out, that’s ok too. Be kind to yourself and you will get through.

Plan for the future

This last step is brilliant for helping take you mentally outside of what may be a currently challenging situation. Make some plans, dream, visualise what you can do in the near future to be happy and enjoy your life. It might be having a family party, going on a holiday, just spending time outside or growing your business. Whatever it is, actively spend time thinking about this, and it will remind your mind that part of what makes a problem a boiler problem, is that it is temporary. It does not last. So taking time to think about when it is solved will excite you, energise you and make you feel good about your future.
Hope must be built and nourished daily

Get curious and creative

Firstly, ask yourself what about the situation frustrates or annoys you. Is it that bad? Is it something you could learn to live with for a short time, like a bad hair cut or buying the wrong milk? Something that is actually quite small in the big scheme of things? If so, great, try that. If it is something larger and more serious, such as a mental health problem, then consider reaching out to get help and support from others – you would be amazed how much you can benefit from talking openly with a trusted friend. Keep bringing curiosity to your reactions to boiler problems and that will help to soothe the natural frustration that you may feel whilst experiencing them.

 

Here some suggested ideas of using your curiosity to make do and mend your potential boiler problems:

Having to queue for an hour just to go inside a supermarket and go shopping
Accept the challenge and just do it. Listen to some music or an audiobook. Be grateful for the fact you have a local shop that provides food for you. Try online click and collect – plan ahead for this – if you really struggle with crowds and shopping at the moment

Going to a pharmacy and being told medicines will not be available for a week-
Make do for now-can you use hot water bottles, abstain from certain foods? Can you change your schedule to make things easier for yourself until you get your medicines?


Not being able to leave the house more than once a day
Make that an exercise session and get hot and sweaty. Or do some mindful walking and look around at all the different houses and nature. Be thankful that you can actually leave your house. Stand outside your door and breathe the fresh air deeply

Having to cut your own hair or grow it
Embrace it! Give it a go. Don’t take yourself seriously. Everyone is having to do the same. Look forward to that exciting reunion with your hairdresser in the near future!

Losing certain parts of your income for your business.

Accept this and plan on what you can do now. Can you generate new sources of income? Plan for your future. Reduce your outgoings. Brainstorm, experiment, try new things. Be open to new possibilities- do not focus on giving in, focus on surviving

Not being able to hug anyone or visit family and friends
Visualise just how good it is going to be when you can, because it’s just a matter of time. Plan out a family reunion party to look forward to.

Feeling a sense of helplessness regularly – usually daily
Journal how you are feeling each day. Are there certain times of the day when you feel like this? If so, you can expect them, not panic when they come, and ride them out

Everyday activities requiring much more effort than normal
Plan for this. Ask for help if you live with others. Reduce the amount of quantity that you are doing and focus on quality. For example, rather than having 3 zoom business calls, have 1 and spend extra time doing follow up action work to create solutions and possibilities. Or do a menu plan for the week and stick to it, so you do not have to spend energy making decisions on what to eat daily.

Emotional exhaustion coming to the surface seemingly out of nowhere
This is a big one. Recognise that it has come and make time to regularly calm yourself down throughout the day. For example, first thing in the morning, just after lunch and dinner, stand outside and slowly breathe some fresh air. Take the time before and after activities that cause stress to actively calm yourself down – drink some tea, sit, breathe. Give yourself five minutes on your own. Do this regularly.

Final thoughts…

I had a recent conversation with somebody and they were exasperated by being told at work to “pick their battles.” They were being advised that they couldn’t win all the time, they had to make concessions, they had to compromise, and she hated that idea. So we talked about it a bit, and I suggested that sometimes you may indeed have to pick your battles, but she hadn’t been told the missing second part of that phrase, to win the war. Classifying certain situations as boilers problems, and so not having to spend mental energy trying to solve them or fix them right away, will allow you to focus on the long term wins, the end of the war, the peace and good times that are coming. And by doing this, you will receive the mental strength and enthusiasm to keep going, to remember that no problem lasts forever. And who knows, perhaps one day soon I’ll be writing to you having had a lovely warm bath, with a brand new boiler!

Love and best wishes,

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