#MondayMotivation ‘Happy For No Reason’ by Marci Shimoff #MondayBlogs #PersonalGrowth

Over the past months, I’ve been reading a great number of motivational and inspiring books on personal growth. I’ve also been listening to podcasts and watching videos on YouTube. This interest has sprung from a combination of factors as I’ve recently reached a few significant milestones in my life; I retired and turned sixty, and I have five grandchildren between the ages of three months and nine years. I am concerned with aging, health, and emotional wellbeing, as well as my children’s and grandchildren’s future challenges. I have more time to reflect and more things to reflect on, so I’ve found these books, podcasts and videos very helpful, especially in these uncertain and volatile times in which we can take nothing for granted. I’ll be sharing my thoughts with you on Mondays.

Today I’m sharing my reflections on a wonderful book with an intriguing and motivating title, Happy for no Reason by Marci Shimoff, NY Times bestselling author, and motivational speaker. This is a link to her blog/vlog Your Year of Miracles.

Happy for No Reason: 7 Steps to Being Happy from the Inside Out de [Marci Shimoff]

Part one explores the paradigm of happiness based on theories and experiments carried out, so we get a better understanding of what it means to be happy. She also discusses of happiness blocks and how she applies the Law of Attraction to lead a happier life. It also includes a 20-question test to help the reader assess and understand our level of happiness. You can download the questionnaire here.

Part II is about raising our level of happiness through the seven steps she proposes using an analogy of building a Home for Happiness.
1. The Foundation—Take Ownership of Your Happiness. Only you are responsible for your happiness.
2. The Pillar of the Mind—Don’t Believe Everything You Think. Question your thoughts, because your thoughts make your beliefs and sometimes they are negative, limited or simply untrue and they can sabbotage your life.
3. The Pillar of the Heart—Let Love Lead. Focus on gratitude, forgiveness and kindness. I love this chapter because it has many examples and simple practices for emotional growth.
4. The Pillar of the Body—Make Your Cells Happy. In this chapter she discusses taking care of our physical being, food, exercise, sleep etc.
5. The Pillar of the Soul—Plug Yourself In to Spirit. She talks about our connection to a higher power or the universe by inner listening through meditation.
6. The Roof—Live a Life Inspired by Purpose. Find what your are passionate about. this can be your job, career, calling, hobby. Do what you love and love what you do.
7. The Garden—Cultivate Nourishing Relationships. Connecting with and supporting others.

Part three is about building habits which will increase our wellbeing and guide us us in our path to happiness. It also includes a comprehensive bibliography and other online resources.

If you don’t have time to read the book, watch this interview where she explains it all in her own words:

I really enjoyed reading this book which is full of real life stories and examples of all her suggestions. There are also practical and thought-provoking questions, called ‘Exercises’ throughout the book, which make it a useful tool to personal improvement.

Take care and stay safe.

Here’s the link if you’d like to read my other posts on #PersonalGrowth 

Check this post out to find out about my Blogging schedule.

#MondayMotivation ‘3 Steps to Choose your Word of the Year 2021’ #MondayBlogs #PersonalGrowth #Goals #TimeManagement

Over the past months, I’ve been reading a great number of motivational and inspiring books on personal growth. I’ve also been listening to podcasts and watching videos on YouTube. This interest has sprung from a combination of factors as I’ve recently reached a few significant milestones in my life; I retired and turned sixty, and I have five grandchildren between the ages of three months and nine years. I am concerned with aging, health, and emotional wellbeing, as well as my children’s and grandchildren’s future challenges. I have more time to reflect and more things to reflect on, so I’ve found these books, podcasts and videos very helpful, especially in these uncertain and volatile times in which we can take nothing for granted. I’ll be sharing my thoughts with you on Mondays.

I love the number three; I think it’s magical. When I plan my goals, I always do it in threes, so instead of one word for my 2021, I’ve identified three!

I plan and revise my goals regularly, at least every three months, sometimes every month, but I’ve never chosen a word, or three words for the year. This year I’m linking my goals to my three words of the year.

You’re probably wondering why now? Well, two things happened.

I first read about his in Claire Diaz Ortiz’s book, I’ll be telling you about it shortly, called Design Your Day. In the first chapter, she proposes we start by choosing our word for the year based on what you want to achieve. This word will give us a sense of direction for all our goals for the year ahead.

Secondly, I was intrigued by the idea, so I did some investigating online and found plenty of videos and webpages, including Everyday Gyaan, where you can find a link-up so you can read other words of the year and share your own.

The idea sounded powerful and practical. Focussing on a word, or three, to bring together and permeate all my goals convinced me and I thought, if it works for so many other people, surely I can benefit too, so here’s what I did.

Step One, following Michael Hyatt’s advice in his book Your Best Year Ever, which I featured in my blog last week, was to identify which aspects/areas/domains of my life are most important to me. Hyatt identifies ten, but I’ve narrowed it down to five aspects where I have specific goals I want to achieve: Mind, Body, Soul, Career and Hobbies.

Step Two was to identify specific goals for each aspect of my life.

I’ve identified 3 goals, for each aspect.

It helps me to add the reason, why it’s important to me, so that I remember the motivation behind the goal, to keep the momentum going.

I also add a basic strategy, what steps am I going to take to achieve the goal. This can be specific, general, or just the first step. This will help me focus and work toward my goal, because we all know that a goal without a plan is just a wish!

Here’s an example of my goal-planning for my ‘Mind’ goals.

 

MIND
Goal 1 Study neuroscience and neurolinguistics
Why I’m interested in learning more about how the mind works and how languages are learnt.
Strategy Register for a free three part online course at Harvard. https://online-learning.harvard.edu/course/fundamentals-neuroscience-part-1-electrical-properties-neuron?delta=0 There are plenty of these free and reasonably priced courses online on hundreds of topics.
Goal 2 Learn German
Why My daughter, her partner and son live in Germany
Strategy Read short stories, study vocab, practice with app, watch easy german videos on youtube.

I’ve bought the books, downloaded the app and identified the youtube channel ‘Easy German’ which has regular learning videos.

Goal 3 Read 2 books a week
Why To keep my mind active and improve my writing skills.
Strategy I make a TBR lists with various headings such as personal growth, romance, thrillers, psychology and learning, etc.

I’m on audible, Scribd and Amazon. I usually take notes as I read and share my opinions on the books I read my blog.

I’m doing the same process with every aspect and goal. It’s vital y to write it all down in an orderly manner. That doesn’t mean it’s written in stone, in fact it should be regularly reread, revised and updated.

I have set all my goals and I have my ‘whys’, but I haven’t finished completing the strategies part yet for all of them. It’s exhausting and time-consuming, but worthwhile.

If you’d like to see the rest of my goals, let me know in the comments. I wouldn’t want to bore you with a breakdown of all my goals and projects.

Step Three: Introspection.

There’s just one question which will help me find the answers I need:

  • What do I need more of to move on in my life?

First, I’d like to look at the things I already have.

I have Time.  I am retired, so I have so much time that I must organise it.

I also have plenty of intrinsic and extrinsic Motivation for each goal. They are all things I’m passionate about doing because they are meaningful in my life and bring me joy.

So, what do I need to achieve my goals, that I currently lack, or don’t have enough of?

1- I need to organise my time effectively with daily morning and evening Routines, because I know from experience that if I don’t create habits and schedules, I’ll never have enough time to do it all.

2- I also need to Believe that I can do it, because sometimes it all gets too daunting. Life gets in the way and I don’t think I can do it all, because I’m not clever enough, or talented enough, or simply good enough, so I need to believe in myself.

3- Finally I want to add a third word, which is Gratitude, especially after this tough year we’ve all experienced. Gratitude for the love, support, health and happiness, creativity, I have received and given because I want it in my life this year and every other year, too.

Now that I have my three words, what to I do with them?

Firstly, I need to take these words as seriously as my goals. 

That means 1- organising and adhering to a routine that works for me, 2- Investigating strategies, such as affirmations, to build self-confidence and belief in myself, 3- remembering to be thankful by keeping and rereading my gratitude journal.

It also means repeating them every day and applying them to each of my goals.

I write them in big, bold letters, on the first page of my journal and make sure I’m invoking them every time I revise my Goals Journal, where I carefully write all this down and add notes to keep me on track.

I’m also doing something else which is new this year, I’m creating a Goal Book. I got the basic idea, which I’ve adapted to my own style, which works for me, from Marissa Peer,  who tells us all about making a Vision Book or folder, instead of a Vision Board. But more about my Goal Book in another post.

I hope to have it all sorted out by the end of January (although I’ve already started with some of my goals, such as learning German). Next year I’ll have to start in December!

What’s your word or words of the year for 2021?

Here’s the link if you’d like to read my other posts on #PersonalGrowth

#SundayWalks ‘7 things I forgot in 2020’

I forgot to be impatient, because life isn’t a race, it’s a journey to be savoured. 

I forgot to complain when I switched off my morning alarm, because every day is a unique gift to treasure.

I forgot to worry about setbacks, because they show me a lesson I need to learn.

I forgot to feel guilt about my choices because they are a result of my free will, and they have brought me to where I am.  

I forgot to feel fear, because, ‘only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.’ Dorothy Thompson.

I forgot to feel bored because this world is the most fascinating place in the universe and I am lucky enough to experience living here.

I forgot to feel entitled, because this world owes me nothing I don’t deserve. Instead, I learnt to say thank you for every breath I take, everything I see and feel, and everyone in my life, including you, dear blogging friends and visitors.

And finally, I forgot to worry about everything I had lost over the years and remembered everything I had.  

Tell me, what did you forget in 2020?

#MondayMotivation ‘Your Best Year Ever’ by Michael Hyatt ‘Setting #Goals for #2021’ #MondayBlogs #PersonalGrowth

Over the past months I’ve been reading a great number of motivational and inspiring books on the topic of personal growth. I’ve also been listening to podcasts and watching videos on YouTube. This interest has sprung from a combination of factors as I’ve recently reached a few significant milestones in my life; I retired and turned sixty, and I have five grandchildren between the ages of three months and nine years. I am concerned with aging, health, and emotional wellbeing, as well as my children’s and grandchildren’s future challenges. I have more time to reflect and more things to reflect on, so I’ve found these books, podcasts and videos very helpful, especially in these uncertain and volatile times in which we can take nothing for granted. I’ll be sharing my thoughts with you on Mondays.

Today’s book is very appropriate for this time of year, because it’s all about Setting Goals for 2021.

I read Michael Hyatt’s Best Year Ever in 2018 and used it to plan my 2019, but I haven’t used it this year. I took careful notes, as I always do, and remembered that he included useful strategies and questions to help us look back on the previous year, and our lives in general, in order to make and plan goals for the following year.

Your Best Year Ever: A 5-Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals by [Michael Hyatt]

The first stage is taking the Lifescore Assessment Questionnaire in the book, which I’ve now found online as an online tool, which I had used in the book and scored 75% in 2019 and this year I scored 89% which is even better. You can take the test yourself here. 

I have had a complicated year, but the complications have developed favourably, so I am fortunate enough to feel fairly satisfied with this last challenging year. It hasn’t all been due to my efforts, I’ll admit that I have been lucky, or perhaps I’ve attracted luck through my visualisation and positive attitude. I have also adapted well to the imposed changes in our lives because of covid-19 and especially confinement issues. I believe that the vast number of books I’ve read and am sharing with you on #MondayBlogs and podcasts and videos on personal growth, time management and goal setting have helped enormously and I hope some of these books and authors will also resonate with you.

Returning to Michael Hyatt, he suggests that we divide our life into ten domains: Spiritual, Intellectual, emotional, physical. Marital, Parental, Social, Vocational/Professional, Vocational/Hobbies and Financial. At first I thought they were too many, but as I read on and applied them to my life, they started making sense, with some minor adaptations. The questionnaire is based on these 10 domains.

Then he suggests we follow these five stages to achieve our goals:

  • Recognising and Overcoming limiting beliefs
  • Leaving the past behind in order to move into your future.
  • Use a SMART(ER) framework to plan goal implementation. This is an excellent chapter on strategies to achieve your goals.
  • Understand why you want to achieve these goals.
  • Using activation triggers to overcome hurdles.

He goes into each one in great depth individually and proposes practical activities we can do to help us achieve our goals.

I’d like to tell you about Stage Two, Getting Closure of last year in order to move on. I hope it will be useful, now is the time to review the years which about to end.

He proposes we think about and write answers to the following 9 questions bearing in mind the ten life domains:

  1. How did you see your past year going?
  2. What were your plans, dreams, goals?
  3. What disappointments or regrets did you experience?
  4. What did you feel you should have been acknowledged for but weren’t?
  5. What did you accomplish last year that you are most proud of?
  6. What were two or three specific things which kept occurring?
  7. What were the major life lessons that you learned this past year?
  8. What are you grateful for that happened last year?
  9. What are you grateful for in your life in general?

Hyatt suggests we write 7-10 goals including all the domains for the following year, based on the results of our test and our answers to the previous questions.

What do we want next year to look like in the 10 domains?

Which goals will help us fulfil our dreams for the year ahead?

Then he asks us to do a very powerful exercise: Visualise the end of the year when we have achieved our goals and describe our life and our feelings. We can also write it down, self-talk about it, or meditate and visualise our new lives.

To summarise and simplify this part of Hyatt’s proposal, I suggest that the following three activities will help us take the first steps in setting our goals for the year.

1- Taking stock of the past as something that has happened FOR us not TO us. We have to grow as a result of past experiences and make a conscious effort to learn the lesson and move on.

2- Setting goals for the year ahead based on prioritising our needs in each domain.

3- Visualising what our future looks and feels like with our achieved goals.

I urge you to read the rest of the book, or other books on strategies for achieving our goals, because a goal without a plan is a wish and we need to make our goals become real in 2021 by conscious strategies and visualisation.

I wish you all the best of luck for the year ahead. I hope you achieve all your goals in 2021.

Here’s the link if you’d like to read my other posts on #PersonalGrowth

#SundayWalks ‘7 things I remembered in 2020’

I remembered to say I love you more often.
I remembered to feel joy at every sunrise.
I remembered to feel satisfaction at every sunset.
I remembered to feel hope that tomorrow will be even better than today.
I remembered to learn something new every day.
I remembered that happiness is not one big event or instant, but a mosaic full of wonderful and diverse, little moments occurring every day.
I remembered to say thank you for every breath I take, everything I see and feel, and everyone in my life, including you, dear blogging friends and visitors.
I hope you had a happy Christmas holiday and remembered all the wonderful things in your life.

 And remember…

#MondayMotivation ‘168 Hours’ by Laura Vanderkam #MondayBlogs #PersonalGrowth #Goals #TimeManagement

Over the past months I’ve been reading a great number of motivational and inspiring books on the topic of personal growth. I’ve also been listening to podcasts and watching videos on YouTube. This interest has sprung from a combination of factors as I’ve recently reached a few significant milestones in my life; I retired and turned sixty, and I have five grandchildren between the ages of three months and nine years. I am concerned with aging, health, and emotional wellbeing, as well as my children’s and grandchildren’s future challenges. I have more time to reflect and more things to reflect on, so I’ve found these books, podcasts and videos very helpful, especially in these uncertain and volatile times in which we can take nothing for granted. I’ll be sharing my thoughts with you on Mondays.

This Monday I’m featuring 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, written by Laura Vanderkam, a book which has helped me realise I have much more time than I ever imagined, and although I thought I was good at planning, this books has made me realise I can use my time much more efficiently.

In this brilliant book, the author reminds us that every week has 168 hours, which is plenty of time to do everything we want and need to do, as long as we  follow her advice and find ways to rearrange our schedules to make room for the things that matter most. This book gives us plenty of creative and eye-opening ideas, to do just that.

In the introduction, she suggests, ‘Looking at life in 168-hour blocks is a useful paradigm shift, because—unlike the occasionally crunched weekday—well-planned blocks of 168 hours are big enough to accommodate full-time work, intense involvement with your family, rejuvenating leisure time, adequate sleep, and everything else that actually matters.’

I took several pages of notes as I listened to her Ted Talk first, and  then went on to read her book, 168 Hours, so what follows is a brief synthesis of the ideas I consider most inspiring and helpful, but I urge you to listen to her and read her book, because it will help you to identify the things that really matter in your life, take control of your week and find time for everything you desire.

168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by [Laura Vanderkam]

A week has 168 hours, we work for 40 and sleep for 56, which means we have 71 hours left. That’s a long time! Some people commute 2 hours a day, that’s 10 hours less, 61. Let’s subtract say 2 hours to eat and 2 for housework and shopping, that’s 28, which still leaves us 33 hours a week of free time.

The secret to optimising that free time between family, friends, hobbies, exercise, and relaxation, is:

a) being aware of the time at your disposal and how you are using it every week and b) being intentional about how you use this time. 

In order to gain awareness of how we’re spending our time, she recommends using a spreadsheet you can download from her blog My168Hours.com, or create your own.

We should later analyse how we’re spending our time acording to categories such as child care, which can be subdivided into physical care, playing, education, and reading, for example. Housework, which can be divided into laundry, food prep, house cleaning, lawn work, and so on.

Another inspiring proposal is the suggestion that we write a list of 100 dreams and make sure we’re working towards one or more of them every week, and cross them off as we complete them.

Setting goals, prioritising from work to household chores, identifying what’s important, urgent and what can be delegated or postponed, long and short term goal planning, downtime, creating a weekly, block schedule and so much more is contained in these 271 priceless pages.

I absolutely loved this book! It’s useful for everyone and anyone, whether you’re a stressed CEO, a busy mother or father, or a student. There’s so much useful and practical information and food for thought that it’s one of the best and most useful books on time management I’ve ever read.

168 Hours is especially useful at this time of year when we’re more likely to assess our past year and plan for next year’s goals.

If you listen to and read Laura Vanderkam’s proposals, I guarantee you’ll have a greater chance of finding happiness and reaching your goals.

Here’s the link if you’d like to read my other posts on #PersonalGrowth

#SixWordSaturday May He Be Safe, Happy & Free

I live in the south of Spain, and I’m lucky enough to enjoy a warm climate and a swimming pool at home. When my five-year-old grandson comes to visit, he takes off his clothes and jumps in! He’s a great swimmer and he loves playing in the water.

I wasn’t born with a house, a pool, and a job, in fact I had a very underprivileged childhood.

However, I was fortunate enough to have been born in Europe in the 1960s, which means I had access to good quality, free education and health, which I fully took advantage of, and was consequently well prepared for the international job market.

I’ve worked hard and full-time since I finished my first degree, when I was 21. I’ve raised three wonderful, hard-working children and I have four young grandchildren.

My only wish for them, is that they, and all other European, and world citizens, continue to benefit from equal opportunities in education, health and the job market, so that they can be safe, happy, and free to live their life as they would choose.

I want them to live in a world, like the world I grew up in, in which they can decide which religion, if any to follow, which studies to pursue, and which career or job to have, in order to ensure a roof over their heads.

I hope they’ll be able to express their creativity, opinions, feelings, political ideas and sexuality, however they see fit, as long as they respect others, and do not purposefully hurt anyone, including themselves.

That’s the world I was privileged enough to live in, and it’s what I’d like them to enjoy, too.

Is it too much to ask for?

I leave you with a beautiful picture of Paris with a full moon which my daughter sent me a few weeks ago.

Liberté, egalité, fraternité.

****

Feel free to join in Six Word Saturday hosted by Debbie Smyth’s Blog Travel with Intent

Follow Luccia Gray on Social Media:

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Check out Luccia Gray’s Books on Amazon 

1 Day to Book Launch of ‘Midsummer at Eyre Hall’: My Happy Ending, Thanks to Camus, Orson Welles and My Daughter.

Tomorrow is the big day. The Eyre Hall Trilogy is officially complete and available for purchase and download on Amazon as a Kindle ebook.

My proof for the paperback version of Midsummer at Eyre Hall arrived today. I’ll be checking it through carefully, and it will be available to purchase in print before the end of the month.

Today’s post is about happy endings.

 

My Trilogy

The Eyre Hall Trilogy in my hands! What an exciting moment, even though Midsummer at Eyre Hall is the proof copy.

In this final post, I’m going to tell you about one of my greatest challenges. I needed to make sure the end of The Eyre Hall Trilogy was not disappointing for readers who had read the previous books. After their emotional investment and the time spent reading, I wouldn’t want to let them down.

The main dilemma regarding the ending: it  could be happy or not.

As I briefly discussed in my previous post, a happy ending is not mandatory in a romance, or in a gothic romance, or even in a Victorian gothic romance, but in the end, that’s what has happened in The Eyre Hall Trilogy.

Why did I think of an unhappy ending in the first place?

Well, I didn’t want to be accused of promoting false expectations or chosing the easy way to end my trilogy on a marriage or birth, after all, the end, the real end of our lives, is pretty depressing.

I finally decided to stop at a happy moment, mainly because it was my daughter’s request and Camus’ influence, so I followed Welles advice and found the right place to stop in order to have an optimistic ending.

 

Orson-Welles-fun-wise-quotes

 

Before we continue, let’s take a few minutes to discuss happiness. What is happiness? What is a happy ending?

According to Camus, life becomes absurd once we realise that from the moment we are born, we are walking towards our inevitable death.

Life is absurd, but we can make one of two important choices: to live or to die.

We can exert our freedom and refuse to play the absurd game by committing suicide, or we can freely accept the absurdity of life and chose to be happy.

So, if we choose to be happy, we accept our transient nature and implicitly agree to make the most of our time here.

camus qute

Now, back to The Eyre Hall Trilogy. Why is it a happy ending?

Mainly because the main characters, the characters the reader cares most about, are in harmony with the life they lead at the moment the narrative stops. They have made their choices, fought for what they wanted, and they have achieved what they desired, so they are happy at the end.

On the other hand, not all the plot lines are tied up optimistically, and not all the characters are living in harmony. John, Annette and Susan made some unwise decisions which they will have to live with. There is a shadow looming over Michael due to some risky decisions he made, and of course, Jane is getting older towards the end of the novel, and although she is in good health, in Victorian England life expectancy was low, but I wrote ‘The End‘ before she died.

The final moment in Midsummer at Eyre Hall is full of harmony, but the characters, the reader, and the writer are well aware that this is a photograph of a fleeting moment. In any case, I hope you enjoy this temporary representation of happiness.

*****

The following is an extract from Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall, where Charles Dickens and Jane Eyre are discussing the difficulty of ending a novel. Mr. Dickens is visiting Jane and they are chatting by the fireplace at Eyre Hall, after dinner. He calls her Miss Elliot, beause it was the pen name Jane used at that time.

It’s one of my favourite intertextual scenes in the novel; the author I most admire chatting to my favourite fictional character about literature. A magnificent moment.

****

Dickens Victorian lady

“The time has come to end this wonderful evening. I would not like to tire you, or I shall not be invited again.”

“Endings are so sad in real life, and so hard to write in fiction. How does an artist know a work of art has reached its end? And what is a good ending to a great story?”

“Indeed. It is no secret that I struggle with every ending.”

“I prefer happy endings, as you know, Mr. Dickens. Readers prefer a satisfactory conclusion. It makes the reading more rewarding.”

“Perhaps you are right, my dear Miss Elliot, but I am afraid it is not always possible.”

“Who should we bear in mind when writing the end, the reader or the story?”

“The reader always. We write for our readers. I had a more pessimistic ending for Great Expectations, but my dear friend Wilkie Collins persuaded me, or shall we say convinced me, that my readers would prefer a more positive ending, so I left the door open for Pip and Estella.”

“And are you pleased with this modification?”

“Yes. I have no doubt the story will be more acceptable with the altered ending. After all, I think Wilkie was right. It is for the better.”

“I must admit, it is one of my favourite novels, and I am glad you decided to present a happy ending. Would you read the last chapter before we retire?”

“It would be a pleasure, Miss Elliot.”

She handed me a copy of Great Expectations. I opened the last chapter and read the ending she wanted to hear.

‘I took her hand in mine, and we went out of the ruined place; and, as the morning mists had risen long ago when I first left the forge, so the evening mists were rising now, and in all the broad expanse of tranquil light they showed to me, I saw no shadow of another parting from her.’

Seconds later, I closed the book and watched a single tear slide down her cheek.

“Thank you, Mr. Dickens. That is the most perfect ending anyone has ever written.”

I wanted to add that it was a mere illusion, because there can be no happy ending to any story. We will have to surrender everything we have, in the end, and we will leave this planet as naked and helpless as we came, but I was silent. Why spoil the magic moment?

*****

What kind of endings do you prefer in the novels you read or write?

Compassion and Happiness: A Room Without a Roof #Happiness #1000Speak

We normally think of compassion related to pain, sadness, poverty, misery, but today (I’m a day late, I mean yesterday,) is also International Day of Happiness, so I’d like to join 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion and reflect upon compassion as a way of bringing some happiness to other people.

compassion-logo-finished

It’s not a pleasant situation for me when I’m feeling happy and someone around me is in emotional pain. It could be a colleague, a friend, a neighbor, or a relative. Today I’d like to suggest simple strategies for making people happy, or at least less unhappy.

The satisfaction of knowing I’ve helped others is priceless, so it’s something I normally try to do, and it’s really not as hard as it seems. I’m not an expert or a psychologist, but I’ve been a teacher for over thirty years, a mother, a grandmother, a wife, and friend to many, so here are a few things I’ve learnt along the way.

listen-2

  • Listen to someone who is obviously unhappy.

You may think they don’t want to talk, or you may be too embarrassed or busy to listen, but you should make an effort to find out what’s the matter. They say a problem shared is a problem halved, and I’ve experienced it so many times myself, that the power of listening is invaluable.

Why to listen

Firstly because it lets them talk, which means verbalizing what’s happening to them, and crazy as it seems, it’s not something people do unless they talk or write about how they feel, and you’d be amazed how many people do neither. It stays bottled up inside…festering. You can’t solve a problem you don’t verbalise and analyse. Amazingly, I’ve noticed that very often, just telling someone why you’re upset is enough to feel a little better. Isn’t that worth a few minutes or half an hour of your time?

Listening 1

How to Listen

Active listening means talking as little as possible yourself and focusing on the speaker. You may need to ask a few questions to keep them engaged, but don’t be judgemental, don’t tell them what to do (unless you’re specifically asked, which mostly you won’t be), don’t give them examples of your own; it’s about them, not you. This stage is only about listening to them. Finally you can recap what they’ve said to make sure you (and especially they) have described the situation clearly.

  • Comfort them. It’s a good idea to give them some comforting words or a hug. You don’t even have to talk or say more than a few words. The power of a hug, a smile, and a few comforting words like, ‘I’m sorry you’re feeling sad,’ or ‘Is there anything I can do to help?’ is invaluable, and it only takes a few seconds.

power-of-hugs

  • Give them ideas to cope. If theyre ready to listen you can speak now. If they’re too upset to listen to you, you might want to postpone this stage, but often, they’re in need of your input on the situation, after all, that’s why they’ve opened their hearts to you. Now it’s your turn to speak. I love this part, because there are so many simple things you can do to cheer yourself up that you forget when you’re immersed in your own sadness.

The first thing is to admit that you don’t have a solution to their problem, but you have ideas to lighten their load and help them think things through or move on with their lives.

Problems

This is where the room without a roof (from the song Happy by Farrell) comes in. when you’re unhappy the roof oppresses you and doesn’t let you see the daylight outside, so you need to do simple things to make holes in that roof until you’ve broken it completely.

One quick and easy way to cheer up is to listen to music, sing your favourite song and dance or go for a walk with your headphones. There are so many songs which cheer you up, we each have our own. These are a few of mine, depending on my mood: Happy by Farrell, anything by Bruno Mars (Uptown Funk), Black Eyed Peas (I Gotta Feeling), Madonna (I’m Breathess), or Simply Red (Jerico), Adele (Rolling in the deep). There’s no excuse with Spotify and Youtube, you can listen to almost anything free!

You can also watch your favourite film, even if it makes you cry, but better if it makes you laugh.

You can phone your special friend or relative who lives thousands of miles away, and if they’ve passed away, you can still speak to them in your mind. Try it, they’re listening to you. Tap onto them through your subconscious, see them, hear their voice, have that conversation you need to have with them. You’ll be surprised what they say.

You can write about how you feel in a diary or write some flash fiction, or plan a novel with the situation. If you don’t feel like writing a coherent text, write a lists of things you’re grateful for or things you want to do in the next few months, or a list of things to do or say in your situation.

If you’re a writer, use your negative feelings for your characters and think what they would do and how they would feel in your situation. It helps to let off steam and extrapolate.

Read a book. There are so many, from self-help to romance, suspense, historical, science fiction, whatever catches your eye. Read the blurb and ‘Look inside’ first, and if you don’t like it move on. Don’t feel like bothering to find a book? Reread your favourite novels or your favourite parts.

There are plenty of self help books out there, I’m not up to date, but I got a lot out of these books: The Flow (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi), To Be and To Have (Fromm), I love all of Deepak Chopra’s books, The Prophet (Gibran), The Power of Now (Tolle) Here are a few more suggestions:

Do whatever you like, whether it’s cooking, shopping, painting, gardening, yoga, do it. Spoil yourself. Buy ingredients for your favourite meal or cake, or pay a visit to a Garden Centre…

So often in life, problems improve over time, but we need to fill that waiting time with activities that will lift our spirits. They’re like bridges taking us from one side of the river to the other.

Happy 2

  • Check up on them. Make your shoulder available for a good cry. Let them know you care. Phone up or ask them how they are. Don’t exaggerate or dramatise, just ‘morning, how are you feeling today?’ or ‘Fancy a coffee?’ is enough. You’ll know how to take it from there.

Take part in the International Day of Happiness 2016. Download your free Happiness Guidebook packed full of ideas and actions to create a happier life for you and those around you. Read other posts on Compassion and Happiness.

There’s only one pitfall: Negative people. People who are always grumpy and seem to be unhappy, but on the other hand, they thrive on complaining and playing the role of martyr or loser and try to infect you with their negativity. I know you can cope, but just in case: keep away! They’re pretty poisonous. for everyone else,

Be Happy and make someone else Happy!

Smile