The Little Silence

It’s time to stop living your life so fast that you’re missing it. It’s time to find space for silence.

You might already know that you have no time to find this space, or you might say you have can see no space in your life to do this. But it’s time to stop living your life so fast that you miss it – and it’s time to stop excuses. You find time to do all the other things you want to – so now it’s time to do the things you need to.

It is possible for anyone to do this. Victor Frankl found he could do this in a concentration camp – surrounded by constant noise and wickedness – because ultimately, it was inside him. If he could do it in those circumstances, what excuse do you have that’s a reason?

In a busy, frantic world we may need to be creative to find ways to find such a place. If it is not in your home, are you able to get out and about? Could you just get a bus somewhere, with the better weather coming in? Could you find a church or sacred space to sit in?

Buddhist monks live with silence as a central tenet. Even when they work, it is called ‘meditation in action’. That would take practice for us – but actually, it takes practice for them too, as it’s not necessarily our natural state.

We simply must start somewhere. Space for silence is the gift we give ourselves as we move towards wholeness. Give your heart and soul and mind time to rest and reconnect.

Like the “little happiness” I’ve posted about before, it’s better to start by finding ways to get the “little silence”. Get up 15 minutes earlier than anyone else, get up in the middle of the night, stay up late. Change where you are, create a space, or find a sacred space that could be right in the heart of your busyness, and while not your ideal – for now, prove to be enough for now.

 

50 Quotes that will help you dare to be happier

 

I love quotes- I always have. I started collecting them in my teenage years but lost the books that contained them.. while I believe we know our own paths, and can learn to trust our own wisdom, reading someone else’s words give us a perspective we did not have or give us a whole new way of thinking. These are certainly among my favourite quotes – and if I had to pick my favourite, it would be number 18. As I turn 50, I also love number 9. Which is your favourite?

1. The darkest hour has only sixty minutes. ~ Morris Mandel

2. Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow. ~ Proverb

3. If I had my life to live over, I would perhaps have more actual troubles but I’d have fewer imaginary ones. ~ Don Herold

4. If you’re doing your best, you won’t have any time to worry about failure. ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr

5. You’ve got to dance like nobody’s watching and love like it is never going to hurt. ~ Ann Wells

6. Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Martin Luther King

7. I’ve chosen to treat my life more like a party than something to stress about. ~ Martin Short

8. It is never too late to be what you might have been. ~ George Eliot

9. I think age is terribly overrated. You’re okay as long as you don’t grow up. By all means grow old, but don’t mature. Remain childlike, retain wonder, the ability to be flabbergasted by something. ~ Billy Connolly

10. There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. ~ Albert Einstein

11. When your heart speaks, take good notes. ~ Judith Campbell

12. If the only prayer you say in your life is thank you, that would suffice.~ Meister Eckhart

13. Find the good and praise it. ~ Alex Haley

14. Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful. ~ Buddha

15. Get mad, then get over it. ~ Colin Powell

16. Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children. ~ Native American Proverb

17. Have no fear of perfection–you’ll never reach it. ~ Salvador Dali

18. The last of human freedoms – is the ability to chose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances. ~ Viktor E. Frankl

19. Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. ~ Mark Twain

20. There are times when it is hard to believe in the future, when we are temporarily just not brave enough. When this happens, concentrate on the present. Cultivate le petit bonheur (the little happiness) until courage returns. ~ Ardis Whitman

21. We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.~ Joseph Campbell

22. You lose the balance of your sould if you not learn to take care of yourself. ~ John O’Donohue

23. Turn your wounds into wisdom. ~ Oprah Winfrey

24. To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

25. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough. ~ William Saroyan

26. When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

27. Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future.~ Earl Nightingale

28. If you judge people, you have no time to love them. ~ Mother Theresa

29. To journey without being changed is to be a nomad. To change without journeying is to be a chameleon. To journey and be transformed by the journey is to be a pilgrim. ~ Mark Nepo

30. There’ll be two dates on your tombstone and all your friends will read ‘em but all that’s gonna matter is that little dash between ‘em.~ Kevin Welch

31. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. ~ Maya Angelou

32. Your playing small does not serve the world. ~ Marianne Williamson

33. I failed my way to success. ~ Thomas Edison

34. You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically, to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger“yes” burning inside. The enemy of the “best” is often the “good.” ~ Stephen Covey

35. Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened. ~ Dr Seuss

36. Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.~ James Dean

37. Let your dreams take over. Fly with the eagles. Soar into life. The world is waiting for you. ~ Fran Watson

38. Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be. ~Grandma Moses

39. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible; to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. ~ Donna Markova

40. No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

41. Life is not accumulation, it is about contribution. ~ Stephen Covey

42. Positive anything is better than negative thinking. ~ Elbert Hubbard

43. You must be the change you want to see in the world. ~ M.K. Gandhi

44. If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals. J K Rowling

45. Never miss a good chance to shut up. ~ Will Rogers

46. We cannot fill up our emptiness with objects, possessions or people. ~ John O’Donohue

47. My favourite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time. Steve Jobs

48. Don’t quack like a duck – soar like an eagle. Ken Blanchard

49. Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. ~ Oscar Wilde

50. Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

50 Quotes and Poems To Live Your Life By

 

I love quotes – I’ve been collecting them since I was in High School. They give another perspective, they are inspiring or encouraging, or they wrap up wisdom quickly. Many have changed aspects of my life – here are some of my favourites. Enjoy! My two favourites are number 9 and 18 – what’s yours?

1.You’ve got to dance like nobody’s watching and love like it is never going to hurt. ~ Ann Wells

2.The darkest hour has only sixty minutes. ~ Morris Mandel

3.Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow. ~ Proverb

4.If I had my life to live over, I would perhaps have more actual troubles but I’d have fewer imaginary ones. ~ Don Herold

5.If you’re doing your best, you won’t have any time to worry about failure. ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr

6.Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

7.I’ve chosen to treat my life more like a party than something to stress about. ~ Martin Short

8.It is never too late to be what you might have been. ~ George Eliot

9.I think age is terribly overrated. You’re okay as long as you don’t grow up. By all means grow old, but don’t mature. Remain childlike, retain wonder, the ability to be flabbergasted by something. ~ Billy Connolly

10.There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. ~ Albert Einstein

11.When your heart speaks, take good notes. ~ Judith Campbell

12.If the only prayer you say in your life is thank you, that would suffice.~ Meister Eckhart

13.Find the good and praise it. ~ Alex Haley

14.Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful. ~ Buddha

15.Get mad, then get over it. ~ Colin Powell

16.Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children. ~ Native American Proverb

17.Have no fear of perfection–you’ll never reach it. ~ Salvador Dali

18.The last of human freedoms – the ability to chose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances. ~ Viktor E. Frankl

19.Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. ~ Mark Twain

20.There are times when it is hard to believe in the future, when we are temporarily just not brave enough. When this happens, concentrate on the present. Cultivate le petit bonheur (the little happiness) until courage returns. ~ Ardis Whitman

21.We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.~ Joseph Campbell

22.You lose the balance of your sould if you not learn to take care of yourself. ~ John O’Donohue

23.Turn your wounds into wisdom.~ Oprah Winfrey

24.To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

25.Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough. ~ William Saroyan

26.When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

27.Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future.~ Earl Nightingale

28.If you judge people, you have no time to love them. ~ Mother Teresa

29.To journey without being changed is to be a nomad. To change without journeying is to be a chameleon. To journey and be transformed by the journey is to be a pilgrim. ~ Mark Nepo

30.There’ll be two dates on your tombstone and all your friends will read ‘em but all that’s gonna matter is that little dash between ‘em.~ Kevin Welch

31.I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. ~ Maya Angelou

32.Your playing small does not serve the world. ~ Marianne Williamson

33.I failed my way to success. ~ Thomas Edison

34.You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically, to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside. The enemy of the “best” is often the “good.” ~ Stephen Covey

35.Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened. ~ Dr. Seuss

36.Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.~ James Dean

37.Let your dreams take over. Fly with the eagles. Soar into life. The world is waiting for you. ~ Fran Watson

38.Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be. ~Grandma Moses

39.I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible; to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. ~ Donna Markova

40.No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

41.Life is not accumulation, it is about contribution. ~ Stephen Covey

42.Positive anything is better than negative thinking. ~ Elbert Hubbard

43.You must be the change you want to see in the world. ~ M.K. Gandhi

44.If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals. ~ J.K. Rowling

45.Never miss a good chance to shut up. ~ Will Rogers

46.We cannot fill up our emptiness with objects, possessions or people. ~ John O’Donohue

47.My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time. ~ Steve Jobs

48. Don’t quack like a duck, soar like an eagle.~ Ken Blanchard

49.Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. ~ Oscar Wilde

50.Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Drop The What Ifs

I alone cannot change the world. But I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples. Mother Teresa

Some of the most disappointing news I read recently was  that Glasgow University had cancelled a planned Positivity Week after depression sufferers caledl it patronising.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/10/09/glasgow-university-change-depression-positivity-week-student-complaints_n_1950396.html

That news was depressing in itself – and baffled me.  Out of 52 weeks in a year, just one of them couldn’t be focussed on positivity?  It was never about saying belittlting mental health issues, but depression is a mood and attitude, as much as positivity is.  Ask Frankl.

This was a week aimed at helping others find a way perhaps to see things differently, to try things on for size, to perhaps see light at the end of the tunnel. One of the people concerned said that it had been organised by people who had never suffered mental illness.  What nonsense – I have been depresssed before, I’ve been very anxious too,and stressed.  In 2006, my annus horribilus, I wrote this poem because of my own experiences:

http://daretobehappier.wordpress.com/2011/11/24/what-would-you-see-if-you-dared-to-be-free/

My daughter recently read it to her eight year olds, saying it was really a poem for adults, and one little boy responded by saying, “No, for kids too. Children are afraid of the dark and stuff. They shouldn’t be so afraid.” And I thought yes – we live in fear so much of the time, when we could just dare to live a different way – and I now know there is a different way of living – and I choose that consciously every day of my life

As I thought about the reaction to the Positivity Week, I thought there will always be those who just don’t get the message that life could be different, just as there will be those who don’t want to change because that story is the one they are comfortable with.  Like the author of The Antidote, they only focus on what they want to see about happiness, and conclude it’s a ridiculous notion that we could dare to be happier.

If all I thought about was these people, I might freeze, conclude I’m wasting my time.  But if they don’t listen, who will?  All of us can dare to be happier than we are right now.  None of us is so “sorted” that we can’t do with a reminder or help.  But what if it is just the misfits, those on the edge of society, the lost, the helpless, the hopeless, the Eeyores of this world, the hurting and the downright difficult who come? And what if it is? Have I not been all or any of these at some point in my life?

What if it is? What IF it’s what I say or do that inspires them to change, that encourages them, that gives them hope, that  helps them help themself, that allows them to heal, nurture and love themselves? What a privilege that will be.

And WHAT IF if I DON’T do it?  What if there are those waiting to hear this message and I don’t act? What if the world doesn’t change for those people, when I could have been part of their journey, helping them to dare to be happier?

As YOU think about your purpose, drop the “what ifs” and just DO IT. What if YOU don’t do it, and those who are waiting still feel helpless, hear no hope, see no light at the end of their tunnel, and don’t dare to be free?

The Last of the Human Freedoms

I first shared this with some Facebook friends in May 2010 – it was a Toastmasters talk…

Buddha said, “Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learnt a little; and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick; and if we got sick – at least we didn’t die, so let us all be thankful.”

THAT’S what I call perspective, or looking for a silver lining!

AH, you might say.  That is all well and good  having that type of attitude – but the proof is in the pudding, and that’s fine when things are going a little bit wrong.  But it won’t work when your back is REALLY against the wall, in what the Queen called an Annus Horribilus.   Or will it?

Let me take you back to 2006, and I’ll share with you how I learned how to practice this  perspective  in an Annus Horibilus of my own – and over the next five minutes, I’m going to share with you the three main reasons why my year changed from grey and black to silver.

2006 was a year when:

I’d three car accidents resulting in lasting injury, and me finally writing my car off
It was a year of tests and hospitals and bad news and good news
We moved house in a move where anything that could go wrong DID go wrong and we ended up with two solicitors and were homeless for three weeks
A year when my grandmother died after years of existing in the twilight of dementia
When I eventually resigned from a senior post in a local council because of stress, bullying, work overload  – and was left with a serious crisis of confidence
And it was a year when my husband’s business failed, leaving us in considerable debt.
It was a year when bright turned to grey and black, and I shut myself in and switched myself off – and the flicker of light within me really struggled to shine at all.

So what changed?  After all, the events themselves didn’t change.  Some of them I could control, or could have controlled – others were outside that.

The FIRST reason is that I did an NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) Practitioner course, and I will tell people, whether or not they want to listen, that in so many ways, this changed my life, because:

I realised there IS no failure, only feedback.  No-one ever became successful without failing at some point.  No-one is an instant success – therefore perfection isn’t necessary, failure is a normal part of life, just pick yourself up and go “next”

I am 100% responsible for where I was because of the choices I had  made – and I was 100% responsible for where I wanted to be in a year’s time.  That meant no more victim mentality and feeling sorry for myself.  The buck stops here.

No matter what I thought I was, I was ALL-WAYS more than that…

These were just three of the “NLP Pre-suppositions” that we learned, but they totally made sense to me.  And while NLP is seen by many as a branch of cognitive psychology, and a massive tool for change, the part that really sang to me was the NLP Communication Model that shows how thoughts become beliefs become actions.  What was even more important than learning to communicate (as in training or coming to Toastmasters) was how I communicated with myself, my inner thoughts, the beliefs that I could not always see that were limiting my life, and I learned what to do about this – as it was all in my control.  And because my thoughts were under my control, my feelings could also be under control.  How fantastic is that!? By understanding the power of communication and how the words I used and the thoughts I had affected me, I could change my present.  Any my future.

The SECOND reason was that I realised that if I was to become positive, and stay that way, I would need to weed my garden of friends.  I would need to slowly replace the “drains” – who drained me of time or energy or positivity, and replace them with radiators.   This wasn’t always easy (or fast), but I did it respectfully, and it made a huge difference.  Somehow (as I’ve no idea how), I ended up briefly joining what was called the Yes Group that met in Jury’s Hotel in Glasgow, and they “introduced” me to Tony Robbins and HE showed me “the Giant within”, that was controlled by my thoughts, limiting beliefs and words – and that perhaps it was time to let that great giant out from where it was hiding.  Some of my old friends remained – and I am forever grateful to them as much as to my new friends.  Albert Sweitzer said “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person.”   And I am grateful for friends who encouraged me, had coffees, listened (and sometimes listened), or advised.  Friends who held up my head and blew on that flicker and allowed it to glow again.

The THIRD reason was my journal.  Now I’ve kept diaries all my life, and I’ve used journals off and on, but this was the first time I really used it!  I started using it as I realised my friends were probably getting a little tired of me bending my ears.  And it started as therapy, to get feelings and thoughts out of my head and on to paper so they could stop whirling round my head all the time (which is always exhausting as they seem to get stuck on some sort of loop) – and so they would lose their power.  When you get things on to paper, they either gain or lose power, depending on your intention.  I also started it to give me insight into things I could not or would not see as my emotions were involved, and having them one step away meant that I could actually “see” what the problems were.  And I did it as I’d disconnected from who I really was, and I wanted to re-connect with what my values were, and feel again.  To use it to get my head up.   Yes, when your head is down you see the pennies you can pick up so you have “luck”.  (And Charlie Brown says you HAVE to have your head down when you’re feeling depressed).  But when your head is down, you also see chewing gum stuck to the streets, rubbish, the effects of dogs running wild and too much alcohol.

And through my journal, I  finally fully realised that IF I was to change me, it was vital that I changed my focus.  And so in came another 1825 reasons! These came as I forced myself to find things to be grateful for.  And it WAS a case of forcing myself to do this, so inward looking had I become. The first time I did this, I sat on my bed for an hour and a half before I could think of one – my electric blanket.  (I love my electric blanket!)  But  I made myself find five things a day – five because I have five digits on my hand, so as I became aware of something (anything), I would use one of my fingers as a reminder.  And when I’d get home, I’d count them out on my fingers. These were things like:

smiles,
roof over head
children
health
electric blankets
cups of tea made for me
boiled eggs and soldiers
electric lights
kittens
peaceful country/democracy/freedom
hugs
love and support of a great man
some great colleagues, some great ex colleagues
some amazing  hang-in-their-girl friends

Before, my eyes were on the ground and my head was in my hands – but gradually… I saw what was always there.  Thankful?  I had so much to be thankful for, to be profoundly grateful for – not only that, I was richly blessed.   Five things a day became 1825 things in a year – and this became my year of gratitude.

And I am grateful that I learnt the most important lesson of all – that my attitude is within my power to change by the choices I make in what I think, what I say and what I do.

I COULD, of course choose to believe that a positive attitude makes no difference.   There is a book out in America written by a scientist about how positive thinking fooled America.  But that’s the wrong sort of positive thinking – the slap-a-happy-smile-on-your-face-all-the-time type of thinking, the one that does not honour yourself or allow you to feel your real emotions.  The key is to not get STUCK in the emotion.  There are many other scientists who agree that positive thinking does make a difference.  Perhaps it makes THE difference.  And I think that when you have LIVED the difference, and see how this changes your own life (and inevitably others) –  then I think you have the right to stand up and say “you know what – most of the time – life ROCKS!”

This isn’t a new lesson.  After the Second World War, Frankl (who had himself survived living in a concentration camp, and lived the horrors of that, beyond most of our imaginations), wrote how he watched how a few men chose to comfort others, to give away their very last scrap of bread.  Thinking of this, he said that they offered “sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing – the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”

On Being Pollyanna

My best friend calls me Pollyanna – and I don’t think it’s a compliment! It is said with exasperation as I try to look on the bright side of a situation, or I dare to be happier. Let’s face it, there are, after all, some who think that Pollyanna wasn’t living in the real world – yet, if you watch the film or read the books, that’s exactly where she was living!

Her way of living meant that ultimately she changed the world of those around her. Even when her life was less than totally positive. Sometimes, though, life goes beyond difficult, and gets really painful, or leaves us feeling lost, crushed or in despair. What happens then to a positive attitude or a determination to dare to be happier?

Deciding to live a life focussing on happiness doesn’t mean we avoid sadness, grief or pain. Nor does it mean we ignore these things, numbing ourselves from further chances to feel them, because when we shut ourselves down to any emotion, we shut ourselves down to ALL our emotions.

In doing that, we would then be unable to recognise happiness or joy when they come, and nor could we feel or appreciate these positive emotions fully. More importantly, we actually deny our humanity when we pretend these other emotions are not real – but our choice is not be stuck in them, and to do what we can to get us back to a happier place.

Death happens, serious illness happens, our lives can be turned upside down in an instant and we are faced with tough times – and sometimes all we can do to get through days by living moment by moment, one step at a time. And that’s okay, because we must treat ourselves with compassion and learn to be especially gentle on ourselves at such times.

What we can’t afford to do is to stop living, to allow ourselves to get stuck or frozen in that place. We will learn new ways of living in the landscape of the new world that faces us – or we won’t; and we will get stuck in the grief cycle or depression.

I worked in a mental health team for about 18 months, and I would ask the mental health nurses, psychiatrists and psychologists why two people going through similar life events had such different reactions. I would be less than totally satisfied with their responses – so much so that I changed my mind about doing a psychology degree. Instead, I started my own long research journey through medical journals, the Internet, seminars, NLP courses, many further debates and discussions and books. The whole happiness debate has entered the political arena now and generated a great deal of debate!

Ultimately, the proof is in the pudding. Does what someone says works, work? There can be no better example of this than Victor Frankl’s work. In the middle of the full horror of concentration camps, he learned that your attitude is always in your control. He said,

“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

He shows us beyond doubt that we can choose how to live – and this includes our choices on happiness – despite what has happened or is happening to us. I’ve found this to be true personally, though I did not always live this way. I now unashamedly, if at times imperfectly, walk this talk!

And I’m privileged to walk it alongside friends like Anthea Clarke, a psychologist who lost her son to cystic fibrosis at 42, but who has learned to find happiness even as she lives with her loss, and with Kim MacLeod who lost her young son to meningitis but runs Stress Positive, teaches people and children to be happier, and has set up the Glasgow Happiness Clubs.

You may criticise our beliefs, but you cannot deny our experiences. At the end of the day, we take responsibility for our past, our present and our future. We choose to live positively instead of choosing to grump our way through life. We dare to be happier – and as Pollyanna said – it’s really just as easy to do either.