When the chips are down

Even for those who are naturally positive, there are times when choosing to be happy may be a deliberate action, repeated moment by moment, hour by hour and day by day.  Some days – when life is going well – it’s easy to choose happiness; only a fool isn’t happy when life is good.  But life happens – and so does death, disappointment, sorrow, disaster and darkness.  When you’re actually living through dark times, can you choose to be happier?

Some people might say that choosing to be happier simply means you are not dealing with life.  Instead, you are probably finding ways to avoid pain, ignore feelings and you are actually living life in an altered state that is “other than real life?” 

But what if you fundamentally believe that you can choose your happiness – and you teach others this?  When the chips are down, will this belief sustain you?  Today’s post is a guest post from Mary McPherson, director of The Relaxation Company in Perth, Scotland.  I first heard Mary speak in 2006 at a business exhibtion in the SECC in Glasgow in what happened to be my own annus horribilis. I was in a job I hated that conflicted with all my values, I felt stuck because of what was going on in my husband’s business at the time; I was stressed, depressed -and had got to a stage where I could see no options.  

In the job I was in, for the first time I was stuck in how to deal with colleagues, managers and those I managed.  I researched a number of courses and finally settled on an NLP Practitioner course – and thus began my love affair with the power of the mind.  It would take a year or so for this course and the rest of my reading (and thinking and journaling) to make a difference; but it’s the difference that has made the difference since. 

Turning myself around in the year that was my annus horribilis meant 2006 was a launching pad for my subsequent research on happiness and the power of the mind, so I’m grateful for it.  Mary’s story resonated with me at the time and since that, we’ve become friends – and I’ve seen how a similar belief makes all the difference to her, and those she now works with through The Relaxation Company. 

2011 has been a year of mixed blessings for her – the birth of another grandchild and the growth of her company combined with illness and loss.  Mary teaches many things, and is at the leading edge of some programmes aimed at supporting our teachers.  She is also someone who feels deeply so this blog is coming from someone who is living in the real world and not from someone who has a mask plastered on their face or who glosses over things to avoid feelings.  Her loss is real – but so is her response to that here.  Mary says:

After an interesting couple of months with various personal issues I have had a real opportunity to test the years of training in Awareness! There have been many difficult moments as I try to navigate my way through unfamiliar territory, but there have also been as many if not more remarkable and beautiful times too. As many of you know Jim had a heart attack early in June – completely out of the blue – from which he is making a good recovery after exceptionally good service from the NHS. My daughter had a beautiful baby boy called Cameron 4 days later and I arrived in Canada to be with them the following day. The joy and the sorrow are most definitely two sides of the same coin when one has to leave after just beginning to get to know this new little soul!
I returned with jet lag as not experienced before and then my dear Dad suffered a massive stroke and died on 11th July – and again the pain and joy were taken to a new level. However many of you have been so supportive of me and my family over these last few months – cards, messages, emails and many hugs have made a huge difference for which I want to say Thank You! Over and above I would also say that some of the tools that I have found most useful out of my toolkit have been Kum Nye, meditation, the podcasts from Sounds True – in particular Bruce Lipton which can be listened to at: I played a little of this at our Associates meeting this month to give everyone a flavour of the wisdom imparted in these free podcasts. A few people at the meeting weren’t sure how to download podcasts, so if this is the case, let me know and I will advise. http://www.soundstrue.com/podcast/bruce-h-lipton-phd-what-our-cells-can-teach-us/

It is also worth mentioning that the tools which I have learned during the Champion for Wellbeing programme have had a massive influence on my behaviour through these difficult times. As we all know, it is often the seemingly little things which can fire us up, taking us by surprise and causing us the most stress! I’m not for one minute say that I have it all sorted, but my physical guide when stress levels are high is the old back pain pattern and I am delighted to say that this bit seems to be okay!! You may have noticed that we have another Open programme beginning in September – I can only recommend it and if you know anyone who may benefit from being better equipped for life, please let them know.

With all good wishes,


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