Happiness in a change of mind!
As a life coach, my job is to help and motivate people to make positive changes to their lives. I truly believe that mind-set is the key to happiness. So I believe that the biggest and most crucial key to making a positive change in your life is to change your thinking about the perceived “problem”.
“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right!”- Henry Ford
It’s very hard to change a situation if you are stuck in a negative mind-set. Let’s use the situation of being single as an example. If you hold the belief that “there are no decent men / women out there” or “no one will want me with three kids and a post- baby body”, then chances are your wish will come true. You’ll be unconsciously projecting an attitude and vibes which back up your thoughts and beliefs.
So how to switch? Here are some ways to switch your thinking which can have immediate benefits to your life without actually having to “do” much at all!
Flip your belief on its head
The first thing you can do it simply to flip your belief. Many limiting beliefs are completely unfounded so think carefully about whether your beliefs are positive or negative. To challenge negative beliefs write them down on paper in the opposite form e.g. “there are plenty of decent men / women out there” and “many, many women with three kids and a body with a few extra curves are in very happy relationships!” To strengthen these new beliefs, re-write them out daily. Before long, you will open your mind to new possibilities!
Focus on the positives in your life
We usually begin a coaching relationship with an exercise called the “Wheel of Life” which is like an instant life audit. A circle (wheel) is divided in to eight segments, the broad areas of life: Health, Career, Family / Friends, Finances, Personal growth, Romance, Environment and Leisure.
The client rates their level of contentment in each area on a scale of 0-10 (10 being amazing and it couldn’t’ be better and 0 being the worst it could possibly be). I ask the client to tell me about the things that are going well before focusing on what it would take to improve that area and get closer to or reach 10/10.
Often, people are surprised by what is actually going well! It’s so easy when you feel “stuck” in one area of your life to allow this to take over your thoughts and sap your energy. At times like these, it can be very helpful to take stock of what is going well and put things back in perspective.
OK you may be single but you may have a fantastic family and friends for support, be in good health and live in a lovely home with children and /or pets who surround you with love and a job which pays the bills! Being single is also an opportunity to re-discover yourself, take up new activities and make choices and decisions without having to consult another person.
Keeping things in perspective by focusing on the positives can make a real difference to improving overall happiness and contentment.
“Is that really true?”
Countering this powerful little question is an exercise which has had more impact on my decisions than any other and I challenge you to use it now. Pick something you have considered doing or want achieve in your life, but it seems out of reach. It could be anything, big or small, from taking a very round-the-world trip to becoming a beekeeper, writing a book, changing your name by deed poll, taking up highland dancing… whatever it is write it down.
It’s easy to procrastinate and think of objections but you will soon realise that the objections can nearly always be overcome and are mainly fear based barriers rather than real. Think of your objections and then ask “Is that really true?” Common objections include: I’m too old (there is seldom an age limit except in the mind), I don’t have the money (maybe not yet - money will flow once you commit to something), I don’t have time (we always find the time for things which are really important to us), I have too many responsibilities (learn to delegate), my mother / spouse / kids would never forgive me (that’s his / her / their issue, be empathetic to the concerns of others but firm in your decision), it’s too dangerous (most accidents happen in the home!).
Be happy in the moment
I lot is being splashed on social media and in magazines about “mindfulness” (being present or aware in the moment). For the purposes of finding happiness, quieting your mind to the present can be a huge relief. The past cannot be changed and the future cannot be fully predicted, yet we spend so much time and energy going over what has happened or might happen.
Human nature is to want more. Some of us postpone happiness until certain criteria are met – ‘I’ll be truly happy when I get the perfect (job / relationship / car / house / flat stomach etc.)’. Actually, we could simply chose to focus on the good things we may already have – people (friends, family, children, partners), health, pets, clothes, jobs, even what most of us deem essentials such as clean running water and food on the table. We already have so many good things in our lives our lives and by changing focus we can get more happiness if we choose to gratitude and take pleasure from that.
Also, it’s easy to get into a constant state of anticipation – you’re thinking about what’s for dinner while you’re in a business meeting and when you’re cooking dinner, you’re looking forward to the kids being in bed so that you can crash on the sofa. When “relaxing” on the sofa you are thinking about the 50 things you have to get done at the weekend!
Mindfulness is about focusing fully on each activity during your day and really living and making the most out of each moment. It may seem obvious but you really will have more productive meetings, feel more relaxed and happy and will form better relationships with your children or those close to you if you are present rather than distracted.
Slowing down and focusing on the present moment this can actually alleviate a lot of stress. Worry is simply picturing things in our heads which may or may not actually happen and more often than not is completely unfounded. There is certainly a need for planning ahead but not if it prevents you from enjoying the only thing that any of us truly has – the present moment.
What can coaching do for me? I was recently thinking about my "elevator pitch". What do I do, and more importantly, what can I do for you as your life coach? It was uncanny how all the things that sprung to mind, begin with the letter C! Here goes:
Clarity - coaching helps you to visualise future goals and get clearer on what you really want in life or business.
Calling - for some people, there is a feeling that they haven't yet found their life purpose. By exploring your values and motivational drivers safely in a coaching situation, you can reach that "aha" moment and get started.
Control - and I don't mean control of other people - that is never a solution as every individual is on his or her own journey and will learn life's lessons if and when they are ready. It's about regaining control of your own destiny, taking positive action where needed and also (importantly) learning to let go of things you can't control.
Calm - sometimes we seem to fall from one drama into another drama and we can't see the wood through the trees! Coaching will help you to recognise when you are taking on other people's issues or creating drama for yourself and help you to prioritise your energies and consequently feel calmer and more able to cope with problems in life.
Confidence and Capability- often we procrastinate or never achieve our goals because of fear based emotions. Coaching can really help you to take baby steps towards your goals which seem more manageable. It can challenge limiting beliefs which are holding you back from achieving your goals or change your perspective on a situation so that what once felt impossible, now becomes possible.
Consciousness - I added this last 'C' because I am personally very interested in modern theories about universal energy such as the law of attraction, mindfulness, quantum physics and the fact that our thoughts have the power to affect reality. I am by no means and expert on these topics and I never force these theories onto my clients but I like to observe the many miracles that happen once mindset is positively changed.
If you would like to set up a coaching session or for an informal chat please call me or email me
I look forward to hearing from you.
07736 809 687
I truly believe that this quote is at the core of life and more specifically, our experience of life. How we view the world, our beliefs and the actions we consequently take, determine our happiness and contentment.
You are very lucky. You have a most powerful tool at your disposal. Your mind. It has no boundaries. It can take you anywhere you want to go and lead you to happiness and contentment whenever you wish.
Every man-made object that you see around you, every business or service you can purchase, began as an idea in someones mind. The way that you act and behave, the things that you do every day are driven by your mind, whether unconsciously (blinking, breathing) or consciously (what will I do today?).
It's a rather philosophical thing to get your head around, but if you can understand that "you" are not your mind but that you are actually in control of your thinking, life can be a lot more fun!
Why is it that one person is afraid of heights and won't leave terra firma whilst another will happily jump out of a plane and skydive for fun?
I'm not suggesting for a second that sky diving is for everyone! but just consider this: it is simply a difference in thought processes that differentiates the two people.
The good news is that if you have goals and wish to change your life, you can do this simply by working on your mind. Challenge your limiting beliefs. Ask yourself: "Is that really true?". Don't find excuses for why you can't do something, ask yourself: "Why Not"?. Who is that voice in you head that says you can't? You can! You want to be more confident? Successful? Happy? Choose it. Stop your negative thoughts dead in their tracks and reverse them. "I could never start my own business" becomes " I can start my own business". "I'm too old to start a new hobby" becomes "I'll never be too old to start a new hobby"...
There is much literature on this subject. One site I have found very useful is The Work of Byron Katie
It's free and you can access the link here.
It is said that we have over 50,000 thoughts per day. Most people just take these thoughts for granted and allow then to dominate the quality of their lives, the feelings that pop up, to control of the actions we take or to stop us from taking action ( aka "fear"). In fact, we are totally in control of which thoughts we choose to fill our minds with, which thoughts we choose to entertain and which to discard. We are therefore in charge of the quality of our lives.
Turn your mind for a moment to a happy memory. It might be a birthday celebration or a holiday spent on a beautiful beach. Close your eyes and really see, smell and taste the warm sun, the great company or the delicious food which helped make this day so happy. Now return to current reality. For the time that you imagined the happy memory, admit it, you forgot those bills you had to pay, the weight you had to lose, the worry about the relationship, the pile of work you had to do today..
Negative thoughts about bills, for example, can be useful in the short term as they alert us to pay now to avoid fines, but dwelling on them permanently does nothing to make the bills go away and only causes us stress. It seems simple, but we truly have choice over which thoughts we fill our heads with in the present moment. It make sense therefore, that if we choose positive thoughts over negative thoughts then the quality of our lives will be better. Three strategies for eliminating negative thoughts:
1. As soon as you catch yourself thinking negatively, immediately dismiss the thought, mentally, throw it out and refuse to entertain it.
2. If it is possible to do so, take one small step towards addressing the problem which has caused the negative thought, e.g. if the problem is that you don't like your job, take a look on the internet at a job site or an up-skilling course. You will feel better for doing something proactive, however small. Praise yourself for taking a step. Then move on.
3. Reverse the negative thought by replacing it with a positive. "I hate my job" becomes "It's great that I have a job, and if it no longer suits me then I have the ability to look for something more full-filling for the future".
For a great article on how our thoughts create our reality, I recommend this article - click the button below.
I can get job satisfaction
How happy are you at work?
Rate your overall contentment on a scale of 0-10, zero being “nothing feels good about it right now” and ten being “I absolutely wouldn’t change a thing”
Obviously all jobs have their ups and downs but working in a job, being in a role or working for an organisation which is consistently out of alignment with your values can create a feeling of discord, unhappiness, restlessness or de-motivation.*
When you find yourself dreading going to work or when work is negatively impacting your mood, relationships, motivation and energy on a regular basis, it might be time to re-assess your life values so you can make a change in the right direction.
Satisfaction, happiness and contentment can be linked directly to creating and living a life which aligns with your values and priorities, and these may change evolve at each life stage.
Values are the things you hold important in life. Our values make us unique. They are what make one person a great firefighter and another more suited to being a teacher, a lawyer, electrician, writer, a botanist or an Olympic athlete… Some people are influenced and motivated by a sense of contribution and meaning. Others require security, creativity, autonomy or power. Other values include honesty, integrity, safety, order, belonging, respect and reward, and the list goes on…
Without necessarily being conscious of it we are drawn to roles and situations which match our life values.
There is hardly ever one perfect job for life. The reality is that things change over time. We change, organisations change, the economy changes, our lives change, relationships change, circumstances change, our needs change, our motivational drivers change, our values change.
And that’ OK. The challenge is in recognising it’s time for a change and making an informed decision on what to do next for the best.
Here’s are some examples:
Without realising it, Karen values order, trust and respect and is also motivated by security and autonomy. She trained hard to become an accountant, enjoys her job and has worked for the last 5 years in a small yet established firm with prospects of becoming a partner. Unexpectedly, the owner is taken sick and the company is enveloped by a large accountancy firm. Karen inherits a Managing Director who doesn’t seems to acknowledge her opinions and ideas like her old boss did and wants to micromanage her work. As you can imagine, Karen feels unhappy, powerless and frustrated.
Integrity, authenticity and ambition have always been important to Emma who has worked her way up through the ranks to become Head of Marketing for a major fashion retailer. Since having her first baby and taking time off for maternity leave, Emma is now feeling demotivated and distracted back at work. Her priorities have changed. She is less interested in buying high fashion for herself as a significant portion of her and her partner’s income is now spent on childcare and baby needs. As well, she is struggling to find the energy and motivation she used to have to attend all the after-hours events that are expected in the role. Emma feels conflicted because she wants to give the same commitment to the job but doesn’t have the same passion for the brand that she used to. She feels guilty missing her baby’s bedtime when she has to work late. She doesn’t want to lose her marketing skills and enjoys the creativity and the social interaction she gets through her role.
As a life coach, one of the first things I would suggest to both Karen and Emma is that they evaluate their current life values. An easy way to do this is to take a list of commonly held values and to cross the unimportant and not so important ones off the list until you get to your top 10 values. Some of your values will remain static over the years and others will change, influenced by your age and life experiences.
If you rated your own contentment at work as 6/10 or less, then try checking your values against your current job situation.
Gaining clarity on your top ten values can help you to see where you are living out of alignment and can make it easier to see where to take positive action.
In Karen’s case, if she evaluates her values and can see then identify the lack of respect and loss of job security as the issues, it may motivate her to actively seek a new company with supportive management and offering the security she desires. Alternatively, she may decide to communicate to her boss what her values and needs are so that a solution may be reached. She may even decide to relax her need for security and set up her own business which will give her the autonomy she desires and potentially, better security in the long term.
An option for Emma may be to find a way to combine her fashion and marketing skills by moving away from high fashion adults clothing to a children’s clothing retailer. She may even consider planning and setting up her own online maternity and baby fashion store, which can be started from home. She might decide on a complete change of career direction, take a part-time role or go to full time parenting for a while. Understanding her current values will help her make a better decision on what is right for her and her family right now.
By taking time to learn about and understand yourself you can design the life that matches your unique personal attributes. In this case, aligning your work with your values can really help with overall happiness, success and contentment in a significant area of your life.
* If you are experiencing feelings of anxiety or symptoms of depression, please seek professional medical advice.
1. Acceptance Change is the only constant in life. Even if you were to stand in one place for the whole of your life, your body would still age, technology would continue to develop in the world, trees would grow and die, people would come and go, the sun would set and rise. Accepting change is the first step to adapting.
2. Want It Enough So you want to change a habit, a behaviour, a negative mind pattern, a limiting belief? To do this, you must really, really, really want it! Diet is a popular example. Lots of us wish we could lose weight, know we ought to, should but often times it's not until we have a health crisis that we actually do. Why is that? Deep down, maybe the reasons aren't clear and compelling enough. We need clarity around why we want to change.
3. Accept Discomfort Yes there may be fear, discomfort, effort, mental fatigue, resistance, failure before you move forward. This is GOOD! It proves that you are changing. If you can accept it, go with it, and learn to live with these "inevitables" in life, then change can occur.
4. Not Everyone will Like it. Be prepared. As you change, others around you may respond in curious ways. They will tempt you with food if you are dieting, they will be angry at you for saying no when you would normally say yes, they try to quash your new-found happiness and give you warning advice about the changes you are making. If you expect and prepare for these reactions from people then they won’t hinder your success so easily. The good news is that if you are committed to the change then the people who matter will eventually come around to your new way of doing things. If they were not true friends in the first place, they will move out of your life making way for new friends who do support your values.
5. You Can't Change Others FACT. However, positive changes that you make within yourself, will often have profound affect on the people around you. If you become more kind and giving, you may well begin to receive in ways you never expected. If you learn new ways to communicate with your spouse, you may find that they begin to open up to you too. If you start to treat yourself with a healthy respect (create boundaries), you may find that others treat you with a renewed healthy respect.
What change will you create today?
Photo: "Temporary" Sculpture by Delicia Sampero,
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves”. ~Victor Frankl
Change can often take courage. Today I was reminded of a story. The story tells of a bear who had spent all the days of her life in a cage, pacing up and down in an area, 3 metres square. Many years went by, and one day the keeper died and the door was opened. The bear was set free.
But the bear did not run away and enjoy her new life of freedom in the wilderness. She spent the rest of her days pacing an area, 3 metres square. She had learned to live within the boundaries. She had no reference, no guide, no vision for what opportunities may be beyond. She was bound by her mind.
We are very much creatures of habit. Some of who we are is possibly genetic but we learn from our upbringing, our parents our situation, education and our culture the "correct" way to behave and act. We are influenced by others; "Don't climb that tree in case you fall!", "Rich people are pompous idiots!", "Sail round the world? Why would anyone want to do that?".
We also place limits on ourselves, based on the media, what we read, the company we keep, compounding life experiences, and beliefs and fears which develop over time.
For many people, to move outside of the cage we wait until it's enforced on us – such as a redundancy, a health scare, separation, divorce or a death.
But what if you were enlightened enough to be constantly looking outside the boundaries? Challenging your own perceptions and beliefs about what you are capable of doing and where you are capable of going and who you are capable of being?
What if you took baby steps, and then great strides away from the cage. Could you reach the horizon? And what is beyond the horizon?
You have a choice. Will you be the bear, pacing 3 square metres for the rest of your days? Or the bear who ventures far and wide seeking greener pastures, warmer climes, the freshest water, the most beautiful vistas?
Change coaching can help release you from the boundaries of your cage.