If the last year has taught me anything, it’s that we have to pay attention to all aspects of our well-being, mind, body and spirit. When dealing with change and challenge we have to focus on what is within our control. It’s easy to drift towards pessimism, negativity and cynicism as a way to shield ourselves from our underlining fears. It takes effort to lean towards optimism and stay positive during dark times.
Gratitude will always be top of a list like this. In the midst of doom and gloom, we can always find something to appreciate. We often take so much for granted. Gratitude is the great antidote for weighty emotions such as worry, frustration, stress and overwhelm. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes observing your life from the outside. What would they notice that is working well for you?
It’s all too easy to be sedentary during the winter months. Whilst gyms are closed and movement is restricted there’s still plenty we can do to stay active. There’s a whole range of exercise resources online. Movement deepens our breathing and oxygenates the blood, which along with endorphins fuels that feel-good factor. With Spring approaching there’s no better time to put a spring back in your step.
Like many people, I know I spend too much time aimlessly browsing online. When possible, I try to steer towards uplifting and educational resources, as opposed to the quagmire of antisocial media! The last twelve months have seen a surge in online workshops and courses and many are free.
The Covid 19 crisis has reminded us that we have no control over many of the things that happen in our lives. We think that if we can gain enough control over situations we can prevent bad things from happening and we will feel safe. But it doesn’t work. We can’t control external events, nor can we control what other people say or do, but we can control how we choose to respond to them.
We get what we focus on. If you enter a room and you want to notice everything that is red, you will be searching for red. The same applies to life. If you are seeking something to complain about, you will find it. If you seek the positive, you will find it too. It’s not just beauty that lies in the eye of the beholder.
A great question to ask ourselves at any time is – what’s the most important thing to focus on right now? Starting the day, identify one thing you would like to achieve. Maybe it is a work-related goal you can progress on, or it might be as simple as getting the grocery shopping done. Setting ourselves small goals and targets fosters a sense of achievement.
A 24-hour news channel droning away in the background is route one to higher stress levels. Each of us has to figure out where the line is between staying informed and being overwhelmed by an incessant media stream. Sensationalist headlines, dramatic breaking news banners and graphics rarely aid our well-being. It’s about paying attention to what gets your attention.
When we are inspired, we feel motivated, creative and energised by a sense of possibility. If we know what or who inspires us, it makes sense to be able to connect with our sources of inspiration as purposely and as frequently as possible. Many sources of inspiration are free or cost very little; books, music, conversations with people, films, art. Like many people, I’m inspired by other people’s stories, particularly how they’ve overcome difficulties, tragedy or misfortune. If others can dig deep and find a path through the darkest times, it reminds us that we can do likewise.
Positive thinking may not achieve much, but it will always achieve more than negative thinking because it keeps the door of possibility and opportunity open. An optimist will be wrong just as much as a pessimist, but the optimist always feels happier.
If you enjoyed this post then consider reading my post titled Sanitising my mind where I share how I’m putting a conscious and concerted effort into what I’m focusing on, whilst also dealing with my fears and worries as they surface.
My podcast Your Time With James Sweetman is a real labour of love for me so if you enjoy listening to audio content then do subscribe and check out episode 61 where I shared some of my favourite quotes and words of wisdom that inspire and challenge me to align with my best self.
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