Are you getting enough sleep?

sunset 1I wonder if you have given any thought to your sleep patterns. Many people sleep very poorly and this can have enormous knock on effects to our health. It impacts on energy, concentration, our immune system and our ability to manage our weight.

This is something that for me was getting worse and worse. I was regularly lying awake in the middle of the night unable to sleep. I sometimes got up 6 or 7 times in the night.

To begin with I put it down to my age, going through the change and other such things as I had heard other people talking about this. However after my gall bladder operation I realised that many of the symptoms I had been experiencing had been connected to this organ (going back several years).

This made me start to question my poor sleeping habits too as this was the only issue I had left. I started monitoring things like caffeine and alcohol intake. Coffee definitely had an impact but not that much and then I finally woke up, which allowed me to go to sleep!

It was all about technology. During an average evening I would use my ipad or mobile phone constantly whilst watching TV. I would check Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and so on. The blue light from such devices can fool the brain into thinking it is wake up time. This persists even when we go to bed.

So here is what I did. I now stop looking at my media stuff by 7pm. I might check it once after that but only for two to three minutes maximum. We have just moved into our new bedroom after the building works. We have made this a technology free zone.

I am now three weeks into my new pattern. I am sleeping through the night and waking rested. I am now getting seven to eight hours sleep where before I was getting five to six. I can already feel the difference.

Giving yourself the best chance of a good nights sleep is essential as part of your well-being programme as it helps promote health and happiness.IMG_4012_ silver lining cloud edited-1_edited-2

How are you getting on with this part of your life? Let me know if you have found things that work or if you need some ideas.

 

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Looking after your well-being

The Well PlaceWhat are you doing to look after your well-being?

As a coach I regularly work with people who are running around feeling stressed. They are often working long hours, neglecting their relationships, their health and their own well-being. When challenged they will often have a whole list of reasons why they can’t change their routines.

Sadly often something happens to force them to re-consider. A relationship collapses, a child develops behavioural problems, a health issue creates a crisis or paradoxically the job disappears!

Often what is missing is the long view. We need to step back and look at our lives from a distance. Here are some questions to consider as you do that.

What is really important to me in my life?

What is my purpose in being here?

Who are the people that really matter to me?

How do I want to spend my time?

For the people who are convinced they have to work so hard and be so unavailable there is nothing I can write that will make a difference. However here is the real test. However old you are consider the average life span. Work out based on that how many days you have left.

That’s right, how many days do you have left in this life time!

If you are living an unhealthy life style you will of course have to work out how many days to reduce this by. Can you really afford not to start looking after your well-being?

Take a moment now, and take three deep breaths in and out. What matters to you?IMG_4140_ swan edited-1_edited-1

 

 

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Finding purpose, following your mission

Be Brilliant today shine on in every wayA topic often discussed in Positive Psychology is that of meaning. When we have meaning and purpose in our lives we tend to be happier. If we can find meaning out of obstacles and even tragedy we recover quicker.

Last month I was issued with two parking tickets. Something that is unheard of for me.

 

What has that got to do with happiness I hear you say?

Well after I got over my temper tantrum I got to thinking about metaphor. I believe we can use events in our life as metaphors to help us develop as if the universe is sending us a message. So I asked myself a question.

Am I in “park mode” in my life?

The answer I came back with is “maybe”. As you know if you have been following my blog I re-located a couple of years ago and I’m gradually shifting my work to the new area. Well the truth is I haven’t put a great deal of effort into that.

I am fortunate enough that I could afford to coast a little. I have been enjoying “being” in my new location close to nature. There are many good things to this however I realise I was also losing direction.

Since asking myself that question and talking it through with Joe something really interesting has started to happen. I am suddenly being presented with opportunities to do those things that I believe are part of my process.

Several people in real need emotionally and psychologically have reached out to me. I have noticed how much more alive I feel when I am engaged in “my mission”.

I’m back!

How about you? Are you coasting? Have you discovered your purpose? Do you need some help finding it?

Reach out if you do, get that help. Find out what you are here to do.

Becoming Still ad IMG_4885_edited-3

 

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Becoming Wise, the reward for getting older

cropped owl April 2014 166_edited-2This week I thought it would be good to consider the good things that come with getting older. The topic of wisdom is one that we explored as part of my Msc in Applied Positive Psychology.

In modern society there is often a focus on the young and staying youthful as if aging is in some way wrong. What a shame that so many people become anxious about this natural progression.

In more ancient societies age and wisdom were prized and the various phases of our life each had a value. In my studies at university the following points were presented:

  • Wisdom is made up of a rich store of “declarative” knowledge, the knowing of facts about development and the importance of the context.
  • There is a rich repertoire of “procedural” knowledge, the know how to perform certain skills such as complex decision making about interpersonal problems and conflict resolution.
  • Wisdom is the ability to appreciate the many themes and contexts in life such as family, self, community, culture etc and the inter-relations across a life span.
  • It also brings tolerance for differences in values and priorities. The wise person is respectful of the unique set of values an individual holds even if they differ from their own.
  • And with wisdom we are more able to handle ambiguity and uncertainty. We recognise that when problem solving information is often incomplete with regard to the past and the present while uncertain about the future. All of this is taken into account when solving problems.

Perhaps most interesting of all during my studies was the fact that wisdom is not guaranteed as we get older, we need to be open to it. Also there are wise young people too.

Are you allowing yourself to embrace your potential for wisdom?

Are you letting go of superficial judgements encouraged by society?

Are you ready to be wise enough to be happy just as you are?

Being Happy ad IMG_5666_edited-1

 

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Are you appreciating and savouring what really matters?

R&B Running 2006This morning before sitting down to write this blog I took a few moments to sit with my two dogs, Buck and Remus. There were no distractions, just me and these two small living beings. As I stroked their coats I noticed the texture of their fur. I could feel their heart beats and their warmth. Without distraction I was able to fully appreciate their existence and how they contribute to mine.

In our modern life we often dash from one thing to another and when we stop we fill up our experience with chatter such as social media and TV. We often lose the ability to be still and savour.

Savouring and appreciating are two concepts discussed in many books on Positive Psychology. All that is required is that you choose to do so. Take a moment to notice what is important in the moment.

If I were to stop right now it might be to turn and look out the window. The garden is bursting with life, I can hear woodpeckers pecking, the sun is bright and there is a feel of spring in the air. These moments of stopping to notice and savour have a power to bring a sense of contentment, ease and happiness even when we are in the midst of challenge.

What will you savour today? Will it be to truly taste an apple, gaze at a view, stroke a beloved pet, play with a child or plant a seed in the ground? For those of you who find it hard to stop try this.

Savour one deep breath. Sit or stand in a comfortable position. Breathe in and notice how your lungs expand to accommodate the breath. Hold that breath a couple of seconds appreciating the life in your body and then gently release that breath.

What did you notice?

My challenge to you all today is to savour and appreciate at least one thing today even if it is only one breath. Let me know how you get on. rain on May flowers

One small item of news today, on Saturday 7th March we will be holding an NLP practice group. The location will be Crowborough, East Sussex. This is open to all who would like to know more. The topic will be “Savouring and appreciating”. If you would like to join us please contact me direct for details.

 

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What is being happy?

Squirrel The emotion of being happy is something we experience in the moment. Think about it for a moment. Emotion, and I mean all emotions are short lived bio-chemical reactions created by the focus of our thoughts in any moment.

Consider that phone call. If it is amazing, great news we can instantly access happiness maybe even joy! If the news is less good the opposite may be the fact. Our anger is equally a momentary event.

Rather than waiting for some external event to happen choose to be happy right now. Even if things in your life are challenging give yourself permission to take a “happiness holiday”. Find something positive to focus on that will make you smile and allow your body to trigger a happiness reaction.

For example, go outside and hug a tree! People often joke about tree hugging and yet actually it can be a very calming thing to do. Rest your cheek against the bark and feel that roughness, sink into the tree and feel the warmth. Connect to the energy within.

Listen, you might sense the beat of the tree or hear birds singing, the wind rustling the leaves and branches or maybe even your own heartbeat.

Nature is full of things to focus on that will allow happiness to emerge. My favourite right now is watching the acrobatics of the squirrels as they creatively work out how to access the bird feeders!

If you use facebook, focus on the positive videos for a while. If you look on my facebook page GWizNLP you will see lots of cuddly videos alongside the brain ones. There is a great one with baby pandas.  Isle of wight raw 264_edited-2

So instead of saying “I’ll be happy when..” say “I’ll be happy now!”

 

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How well are you looking after yourself and your well-being?

This week I have been reminded of the importance of actively looking after your well-being in order to live a healthy, happy life.Robin in the rain

A number of people I have interacted with recently seem to be on a “treadmill” existence. They are working very hard with very long hours and often have an hour or two of commuting as well. Many of these people are very well paid and yet their quality of life (or so it seems to me) is under threat.

Some of the people I have spoken to have themselves voiced a dis-satisfaction with their lifestyle and work patterns. Others speak as if they are just relating their day. For me this is a reminder that life is all about choices.

I choose to live the way I do. I know I could work harder and probably earn more money. For me the cost would be too high. Joe and I share a map of the world in common which helps a great deal. As a couple we both want the same things.

We do want a comfortable standard of living but not at the expense of our well-being and our ability to enjoy life. When I look at the lives of others as mentioned above I am also mindful that my view is not their view. Perhaps the people who are relating their day to me are happy with their life exactly the way it is. It is not for me to judge.

What point am I making?The Well Place

My point is that you are the only person who can judge if your life is working for you. Are you taking care of your well-being as well as your happiness? Only you know. Have you taken stock lately?

If you realise that your well-being is not where you want it to be what will you do about it?

For those of you experiencing pressures from needing to pay the bills, raise a family and any other things that you need to handle your well-being may feel out of your control.

You still have choice. What is one small step you can take today that will improve your well-being?

Do leave me a comment if you decide to take a step for yourself. Let me know what you plan to do. Sharing it will give it power.

pond

 

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Stay happy by switching your focus

 

Earlier this week I had one of those days. Do you ever get them?

I was trying to do a number of different tasks on my computer that involved uploading pictures and changing web pages. Nothing seemed to go well. Things that should have taken ten minutes were not done after a couple of hours.

I was becoming more and more frustrated and I confess swearing at my computer!

And then I realised it!

IMG_4140_ swan edited-1_edited-1I have a choice, we always have a choice.

We have a choice how we feel, how we respond to things and what we do.

I made a decision. I decided to stop what I was doing and go into the garden and sweep leaves. I’m not sure I can describe to you fully the pleasure I gained from this simple task. The sun was out, the air was crisp and clear. The birds were singing and the dogs were bouncing round me having fun. 180414 259

It was a great reminder that by switching our attention we can free up our minds and hearts. I felt good. The frustration of the morning disappeared.

When I returned to my computer the technical issues still needed solving however I was in a much better place to do something about it.

Now I know that I am very fortunate in that I am self-employed so can make choices about going outside and leaving my office work where it is. You may not have that freedom in your job however switching from one task to another can still be a way of managing your level of happiness at work.

When we stop focusing on a problem and allow ourselves a break to do something more enjoyable we free up our creative processes. When we return to what had been a frustrating task we discover that solutions often manifest. So even if you work for someone else you can switch from one task to another to free up your creativity.

For people going through challenging times switching attention can also be a way to bring you to a better place in your life. Many of you will remember the really simple exercise I have mentioned in previous blogs that involves writing down five positive things.

For those of you not familiar with it the idea is that you write your five positive things down just before you go to bed at night. If life is less than easy you might have to start with things like “got through the day!” As you notice and focus on small things that were positive like a smile, a flower, a hot shower you will be amazed at the changes in your experience. Positive Psychology research on this technique has suggested that most people experience a significant improvement in the well-being and life satisfaction when they do this exerciseIMG_3935_ lily edited-1_edited-1.

Give it a try and see what you notice.

By the way, I’ve solved the uploading of pictures issue!

 

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When old patterns get in the way of happiness

Something interesting happened yesterday. I was engaged in a discussion in a social media forum. I had posed a question about NLP and someone had made a good attempt at answering it.

Here’s what happened next….

I responded having scan read the answer. I intended to be encouraging and at the same time I wanted the person to stretch a little more.

Another trainer then made a comment that I took as a criticism. I made what I thought was a healthy response that avoided creating more problems. The trainer then answered more fully due to my prompting.

I reflected on the thread and here is my thought process.

“I’ve stuffed up! I read the first answer too quickly and responded too quickly. It means my response makes it look like I don’t understand the process”

This is just a sample of my internal dialogue. For those of you familiar with Transactional Analysis you may have already noticed some driver behaviour and some mini-script indicators. My original behaviours were carried out in a Hurry Up way which then opened the door for me to beat myself up from my Be Perfect driver!

Luckily I was able to spot what was happening even though it took me until 2am to become full self-aware again.

So how do you handle old patterns interrupting your happiness?

Here is what I did. At 2am this morning I realised my internal dialogue was preventing me from sleeping and I was running my mini-script. In other words I was not seeing myself as okay because in my perception I had made a mistake.

So I picked up my journal and wrote out my thoughts and feelings using this to get some distance and perspective. I went “meta” to my own process (NLP term) which could be described as observing myself by taking a step back. This allowed me to realise what I was doing. IMG_4054_  perception pigeon edited-1_edited-1

Having done that I went to sleep.

This morning I reviewed the thread. Looking at the other trainer’s comments I can now see they were not really critical at me but pointing out some important distinctions. I have prepared a response now that acknowledges and thanks the other trainer. I have clarified my own points and owned up to my process.

I have not yet posted it as I have decided to run it past my coaching supervisor first who is also a TA expert. By doing this I can make sure I am not adding to or inviting a psychological game.

I chose to share this so that you could see how I manage my own process as I think it can sometimes be useful to know what other people do to manage their happiness.

If you are reading this while in a very challenging place in your life remember it is okay to ask for help if following my process is not enough to break the pattern. There are many amazing coaches and counsellors out there.

I’ve used a lot of jargon in this blog so please let me know if you want more clarification. One of the modules on my Association For Coaching recognised course, Psychological Approaches to Coaching is based on using TA in Coaching or you could read the excellent book by Julie Hay, Working it out at work.

 

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How do you know if you are happy?

I know I started a blog about neuroscience and the brain a few weeks ago and yet I’m not feeling the joy writing it.

Why is that I wondered?

Here is the thing, right now in my life I am feeling really happy. One of the reasons I know is because in my early life I was very unhappy. It is interesting how having a contrast can be useful. So I began to think about why I am happy.

Firstly and for me most importantly, I am in a marriage that nurtures and supports me to an amazing man. Joe and I have been married for over twenty years and if anything it is getting better with every year that passes.   Melody and Joe in Arizona

As many of you know I had an operation before Christmas to remove my gall bladder. Last week I got the all clear from the surgeon. I can get back to exercising and living my life as normal. A great relief and it is wonderful knowing my body is now working properly.

A little note here, the surgeon tells me it had not been working at all for years, it is possible that my physical well-being was compromised for quite some time without me realising. This could be due to lack of contrast. When things change gradually we don’t always notice. I believe this is true with both positive and negative changes.

In terms of not feeling the joy about writing about neuroscience I think it was because I was having to work very hard with the writing. I like to write with a free flow. I realised my knowledge was not yet clear enough to write in the blog about neuroscience.

For this reason I signed up for a course on Medical Neuroscience on http://www.Coursera.org  (I recommend you check this site out). It is possible I am slightly over reaching as it is 15 to 20 hours a week! Having said that I’m loving it!

The reason?

Love of learning is one of my highest values according to the VIA strengths index. This makes sense to me as I am someone who is always taking courses and workshops. I love to learn particularly in a classroom with others.

Luckily there is an introduction to neuroscience starting on the same website in a couple of months so I might switch to that one if this one is too advanced or knowing me do both.

There are lots of other things I could list here that make me happy: my dogs, my home, my location, friends, family and all the wildlife in the garden and forest. R&B Running 2006

I don’t share these with you to brag but merely to raise your awareness. Have you noticed the things in your life giving you joy?

With this in mind I am switching to writing about happiness. I will come back to neuroscience when the writing flows.

Let me know your thoughts on the topic of happiness.

Two items of news to close with today.

I am once again running my popular free two day introduction to NLP. We run this to give people a chance to find out if NLP and our training style is for you.

The dates are 19th to 20th February, location Crowborough, East Sussex. See www.gwiznlp.com for details.

I am also launching my Association for Coaching recognised “Psychological Approaches to Coaching” in March. There are some details on www.gwiztraining.com or contact me direct for a pdf of the course, melody@gwiznlp.com

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