• Joy – What Is It And Why Do I Want It?

    I went out today on a bike ride, cycling through the hilly lanes in the lovely Devon countryside. I have been tired of late dealing with the stresses of building – or in our case not building our house, and whilst a sneaky nap seemed like a nice idea my feet ended up on the pedals and off I went.  Now anyone who knows me knows that I love biking, but due to work commitments, life and all manner of other things that have got in the way, I haven’t been biking outdoors for a long, long while.  Whilst I normally bike in the mountains around Chamonix, today was a more leisurely jaunt, taking in the hills of East Devon and pondering life while I went.

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    Off I set with no goal in mind.  I had posted a thought on twitter earlier in the day about the fact that the measure of our success is not about how much money we have but how much joy we experience in life.  Being alone on my bike with just my thoughts for company I was able to contemplate this concept at leisure and explore what came up.

    I started to reflect on what joy really was and how it differs from happiness. I remembered an interesting conversation with a company earlier this week, who wanted as one of their goals for all their staff to be happy.  At first glance this seems like an admirable goal, however, a) since happiness is an emotion, other people’s happiness is not something anyone of us can control, and b) happiness generally comes from external things and is different for each person.  Thus creating a “happy” workforce could be quite a challenge.

    Whilst it is true that joy is also an emotion, joy is more often derived from a sense of inner peace and calm, feeling grateful and appreciative, and caring for others.   Unlike happiness which can be fleeting in duration, joy tends to last longer and brings more contentment and satisfaction.  Perhaps rather than striving for a having a happy workforce a better goal would be to have a staff who felt joy in what they do.  Creating a culture of appreciation and holistic leadership, where teams look more strategically at how they can work for the good of the organisation rather than in “silos”, would go a long way to creating a contented and fulfilled workforce.

    Whilst thinking about this I started to think about the way I felt when I was feeling the opposite of either joy or happiness.  When I am not happy I am generally feeling unhappy and feel miserable. However, when I am not experiencing joy I am usually in a state of worry or fear.  So if fear, anxiety, or stress is lurking in your organisation then it is unlikely that a sense of joy can prevail.

    This brought home to me a startling realisation – almost causing me to ride into the hedge – that personally when I am in fear about things:  doubts, failure, not being good enough, upsetting someone etc then this would be a good time to search out some joy  in my life.

    But where can I find joy?   Since joy is largely derived internally rather than externally this made me think that I can find joy in any moment I choose to.  Riding my bike I decided to just be in the moment, stop all the head chatter and appreciate what was around me.  Doing this it was if my senses were suddenly turned on and I could see detail in everything: the intense colours of the flowers; the dappled sunlight through the leaves; the expanse of the cloud strewn sky and the endless landscape of gently rolling fields.  I felt my body alive with sensations: the touch of the wind on my skin, the smells of the countryside in my nose and the sound of the nature in my ears.  Really it was quite an incredible experience and all that I did was turn my joy radar on.

    It made me realise that I live mostly in a one dimensional way.  I live in a world with so much sensory input and data being thrust at me all the time that I tend to limit my experience and tune out what I think is unimportant and extraneous. This means for me tuning out the wonderful things around me that I don’t see anymore.   I realised that if I want to experience more joy in my life I need to pay attention to the detail and the small stuff around me.  It is the measure of our capacity to see the detail in life that determines our ability to experience joy.

    So I have set a new challenge for myself.  I have decided that every day I will look for the joy in the day.  No matter how rubbish the external world is behaving I will spend time experiencing the joy that comes from appreciating the simple things in life.  It’s all about the small stuff.

    I invite you to keep an eye on your joy gauge.  When you are feeling fearful, doubtful or stressed take a moment to stop.  Turn off your head and feel with your body.  What do you hear, feel, see and smell?  Turn on your joy radar and look with curiosity at the things around you.  Taking a moment of stillness to appreciate the things around you will be uplifting and will help you to get through the rest of the external stuff that needs to be dealt with.

    I would love to hear and see the small stuff in your lie that fills you with joy.  If you would like to share with me what brings you joy you can post your comments and pictures below.

    If you would like to find out how to create more joy in your life then click on the link below to get access to my free e-book:

    The Secrets to Producing the Results that You Want in Your Life

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • 4

    10 Tips To Help You Live A Life Of Passion

    I believe that passion has become rather one dimensional in our lives, with the focus only on sexual desire.  What a shame.  Passion is actually gloriously multi-dimensional, expressing powerful and compelling feelings or emotions and bringing life into vivid Technicolor.

    Living our lives with passion though is not how most of us choose to live.    Most of us go through life wishing we were somewhere else, doing something else or living somehow differently.     When was the last time in your life that you truly felt the blood pumping in your veins, your heart uplifted and experienced being totally in the moment?

    But “passion can be dangerous” you say.  Goodness, who knows where living passionately will lead us! How much easier to play safe and stay in our comfort zone, dulling the emotions and flattening our life experience.

    For the brave who choose to take the path to a passionate life, the journey takes time and is undoubtedly challenging.   If you are up for the adventure the rewards are profound.  Whilst the destination will vary the features are the same: a life lived with passion is one filled with joy, enthusiasm, simplicity, a sense of purpose, energy and feeling of being connected to yourself.

    Choosing to live your life with passion starts with shifting your mind-set.  It requires deciding that living a life with passion is a goal worth pursuing.  Apathy and lassitude are prevailing forces in our culture, so learning to live a passionate life requires discipline and commitment to overcome these tendencies.

    To pledge to a passionate life requires overcoming a lack of belief that is it possible to do so.  It requires giving up closed or negative thinking that can keep us stuck.  It requires focus, responsibility and the requirement to simplify life.  No one can be passionate if they are feeling cluttered, overscheduled and overwhelmed in life.  Being passionate by definition means to experience powerful emotions.  It is not possible to live a passionate life if you are emotionally unhealthy e.g. depressed, anxious, stressed etc.

    Passion in life starts with having a vision, goal or desire that inspires you, helping you to move towards what you want to be, do or have.  As with changing any old ways of thinking and behaving living life with passion takes time and is testing.  Being willing to keep going no matter what is one of the keys to living a life you love.

    How can you live a life with passion?

    1)      Take time – you can’t make changes in life unless you make time to reflect.

    2)      Change how you see yourself – consider who would you have to be to live the life you want?

    3)      Believe in yourself – you are the creator of your life. You are 100% responsible. You can make it happen.

    4)      Speak from the heart – dare to be honest with yourself and then with others.

    5)      BWTEIM (begin with the end in mind) – create a clear vision of what you really want your life to look like and stick your flag in the sand in front of you.  Now you have a destination.

    6)      Face your fear – look it square in the eyes and take the first step anyway.

    7)      Shut out the self-chatter – be an observer and don’t get enrolled in your mental noise.  Keep focused on vision.

    8)      Write it down – get it out of your head and onto paper in words or pictures.  This helps clarify our thinking and makes it real.

    9)      Look for fun – we miss so many amazing things in life by being so busy, keep an eye out for what brings you joy and happiness.

    10)   Keep going – learning and growth happens in your breakdowns. Have courage, be committed be curious.

    One really good coaching question I like to ask clients who may be stuck looking for their purpose and passion is to ask them:

    “What would you be doing if you only had a short time to live and/or money was no object?”

    I ask this to you now.  I would love to hear in the comments below what are you passionate about?

     

  • Are you a Human Being or a Human Doing?

    Are you a Human Being or a Human Doing?

    I have to confess that my default position is one of dynamic doing. I like to be busy doing things and I often exhaust my family, who watch me in a whirl of frenzied activity trying to get as much done as possible each day. I pride myself on being able to multi-task and I frequently try to more than one thing at a time, like writing this blog, whilst listening to an audio webinar and also planning what I need to get from the supermarket.

    Now whilst this seems very efficient I can often find myself very frustrated at the end of the day with no real sense of accomplishment. As I have been “busy” rushing from one thing to another my mind has felt flustered and befuddled trying to work out what to do next. Flitting from one subject and action to another, my brain simply can’t focus and I end up wasting a large amount of time being distracted. So life begins to resemble ground hog day – endless lists of things to do, which I busy myself doing then lo and behold it starts all again the next day – more never ending lists of things to do and lots more busyness. It’s mentally draining and frankly boring!

    So in an effort to break this repeating cycle and end each day with more satisfaction and inner calm I have been looking at how I can do things differently to get more done in less time and spend more time doing things that are important to me.

    Being Rather Than Doing

    Seeing how much of a human “doing” I am programmed to be I decided to try a different tack and explore how it would feel being more of a human “being”.

    “Being” rather than “doing” requires a whole different way of thinking. For a start it requires a lot more mental stillness and mental discipline. When you are being rather than doing there is the sense of time slowing down as you bring your mental focus to what needs to be done now. Being present and focused on solely the action to do now, helps to quieten the mind and actually results in the action being completed more efficiently and effectively. Distractions are kept at bay and the whole experience of getting the task done is less exhausting.

    For someone whose brain likes to rule the roost and charge full tilt from thing to the next thing, this has been a mighty challenge. To help me with the process of change I have looked for times in my life when I experience being rather than doing.

    Being in the “Zone”
    For me I often experience this sense of being when I am exercising. Through exercise I become present to what is going on in the moment. I can feel my breath in my lungs, I can feel the weather on my skin, I can feel the muscles in my legs. I am in touch with my environment. I notice the details of the road or path in front of me, the changes in the slope steepness or snow conditions, the feel of the water on my body, the sound of the ball on my racket. All these details show up when I focus my mind on being present in the moment.

    Often when people experience this it is called being in the “flow” or zone. We can also feel this at other times when we are fully engrossed in something we are doing, e.g. listening to music, making something, singing, driving, doing any hobby you are passionate about.

    Being present doesn’t exclude doing something at the same time. It just means being present to what you are doing in the moment. It is about raising your awareness so that you are conscious of what you are doing and not getting distracted by thoughts in your head about other things not to do with what you are doing NOW.  It is often called being mindful.

    Mindfulness
    Undertaking tasks with this level of mindfulness and intention takes some effort at first to still the mind. However I have found that when I can come from a place of “being” in my activities, things just seem easier. The tasks get done without all the head chatter and I finish them in far less time – thus in effect creating more time – to do non urgent things that I want to do.

    Being mindful has many benefits. Aside from the sense that there is more time, I find that the sense of focus that it required to be mindful helps me to feel calmer. The endless thoughts that spin through my head seem to slow and I have far more ability to simply observe them for what they are – just thoughts. And I have the choice NOT to jump on the negative thought train hurtling down the track to who knows where….

    So being mindful at least for a small part of each day can bring a sense of peace. Being mindful will not stop your thoughts – they are going to keep coming whether you want them or not. However being mindful will help you to become more of an observer of your thoughts. Once you can observe your thoughts for what they are, then the balance of power will shift and you can gain more control over how you respond to your thoughts. This is a great thing as this leads to a wonderful sense of really having choice and being in control – and who doesn’t want to feel more that they have more choice and control in their life.

    Ten Tips to being more Mindful

    In my practice to experience more “being” rather than  “doing” these are some of the things that I do to help me be more mindful:

    1) Daily meditation – just five minutes of quiet contemplation makes a difference
    2) Be grateful everyday – for what I have rather than what I don’t have
    3) Be really present at least once each day
    4) Connect with people
    5) Take time to appreciate the beauty around me
    6) Breathe deeply and smile
    7) Let go of the past – it is gone and can’t be changed
    8) Practice observing my thoughts and emotions
    9) Accept that all is ok now
    10) Enjoy the journey

    You might like to try some of them yourself and see if becoming more mindful helps to move you from being less of a human “doing” to more of a human “being”.

    Let me know your thoughts or experience of being practising being more mindful.