Category Archives: happiness

4 Secrets My Snowman Showed Me About Having A Positive Spin

 

He was my first snowman.

My cheeks were red with excitement and the cold.  All he needed was a hat and I ran indoors to ask mum if I could use one  of my knitted ones. With great ceremony I put it on his head and then stood back. He was as tall as me! He was smiling, and I’d made him all by myself.

That night, while I was getting ready for bed I heard an ominous sound. I knew what it was, it was the sound of water dripping. The icicles by the back door were melting and the snow looked different somehow. I stared put between my curtains at my snowman in the middle of the garden and tears crept down my cheeks.

Next morning he was gone. Just his blue knitted hat lay on the emerging grass, with his lumps of  coal eyes.

Last week I thought about that snowman.

I thought about the snow we’d just had and how people reacted to it. I realised that my long-ago snowman had started me on the road to having a Positive Spin.

Here are the 4 Snowman Secrets to having a Positive Spin:

1.   It’s  too easy to say ‘No.’

The day is snowed heavily we could have easily said ‘No’ to going out. After all, the house was very cosy, we had stuff we ‘ought’ to have been getting on with. But out we went. What we would have missed if we’d stayed in!

Exquisite beauty, twigs transformed, a silent world, a traffic free road and childlike fun.

I’m going to try to say ‘Yes’ far more in my life. What about you?

It’s so easy to feel wary, scared, afraid of change. But when we say ‘Yes’, we rarely regret it.

2.  We must appreciate people while they’re with us.

I was so sad when my snowman ‘died’. I’d only just met him and he was gone again.

I don’t want to sound morbid, but it’s often not until people leave us that we realise their importance in our lives.We must tell them how much they mean to us, show them we value them and give them hugs, virtual or real.  It never seems to be the right moment. I’m going to try to tell them more often …

3.   We must be proactive.

If I hadn’t built my snowman that day it would have been too late. It didn’t snow again that winter. I would have missed it.

It’s the same with life’s opportunities. If we don’t ‘seize the day’, the day will be gone. When we have the chance to learn something new, travel to a new place, make a new friend, we must take it. Before the opportunity disappears.

4.   Take that risk!

We went to see the children sledging. It was a delight to see them. And then, as you know from this post, I was offered the chance to join in. It would have been so easy to say ‘No’. But I said ‘Yes’ and took the risk. If I’d waited for another day, the snow would have melted, and who knows when another chance would come? When will we next get snow?

Chances to do new things will come your way. Follow your instinct. If it feels right, do it! New course? Learn to dance? Learn to ski? Why not!

I realise that having a Positive Spin is not practical all the time. But once you start to develop the habit, you’ll be surprised, as regular readers will know.

It’s like rolling a snowball. It grows… and grows…

… until it’s a way of life.

I’ve chosen to seize the day and upgrade this blog.

There’ll be a new look very soon! I could have waited until another day, but I decided the time was right. I’ll enjoy developing  and improving it for you, I’m certain of that.

Are you going to miss out on a magical, exciting experience?

Or are you going to say ‘Yes!’ and develop your Positive Spin?

What are you going to say ‘Yes’ to in 2011?

Do tell us. We all need some inspiration…

Header by cursedthing, post pic by theirhistory, on Flickr.

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Filed under action, change, confidence, excuses,, fear, goals, happiness, hope, instincts, plans, positive, progress, success, timing

Think the Snow Is A Nuisance? How to Change Your Mind

It’s still here. The snow, I mean. 

I heard this today: ‘It was fun at first. Now it’s just a nuisance.’

OK, I understand it’s difficult getting to the shops, you have to go without milk for a while and the schools are still closed, but this snowy time teaches us a lot about how we can look at life if we feel confident.

Here’s my Positive Spin on a snowy day. 

Snow is like Confidence. It transforms your life.

  • Snow smooths everything out.

Harsh shapes are rounded, spiky bushes are like balls, you can’t see the join between the path and the road.

When you’re confident you feel that your path is smoother. You see the way to diffuse spiky arguments, the differences between people are blurred. You become more tolerant.

  • Snow covers up imperfections.

Street litter is lost under the blanket, muddy patches become clean, every surface is garnished with a sparkle.

When you start to feel confident you find you don’t notice the imperfections in people so much. You focus on their good qualities, you try to see their point of view. You’re more agreeable.

  • Snow turns problems into opportunities.

So… you can’t get the car out of the drive! You have the opportunity to stay in, gaze at the beauty outside and reminisce about winters long ago. You are ‘allowed’ to watch DVD’s by the fire, make soup from those left over veg in the fridge, send friendly emails, and even write Christmas cards.

Confidence brings opportunities too. Instead of fearing changes in your ‘landscape’, you can see  new ways forward, possible new occupations,  new directions for your life.

  • Snow covers up tracks but lets you see fresh ones.

Muddy tracks disappear. The road is smoothed out. But we can see where the birds and animals have been wandering in our garden, under bushes and around trees.

When you learn to be confident (yes, you learn it), you learn to believe that very day is a fresh start. Yesterday has gone. You can’t change what you did/didn’t/do, wish you’d said/not said, the chances you missed. Today is like a fresh fall of snow on your ‘landscape.’ The new tracks you make are up to you.

  • Snow lets you use other people’s tracks.

Trudging up the lane is much easier if others have already made some tracks. It’s firmer, less slippery and you feel bolder as you stride along.

Confidence grows with encouragement, praise and positive feedback as you take steps towards your goals and make changes. Seeking and taking advice and help from others, walking in their tracks,  helps you make decisions.

  • Snowy weather lets you have fun!

It certainly brought out the ‘Inner Child’ in me. The lane was filled with neighbours and their children, all dragging sledges and throwing snowballs. A carrot was fetched for the snowman’s nose and mugs of coffee were passed around.

Confidence does that too. You can let yourself be child-like, try new things, travel to new places, have as much fun as you like.

Like the snow, Confidence transforms the ordinary into the extra-ordinary.

What would you be able to do if you woke up  to find your world covered in the soft blanket of confidence?

Header by cursedthing, post pic byAlice Popkorn

    

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Filed under adjust, change, confidence, expectation, happiness, hope, plans, positive, progress, self-esteem, success

Who Wants to Time Travel With Me?

‘Oh please, dad! Please!’

Dad slowly opens our back door. It’s dark but I can see the flakes in the beam of the outside light.

‘Oh, wow! It is! It is!’

My brother and I squeak and squeak and my face is one enormous grin.

Next morning the snow is really deep. The cat refuses to set paw outside but we can’t wait. Dad gets the wooden sledge he made us, out of the shed and we pull on hats and gloves and scarves. 

Magical. But not just when I was a child.

It was magical today.  

We pulled on our hats, gloves and scarves but this time I had my OH with me, not my brother. We trudged up the lane, stopping every few minutes to exclaim at the beauty around us. Everything seemed to be wearing a ‘hat’, every twig and every fence post. Birds danced and darted, searching for a drink, dogs were up to their tummies in snow and parked cars were shrouded in white fur puffer jackets.

Then came the best bit!

We joined our neighbours and their children who were sledging on an open slope on the edge of the village. Brightly coloured sledges contrasted with the white-out, flasks of coffee steamed and wet gloves were abandoned.

‘Want to have a go, Linda?’

One of our friends was laughing as he offered me his child’s sledge. To his, and my, surprise I heard myself say, ‘Love to!’ and I sat down and grabbed the rope, with the confidence and fearlessness of a child. He gave me a push and I was off, shrieking and squealing down the slope. I was Time Travelling, ten years old again, loving the chill on my cheeks, not a care in the world.

Watch out! There's a child about!

I will remember today because…

  • I re-discovered my inner child
  • I delighted in my sense of fun
  • I took pleasure in the small things
  • I smiled at everyone and they smiled back
  • I noticed every twig, branch, roof top, fence, gate, paw-print
  • I spoke to every one and they spoke back
  • I ignored the slushy stuff in the road
  • I lived every second of this amazing day
  • I marvelled at my world

Hold on a minute!

Why can’t I do all those things every day?

I think I can.

And, I’m sure, so can you.

When did you last Time Travel and re-discover your inner child?

What do you wish you could still enjoy that you enjoyed back then?

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Filed under confidence, happiness, instincts, positive, risk, safe

Who Wants to Win an Amazing Car and Have £2,000 to Spend?

It was a TV ad on the Breakfast show.

It looked tempting, so tempting that many people  entered this competition. Hard to resist – the chance to show off a fantastic new car and go shopping with £2,000 to spend.

Imagine when the car’s delivered!

I want one of those!

It sits outside in the street or on your drive and everyone stops to admire it. You’re so proud. Can’t wait to take it for a spin. Off you roar, leaving those admiring glances behind, those envious faces wondering how you afforded it. After all, you only just changed last year’s model. They’d love a brand new car, given half the chance.

There’s nothing like the smell and feel of a new car. Leather seats, everything shiny, no finger marks, not even the tiniest scratch.  You stop at the lights and the guy in the older car next to you grins and waves, giving you a thumbs up. You grin back, basking in the sunshine of his envy.

You frown a little as it begins to rain. The auto-wipers do their best but it’s quite a downpour. On the motor-way the traffic’s heavy. Lorries soak you in muddy spray, wooshing past at speed. Reluctantly you slow down, it’s hard to see far ahead in this storm, even with the headlights on. It’s dusk and it’ll soon be dark. As soon as you can, you turn off and head for home.

You put your house key in the lock and call out.

‘I’m home, love!’

You shake the drips from your coat and hang it up.

‘How’s the car, love? Pleased with it?’  She comes to the door to take a look.

‘What a pity it rained, sweetheart. It’s lost its shiny, new look. You’ll have to wash it tomorrow. Still, I suppose it can’t stay ‘new’ for ever! ‘

You’re gutted. It was fantastic having it delivered. And now it’s not new anymore. Looks just like everyone else’s. Muddy, smeary, tyres all spoilt, mats muddy.

But at least you’ve still got that £2,000 to spend…

We all get a ‘high’ from having more ‘stuff’.  It lasts for… well… at least a few minutes… and before long we’re thinking about the next ‘new thing’.  At least that’s how it seems to me sometimes.

I wonder how long the novelty and excitement of  receiving their ‘new stuff’ will last with most children this Christmas…

Is there anything we can do about it?

How can we help our children to be less greedy when many adults are just as bad?

How do we show them that having more ‘stuff’ won’t make them happy?

or will they discover it for themselves…

  • What does happiness mean to you?
  • What has to happen for you to feel happy?
  • Is it a lasting state or is it fleeting?

Do tell us in the comments…

Header image by cursedthing, post image by Kraetzsche Photo, on Flickr

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How I Learnt What’s Important

Let’s go to the Caribbean!

It was 7.00 am.

The phone rang.

We’d been sitting up in bed with a coffee, discussing our holiday plans. So many ideas, all sounding enticing, but which to choose?

We’d love to return to the Caribbean. Been before, twice in fact, and absolutely loved it. After all, what’s not to love? Jewell coloured seas, glorious skies we can normally only imagine here,  friendly people, white sand, rainbow fish…. I think you get my drift.

Or we could go over to Ireland. Again, very friendly people, delicious food, fuschia strewn hedges, ribbons of islands strung out in sparkling seas, confectionary-coloured cottages… emmmm.

Mustn’t forget Italy. Tuscan hills disappearing in a misty sky; traffic filled streets in central Rome, and a few steps away, narrow, quiet cobbled alley ways to explore; the Tower of Pisa: Venetian canals…

Or we could go to France. Only a short distance by Eurostar, to Paris. Can’t even begin to describe why we’d love to go to Paris. Eiffel Tower, flea markets, cafes, wine, Sacre Coeur , wine, Champs Elysee shopping, wine…..

As I was saying,… the phone rang. We looked at one another. It was early. Too early. No-one would be ringing at this time. Unless…

What if… my daughter was ill again?

What if… my son was in trouble?

What if… my brother ….

What if…  What if…

I perched on the edge of the bed to answer the call.   My chest thumped, my cheeks burned, my hand shook. I bit my lip as I slowly put the phone to my ear and listened…

Later, over a welcome and very much needed second cup of coffee, we talked about that phone call. It was a cold call. Nothing worrying at all. But we were so glad they rang. What a lesson we both learned. All our holiday plans melted  away as the fears crept in.

 Holidays are fun, exciting sometimes, but they are only 2/3 weeks out of our lives. The important and precious things in our lives are here.  All the time. If we’re lucky. We mustn’t take them for granted. We must give them the importance they deserve. And give them the love they deserve, too.

What’s important to you in your life?

Income?

Car?

Stuff?

How do you know what’s important?

Has that changed, over the years?

Header image by cursedthing, on Flickr. Post image – my own.

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How Would You Use An Extra Hour In Your Day?

 

You have an 'extra hour'...

We’re all so very busy being busy, aren’t we? We have our ‘To Do’ lists, our shopping lists, our ‘The Sky Will Fall In If I Don’t Do This Today’ lists….

How often do you hear someone say, ‘There just aren’t enough hours in the day’?

It’s that time of year again.

The clocks’ went back’ this weekend in the UK. We had to trawl around the house altering every timer and clock, moving the hands backwards so we’d have that ‘extra hour’. It’s what we all want, isn’t it? An extra hour in our day?

OK, we only get it once a year and most of us spend it sleeping but never the less, the whole process started me thinking about what we’d all do if there were 25 hours in our days all the time!

A few years ago my OH and I decided to hold an impromptu ‘Extra Hour’ party.   At midnight we all changed our watches and spent the extra hour dancing and celebrating.  And then I thought, ‘Hey! We would have done this anyway, without the extra hour… ‘

Would we really value a ’25th hour?’

I thought it would be interesting  to ask you how you would spend your 25th hour, if it was permanent.

Would you:

  • do the same as you do now and then make the extra hour special in some way, tagging in on to the end of your 24 hours?
  • add a new ‘activity’ to your 25 hour day?
  • simply allow longer for certain tasks that you know you rush at the moment?
  • get up  later?
  • go to bed later?
  • use it writing that novel you never have time for?
  • waste it?

I think we’d all get used to it, wouldn’t we and simply do exactly what we do now. But it’s good to think about whether we waste time, rush, dawdle, procrastinate, day-dream, sleep, shop, yet still complain that there aren’t enough hours in the day.

How about you?

A whole hour! Extra! To use as you like!

How would you use that ‘extra hour’ if it was a permanent add-on to your day?

 

Header image by cursedthing, post image by Len Reynolds, on Flickr.

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Found! The Secret Sign of Success

I tried hard, mum...

It was Mother’s Day.

But I was not happy.

I was trying to make a cake for my mum.  Her favourite Victoria Sponge.

What was the problem?

I’d made Victoria sponges loads of times before, to great applause from the family. 

But this was different. I had to succeed. I wanted her to say: ‘It’s lovely! Better than I could do! Delicious!’

My first two attempts were cooling off in the bin and with much huffing and puffing I got busy mixing up the third, and yes, forty minutes later…  the third cake was fine and mum was pleased.

Years later, and a mum myself, I know that my success that day was not about anything other than this:

I wanted to show mum that she was special.

It wasn’t about a cake. It was about mum knowing I cared.

And me smiling inside.

This post was inspired by Leo’s words about success, on Zen Habits.

He made me stop and think about –

What does success mean to me?  

How do I know when I’ve succeeded?

And I’m asking you the same questions.

For me, I know I’ve succeeded when I’m Smiling Inside.

Here are some of my Smiling Inside successes.

  1. Leaving the house for the first time after an illness.
  2. Writing a difficult blog post and feeling satisfied with it when it’s finished.
  3. Receiving a loving card from my daughter for no particular reason.
  4. Finally persuading the store to give me a refund.
  5. Seeing a plant bloom when I thought it had died.
  6. Hearing my cat come through the cat flap after she’d been out ‘on the tiles’ for 12 hours and I’d been calling and calling…
  7. Working out how to upload photos to this site.
  8. Having my work validated by my readers.
  9. Seeing a turtle amongst the coral when I’m scared of deep water.

For me, my successes and Smiling Inside are invisible to everyone else.

They are my secrets, and every time I recall how I felt about each success, a warm, invisible smile begins.

What does success mean to you?

Is it an outward thing? Like a trophy or an award?

Or does it stay inside?

Header image by cursed thing, post image by Aleasy, both on Flickr.

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Filed under action, confidence, failure, fear, goals, happiness, hope, persistence, plans, positive, progress, success