The way we think and feel moment by moment has a huge influence over the results we experience. Use this simple, easy to remember strategy to keep feeling at your best when you need it most.

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I am very excited to bring you the first in a brand new video series: “The Life Happens Little Lessons”. These are short, snappy personal growth and development tips and insights to keep you firmly on the path of success and happiness.

In today’s video I’ll share with you a simply and easy to apply strategy to get you back into a resourceful frame of mind for those times when life wants to see what you’re made of! We all face daily challenges; its what we do about them that ultimately determines our results.

Warm wishes,

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Do you worry too much? Do you wonder how to stop worrying, or at least worry less? Let’s take a look at the purpose of worry and a useful strategy for feeling more influential over your circumstances.

“Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum.” Line from ‘Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen)’ by Baz Luhrmann

How to stop worryingOne of the more enlightening ‘a-ha’ moments I’ve had on my adventures into the world of personal growth was having it pointed to me out how much energy I invested into fussing over things I had no control over.

It was back when I was starting out as an over-eager, wet behind the ears, newly qualified NLP practitioner, determined to create an über successful personal development empire (sound familiar, anyone?) But I was broke and had the business savvy of stuffed goat. Despite all my training in state management and ‘resourceful thinking’, I couldn’t help feeling blocked from every angle trying to get a business off the ground.

I sat down with my mentor and described to her the difficulties I was facing:

It was a saturated market. The competition were way more experienced and I was. Advertising was too expensive. People might think I was too young to be taken seriously.

She listened compassionately and patiently waited for me to finish my rant, then asked, “With so many things you can focus on in business, why would you focus on the things you can’t do anything about?”

That hit me like a brick. It was uncomfortable to take at first, but the discomfort quickly dissolved into a huge sense of relief. She was right. The only thing my worrying was enabling me to do was to move further away from the creativity my fledgling business was crying out for.

[pullquote align=”left”]”Worry is just a misguided strategy for feeling safe. When you worry, it is because part of you believes you can worry your way to a helpful insight, but that is rarely the case.”[/pullquote]From there I made a commitment to only focus on that which I could influence. I decided not to spend money I didn’t have on advertising, but instead to have more real conversations with more real people about the ways I could serve them. I gave up waiting for paying clients to whom I could demonstrate my expertise and started sharing it for free via talks, articles and podcasts (which resulted in paying clients).

Progress was slow, but it was 100% more progress than I had experienced prior to that moment of clarity.

Nowadays, I still find myself worrying about things I can’t change, but I’ve gotten a heck of a lot better at spotting when I’m doing it and shifting my focus towards a more useful way of thinking.

We all worry about stuff, it’s part of the human condition. Some of us contain it to trivialities such as the weather, what clothes to wear or what other people think. But some of us could represent our countries in the ‘Worry Olympics'; threating over the dire economy, the state of humanity or the potential for an alien invasion.

Worry is just a misguided strategy for feeling safe. When you worry, it is because part of you believes you can worry your way to a helpful insight, but that is rarely the case. All worry does is feed your imagination with a disaster movie loop that begets more worry. And of course, your imagination is not reality.

However, it is not your job to eradicate worry any more than it’s your job to eradicate the weather. But it is your job to practice wisdom. You don’t always choose the thoughts that pop into your head, but you can always choose what to do with them once they are there.

The saying, ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothes’, can easily be translated as, ‘There’s no such thing as bad reality, only unhelpful thinking.’

AN OLYMPIC STRATEGY FOR DEALING WITH WORRY

One of the simplest, yet most powerful ways I’ve found to exercise more of my own wisdom in difficult circumstances is to remember a phrase popularised by Charlie Jones, a sportscaster covering the rowing events of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Interviewing the various teams prior to their heats, he’d often ask how they planned to deal with the various challenges they might face; the stiff competition, adverse weather conditions, being placed in an outside lane, breaking an oar, etc. What he was struck by was the frequency with which he got the same response:

“That’s outside my boat.”

The athletes refused to comment on any dynamic of the race that they could not directly control. They only focused on two basic questions:

“Is it inside the boat?” and, “Does it make the boat go faster?”

Recognising what is inside and what is outside your boat is fundamental to getting more of what you want out of life.

The fact that you don’t have more money in your bank account, at this precise moment in time, is outside your boat. So, if having more money is important to you, what is inside your boat that you do have influence over?

If a hundred highly qualified candidates have applied for the same dream job as you, that’s outside your boat. What would be most useful for you to focus on to give yourself the greatest chance of standing out? You might not get it, and that’s also outside your boat, so what’s your back-up?

It is outside your boat that your kids may be exposed to some of the less savoury aspects of the big bad world. What positive, healthy strategies do you have inside your boat to prepare them well and to trust their judgement?

It is also worth knowing that what is outside your boat may just be reflective of how things stand today. If you are willing to be patient and take a longer term view, things can often change in a big way with the help of your consistent, little, inside-the-boat nudges. Even international laws have been changed through the persistent loving actions of lowly individuals.

It’s a cliché, but nothing in your life ever changed just because you worried enough about it. Think about what are you able to physically influence right now, even if it is just how to find a little more peace within yourself.

Drop me a line in the comments below and let me know what you are ready to stop worrying about.

I’ll leave you with a reminder of these classic lines from the ‘Serenity Prayer’.

“Grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change,
courage to change the things we can,
and wisdom to know the difference.”

With love,

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how to love yourselfAs Whitney sang, “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love off all”. But what makes self-love so vital in life? And why is it often so hard to do?


This episode of Life Happens LIVE Paul sheds light on these questions and gives you a practical exercise to nurture the most important relationship you have in your life – the one you have with yourself.

You’ll learn:

  • How your relationship with yourself influences every aspect of your life.
  • Why we resist thinking more highly of ourselves and what that costs us.
  • 3 ways to strengthen your foundation of self-love.

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Whitney Houston sang, “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.” But why is self-love so important? And why is it the hardest kind of love to master?

“Loving yourself…does not mean being self-absorbed or narcissistic, or disregarding others. Rather it means welcoming yourself as the most honored guest in your own heart, a guest worthy of respect, a lovable companion.” – Margo Anand

Self Love

Imagine that you and I are standing face to face and I proudly tell you, “I love myself”. What would your initial reaction be?

Would you think, “That’s nice, I’m pleased he feels that way”?

Would you think, “Er, OK, that’s a weird thing to share openly”?

Or would you think, “Wow, he’s full of himself. He must have an over-inflated ego”?

Of course, what you think will be in some way based on the existing beliefs and perceptions you already have of me, but interestingly, it will also be (and perhaps more so) indicative of your own comfort level with the topic of self-love.

Virtually all personal growth and spiritual disciplines throughout time point towards the importance of loving and accepting yourself. Psychologists call it ‘positive self regard’. And it is not important just because it feels nice; it’s important because your attitude towards yourself shows up everywhere in your reality.

[pullquote align=”left”]”…there is no shortage of happiness in the world, only a lack of clarity about where it comes from.”[/pullquote]The desire to overcome any problem you have in life is really, at its core, a desire to heal the relationship within. It may not look that way on the outside, but unconsciously you recognise that the world is just a mirror reflecting your self-image right back at you.

As happiness expert, Dr Robert Holden, writes in his book, Loveability, “The quality of your relationship with yourself determines the quality of your relationship with everything else.”

This is the ultimate truth about where authentic lasting happiness really comes from.

The more willing we are to accept and love ourselves just the way we are, the less we go looking for comfort and happiness in the wrong places. I guess one way of looking at it is that there is no shortage of happiness in the world, only a lack of clarity about where it comes from.

No amount of comfort-eating can come close the comfort of self-acceptance.

A credit card transaction can never love you like you can love you.

Judging and proving others wrong will never give you the same inner satisfaction as when you give up judging yourself.

Obsessing that your partner doesn’t love you enough becomes irrelevant when you love yourself enough.

So why is the whole self-love thing so hard?

A lot of it has to do with our conditioning. We want so badly to be accepted by others and to maintain a ‘meaningful’ identity, that the truth about who we really are gets concealed by our glossy personas. Anything we think or feel on the inside that contradicts our socially pleasing outer image becomes a target for our own disrespect.

Self-love gets a bad press, particularly in the western world.

We are taught to value humility and are put off by self-righteousness. We confuse self-love for narcissism and so comply with the social expectation of loving others more than we love ourselves. The irony is that the way we offer our love to them is driven by own capacity for self-love.

[pullquote align=”right”]”The extent to which you find yourself comfortable in your own skin is the extent to which you are willing to accept yourself unconditionally.”[/pullquote]When we say things like, “She really loves herself”, we often don’t mean it in a good way. If we don’t like it in others, we’re certainly not going to like in ourselves. But what we are resisting there is an ‘egotistical’ self regard, which is very different to the more authentic kind of self-love that heals our lives.

I used to have an awful relationship with myself. I had a lot of love to give, but none of it was for me. The mistaken belief I had was that my happiness was dependent on how much other people approved of me.

I had a lot of friends, but I put so much energy into trying to be what I thought they wanted me to be that I was always anxious about being exposed as a fraud. Weirdly, my strategy for finding happiness was the exact same strategy that was making me miserable.

It wasn’t until I learned about the true nature of happiness that I felt brave enough to look my insecurities in the face and see what love could do. What I noticed was as I treated myself with more kindness and compassion, everything in my life got better. I felt happier, healthier, more present, more authentic and more available to others.

If you only ever set one goal in life, make it the goal of loving yourself wholly and completely. It might be the most challenging journey you ever embark on, but no other journey will be as rewarding or have such a vital impact on so many areas of your life. Make it your mission to observe how your relationship with everyone and everything improves as your relationship with yourself improves.

 

HOMEWORK

 

Here are three things you can begin to focus on right now to strengthen your foundations of self-love. Grab yourself a journal, sit somewhere quiet and be generous with the time you spend reflecting openly and honestly on this exercise.

1, Appreciation

List 5 qualities you genuinely appreciate about yourself, exactly as you are, right now. Perhaps its your courage, your caring nature, your parenting skills. Whatever they are, let yourself sink in the feeling of appreciation that these qualities are present in you, and positive difference they make to your life.

2, Forgiveness

It is impossible to truly love yourself and hold onto judgment at the same time. List 5 things you are willing to forgive yourself for. Perhaps its for the times you’ve put yourself down, for past errors in judgement, or for not looking after your physical / emotional wellbeing.

Sometimes self-forgiveness comes easy and sometimes there is resistance. If there are things about yourself you find hard to forgive, please stick with it. The purpose of forgiveness is not to simply make ourselves feel better about the past; it is to restore ourselves to our truest potential, so we can extend our best, most loving selves out into the world.

3, Acceptance

On a spiritual level you are already perfect. There is absolutely nothing wrong with your soul. But on a practical, human level, there are always going to be things that you are good at and things that you are not so good at.

The extent to which you find yourself comfortable in your own skin is the extent to which you are willing to accept yourself unconditionally. This means loving your rough edges too.

List 5 ways you can be more accepting of your whole self. For example, see if you can love your body just the way it is right now? It doesn’t mean you won’t still work at getting into better shape; it just means you don’t have to hate it while you do.

Can you make your peace with not being the most gifted driver, diplomat, artist or intellectual on the planet? None of these abilities have anything to do with your ability to accept and love yourself fully now.

 

I hope you are inspired to focus on you today. Please let me know how helpful this post is to you by dropping a comment in the box below.

With love

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Radio-microphone-440x360It was recently interviewed on Shoreditch radio by a good friend, Edward Nelson, about my journey into the personal growth world and, more specifically, what it has taught me about living a purpose centred life.

I was honoured to have been asked to be a guest and it was an experience that I enjoyed immensely. This was my first radio interview and I was a little nervous, but delighted to get to talk about my story and the impact it has had on my life and work.

So this edition of Life Happens LIVE is a departure from the normal format. It is simply a conversation in which you will learn:

  • What diamonds, horse manure and nail polish have to do with the way we experience life
  • Why your inner wisdom is like a faint flute playing against the din of a big brass band
  • How to cultivate a space for listening to your authentic self
  • Why you are already an enlightened being
  • Why it took a personal crisis for me to embark on my own journey of self discovery

I would love to hear your comments, questions and feedback on the interview. If any of the topics we covered resonate with you, please drop a line in the comments section below.

feeling lostIt is easy for us to occasionally bump up against the experience of feeling lost in life. In this video I’ll share with you a personal encounter with feeling lost and a useful exercise for finding your way back home again.

Transcript of video

Hi, this is Paul from Life-Happens.co.uk. Welcome to the video blog. The topic for today is the joy of feeling lost. And it’s been inspired by an experience that I had earlier this week that I wanted to share with you in the hope that this is something that you can resonate with or that you can connect to, in some way. And it revolves around that feeling of being a little bit lost… inside yourself.

Now I don’t know if this has ever happened to you, I should imagine that it probably has at one point or another. But the other night, I had a bit of a sleepless one. Now I don’t know specifically what triggered it, but what I do know is that I lay in bed for hours. With what I would describe as an uncomfortable feeling of feeling a little bit lost inside myself – like somehow I wasn’t quite on the path that I thought I should be on. I didn’t quite know what to do about it.

Now this isn’t something that happens to me a lot. It doesn’t happen all the time. If you know me or know anything about me then you’d probably know that I’m quite a purpose driven guy. I’ve usually got my head buried in some endeavor or project that I am inspired by and that helps to keep me moving forward. And hopefully in the process, I’m putting a little bit of good out in the world.

So, the feeling of being lost in my life isn’t something that I have to deal with every day. Although every once in a while, I will experience what you might call a dark night of the soul. And it’s where my ego kicks in and it starts to call into question the value and validity of what I’m up to in the world. And it starts to pose some very challenging questions like: “Is that good enough?”, “Is that what you should be doing?”, “Shouldn’t you be doing something else?” and “Who are you to be doing what you are doing?”

Now, like I said, this isn’t something that happens all the time, and I know that it’s happened often enough though, for me to recognize that it will just pass. If I let it be, it will just pass. But, the next day, luckily I had a free day where I’ve not much to do. So, I did something that I’ve learned can often help in situations like this for me. I jumped in the car and I went out for a drive out in the countryside with the soul intention of getting lost – physically and geographically. And the reason that I did that is because I’ve learned that the world is really good at holding up a mirror to our internal experience. It’s like whatever we’re feeling on the inside, what we tend to see around us are physical experiential metaphors that match the way that we’re feeling.

And, so I decided to experiment with that and see if there is something that I can learn. So, I jumped in the car and I went out for a drive in the Surrey countryside here in England. And after about an hour, I’d done it. I’d achieved the goal! I was completely and utterly lost. I had taken so many right turns and left turns down twisty windy country roads. Though, I couldn’t for the life of me work out the route that I had taken to get there. So at that moment of recognizing that I was lost, I stopped the car, I got out and had a look around.

Now, what I saw was stunning. I was quite high up in the Surrey hills, and I saw some of the most beautiful countryside that I’ve ever seen. Particularly in this country. And I remember thinking to myself in that moment, ‘do you know what? Sometimes being lost ain’t that bad.’

Because sometimes when you think about it, in order to be lost by definition: you must be experiencing something unfamiliar, or seeing something new for the first time. And in my book that’s not always such a bad thing. Because if we never experience anything unfamiliar then there’s a good chance that we’re not growing on a personal level. Now what we experience may not always be the most beautiful or the most comfortable thing, but the pure fact that it’s new and that we’re having to experience things in a new way, must in the long run be good for our personal growth if we’re willing to look at it in the right way.

So, after I had a look around, I jumped back in the car and I continued the journey – still didn’t know where I was and still didn’t know how I was going to get back. But after another hour, I came across a sign that was pointing toward something that again was very familiar to me: it was pointing towards the town in which I was born. Now, call me old-fashioned but in that moment there was something very poignant and significant about it. Probably because I was in that mindset of looking for a metaphor. And here I was being pointed in the direction of the place where it all began for me.

And I can’t really explain why but I experienced something just lift from me and in that moment I just knew what to do and I decided just to drive back to my home in London. And because I knew where I was, I went the quick and effective way. And on the way back, I was really connected with a sense of what I call renewal. And a reconnection to my innate well-being.

So, when I got back home, I was reflecting on the whole experience. And with that clarity that seemed to have returned, I was reminded of something that I believe to be quite truthful. And it’s that that feeling of being lost within ourselves, of being incomplete or not quite at home is a perspective. It’s a state of mind, but it’s one that’s based on a forgetting of the bigger truth about the way life really works – of who we really are in the world and our true nature. And it usually has a lot to do with listening to the story that are egos have created about the way that life is supposed to work. And of what a good life should look like and what we should be doing and what we shouldn’t be doing. And when that story doesn’t quite match up to the reality of how things actually are for us right now we can get that sense of feeling a little bit lost.

But also, that feeling of being at home within ourselves of being connected and the feeling of being complete – that’s also a perspective and it’s also a state of mind. But rather than it being based on a forgetting, it’s based on a remembering of the bigger truth about the way life really works of who we are and of our true nature. And it usually has a very little to do with the story that our egos have created for us. If anything it’s our ability to look through the ego and to connect to something much bigger and more truthful.  Now because we’re human, we’re really good at forgetting stuff like that. So every once in a while we’re bound to get that feeling of being lost, but I’d like to encourage you from now on, rather than being scared of getting lost is to embrace it and to look in the right direction to see what it might be teaching you about what you may have forgotten about the real truth of life.

You see, the alternative is if you’re scared of getting lost, then the chances are that you’ll organize your life in such a way that you’ll never want to leave the confines of familiarity. Which can be okay for a while but in the long term, isn’t that great for your sense of personal growth.

So, just in the same way that’s when we go out there and get lost in the real world we can either be scared of that or we can embrace it. And if you want to embrace it the best way of doing that is to change your definition of home. If you take the entire world and include that in your definition of home, if you take the entire universe which is the real source of where it all began for each of us, and include that within your definition of home, then no matter where you go, you can never be lost.

As long as you can feel the earth beneath your feet and the air on your skin you can only ever be home. So rather than being scared of getting lost, embrace it. And embrace it to the extent that you’re reminded that life isn’t something that happens to you, it’s something that is happening for you -moment by moment. And if you’re willing to keep showing up and make yourself available as a student of life, you’ll see what life is always trying to teach you is how to get back home.

So I hope you found that inspiring, or useful or that you can connect to that in some way. If you have then please drop a comment in the box down below or if you’re watching this on YouTube please give the video a ‘like’, but until next time, as always you have my very best wishes. Please take great care of yourself. Good bye for now.