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  1. Not long after I met my husband Paul (nearly 18 years ago!) we had a conversation where we agreed never to take anything for granted – more specifically, not taking for granted that we each knew how the other one felt without us saying anything.

    We often think that someone knows that we love them, that we're proud of them, that we like having them around – we take it for granted that they know, so we don't tell them. But what might seem obvious to us, might not be obvious to them.

    If a person is feeling down, maybe lacking in self-esteem or prone to overthinking, it is easy for their mind to interpret things differently, to convince themselves that no-one loves them or that they're letting everyone down – assuming that they know how you feel is not enough – you have to tell them. And you can never tell them enough.

     So, if you love someone – tell them.

    If you value someone's friendship – tell them.

    If you're proud of someone – tell them.

    If someone makes you happy – tell them.

     

    At the moment, it seems that society often makes it easier to complain, criticise and belittle. Let's match this trend of doing ourselves and others down with a small but steady move towards building each other up. And it can start with a little note.

    I'm a fan of the little note – a hello, a thank you or an I Love You stuck in a lunchbox or on a bedside table can lift the spirits more than you realise. And it doesn't just have to be about the big stuff. Leave a little note on a colleague's desk telling them how grateful you are for the brews they make or that you've noticed they've kept the office spider plant alive and you appreciate it! A little word of support and praise from a friend or loved one can boost us mentally and emotionally in a massive way.

     

    So I would love it if we all embraced the idea of #LittleNoteBigDifference

     

    LITTLE NOTES QUOTE

    Write a few words, leave a little note to praise someone, tell them how special they are, tell them they wear cool shoes or make the best cakes. A few words, a few moments of your time for something that will spread such positivity and really boost someone's self-esteem and confidence. And the more we do it, the more of us that do it, the bigger this wave of kindness can grow. I know it can sometimes feel a bit daunting doing something like this (and if you're anything like me it can be easy to overthink yourself out of it!) but the joy it will bring to the recipient will far outweigh any fear we feel about doing it so take a deep breath and leave that note!

    To make it even easier for you, I have designed a series of #LittleNotes that are available now, in the freebies section of the Happy Mind Army Hub. Download them, print them out and simply share the love (print them out at work and it won't even cost you any ink! But don't tell your boss I said that!)

    little notes ad

    So spread the word, start your own #LittleNoteBigDifference habit and together we can build each other up and encourage the sharing of kindness instead of criticism.

    #BeKind

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  2. Today is Blue Monday – apparently the most depressing day of the year!

    This is based on a formula, devised by life coach Dr Cliff Arnall more than a decade ago, which focusses on factors including the weather, debt, the end of Christmas and low motivation after failed New Years Resolutions. But, we don't have to follow the hype! Let's take the 'Blue' out of 'Blue Monday' and bring some joy back.

     

    Here are 5 simple ways to cheer up your day:

     

    1) Wear something colourful.
    I am a big believer in what we wear having a big impact on our mood, so wear something you feel great in and which has a cheerful splash of colour.

     Lets take the blue out of blue monday! (1)

     

    2) Go for a walk.
    A blast of fresh air in the great outdoors is good for the soul at any time. Even in the rain! (Ok, so as I'm writing this it's absolutely pouring down, so if you want to substitute this one for 'dive into the pub to get warm and dry', then I'm ok with that).

    3) Plan something to look forward to.
    Whether it's booking a holiday or just arranging to meet a friend for coffee at the weekend, having something to look forward to can be a great mood lifter. It doesn't have to be anything major – even planning to call at that nice bakery on the way home from work to get something nice to enjoy with a brew when you get home can perk you up (well it would me!)

    4) Put on some cheerful tunes.
    It's no secret that music can affect mood. I think we all like to mope along to sad songs sometimes when we are feeling down, so equally we can select some 'happy' tunes to lift our spirits. So, turn up the volume and sing along to some songs that make you smile.

    5) Have a minute!
    We're busy people. There always seems lots to do. And if you're an overthinker like me then you are probably living at least a few days in advance in your head, cataloguing and mentally scheduling everything you need to do. This can put us under so much pressure and leave us living life at a million miles an hour. So, make yourself take a moment. Sit and have a brew. Sit on a bench along the river for a while. Lie on the bed with your eyes closed for a short time. Bring yourself into the moment – not to the 3 loads of washing that need doing tonight, or the meeting you're prepping for a week on Tuesday or the broken cupboard door that you've been meaning to fix for 6 months and that you beat yourself up about every day.

    Just enjoy a few minutes peace and quiet, without the panic and the stress. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that everything can wait for a few minutes (and that door can probably wait for another 6 months!)

    So, there you have it – a few quick and easy ways to cheer up Blue Monday a bit, and every day besides!

    Lets take the blue out of blue monday!

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  3. My youngest daughter is still at primary school and related grown-ups are invited to join the children for their Friday morning assembly each week, which I do as often as I can (which is most weeks to be fair and I have to give a full and detailed explanation to my daughter for her prior approval if I'm not going to be there!) It is always a lovely assembly, with lots of successes by the children being celebrated and lots of their out of school achievements being shared and celebrated too.

    I have to admit that I always find these assemblies really inspiring – they always encourage the children to be themselves, to celebrate their differences, to make mistakes and to aim really high to fulfil their own potential. All stuff that seems to get drowned out as we get older to be replaced by encouragement to pass exams, hold down a good job and a focus on paying bills and being responsible – but all stuff that I think as grown-ups we could really do with being encouraged to do as well!

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    And this mornings' assembly was no different – in fact, it talked about something I thought worth sharing with you now. The staff and children were talking about one of the main driving themes in the school at the moment – the power of yet! All classes have been learning about this - adopting the approach that embracing the power of yet shows how they are always growing and learning. If the children can't do something they don't feel that they won't be able to do it forever – they just can't do it yet! Such a short and simple word, but one which changes everything.

    How many times as grown-ups do we declare that we can't do something so we never bother trying again? I can't draw. I can't parallel park. I can't speak in public. I can't do maths. I don't understand this. I'm no good at that. Whatever this and that may be for you – add a yet on the end and the whole meaning changes. It goes from being a closed avenue, a final conclusion, to an unfinished story – one which can be revisited and whose ending is yet to be decided. There is hope and room for growth, and space given for us to keep on trying and not give up. A really little word but a really big game changer.

    So, I applaud my daughter's school for sharing such a positive message with the children and I am made up that along with phonics, fractions and physics she gets to learn some really powerful mindset stuff that will serve her well for the rest of her life.

    STOP TRYING

    We need to follow the example these fantastic children are setting – and I think all grown-ups should have to go to primary school for a week to be inspired by them! Young children have a willingness to try and fail, over and over, when they are learning something new. But, the older we get the more we put pressure on ourselves to get things right first time or move on. But we too are allowed to embrace the power of yet – and I think we should!

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