Coming Out Of Hibernation

Watching those crowds of queuing for shops, pubs and food outlets and then listening to the interviews its was as though we are coming out of a long dark winter into a new spring. That made me think about the normal winter blues and how happy we all are to see the sun again. So the question is, is hibernation normal for Hunan’s? Well, the answer is yes, but not sleeping like a bear. More like slowing down and losing some energy that we would normally get from the sun light. But, this years has been winter with knobs on as Covid has forced us to change our normal behaviours. WE have discovered that a Covid winter is is much worse than a normal winter.

So, the Covid winter is over. It seems to have been a long time coming as the warm weather stretches out before us. The clocks have gone forward and we need to enjoy this summer as never before. We have until the clocks go back in October to enjoy it. What wil you do with it? 

Getting your mood up

The effect of the lack of light has led to the inevitable drop in our level of Vitamin D, and a subsequent drop in our level of serotonin. This in a normal winter leads to feelings of down-ness often described as SAD syndrome. Sometimes I wonder why we bothered to move away from the equator where the levels of vitamin D are naturally high and SAD syndrome has never been heard of. This year Covid had added an extra layer and had an extra effect. Many people are more down they they would normally be at this time of year.

Cutting the carbs

In the cold, damp and dark of winter we seek comfort that through evolution has been given to us by eating carbohydrates. In winter most diets become more stodgy as our level of carbs increases. The common access carbs is in cake, bread, pastas, puddings, biscuits, and so on. The magic is that carbs kick your brain into producing endorphins and serotonin that make you feel good which is why they are called comfort food.

Carbs = comfort

Now, lots of us have been doing then Covid 5k. That is not a run it is the amount of weight that we have put on during covid lockdown. Now we need to get moving, adjust the diet and get rid of it. The magic is that if you exercise out of door not only will you be burning off those calories but you will be building you vitamin D stores as well.

Just twenty minutes of raised heart rate will make your brain secrete happy hormone and endorphins that will make you feel happier. The drive from the health authorities is to get everyone walking for at least half an hour a day. If we all did this we reduce our levels of illness, improve our mental health, loose some weight and get happier. Of course it goes without saying that it would also save the NHS time and money.

Take a holiday

That is easy to say but harder to do. Our summer holiday give most of us the opportunity to reset our system and replenish our emotions. We could go away to the sun and get our endorphin hit that way though this year it may be all in the UK. For some it may even be a staycation at home. It might work better for us if this year we take our main holiday in the winter. Would it not make more sense to enjoy the British summer at home, even if it is a bit wet it still has long days of sunlight. Then next when it is dark and cold and the world has opened up again we could jump onto a plane and go somewhere hot and sunny. If we did that we would boost our Vitamin D in the winter, increase our serotonin production and keep our mood raised.

Time to get social

Many of us, either individually or as families, have been living like hermits. Now is the time to get out and meet people or invite people in. It would be garden first and then indoor meals and parties. We need to. Socialise, have parties, cook meals and enjoy the company of others. Being with others, sharing the feeling of belonging and sharing fun and laughter all increase our levels of happiness which also affects our brain chemistry and mood. They call it Hyyge in Sweden.

Make love

Did you know that normally when we have particularly dark and cold winter that birth rates can rise by up to 18%. We do know that good positive love making does raise the endorphins and increases happiness. It also helps us to keep warm on a cold night. However, the enforced lockdown of covid has led, in the USA, to the lowest conception rate for over one hundred years. Perhaps, after lockdown, with rising rates of serotonin people’s mood will rise and we may even see a post covid baby boom.

Speed up

Most of nature takes a break in the winter.  The one species that does not slow down, that carries on in a mad dash, is us human beings. Well not this year. I have watched so many people almost grind to a halt, doing less and less as the months have gone by. This has often been the symptoms of depression. Now we need to get going again. We need to do all those things that we have been putting off. Get out in the garden, cut the grass, paint those window frames. Strangely though many people now need to go and see relatives and friends some are scared and have developed a social phobia. We may still need to take precautions and be Covid safe b it we need to get a move on and re-establish our communities and society.

A normal winter could be our chance to rest and relax looking forward to the hoy of Christmas and the New Year. A time to gather around log fires and get Hyyge. A time enjoy the joy of story telling, socialisation, and developing family relationships and friendships. A time to play games and chat about life and sharing our experiences. The time to enjoy winter foods, puddings custard and cake. For many Covid a nonsense of all that.

It is time to step out of those winter clothes and as the last frosts of winter come to an end get outside, socialise, build vitamin D and have some fun.

Be happy and do what you need to ensure you enjoy your summer so that next winter you can enjoy the winter wonderland.

Take care

Sean x

A Path Travelled

This week in the podcast we had another guest, Alison Blackler a Transformational Mind Coach and founder of 2-minds who has just published her first book’, A Path Travelled. She has a very varied practice that spans from one to one coaching, corporate management coaching and working with offenders in prisons plus writing articles for the local press. 

Her book is written from her own experience of life and her experience of working with her many clients. A Path Travelled gives the reader an opportunity to review, question and adjust their life experience, through insights and exercises so that they can move towards their own fulfilment.

In every life, each person is on their own path. It is the path of life that goes from birth to death. The nature of the path, the route, and the terrain is, in many ways dictated and created by us the individual traveller. Most people never realise this and often remain on the path that they inherited from their the parents, class, nationality, ethnicity, orientation and so on. Much unhappiness in the world is the result of individuals trying to stay on paths that they do not really belong on. They may never realise or understand why they are unhappy. The current epidemic of anxiety and depression that swamps humanity is often the result of people attempting to live lives and stay in paths that are not good for them.

When people say things like ‘life is a bitch and then you die’ they describe exactly people being on the wrong path. The positive alternative might be ‘life is a joy and eventually and naturally you come to the joyful end of your path’. This can only happen when you are on the right path for you.

Throughout time there have been guides that we meet on our path that attempt to show us, the travellers, which way to go.  To suggests ways in which we might improve or develop our path. When we get it right we can follow a path, live a life, that is self fulfilling that makes us happy. Informally these guides have been the wise ones, who had insight and empathy, knowledge and wisdom. They were the shaman, guru, religious leader, scientists, philosophers, psychotherapists, coaches and so on. 

A guide is anyone who can see a bit further up the path than we can. Someone who can explain the likely consequence of our actions as individuals, as a society or as a race. Good guides and teacher encourage us to face up to problems and dilemmas. They ask us questions such as…

What has your path been like? Have you enjoyed it? Where did it begin? Why has it followed the course that it has? If you started out again on a path would you follow the same route? If ‘yes’, then, good luck enjoy it and do more of it? If ‘no’ then, how can you change it and ensure that the remainder of your journey is on a path that you might actually like and enjoy? 

The current iteration of the guide is the coach’. It is a growing trend in therapy. Good coaches enable us to reflect, question, enquire, resolve and move towards getting our lives right for us.

As long as we enjoy our path it is the right one to be on. When we wake in the morning with apprehension of the day ahead our path is probably not the right one. Perhaps time to go and see a coach.

Take care, be happy and follow your path.

Sean x

Breaking out – What have we learned from Covid-19 and lockdown?

Are we out of jail? 

People tell me that being in lockdown has been like being in jail. Well, having worked in the prison service it has not really been like being an inmate more that some of out basic freedoms have been lessened. For about the last eighteen months we have been locked down, that is isolated, restricted and confined due to and because of the infective nature of the Covid-19 virus. This process of feeling trapped and having little control and then finding the sensation of freedom as lockdown is lifted is very much like the process we have been going through over the last ten podcasts. The Ten Steps of the Live In The Present book and course are all about letting go of negative past, establishing positive experience in the present and then creating what it is that we really truly do want in the future. 

Positive: The one thing that lockdown has given us has been the time to reflect an review where we are up to and what it is that we might like to do next. For so many people this has been a ,I’ve changing experience.

Why did this happen in the first place?

People have differing ideas as to what this virus has been about. Some people tell me that the lockdown has been a genuine effort by the authorities to limit the spread of a deadly disease and save as many lives as possible. Reducing the pressure on the NHS and other support services to ensure that those in the most serious need are attended to.

Others tell me that we have all been duped by an attempt to control ‘us’ by ‘them’. Who the ‘them’ is seems to vary depending on who I talk to. It is either a bid for global domination by forces that are sinister but hidden. A plan by the Chinese, the Russian or whoever to dominate the world.  A plot by big pharma to control us and them make even more money. A bid to take control of the planet and enslave us all. There are those that believe that the vaccines are seeded with micro chips that will lead to our brains being controlled by whoever, that varies as well. It goes on…

I have my own ideas as to how the virus started and also why we have responded in the way that we have. But, however and whatever we think about Covid-19 it is here. It is a pandemic that is mutating, it does kill people and it is very infectious. The world is full of viruses there have been the many millions that have gone before and millions that will come in the future. In my own lifetime I have seen the devastation of small pox and polio. As children we queued on the council estate to get inoculated. 

Positive: We have an amazing medical system. We have amazing scientists and unless this is all one big plot they are here to help us all at this time of crisis. 

At the moment we are looking at the freedom of leaving the jail of lockdown and moving back into a world of normal behaviour. I guess the world that we are coming out to is quite different to the one that we left behind when we went in. Businesses and jobs have gone, shops have closed and the way that we shop, interact and live will probably never be the same again. At the moment we don’t know how it will go, when it will be really safe to go on foreign holidays, cuddle people and party with friends. We have yet to learn about this new world and how we will interact with it. Some people will rush to social venues and party like crazy while some will sit back observing with fear and trepidation and may not socialise gain for years if ever.

Positive: The pandemic has made us review our relationships and the importance of community. Families have reconnected and communities come together. The incidence of people showing that they care bay raising money and sim pole acts of kindness and caring have been everywhere – amazing!

I am not sure that anything that happens in life is accidental and suspect that the universe works with intelligence. I would suggest that the things that happen in life are, to the awake mind, learning opportunities that we can benefit from. To the asleep mind they are just problems. When we encounter problems or obstacles in our path the awake mind finds solutions, learns, grows and moves on. The asleep mind seeks to find something or someone to blame, holds grudges, protests and embeds their minds in bitterness and seeks retribution.

This all leads me to ask a few questions. These questions have been the subject of much of my therapy work undertaken over these last 18 months. This has been a process of people needing face themselves and their relationships including their relationship with themselves and how they will deal with their future. Some people have, in response to the pandemic, contracted and drawn into themselves or into groups of nationalism  or even smaller groups of identities of colour, race, creed, belief and so on. This attitude only serves to create mindsets of ‘us’ and ‘them’ leading to further antagonism, unhappiness and the continued fracturing of humanity. On the other hand others have chosen to expand their attitudes and horizons and move outwards. They have found ways to support and help others, ensuring that people’s needs have been met. People have been fed and looked after.  Ultimately these people are ensuring that those who need and desire the vaccine have access to it wherever they are in the world rich or poor.

If we all look after each other we will all be okay

Q 1) What was your Jail?

The jail of lockdown never really existed it was and is in our heads. Thoughts become things. I get it that some people have had, what I call, Covid burn out but over all kit has been an easy ride for most people. We have been housed, fed, been warm and flooded with entertainment. Unlike previous generations who during pandemic and wars were totally confined with no resources and no ability to communicate or to know what is going on we have been able to keep in touch with loved ones friends and family and the world at large through our amazing technology.

Positive: Our technology is amazing. I am writing this on an iPad. I don’t know how it works and in many ways I am in awe of it and it’s abilities. On this eleven inch screen I can watch films and TV, listen to the radios, music, audio books and podcasts, I can play games, talk to friends anywhere in the world. I can work, see clients anywhere in the world. I can find new recipes and even plan what I will do when this is all over. 

I know that many people will now say. ‘Well what if we didn’t have technology or were too old to understand it and use it?’. I get that. I was so happy to see people repurposing their unused tech for families that did not have devices allowing kids to attend school online and the families to get connected. Perhaps our learning in this might be that we should ensure, where possible, that older people do have the opportunity to become tech savvy. One interesting idea that this realises is should the internet be treated as an essential service just as we do with electricity and water?

Q2) What does it mean to you to be out of jail?

What will you do now? Will you return to your work place? Will you rich to the restaurants and pubs, head for a holiday, meet with family and friends?

Just as animals come out of winter hibernation into the new days of spring we are coming out of the darkness of lockdown into the light of freedom, albeit in increments. What does this mean to you? What will you do next?

Many of us have being doing the Covid 10K. That is not the run it is the 10K that we have put on in weight by being inactive, eating/drinking too much and not moving enough. 

Positive: you do not have to recreate Groundhog Day, you have choice. Some choices you may not have realised before lockdown. Now is the time to start again and decide what you do next. If you go back to the Ten Steps Course the issues is what do you really, really, really want? That takes me to my last question…

3) What have you learned?

Learning is an ongoing process. So, even if you feel unsure of what lockdown has taught you now maybe the time to sit and review it. What has been good? What has been bad? What could you have done better?

Life is about learning. 

When we stop learning we die either actually or metaphorically. 

I have worked with many people who have used this time of lockdown to review and audit their lives. This has led to decisions to change their lives from finding a new job, selling a house, ending a relationship, starting a relationship, deciding to retrain or go back into education, taking on new interests and hobbies, exercise regimes, weight loss programmes and so on.

Positive: This is the most important part of human consciousness, we are learning machines, it is just that we don’t realise it. Through consistent and persistent behaviour we can become whoever and whatever we want to be. As you read this you are the sum total of all that you have learned since the moment of your birth. What you decide to learn now will create what you will become in the future. The only limit is your imagination.

The world is what you make it

So the world has changed and we can now choose to work together, support each other and create a better world to be in. Or, we can slip into recrimination and bitterness that has, too many times, driven the human race to wars, suffering and destruction. 

As you come out of lockdown we have choice. You can adhere to rules and limit infection or forget the rules and see how it goes. The choice is yours to make.

Whatever your choice be happy and smile and enjoy your freedom

Take care

Sean x

Living In The Present: Introduction

How to achieve what you really want from your life

Welcome to the Live one the present Ten Steps. This course carries a warning because it can change your life forever. Though it will only happen if you follow the program and complete the given exercises after each session. Your life will change, no matter what your goal is, by understanding and working with the natural laws that determine your experience and your ability to succeed in life, including the laws of:

Attraction – Forgiveness – Allowing – Intentional creation

Often, people ask, ‘How long will it take to achieve my goal?’ Well, I can’t answer that, but I can tell you some things that will help. These are things that I have found for myself not only through my own experience of life but also from working with thousands and thousands of clients and students:

The sooner you let go of any negative connections from the past 

that are holding you back the sooner you will get where you need to be going

The more you allow positive energy, thoughts and feelings to flow through your life in the present, the clearer that you focus on your goals the sooner you will achieve them.

Several times in my life, I have had to reset my own course as I experienced things to have gone badly wrong for me. I once saw myself as a victim of life and thought of the things that happened to me as chance or fate negative karma. It never occurred to me that I might actually have something to do with or even be responsible for the things that I experienced. I found it much easier to blame other people for my hurt and unhappiness and my failures, starting with my parents and moving on to siblings, partners, friends, employers and colleagues, and so on. It was only when my teacher said to me, 

What you hold in your bindi (third eye) will come to pass 

that I began to think, perhaps it was the images that I was holding in my mind that were having such a negative effect on my life and me experience. Could my negative feelings and thoughts of the past be having a negative effect on what I was experiencing now? The answer is yes they could and they do. The first step of our ten will be addressing this.

Since then, I have heard the same idea expressed in a variety of ways: ‘thoughts become things’, ‘what you think about, you bring about’, attention goes where energy flows’ and so on. We talk about optimism and pessimism and how full our cup is. Psychotherapists and counsellors talk about people writing their life script and then living out their own expectations. We are all the authors of our own experience of our own lives. We create and reinforce our life scripts through repeated behaviours and actions, ruminated thoughts and feelings and by what we say.

As a psychotherapist myself, I spend my life correcting people’s speech so that they do not use negative words to reinforce negative ideas. These words include, ought, should, must and can’t. What you say you hear and what you hear reinforces how you feel.  Just as these words are banned from the consulting room, if you want to change they are also now banned from your mouth and your thoughts from now on. From here onwards, you are only interested in the positive. So that from now on, you are only talking about what you can do, what you will do and what you are actually doing. You are only concerned with the positive and not the negative.

The transition from negative to positive thinking, feeling and talking may take you a little while to get your head around. It can be easy to slip back into old habits and you will need to be vigilant to stay positive. The daily practice, exercises and recordings are designed to help you to make this change and to make it permanent. But that means that you will benefit most if you practise everyday and this may mean that your day needs to be re- arranged so that you can create a new positive regime.

You might need support from your family and friends; you may need help with child care; or if you are a carer for an adult or elderly person, you may need some respite. Task number one is to clear enough space to complete the course tasks, practise them and then your life will change.

In a practical sense, the course requires that you reset the things that you do and the way that you do them. You will have heard that Einstein’s definition of insanity is 

doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results

Well, if you want things to be different there are things that you will need to change. Basically these are the way that you think, the way that you feel and the way that you act. 

This program runs over ten weeks/sessions. In reality it takes most people about two years to make a full transition to becoming what they really want to be. For some it is quicker though many of you will need to address deeply embedded attitudes and behaviours and that can take a little time. This is life work…

change is for life, not just a New Years resolution 

Change come about through persistent and consistent action moving towards what you want. Stagnation comes about through persistent and consistent repetition of the same old negative attitudes and behaviours.

After each session there will be a chapter from the book ‘Live In The Present’ as a free resource plus recordings and links to useful resources. I always suggest keeping a reflective journal. This enables you to track your progress and remind yourself of how far you have come and what you have achieved as well as revealing the patterns you have developed in you life to date.

If at any point you need to talk to me you can message or email sean@seanorford.com. With the wonders of modern science I am able to one to one sessions any where in the world on screen.

Take care, live in your present and be happy

Sean x

Happy New Year it’s 2021

Ok, so it is New Year!  

Standing at the beginning of 2021 you, and I, will be making choices about how and what this year will be. 2020 will certainly be a year to remember and for many perhaps a year to forget. People tell me that is is as though it never happened. Or that we should simply cancel it and call this new year 2020 and do it properly this time without the virus.

As we ride into 2021 we have the joint joys of Covid and Brexit and we do not know what will be the outcome of either. Perhaps the vaccines will kick the virus in the backside and hopefully be a sovereign state again will be good for us. Looking forward into 2021 will create feelings of hope, love, fear, anxiety, joy…whatever it is for you. The point is that what you see ahead, and how…

  you create what happens for you … 

… is all a matter of your choices. it may not feel like it but your world is full of choice. In your present moment in your ‘Now’ you are actively creating the world of your experience through the choices that you make…  

…thoughts becomes things…

all of us, individually and collectively, are choosing what will happen for us in 2021 and how we will respond to it and feel ab out it. We are all doing it though we may not realise it.

Focus for a moment on the choices before you in this coming year. Do you have any? What are they? Most importantly what is the basis of your choices? When deciding to do, or not to do, something It is important to own that deciding not to make a decision is actually a decision. The action of stillness is equally as powerful as the action of motion. However, when you choose to do nothing you are likely to be vulnerable to the choices that everyone else makes around you. In having your own clarity of purpose you are in the flow of your life and, as I said, stillness is a decision as much as an action.

Choice and fear

For many of us the choice for action this year will be limited by fear. Fear of disease, debt, pain, failure, fear itself, the fear of looking stupid, ridiculed, of loss, rejection, abandonment and so on. Fear is the biggest limiting factor for any of us. Fear and anxiety are the destroyers of our happiness and to create fulfilment – those who dare win – We all need to step beyond our fears, as Susan Jeffers put it – feel the fear and do it anyway – ( a book worth reading).

If you can get hold of that idea that your thoughts become your experience, you are becoming the author of your own life. It is then you will realise that fear is actually a choice. Once you understand that you will realise that the experience of joy is the same thing. Personal joy and duty are often at odds. Do you do what you want to do or what you think you should or ought to do?

Choice and duty

Generally in psychotherapy the words “ought, should, must and can’t” are banned. Each of these words are the limiters of self expression. The call of duty may be laid upon us by our culture, religion, beliefs, as parents, children, employees, employers and so on. The trick is that if in 2021 there are things that you feel you ‘must’ do then, – act with a smile on your face –  this is known as Bhakti or, to give service without expecting anything in return. We all need a bit of Bhakti in our lives but it is always damaging when we allow a sense of duty to stunt our own self development after all – we all deserve happiness –  well we do in my script. Yet many of us chose to create negative life scripts.

There are many reason that we can find to maintain and justify our own lack of development or fulfilment our feelings of victimisation or misery, unhappiness and moaning about our life and other people that we meet, though there are alternatives. The classic is that we blame other people for how we feel. Common targets are our parents, family, friends, and most commonly partners and so on.

There are alternatives…

Choice and joy

In making your decisions for 2021 you might chose to avoid the ought, should, must and can’t and, think about the lightness of joy in life – focus on what makes you feel happy – and do more of it. Doing things that make you feel good is never a difficulty and never feels like work. When you do things that make you feel good, in the end it is you that feels happiness. How many of the things that you do in your life lead to you feeling flat, bored or unhappy. If you do more of what makes you feel good in your life you will feel happier and get better and better – happiness is a learned response – sometime we have to practise being happy.

Choice and responsibility

The word responsibility comes from the word to respond “respond-ability”. By being responsible or “respond-able” for what you experience makes you the master of our own destiny. It does not matter from where you begin your journey, whatever your age or state of health. By being responsible for your life and taking ownership of yourself – responsibility is the key-. If I decide to be responsible for me no one else can ever be responsible for what I think or feel and, ultimately, what I do. There are many examples of people who, against the odds chose to respond to things positively.

This year some of you will be facing very difficult and tough stuff, emotionally, mentally, financially, physically, socially and so on. These may be things that you cannot avoid and you have no choice other than to face them and deal with them. However, you do have a choice as to how you respond to them…

 none of us are effected by events, 

we are effected by our response to those events…

living in the present and being positive about your future allows you to create a year in 2021 that you will look back on positively and perhaps with joy.

Decide to create your own experience this year. Treat your problems as challenges so whatever 2021 presents you with, smile be positive and enjoy it.

Take care

Sean x

 

Christmas fun and games

I had one of those “what did you do when you were a child…?”, conversations. I was talking with a newly recruited nurse. She was from Spanish Tenerife and we were talking about Christmas. She was explaining that as children they were not given their Christmas presents until January the 6th, said to be the day that the three wise men arrived bearing their gifts to the birth place of Jesus in Bethlehem. This giving of present of known as ‘Fiesta de Los tres Reyes Mages’. 

I was interested in what they did in the time between Christmas Eve and January the sixth. “We played games” she said. A tale unfolded of the various games the family would play together. She explained the importance of family and family values in their tradition and how people would travel for miles to bring gifts and make visits. She talked with starry eyes about the gatherings of the extended family. Then she told me about how much she missed it all. That got me thinking about our families and how this year, with restricted access, just how much fun there will be and how we will be able to play games. How many family get togethers this year will be online. Can you play family Christmas games online?

There were three types of games those that are played with the adults, those that are  exclusively for children and those that span the ages. The thing that struck me looking back was how much we did actually play and interact with each other at Christmas. Now we often have the virtual game that means we are interacting with a screen and not a person. So maybe for many younger people a lockdown Christmas will be fine as long as there are games consoles and people online to play with.

Anyway, all this got me thinking about the games that we played and how simple they were but also how we rolled around laughing our heads off. All of these games might seem ridiculous to children today but, maybe some game time at Christmas could be good for us all. It is a way of letting off steam and family bonding and maybe some of these would be played over Zoom, FaceTime etc. Here are some of the mad things that we would play as kids… 

The Laughing Game

Aim: Try not to laugh

1. All players sit in a circle

2. Each player takes it in turns to say “Ha”, “Ho” or “Hee”.

3. The first player to start laughing loses and is out of the game.

4. Continue until everyone is out of the game.

5. The person who manages not to laugh for the longest is the winner.

I have attended laughter workshops since and they do work just as this game does. The reality for was that we never got to the end because we would all end up laughing until the tears rolled down our faces.

There were two games when we were blindfolded, which was something I found a bit scary. I am not sure that these could be played online?

Blind Man’s Buff

A blindfold player tries to catch others while being pushed about by them.

Squeak Piggy Squeak

Everyone sits as quietly as possible. The blindfolded person sits on someone’s lap and says “squeak piggy squeak” where upon they squeak and the blindfolded person tries to guess who they are.

Card Games

There were loads of card games from Snap to Rummy and Chase the Ace. I think I will get a pack of cards for Christmas and see if we can get some games going. These can all be played online.

Board Games

Board games like Snakes and Ladders, Ludo, Cluedo, and for the more serious Drafts and Chess can all be played online. 

Kim’s Game

Ed likes this one and it can definitely be played online. In his version an adult brings in a tray with various objects on it. These have to be memorised by the players. The adult leaves the room and removes on object from the tray and brings the tray back into the room. The players have to guess what is missing.

Acting out games

Things like Charades, when people have to guess what you are acting out, were always very funny and sometimes mind boggling. This is a definite online game. There are variations on this theme now when people do things like you have a label stuck on your forehead that you can’t see while everyone else has to act out whatever is in the label until you guess what it is. This could be done online if everyone can see the label except for the person who is doing the guessing.

Talking

Again a good online game. When we got older we played some talking games such as Limericks. The first person would start the Limerick “There once was a lady from …..” the next person would provide the next line, and so on, until we got to the end. These were usually very funny and often very rude.

Running about games will probably not be allowed this year unless we can get outside with good social distancing. This year perhaps even going for a walk together will be fun. 

At this time of year it makes me think about how we do not do as much together as we once did and the importance of building family and maintaining family relationships and friendships through simple interaction. Covid has robbed so many people of the simple daily interaction that gave life purpose and meaning. Playing games gives us a good chance, and opportunity to just have fun and be silly and be together.

Whether you are celebrating Christmas, the winter solstice, or just creating some light in the dark depth of winter make it fun, play and enjoy it even if it is online.

Be happy

Sean x

 

Why do we listen to the prophets of doom?

For me a prophet of doom is someone who is habitually expressing the negative or pessimistic views of whatever is going on despite a general feeling that things were going well or at least getting better.

‘Hey, we have a vaccine’

‘It will probably poison us all’

Or even better..

‘We have a vaccine’

‘It is the dark powers just trying to control us’

You must know these, you might even be one, doom sayers are everywhere. Is the sun is shinning it is too hot, if not is is too cold, too wet, too dry, whatever it is, it is never right and it never will be. The role of the doom sayer is to tell you how bad it all is and to reinforce this negative message at every opportunity.

Human consciousness is such a powerful tool that it can solve problems, 

except those that it believes that it cannot.

Listen to those around you

Try this one, go to three different places, maybe after C-19 restrictions, cafes, waiting rooms, bus stops, or whatever, and listen to the conversation being carried on by those around you, what do you hear? Are the people around you sharing positive or negative things? Are they counting their blessing or bemoaning their woes? Are they sharing how good their live’s are or reciting the badness in their everyday?

Bad news is good news. It is bad news that sells papers and promote news channels. We seem unable to avoid tuning into it. Current research suggests that for most people the average negative dominance of their thoughts and conversation is about 70%. That means that for most of us we spend about 70% of our time thinking, feeling or talking about negative things. 

What are we doing this for? 

If we could track back in evolutionary time we could probably find a point where it became good for our development to be negative. Perhaps it was an obsession with danger that kept us safe. Or maybe the fear of starvation made us critical of their that wasted precious resources. However it began and however it developed it is with us today and maybe is developing. It is certainly true that every person who develops and maintains the habit of negative dominance becomes a drop in the ocean of negative consciousness that affects us all everywhere in the world.

Hoarders abound

As the waves of Covid flow around us and the Brexit deadline gets ever closer the bad news that we are presented with is that the shelves in the supermarkets will be empty. The negative fear drives us to hoard food and resources, ‘just in case’. From an evolutionary perspective this is a good strategy that will ensure survival. From a modern point of view all it means is that we increase our anxiety and stress and damage our mental health and well being.

Does it have to this way?

We know that we are habit machines. We are each the sum total of all that we have learned since our birth. We are all of the habits that we have developed throughout our life. We learned our habits through observation. Our children are doing the same in their observation of us. Are we demonstrating positive or negative behaviours to our children?

We can pass the habit of negative dominance down to the next generations so that it will become accepted to them as their normal behaviour. Remember, a habit is something that requires no effort and no will power to enact, we simply just do it. It becomes who we are, how we see ourselves and how we see the world, it becomes ‘normal behaviour’.

Be informed not inundated

Having listened to others talking try the news broadcasts. List the positive stories and the negative stories. What is the dominance, negative or positive? Just think about it. If this is the diet of information that we are receiving every day then it is little wonder that we have negative thoughts and feelings. We need to be aware of the news, we need to be informed but we do not need to be inundated by a sea of negativity. We begin to realise that with all this negative recitation and rumination how can we ever have a positive dominance in our thoughts and feelings. 

Time to change

To change you need to do two main things, 1: Stop listening to the sources of negativity and 2: start listening to the sources of positivity. This means stop listening to ever repeated news broadcasts and move away from people that you know who keep reciting negative messages.

The prophet of doom in your head

Do you really know yourself? Spend sometime listening to your self. Listen to what comes out of your mouth but also to your inner thoughts and feelings. As you become aware of what is happening inside you begin to observe how your system responds to negative messages. These may be news items or come from what other people are saying. What do you do with them? Do you grab them and play with them, reject them, get angry, sad? Just observe what you are doing and how you are handling it. Be aware of how your body responds. You might react to negative news/information with a in take of breath, with a flutter in your tummy, with a surge of anger or sadness. Whatever it is become aware of it.

As you observe watch what you do. Do you let negativity go? Do you challenge it? How does it make you feel? The point is that like all things being positive or negativity is a choice. Only you can decide how you respond and react to all the things that happen around you.

To back to the question at the beginning, the reason that we listen to the prophets of doom is because that is the habit that we have developed. In listening to negative messages we we feed them and encourage ongoing negativity. It is another case of what we feed grows and what we starve dies. If we stop giving it attention it, eventually, goes away.

Take care be happy and practise being a prophet of hope rather than a prophet of doom.

Sean x

Twelve Days of Reflection and Change

We could really do with a bit of happiness as we come to the end of year one of C-19. It has been great putting up the decks and the lights and a joy seeing all the homes around doing the sam thing. I was going through olds files and found a copy of The Happy Newspaper.

In 2016 The Happy Newspaper ran with the idea of “12 days of happiness” not just twelve days of Christmas. I love this play on ideas. In the Christian Cannon the twelve days started with the feast of Stephen on December 27th. If you remember… 

…”Good Kind Wenceslas looked out on the feast of Stephen”… 

…and went to January 6th, the day when the three wise men turned up in Bethlehem to visit Jesus bearing their gifts. So Ed and I thought these twelve days should extend to 365 days, a whole year, of kindness and happiness. So maybe this Christmas we could start with the twelve days and see if we could carry it on?

The song or hymn “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was designed to teach the Christian faith to younger people. The interpretation of the exact meaning of each day, the numbers and the gifts vary but in general were used as a mnemonics to aid both memory and learning. So, “on the first day Christmas my true love sent to me”, is assumes to be True love = God, the Me = you the receiver of the gifts and the gifts are the message of Christianity in symbolic form.

Well, if the Christmas is about living a positive giving and happy life and the message of renewal and new beginnings perhaps we could each create our own message if twelve days or twelve steps. It would seem probable that the original pre-Christian festival was the solstice on December 21st which is the longest night and the shortest day of the year, after which the world gets brighter or the day gets longer. Whatever your beliefs structure or basis my suggestion for twelve day of Mindfulness would be to use the following as topics to meditate, think about and act on. Some things you cannot act upon but you can clear the negativity out of yourself and allow some light into your darkness.

The idea for these meditations come from the Live In The Present book and the ten steps course. Some of these meditations may lead to action and you may need to keep a pen and paper by you so that you can list any actions that might need to take. You might simply want to record what you are feeling after each meditation. Ideally each meditation would last for thirty minutes or more.

1: Forgiveness

Use this day to meditate on forgiving all those that have done you wrong. A time to let go of everyone and everything that you are holding any negative energy about. in your meditation allow the people or events to come before you and actively and consciously let them go. This is like a spiritual detox getting ready for a New year.

2: Self forgiveness 

Use this day to meditate on being honest with yourself about anything or anyone that you have wronged and might need to apologise to. As with day one bring those people or events before you and actively and consciously apologies and let them go.

3: Gratitude

Use today’s meditation to review all the positive things, events and people who have influenced your life and bring them before you. Actively thank them for what they have done, for who they are and openly feel the positive emotions of gratitude and thankfulness.

3: Live in the present

In today’s meditation review your life as it is right now, all the people, all the situation, that make up your life as it is right now. As you observe your life pay attention to how it feels. Do you need to change it? Is yes, then what do you need to do? This might be a time to make a list.

4: Who are you? 

Today in your meditation take a look at how do you see yourself? What is your level of self esteem? Do you love yourself? It is important to remember that the way that you see yourself is a learned habit and if you don’t like the way that you see yourself then you do have the ability to change and create a version of you that would serve you well.

5: Creating change

In today’s meditation consider that if you were to create the ‘you’ that you would like to be, what would you need to change? This might mean jobs, locations, attitudes, relationships. What would you change and how would you change it/them?

6: Creating an intention

Today meditate on if you do make the changes that you considered yesterday where is your life  going? What do you intend to do with your gift of life? If you were at a birthday party, ten or twenty years hence, and someone is giving speech about what it is that you have done and achieved what would you like to be hearing? What would they be saying? Having completed this meditation you might like to write the speech yourself right now.

7: Making a plan

Today meditate on how you will put your ideas from yesterday into effect. To put anything into effect requires a plan. A plan does not need to be fixed but it sets you off in the right direction. A plan is a map that can be varied and changed according to need. For most of us it is the lack of a plan that keeps us trapped and immobile. It is said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Many of us fail to progress because we do not plan we simply have an intention as a fanciful idea that we will, maybe, do one day. The plan that never happens.

8: Resource your plan

Today meditate on what you will need to bring your plan into action. What resources do you need? These may be practical things like equipment or supplies. It might be that you need knowledge, advice, or information. It may that you need the help and support from others, perhaps as a mentor. You may need forms of energy like money. Most importantly become aware of other people who may have done something similar to what you want to do. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, don’t waste your time doing what other people have done before. Try to learn from other people’s mistakes.

9: Check it out

Today meditate on how you might try out your idea/project. This is research. Traditionally this would be a focus group or a test group. Your idea might require other ways to test it. How can you try out your plan? Once you try it out see how it works and decide how you can adjust it or fine tune it?

10: Time for live action

Today meditate on how you will present your idea/project. This is the step prior to the actual enactment of your idea/project. It might mean organising a launch or a presentation. Who will you announce it to? Who will come to your event, what do you want them to get from it? What will happen next? 

11: Feedback

Today meditate on the reaction to your launch. What have you learned? How can you increase the effectiveness of your project/idea.

12: Reality

Today is the reality test. If during the last twelve days you have used contemplation and visualisation to consider who you are, where you are, have considered what it will take to get you from where you are to where your need to be and have taken your self through a plan of how to get there, you will now be ready to begin the process of change.

Realistic change takes at least ninety days and it may be that each of these mediations need to be done for one week or even for one month. Overall the only thing that will ensure that you achieve what you want is to be persistent and consistent and to never, never, never, give up.

Let me now how you get on.

Take care, have a fabulous 2021, have a fabulous life.

Sean x  

Did I hear that right?

…or should that be ‘correctly’?

Twice, in the last month. I have had to deal with couples who have got to the point of being about to part company because one person misheard what the other person said and the following miscommunications tumbled into a battle. The impression that I get is that in the lockdown/furlough process many of us are switching off emotionally and not paying proper attention to what is going on around us. The potential for miscommunication just grows. This shutting down is an understandable coping mechanism to deal with the potential boredom and monotony but not helpful in maintaining a relationship. When ‘that hitch’ is heard as ‘fat bitch’ we have a problem.

Recently I cooked a birthday meal and printed a menu for the diners. In doing it I remembered that, back in the London of my childhood, people would accidentally, or deliberately, get words wrong. So, Aperitif became ‘a pair of teeth’ and Hors d’ oeuvres became, ‘horse’s doovers’. Then today Chris Abouzeid made me laugh when he tweeted…

…‘So evidently our 13 year old thought ‘prima Donna’ meant anyone born before Madonna (i.e. pre-Madonna). Please send oxygen. We cannot stop laughing.’

It made me laugh as well. It was the tweets that followed that made me think of how we so easily miscommunicate. The child, who’s mother was a potter, went into panic at the news the baby sitter had been ‘Fired’. Laura who had thought that euthanasia was a young people’s place in Japan. I recall my younger sister, in her teenage, stunning us all when said ‘what is the point of oral sex? Why would you just to want to talk about it?’ Mind you, these days in the various forms of Covid lockdown many people have little else to do than talk about it.

Madam de Gaulle stunned a post war BBC interviewer when her answer to his question ‘what would you like with your retirement’ sounded like ‘I just want a penis’. She was actually saying ‘I just want happiness’ but with a strong French accent.

In the vagaries of Cockney rhyming slang the word used would be the one that didn’t rhyme. So ‘apples and pears’ meant stairs but you would only ever use the word ‘apples’. ‘Could you go up the apples and get my titver?’ = Can you go upstairs and get my hat? (Tit for tat = hat)

I think about the problems that we have communicating the simplest of everyday things in our relationships and then I look at the immense mis communication taking place over Covid-19 and Brexit. When I look at the government floundering around making u-turns and rewriting the rules day on day it would be fair to say that they are making a right orchestra of it all.
(Orchestra stalls = Balls).

In everyday conversations we often only hear want we want or expect to.

Said: ‘Wow, I think you are really good at that’.
Heard: ‘Oh, so you now want me to do it all the time do you’.

Said: ‘You look really curvy it that’.
Heard: ‘So you think I am fat.’

Oronyms are when we completely mishear a sentence. It is assumed that this is something going on in the brain though I suspect that lack of attention might be the real culprit. (audicus.com Diana Michel )

Said: ‘I got a new Toyota’
Heard: ‘I got a new toy Yoda’

Said: ‘What is the biggest hurdle you have overcome?’
Heard: ‘What is the biggest turtle you have overcome?’

Chinese whispers are when the words of a message get changed as it is passed from one person to the next. The classic is the First World War example of a commander sending a message back to HQ, ‘send reinforcement we are going to advance’. By the time the message was passed from one to person another down the line the message that HQ got was ‘send three and four pence we are going to a dance’.

Even worse that verbal communication is the text or email that we know can communicate as little as 7% of what the sender intended. The chance to mishear digital communications is huge.

There would seem to be three elements when we attempt to communicate. The first is what I said, the second is what you heard and the third is what you thought I meant. They may all be different.

There is only one way to be clear about the words used and meaning behind them and that is to ask. So, my resource for this week is try this on the people around you…

‘When you said that I heard ………………………. Is that what you meant?’

You will be amazed at how many times you get the wrong end of the stick. Either way you might be elated or totally disgruntled by what you thought you heard and in. both cases be completely wrong.

So, this week take a breath, stop and check what is going on around you, you may have it wrong.

Take care and be happy

Sean x

Giving and Receiving Is Not Just For Christmas

Christmas will soon be here and we begin to talk about giving and receiving. ‘It is the season to be Jolly’. Why do we wait until Christmas to be jolly and to enjoy giving gifts or enjoy receiving them? This happiness that we expect at Christmas should be with all of us all the time, every day of the year.

The law of attraction states that we need to give in order to receive. This law is identifying that to receive requires a space for things to flow into. If, for example you give money to charity, you create a space in your financial energy that allows more energy, or money, to flow to you. Science tells us that the universe abhors a vacuum, whenever one occurs energy will flow into to fill the empty space and create a balance in the energy. What we experience as wind is nothing other that air moving form areas of high pressure to balance an area of low pressure, it is the low pressure that creates the wind flow, it is the partial vacuum that air flows into. It would seem that in everything the universe prefers a balance of energy, this is true in all systems.

Are you a giver or a taker?

It is often said that people are one or the other, givers or takers, and that is often the way that it is. In my occupational health role in organisations I see the ‘minimalists’ who will take all that they can while doing as little as possible and the ‘maximalists’ who will do all that they can to ensure that the job gets done and that the customer’s needs are met. In society it is those that are doers, givers that are proactive and are carrying those that do little or nothing and are the ‘done to’. The takers who are inactive in life are carried. Y the givers. 

The ability to to give unconditionally to others is often the basis of happiness. We know that the act of giving benefits the giver through the production of happy hormones in the brain. It also can make the receiver feel good for the very same reason. Just like all universal energies the system only works when the energy of giving and energy of receiving is in balance. I am not implying that there need to be the takers so that the givers can give, I am suggesting that we should each have within us a balance of both giving and taking. That means that the givers need to learn to receive and the takers need to learn to give.

What can I do for you?

President John F Kennedy talking to the German people when they were rebuilding their country after the second world war famously said “Don’t ask what can my country do for me, ask what can I do for my country”. He was restating this universal principle that equates to the idea that if were all to give then all of our needs will be met.

The magic of giving  

When we belong to any group, workplace or family and so on, if we all give, that is, look after each others needs, then everyone’s needs are met. If, on the other hand, we all sit back and expect our needs to be met by the rest of the group then no one’s need will ever be met. This is true on all levels, in all situations, all of the time. 

When we learn to give we realise that there is enough of everything for everybody. There is enough food, enough water, enough money, enough love and so on, all we need to do is to learn give to each other. This is hard for most human beings, especially at this time of uncertainty, when fear deprivation and loss and lack of things. That in turn can lead to greed and hoarding, ownership and meanness as we can see by the endless queues outside shops as people make sure they have enough food and toilet rolls to last out the pandemic.

The crazy thing is that if we all learned to give we could have heaven on earth right now!

The magic of receiving

Well if the law of vacuums and the natural balance of energies is true then it is not enough to simply be able to give we also need to be able to receive.  For some receiving can be difficult. How do you cope when people buy you presents? Perhaps it is Christmas or your birthday how do you feel about getting gifts? Are you able to open them in front of the giver and feel comfortable? Being able to receive a gift in itself and a gift and a skill.

Love is all there is

When it comes right down to it all that we ever give is love. It may be in the form of charity as money to the poor, needy or homeless, as food or water aid or disaster relief. We may volunteer our time or resources. We may give gifts for birthdays, Christmas, weddings and so on. We might see these as material giving but behind each act of giving is an act of loving. All we ever give is love, love is all there is.

Many people that are able to live in privileged positions in our society are often those that have been the takers. Often they have gained their wealth by taking it from others. Sometimes that have gained their power by taking power away from others. I have no problem with people leading rich lives, we should all be living rich lives. Money, like all universal energies works best when simply flows around the system. There is enough for everyone if we share it and do not hoard it.

Enjoy your giving and learning to receive, remember that I order to receive well you need to give well.

Take care and remember that giving and receiving is not just for Christmas it is for everyday all year.

Sean x