How to do Monday:
1. Get out of bed!
2. Eat something nourishing for breakfast
3. If you can, wear something that makes you feel wonderful (if you have to wear a uniform, wear your best undies)
4. Wear red lipstick (guys.. maybe not but I’m not here to judge you)
5. Pack a treat for lunch
6. Don’t overdo the coffee – you may be feeling tired but it makes anxiety feel worse
7. Put a smile on your face and a spring in your step even if you don’t feel like it
8. Remember that Monday is one step in the count down to next weekend
9. Compliment someone
10. Think of how blessed you are today
Why are some people worriers?
There are many reasons for being a more worried person than the person sitting opposite you on the bus (well, he doesn’t look too worried anyway)
Genetics plays a large role – yes, blame it on your mother!
Personality is a big thing too – if you are a more serious, perfectionist type of person, then you are going to worry more about things than somebody who has a more casual attitude towards their life.
Another factor is intelligence.
The more intelligent you are, the more likely you are to worry. If you are intelligent, you are probably analytical and if you are analytical then you worry about a lot of things, and often you worry about things that you have absolutely no control over. You tend to over-interpret things and generally make mountains out of molehills.
Sounding familiar yet?
The more you worry about things, the more likely you are to get stressed, to have constant neck tension, headaches, stomach aches, changes in appetite, changes in mood (especially irritability) and difficulty sleeping.
Sounding more familiar?
Worrying can make you sick.
That’s the bad news….
Now for the good news….
If you are going to be a worrier, then you might as well be a warrior!
If you are going to use your intelligence and your mighty and (stubborn) personality, you might as well use it for good instead of focusing on stress.
You might as well use your brilliance to focus on your strengths and take on the world rather than focusing on your weakness and letting the world take you on!
Worry doesn’t just go away – it is real and it is big and it is definitely there.
Yet I have absolute faith in your ability to be warrior.
You have the ability to be amazing and strong and courageous but you have to believe it too.
Try and complete this sentence:
I am a warrior because….
And start becoming a worrier warrior.
Wow, the last two days have been so filled with negativity at work (and that is not the clients I’m talking about – I expect depressed people to be negative).
And then today, both of my kids came home moaning about negative teachers and unfair friends.
Add to that the general feeling of negativity in the country and the community at the moment with all the load shedding that we are dealing with.
[For those of you who are reading this and are privileged enough not to know what load shedding is: our electricity supplier cuts our electricity off for 4 hours or more every few days.]
The positive side to load shedding is that South Africa has been named one of the most romantic countries in the world because everyone has candle lit dinners (drum roll please)
So it seems that we are all drowning in negativity.
It doesn’t matter how much negativity is around you, it is your choice to let that negativity in.
And you choose to allow it to get you down.
Or, you choose to rise above the negativity.
In which case, you have two choices here – either you can care less (but don’t allow yourself to get stressed by doing so) or you can continue to be positive and hard working and true to yourself and not allow the negative influences around you to affect your amazing self.
I know that you are worth a lot more than the negative feedback or the negative attitude that you are getting. Just believe in you!
On the 20th of January this year, I embarked on a journey to document 100 happy days.
It has taken me longer than 100 days to get this far but here I am, almost done with photographing 100 happy moments in my life.
I am so blessed and privileged to have had some moments in these 100 days that were much more than happy. They were hugely exciting and life changing.
But I also had days that were quite mundane but still happy because of simple things like being greeted at the door every day after work by my excitable dogs, or eating food that makes me happy and just appreciating simple things.
I noticed that there were so many things going on around me that I would often overlook. Or I would be so caught up in my stress and worrying about getting things done that I never noticed some truly amazing things happening. Sometimes they were random, coincidental things and sometimes I had to put a lot of effort into creating something happy (like forcing myself to eat a chocolate!)
So the big question is:
Was this project life changing for me?
I wouldn’t say that it was hugely life changing but it definitely put a positive spin on my routine. I started to get more excited about small things and not so bogged down by the small stressors that turned out to be quite insignificant and situational.
My attitude definitely improved and I feel calmer and happier for it.
Not jumping up and down, over-excited kind of happy, but just more content in what blessings surround me.
If you haven’t tried any positive thinking projects, I would highly recommend that you choose one to commit to. Whether it is documenting 100 happy days; working on being more positive for a month (or even a week) or keeping a gratitude journal, you are likely to be in a more positive space for doing it.
I feel quite sad that my project is almost over – it has become an important part of my life, so being true to me, I need to find a new project. I’m always up to something creative but I decided to challenge myself a bit by taking on some sewing projects (if my High School Home Economics teacher is reading this, she would surely fall right off her chair!).
That is just a small detour from the next big project which is a Random Acts of Kindness project – so watch this space!
Please let me know how your life has changed by being more positive. I would love to hear your story.
I am attending a 6 week course – for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to attend a course on a Monday night. I’m not sure if that was one of my brightest plans ever but since the course is focused a lot on positivity and changing the way we view our lives, it is probably not such a bad way to start the week after all.
Then on Thursday, I opened my diary and read the following quote at the bottom of the page:
“A smooth sea never made a skilled mariner” – English Proverb
Interesting coincidence since part of the course on Monday was focused on the eternal question of “why do bad things happen to good people?”
The answer given was that bad things need to happen to good people so that they have the opportunity to grow as individuals, to become stronger and wiser humans.
I think that we so often wish that our lives were smoother and easier and that things would always go our way.
And then life comes and just laughs at you and throws something truly awful into your path.
You will struggle – not only with the problem that you are dealing wih but also with the unfairness of life and persistently questioning “why me?” .
But eventually, the struggle and the awfulness slowly eases, and you wake up and realise that you are truly strong. You understand that you have survived and you will keep plodding along until eventually you wake up again and realise that you are awesome and life is not so awful at all.
How are we going to become skilled mariners?
By riding out those rough seas.
By realising what it takes to survive those rough times, and more importantly what we have within us that is going to help us to survive.
You are truly strong and you are truly awesome but you will never know that if you don’t first overcome!
Today is a holiday and I had told myself that no matter what, I was not going to work today.
That plan didn’t last very long because there was suddenly an emergency HIV intervention that I had to do, and then I thought that if I had to go to work, I might as well actually work.
I started my drive to work on unusually quiet streets having a good old moan that the streets being so quiet meant that I had to have been one of the only people in the entire city who was working.
Then I started to appreciate the quieter drive and I turned up the music (George Winston) and smiled.
Aren’t I almost exactly in the middle of my 100 happy days project?
So, of course it wasn’t great to have to work on a holiday and I would have really enjoyed a lie-in this morning. But the roads were peaceful; the patients who thought that they were not going to see me for 3 days were grateful that I was there and the real bonus was that I didn’t have to do all the house work!
When I signed up for the 100 happy days project, they said that if you committed to the project, you would start to see things more positively and would therefore be more positive about life in general.
Is it working?
I definitely think it is. Even if I have to sometimes force myself to look beyond the stress just because I am thinking about what I am going to enter into my happy days journal.
Looking for what makes you happy just lifts the stress a bit. It makes you focus on the moment – it is not about ‘when will I be happy?’, or ‘what do I need to have in order to be happy?’ but rather ‘what do I have right now that is making me happy?’
It makes you truly grateful for what you have rather than just yearning for what you want.
And today, if nothing else, I was truly grateful to have a job to go to, even on a holiday, that keeps me happy and fulfilled.
Start opening your eyes to the immense about of happy things happening all around you – it is really worth it!
While I think that a bit of fear can be a good thing – because it motivates us to get going and get things done, a lot of fear or constant fear has the ability to absolutely paralyse us.
Fear can really stop you from reaching your full potential to be the person that you are meant to be.
Fighting fear is one way of dealing with it but can be pointless and unproductive. It is the same as if you are afraid of the dark and you try to deal with your fear by sitting in a dark room all on your own when you could just switch on a light…. Aha! A real lightbulb moment!
So here are my ”lightbulb” suggestions for dealing with fear:
1. Do not become your fear. It is not your personality, you are so much more than your fear.
2. Believe in the real you, not the person that you think that you are – that is often a negative perception of yourself, that nasty little inner voice that keeps on whispering doubts in your mind.
3. Think big! Don’t be afraid of success, don’t be afraid of the giant in you that is waiting to burst out.
4. Try new things. You never know what you can or can’t do until you try. Follow every opportunity, open new doors. You may even surprise yourself by doing things that you could not have even imagined a few years ago.
5. Make mistakes matter. Rather than beating yourself up about all the things that you shouldn’t have done, learn from your mistakes! The only way you know what you can’t do is to discover that by actually doing those things.
6. Step out of the “box”. Whether it is your parents or your peers, your culture or your environment, or even yourself that puts you in a box, get out! Nobody belongs in a box.
7. Don’t wait for one day to get things done. Today is just as good a time to be brave, maybe even better than ‘one day’ that might not come.
8. Change your self talk from “no, I can’t” or “Maybe I might be able to” to “YES I CAN!”
9. Everybody started at the beginning. If you are at the beginning and you’ve taken one step, then you are well on your way to being successful. Lots of people are afraid to even take that first step.
10. Just remember, and always remember this: You are amazing!
I am still on the subject of Pesach (Passover) because I am living and breathing it at the moment, not to mention the time I have spent so far crunching through matzah.
Passover is a celebration of freedom so I have really been thinking over the past few days about my own freedom.
On the surface, it seems very simple. I am free. I am not a slave in Egypt. I live in a country where human rights and freedom of speech are important aspects of living. I am a woman living in the 21st century where woman and men are equal. I don’t owe the bank much money. So I am free. Right? Wrong!
The more I thought about it, the more I realised that I don’t feel free at all. And when I spoke to other people about it, they said that they felt the same way that I did.
Nelson Mandela said when he was leaving prison, “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”
We are slaves to our kids and to our family’s expectations of us, we are imprisoned by our own negative attitudes and poor self image. We are chained to time and deadlines and expectations. We are most definitely slaves to our phones and computers, to social networks and the fear of missing out on important information like what our friends ate for dinner (or where they went on holiday that will always be more exciting and more adventurous than our own lives).
In a world where we are always on the go, and continually surrounded by information and marketing, we are not free.
We imprison ourselves and we do it by choice. Well I think it is our choice. And truthfully, I’m not sure what the solution is. But there has to be one and I think that it is different for each person as we are all individuals. We have to choose to do things differently.
Do something different and discover your own freedom before you burn out. Before it is too late.
Because you are worth so much more than just being a prisoner for the rest of your life.
Somebody in my family, who shall remain nameless at present to protect his dignity, has been watching Plain Jane on TV – basically he is an adult male watching a programme that has a target audience of teenage girls. So while I enjoy teasing him and giving him a hard time about it, I not so secretly love that programme too.
For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, Plain Jane is a programme on MTV where a young woman who is quiet and has a low self esteem wants to date somebody that she is friends with. So enter the “fairy godmother” host who gives her a physical and psychological makeover and off she goes to her date, and we presume, her happy ever after (of course).
Who doesn’t enjoy a makeover story? The classic ugly duckling turns into a beautiful swan.
What I really like about the programme though is the way that they build up the girl’s confidence. They do it by pushing her out of her comfort zone and making her do something that she finds scary or threatening.
Once she has achieved that, she feels able to conquer anything and the transformation in her personality is sometimes remarkable.
Now, this is my plan – it is the first week of 2013 and I said in my last post that we should forget about New Year’s resolutions. So what about choosing something that really scares you, and make a date with your fear this year.
Imagine how small and insignificant all your day to day stressors will feel when you have done something as big as conquering a fear.
The amazing thing about fear is that our fear is not actually about the fear, it is about the story behind the fear. If you are afraid of heights, the fear is not so much about the height but rather about what you think might happen at a height – the story that you write for yourself. My fear of heights is not about height, it is about the thought of falling from that height.
This year, choose to rewrite your story.
You can be brave, you can be strong. You can be vulnerable, you can show your emotions, you can say NO!
You can do it – and please let me know how it goes. I’ll be making my plans for overcoming my fear of heights by sky diving – and don’t worry, you won’t miss a thing – I’ll document the whole process right here!