Laugh It Off

When did you last laugh long and loud?  This is in real life, not to a cat video or a comedian.  This was the question posed by James Cook, teacher of the stand-up comedy course I'm doing at the Midlands Art Centre.  It took me a while to remember, as most of my laughter comes from TV or Facebook videos - sad, but true.  What about you?

He then got us to do a little exercise, which I'm passing on to you, as it loosened  my perspectives on anger.  Think of something you love and write three reasons why you love that thing.  Talk to a willing listener for one minute about that thing you love.  Chances are you will find it quite easy.

Now, think of a thing that makes you angry, something you could really rant about.  Mine was lorries.  Write down three reasons why it makes you angry.  Then talk to your willing listener for one minute about that thing, BUT change it to why you LOVE this thing  and extol the virtues of the three reasons.  "Lorries are too big", became "I love how big lorries are, in fact, they should be bigger, take up two lanes of the motorway, so it really keeps you on your toes when they pull out just before a hill.  Big lorries mean lots more stuff in them that I can buy, lots of things for retail therapy, lots more jobs created."  

My, how we laughed.  It was a clever comedic trick, but I saw that when I get hooked by anger, it is about my perspective on an issue and my choice how I emote about it, rather than the external situation/person.  I used it yesterday when I was feeling fabulous, until I left the house, and seemed to get driven at by buses and....lorries.

So it is not about not being angry.  Anger has started some wonderful charities and movements for good in the world.  It is about being angry "with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way" - back to Daniel Goleman and Aristotle's Challenge.  And laughter, taking things lightly, changing perspective, may help shake loose our grip on the anger that just winds us up.

If I can help you or your managers understand emotions better, using embodiment, creativity and play, then please feel free to contact me and have a chat.  Until 22nd April, I have a special offer of one days training on Emotional Intelligence for half price.  Or you could come and see our end of term stand-up comedy show at the MAC on Friday 1st July!

Moments of Appreciation

A few days ago, I published a thought of "Things to do today - breathe in, breathe out and give thanks".  Why?  One of my dearest friends, a core person in my life for 26 years, is dying.  I had been with her over the weekend and was left with a depth of grief,  concern for her partner and thoughts of my life without her.  

It is rocking me to the core and still my life has to go on, as a self employed person, my business has to go on.  How do I continue, honouring my life and her  life and dying?   The only place I found was to be present with each moment, each breath - every one of mine and each precious one of hers - and to allow the fullness of life in that moment - the heart break, tears and joy.  

The place where my heart broke teetered on the edge of loss of my dear one and thankfulness for our friendship.   Gratitude, saying thank you for it all, every last bit of this experience, took me to a place of saying yes; warmth flooding my body and opening my heart.   This way, I have been able to keep connected with myself, my friend and also with my students and clients. 

I share this with you, because my whole life has been about learning how to deal with my feelings, the ups and the downs, and now I make emotions easier to understand and navigate for others.  There is a logic about them and things that work.  Staying present with the body and the breath works; saying "thank you" works.   I offer this to you in the hope that, if you are going through anything similar, you may find some comfort and help in these practices.  May you be well. May you be safe. May you be happy.

Is Happiness the Goal?

It is what we all want - to be happy.  We say for our loved ones, “I just want you to be happy”.  It is elusive: over the rainbow; the grass is always greener; the blue bird of happiness.  It often seems to be in the future and a condition of something happening - “when I get/become thinner/richer etc, then I’ll be happy”.   But is happiness really the goal?

It may seem strange for someone, who offers Living Happy Now courses, to ask whether happiness is the goal, but I have been quietly, unobtrusively, depressed for most of my adult life, so have made a close study of it.   I am happier now than I have ever been, but it is a by-product of choice, change, awareness and learning. 

I've learned how small, consistent changes in my mindset and the awareness of my body have created a fairly consistent state of happiness.  I've leant how to embody happiness, creating the physiological patterns in my body to generate and support a happy mindset.  I am aware of patterns I fall into and know how to more quickly recognise, get out of or avoid them altogether.

I've learnt how to better handle uncomfortable emotions and how to deal with strong, emotional reactions, when I get "hooked' by a person or situation.  I can recognise the difference between an emotion that is a product of here and now and one that is an indication of unresolved issues from my past.  In the first instance, I may choose to acknowledge the feeling, but create another,  and in the second instance, I may give myself time to feel the emotion, allowing the full flavour and force to surface, facing and resolving the past issues.  This requires compassionate navigation and often the help of a skilled facilitator. 

So, NO, happiness is not the goal, neither is it given to me by something or someone outside myself.  A deeper understanding of and connexion with myself, my purpose, my contribution, my confidence and strength, is.  Happiness naturally arises from these.  The tool to create happiness is what I practice on a daily basis and the discipline I have to show up to that practice.  In my Living Happy Now courses, people go away with their own personal daily practice and a new perspective on discipline (an unfashionable concept, which is often approached harshly, but can be pleasurable).

How committed are you to following your heart?  How willing are you to face temporary discomfort in order to gain more consistent happiness?  Would you like to move forward through resistance, old habits and patterns to reclaim your birthright of joy, playfulness and laughter?  And would you like to do it with more skill, joy, fun and rolling on the carpet with laughter than I did?!  Then come to my Living Happy Now course on 14th April,  grab an early bird offer, and learn the short cuts and fast track yourself to Happiness!  It is my joy to help people of courage to live happy now.