What am I doing with my life?

Asking yourself: What am I doing with my life?

I think we all get to a point in our life where we stop and wonder, to ourselves or another, what am I doing with my life? Perhaps this point comes at retirement when your job can no longer define you. Maybe you have just finished university and you are not sure what to do now. Perhaps you have been in the same job or field for years and it is becoming apparent that it is not what you wanted from life. You are not alone in these thoughts.

What am I doing with my life?

What am I doing with my life?

In my own life, I am constantly thinking about what I want to do with my life. What I want to do “when I grow up”. Although I might be grown now, the certainty of my direction in life is not there. I wonder if this is down to the expectation of having a set career path. I have never known what I wanted to do as a career, and that did not bother me. But because so many people define themselves by their job it feels weird that I cannot, or at least do not want to, do the same.

Recently I decided at the next social function (whenever that might be – thanks COVID) where I meet new people, I will respond differently each time to the “what do you do?” question. I will respond as a service assistant, as a blogger, as a photographer, as a pianist, as many other things too.

Embracing the fact that I can be more than one thing is helpful when I get to thinking about the direction of my life. Considering this has made me much more positive. I think the answer to this question for me is less tangible. I want to achieve many things, and experience many things. Have a good, enjoyable life. But from day to day, what I want to do can change and that is okay.

What am I doing with my life?

What are you doing with your life?

I wonder how many other people stop to ask themselves what they are doing with their life? I guess, on one level or another, we must all do it. To be uncertain about one’s life is a very human characteristic. But just because it is natural does not make it easier to deal with. This is particularly true for those of us which struggle more with answering the question.

For some, the ongoing global pandemic might have caused this question to come to the forefront. Whilst some people are managing to get by relatively unscathed, some are not as fortunate. Personal and monetary woes might have people questioning their direction, past and present.

I think given everything that is going on that now is a good time to discuss where we are all going with our existences. It is not an easy discussion to have, because the answer will be so vastly different from person to person. It also requires a lot of reflection, which some people might not be used to doing.

What am I doing with my life?

The path to an answer

To answer the question of “What am I doing with my life?” you must first understand and accept that the answer if it can be found at all, is very likely to change as time goes on. What drives you in one moment might change, due to personal growth and changing opinions, due to social change, or due to unforeseen events.

I wonder if some people might find it hard to accept that things will change over time. That what they might want will change and adapt as the clock moves on. I think that it is especially important to understand and appreciate this, not only for yourself but for those around you. People grow and things change. And that, as they say, is life.

It is also worth knowing that it is all right not to have a clear picture of what you want your future to look like. Perhaps you have not worked it out yet, and that is fine. What people perceive as their future and what they end up with, in reality, are probably quite different anyway. That is also okay. In some ways not knowing might be better, as you will not be artificially tied to one big end goal. You will be free to keep exploring, growing, and experiencing new things.

Experiencing new things is a key component of growth. With this growth will come a better understanding of what you want to do going forward. There is so much to experience and learn out there is this big world – and beyond in the stars! Deciding what you want to do with your life without seeing what is on offer can be, in some cases, a mistake. Anecdotal stories of older generations waking up and believing they have wasted their life are not hard to come by.

But just because you might be older does not mean it is too late to experience new things and to set a new path. Whether you are 20 years old or 80, you should always keep learning, developing, and striving towards a goal or ambition. For as long as you are able you should encounter the myriad of opportunities that your life affords you. Do not decide at 60 you are disappointed with how things are going and spend the remaining 30 or more years of your life being unhappy about it – that is a third of your life!

None of us knows how old we will be when the time comes for our life to end. If this is not reason enough for you to stop procrastinating than I am not sure I can offer you anything that is. Deciding what we want to do with our life is not something that should be rushed in to, but equally, it is not something that should be put off again and again.

What am I doing with my life?

This might all seem a bit wishy-washy to you. Perhaps this is coming across a bit idealistic. Perhaps it is. But it can be grounded in your life quite easily. Give thought to your interests and do not settle on something because it seems the easiest option. Yes, in many cases what you want to do with your life should be realistic, but that does not mean it needs to be specific in its scope. These do not need to be SMART objectives (although this post might help you reach your goals)!

Perhaps the simplest advice I can offer is not to put too much pressure on yourself in making this decision. Remember that you can always change your mind! As you go about your life, you will be subject to new things which will continue to shape you.

Never stop learning. Never stop growing.

What do you think about this? Have any helpful tips or personal experiences you can share? Post them in the comments sections below!

Michael is Amazing
Michael is Amazing

Cope with Anything How to Build Resilience and Inner Strength

Cope with Anything: How to Build Resilience and Inner Strength

Things are tough for many people at the moment. The uncertainty that has come with the virus spreading around the world has caused many people to wonder if they will be able to cope if things get very stressful and when everything seems to be going wrong. And sometimes things will go wrong, particularly given everything going on. It can all become very frightening, and many people are feeling this way at the moment. The thought that you won’t be able to cope is a powerful one, but not one that is impossible to shake off. This post will look at how you can cope with anything, and how you can build resilience and inner strength to deal with the tough times.

Cope with Anything How to Build Resilience and Inner Strength

A Changing, and Stressful, World

The Coronavirus has rapidly changed the way we go about our days. The entire world has been affected by it and the responses to it. The uncertainty that has come with these changes have been stressful for many people. In the UK, many people are furloughed or at risk of losing their jobs altogether. Our key workers put themselves at risk daily to ensure the continuation of important services. Medical workers on the front line worry they might catch the virus or, perhaps worse, pass it on to a loved one at home.

We have all watched the news, perhaps more than we might usually, and seen the reports on what is happening to our world and the country we inhabit. Things are difficult for us all. And what is now happening only serves to compound what already happens in our everyday lives: the death of loved ones, car breakdowns, high bills, redundancy, and even disappointment at results from a test. Many things happen to us in life which can be difficult to deal with. The Coronavirus is another, and quite large, problem for us to deal with.

As individuals, it is important to learn how to deal with these issues and overcome them. We don’t want to feel constantly overwhelmed, and so we must learn to be resilient and to increase our inner strength. The knowledge that we have survived all of the difficulties life has thrown at us so far should be a reassurance to you, and one you can nurture from reassurance to a cornerstone of your strength.

The perpetuating loop of worry that can be caused by many of lives events can be slowed and stopped by realising that you can deal with the problem in front of you. Luckily for us all, resilience is something that can be developed and grown. It might not make you invincible to all of the problems in the world, and you will not hurt less when tragedy strikes. What it will do, however, is help you to adapt and overcome the circumstances you find yourself in, without losing yourself in the process.

Cope with Anything How to Build Resilience and Inner Strength

Six Ways to Increase Inner Strength and Boost Resilience

Let’s take a look at six ways you can develop your resilience and increase your inner strength.

  1. Reclaim control of what you can – When dealing with any difficult situation, it is important to identify the things you can control and the things you cannot. Those aspects you cannot control can seem daunting and, perhaps, even scary. You can use up a lot of mental energy worrying about those aspects, leaving you even more frustrated and upset. Instead of this, try to work out the areas that you do have some control over, no matter how small they seem, and use your energy to exert influence over these areas instead. Take action here to reclaim some control over the situation.
  2. Emotions are not your enemy – Some people take the attitude that what you are feeling should be pushed aside to focus on the problem. This can make matters worse for yourself, as failure to recognise your feelings can leave you unprepared for the next difficult situation. You will not feel less distressed by pretending the situation isn’t scary or upsetting. Permit yourself to feel your emotions. Respect your emotions and they can offer a way forward. Make sure to show yourself the compassion that you would a friend in a similar situation.
  3. Leave your comfort zone – To help build your coping capabilities, step outside your comfort zone and try something new, exciting, and maybe a little scary. By doing something that might be difficult, unknown, or challenging, you’re building resilience. Show yourself what you are capable of by regularly stepping outside your comfort zone. Sometimes it might not work out and that’s life. But the experience of trying shows you that you can make the attempt, and it perhaps wasn’t as scary as you thought it might be. All of these attempts build a bank of experiences that demonstrate your ability and your inner strength.
  4. Build strong relationships – Your friends and family can be rocks to ground you in difficult times. Surround yourself with strong rocks so that when things go wrong, you have people around to support you. This support is worth the world in some situations and will remind you that you aren’t alone. Not all rocks are created equal, and some might be more feathery than rocky. I wrote about making sure you stay around positive people in my post on making sure you stay positive during troubling times. Just remember, you need to reciprocate that rockiness when your friends are in challenging places as well.
  5. Practice mindfulness – I have extolled the virtues of mindfulness many times. And in difficult situations, it can come in handy. Being able to properly focus and not be consumed by negative emotions is a powerful tool to have. Resilient people, even if they don’t realise it, have some measure of mindfulness. Start practicing mindfulness today and your resilience will benefit, as will so many other areas of your life.
  6. Take care of yourself – Perhaps the most important tip I can give to you is to make sure that you always take care of yourself. Self-care makes you mentally and emotionally strong, and able to cope better when hardships come your way. Make sure you get a solid sleep each day, eat well, and don’t worry so much about the things unsaid or that you didn’t do. Spend time outdoors and doing things that you love. Everyone is different, so just do whatever you enjoy, whether it be yoga or hitting the nightclub with your friends. Life can be difficult and it’s important to remember that you aren’t a machine. You are here to enjoy and experience life, so don’t forget to do that, even when things get tough.
Cope with Anything How to Build Resilience and Inner Strength

Ensure You Reach Out

There is a myth that fully independent people are stronger people. That they can deal with any hardship. Unfortunately, this just isn’t true. Resilient people know that they should reach out for support from those around them. It is okay to be vulnerable and seek help from friends and family. This doesn’t make you weak, it makes you resilient.

Even with the current climate of social distancing, we can still reach out to others. Technology has brought us all closer together. Make use of it, and also remember to reach out to your friends occasionally to make sure they are still doing well.

Together, you can have the strength to go through any challenge and come out the other side even stronger. You’ll be in a great position to deal with the hardships that come your way.

Cope with Anything How to Build Resilience and Inner Strength

I hope you’ve found this post informative and can use it to help build your resilience. Resilience counts for a lot in the difficult times we find ourselves in. If you have any tips of your own, please share them in the comments below and we can all learn from your experience!

If you are struggling with your mental health during this unprecedented time, please know that resources and help are available to you. Please visit the Mental Health Foundation for assistance.

Michael is Amazing
Michael is Amazing
How to ensure you stay positive during trying times

How to ensure you stay positive during trying times

The world has become a very different place in a matter of weeks and months. Whilst some continue on with their normal lives, many more seek shelter from the rampant virus spreading over the globe. There are shortages in shops, lockdowns, and more fake information then you can shake a reasonably large stick at. The way people react to the Coronavirus will change the way society works going forward, as will the response and survivability of businesses large and small. With everything going on, you would be forgiven for being a bit nervous. It’s important to remember that this will not last forever, and here I want to outline some points and tips to help ensure you stay positive during these trying times.

How to ensure you stay positive during trying times

Why being positive matters

We all have those times where we have tried to do something a number of times, and will still again without hesitation. Every time we fail, we improve our methods slightly and try again. Things will work out this time, we tell ourselves.

Positivity is not about taking no notice of the bad situations and just letting them happen. It is about staying focused on the good in any situation.

I consider myself to be a very positive and optimistic person. But this does not mean that I do not know my fair share of failures and defeats. Throughout my life, I have held on to this sense of optimism and it always convinces me (after an appropriate amount of time pouting) that the future is brighter than it seems at this current time and things will work out ok.

We all have this to a certain degree because if we didn’t we would just stop functioning altogether! We would sit down and cry and be sad all of the time. The thing about being positive that stops this from happening is that we go out and try to overcome the barriers we are faced with to improve our situation.

The more positive we are the more we will seek to improve things for ourselves and the more times we will try. We can only pursue our goals if we stay optimistic about the possibility of reaching them. Instead of shutting down when things aren’t going our way, we need to regroup and focus on how we can make the best of a bad situation. Disappointment and sadness are normal emotions, but they shouldn’t control your actions. Staying positive means they won’t.

How to ensure you stay positive during trying times

The acceptance of difficulty

To suggest life is always blissful and accommodating to what we want would be an outright lie. Life can be difficult and it can be a struggle. It is important to recognise the hardships that can face us to make us more resilient to them.

Spiritual teachings, particularly those of an Eastern origin, lean heavily on the idea of being at peace with the bad things that happen to us, the suffering. Even in a more westernised environment, these teachings have merit. In particular, Buddhist teachings state (in simple terms) that acceptance of suffering is the only way to know true happiness and mindfulness.

We can learn a lot from the Buddhist approach here. There is a tip for use in meditation that when your mind starts to wander, you do not punish yourself for making this misstep. Instead, you acknowledge the thought, send it on its way, and continue with your meditation. The same is true of when distress strikes us. We must acknowledge the bad feelings, send them on their way, and return to happier thoughts.

I should add, with some haste, that this does not mean we simply ignore the bad things happening to us. Indeed, we should strive to provide a solution to such matters, if possible, as soon as we can. But our feelings about the situation should be reframed from one of despair and suffering to one of hope and consolidation. Reframing negative feelings is a key skill you should learn. We will talk about this more in the tips section.

The benefits of positivity

The benefits of staying positive are truly numerous. It can improve your life in a myriad of ways. Let’s highlight some of those benefits here, just so you know I’m not talking complete trash!

  1. Less Stress – one of the biggest motivating factors that should entice you to be positive is that it will reduce your stress levels. We all have the one friend who is constantly happy and seems not to let anything get them down. Be that friend, and you too will notice a reduction in your stress by simply being positive. Your ability to deal with stress will skyrocket!
  2. Longer Life – There have been many scientific studies that show positive people live longer. Positive people tend to cope better with illnesses and have longer and happier lives than pessimists. This is partly due to the aforementioned reduction in stress, which is a huge detriment to health and lifespan. Being positive can also help you feel better for longer, giving you the best outlook on life.
  3. Improve your Health – Tied to the previous point, your health is proven to improve the longer you maintain a positive attitude! Long term studies show the being an optimist means you will have better health than pessimists as you progress through your life. Good health is certainly a great reason to adopt a positive approach to your life!
  4. Smarter, but not Harder, Work – Staying positive can help you work smarter, but that doesn’t mean it has to be harder. Studies have shown that positive people perform better in work environments than negative people because a positive work environment fosters better performance. This is true not just in the workplace, but anywhere! Schools, exercise classes, and performance troupes!
  5. Greater Resilience – A key benefit to staying positive is a boost to your resilience. Dealing with difficulties becomes easier with the determination and strength you can derive from your positivity. Positive people are able to focus on what they can do to better the situation when faced with hardships. Overcoming these difficulties through positivity is really what this whole post is about!

There are many more benefits to being positive than just these, but I would say these are some of the keys ones. Together, they will improve your overall wellbeing and give you a happier, longer life. Who doesn’t want that?

Tips to become and remain positive

Now we’ve established why you should be positive, let’s take a look at how you get there. Here are a few tips to help you become positive, and to make sure you stay that way!

  1. Smiling – Let’s start with something basic. Smile! You can trick your mind into being more positive through smiling. Even if you have nothing to smile about, the act of smiling can instantly change the way you feel inside. Whatever you might be doing, smile! In the time it will become second nature to smile whilst you undertake your everyday activities, and you’ll feel much better for doing so. Smile at other people too! They’ll more than likely smile back and you’ll both feel better for it.
  2. Surround yourself with Positive People – It’s important to reflect on those around you on your quest to become more positive. We are often strongly affected by the people around us. If they are a gossip, we tend to become gossip. If they are negative, we tend to become negative. Luckily, the opposite is also true. Surround yourself with positive people and you will find yourself being uplifted to a more positive level as well! It isn’t necessary to completely ditch the negative people that may well be friends or family, just be sure to try and steer any negative conversations to more positive topics. Perhaps they will become more positive over time because of your actions!
  3. Do Kind Acts – It’s important to be selfless in your quest for positivity. Forgetting about others whilst being absorbed in your own world of misfortune is easy to do, but there lays not the path to positivity. Take a break from your usual daily routine to lend a hand to another person. Doing so can give you a fresh perspective and fill you with positivity. Doing nice things makes us feel good about ourselves, so we should take full advantage of that. Try doing at least one nice thing a day and you’ll find yourself feeling more positive in no time at all. Don’t forget to check out my post on why being nice matters as well!
  4. Reframing – It’s important to learn how to reframe situations in your head. Currently, if you are on lockdown you can’t leave the house to see your friends and family, you might not be able to go to work or exercise like you have previously. Various factors might make you feel like the world is plotting against you. Instead of looking at the situation negatively though, reframe it to something more positive. You might not be able to go to the gym, but now is a great time to learn about home workouts and expand your fitness knowledge. Can’t go and visit your friends? Sounds like the perfect time to discover new ways of connecting with them, and taking part in things like quizzes over video calls. Reframe the negative to a positive and look forward to conquering these new challenges!
  5. Practice Gratitude – Perhaps the easiest and fastest way to become more positive is to shift your focus away from negativity, judgment, and disappointment that you might regularly feel. Take the time to think about all the things you are grateful for. It might be a good idea to keep a journal of those things you are grateful for. I personally keep an achievement journal. If I am ever feeling down and a bit negative because things aren’t going well, I can look back and see all of the stuff I have already achieved. With renewed vigour and positivity I can then move on and complete whatever the task before me is. Once you have a strong grasp on what you are grateful for, your outlook with certainly become more positive.
  6. Find a Positivity Partner – You probably aren’t the only person who is looking to become more positive. Find a friend who also wants to make the journey to achieve a more positive outlook and team up! Together, you’ll find the process much easier. You can reassure each other that things will get better, and send messages to each other to show your gratitude for them and the things in your life as well. An added bonus to this one is that being in regular contact with someone will reduce any feelings of loneliness you might have during the current climate of social distancing.
The world has become a very different place in a matter of weeks and months. Whilst some continue on with their normal lives, many more seek shelter from the rampant virus spreading over the globe. There are shortages in shops, lockdowns, and more fake information then you can shake a reasonably large stick at. The way people react to the Coronavirus will change the way society works going forward, as will the response and survivability of businesses large and small. With everything going on, you would be forgiven for being a bit nervous. It’s important to remember that this will not last forever, and here I want to outline some points and tips to help ensure you stay positive during these trying times. Why being positive matters We all have those times where we have tried to do something a number of times, and will still again without hesitation. Every time we fail, we improve our methods slightly and try again. Things will work out this time, we tell ourselves. Positivity is not about taking no notice of the bad situations and just letting them happen. It is about staying focused on the good in any situation. I consider myself to be a very positive and optimistic person. But this does not mean that I do not know my fair share of failures and defeats. Throughout my life, I have held on to this sense of optimism and it always convinces me (after an appropriate amount of time pouting) that the future is brighter than it seems at this current time and things will work out ok. We all have this to a certain degree because if we didn’t we would just stop functioning altogether! We would sit down and cry and be sad all of the time. The thing about being positive that stops this from happening is that we go out and try to overcome the barriers we are faced with to improve our situation. The more positive we are the more we will seek to improve things for ourselves and the more times we will try. We can only pursue our goals if we stay optimistic about the possibility of reaching them. Instead of shutting down when things aren’t going our way, we need to regroup and focus on how we can make the best of a bad situation. Disappointment and sadness are normal emotions, but they shouldn’t control your actions. Staying positive means they won’t. The acceptance of difficulty To suggest life is always blissful and accommodating to what we want would be an outright lie. Life can be difficult and it can be a struggle. It is important to recognise the hardships that can face us to make us more resilient to them. Spiritual teachings, particularly those of an Eastern origin, lean heavily on the idea of being at peace with the bad things that happen to us, the suffering. Even in a more westernised environment, these teachings have merit. In particular, Buddhist teachings state (in simple terms) that acceptance of suffering is the only way to know true happiness and mindfulness. We can learn a lot from the Buddhist approach here. There is a tip for use in meditation that when your mind starts to wander, you do not punish yourself for making this misstep. Instead, you acknowledge the thought, send it on its way, and continue with your meditation. The same is true of when distress strikes us. We must acknowledge the bad feelings, send them on their way, and return to happier thoughts. I should add, with some haste, that this does not mean we simply ignore the bad things happening to us. Indeed, we should strive to provide a solution to such matters, if possible, as soon as we can. But our feelings about the situation should be reframed from one of despair and suffering to one of hope and consolidation. Reframing negative feelings is a key skill you should learn. We will talk about this more in the tips section. The benefits of positivity The benefits of staying positive are truly numerous. It can improve your life in a myriad of ways. Let’s highlight some of those benefits here, just so you know I’m not talking complete trash! 1.	Less Stress – one of the biggest motivating factors that should entice you to be positive is that it will reduce your stress levels. We all have the one friend who is constantly happy and seems not to let anything get them down. Be that friend, and you too will notice a reduction in your stress by simply being positive. Your ability to deal with stress will skyrocket! 2.	Longer Life – There have been many scientific studies that show positive people live longer. Positive people tend to cope better with illnesses and have longer and happier lives than pessimists. This is partly due to the aforementioned reduction in stress, which is a huge detriment to health and lifespan. Being positive can also help you feel better for longer, giving you the best outlook on life. 3.	Improve your Health – Tied to the previous point, your health is proven to improve the longer you maintain a positive attitude! Long term studies show the being an optimist means you will have better health than pessimists as you progress through your life. Good health is certainly a great reason to adopt a positive approach to your life! 4.	Smarter, but not Harder, Work – Staying positive can help you work smarter, but that doesn’t mean it has to be harder. Studies have shown that positive people perform better in work environments than negative people because a positive work environment fosters better performance. This is true not just in the workplace, but anywhere! Schools, exercise classes, and performance troupes!  5.	Greater Resilience – A key benefit to staying positive is a boost to your resilience. Dealing with difficulties becomes easier with the determination and strength you can derive from your positivity. Positive people are able to focus on what they can do to better the situation when faced with hardships. Overcoming these difficulties through positivity is really what this whole post is about! There are many more benefits to being positive than just these, but I would say these are some of the keys ones. Together, they will improve your overall wellbeing and give you a happier, longer life. Who doesn’t want that? Tips to become and remain positive Now we’ve established why you should be positive, let’s take a look at how you get there. Here are a few tips to help you become positive, and to make sure you stay that way! 1.	Smiling – Let’s start with something basic. Smile! You can trick your mind into being more positive through smiling. Even if you have nothing to smile about, the act of smiling can instantly change the way you feel inside. Whatever you might be doing, smile! In the time it will become second nature to smile whilst you undertake your everyday activities, and you’ll feel much better for doing so. Smile at other people too! They’ll more than likely smile back and you’ll both feel better for it. 2.	Surround yourself with Positive People – It’s important to reflect on those around you on your quest to become more positive. We are often strongly affected by the people around us. If they are a gossip, we tend to become gossip. If they are negative, we tend to become negative. Luckily, the opposite is also true. Surround yourself with positive people and you will find yourself being uplifted to a more positive level as well! It isn’t necessary to completely ditch the negative people that may well be friends or family, just be sure to try and steer any negative conversations to more positive topics. Perhaps they will become more positive over time because of your actions! 3.	Do Kind Acts – It’s important to be selfless in your quest for positivity. Forgetting about others whilst being absorbed in your own world of misfortune is easy to do, but there lays not the path to positivity. Take a break from your usual daily routine to lend a hand to another person. Doing so can give you a fresh perspective and fill you with positivity. Doing nice things makes us feel good about ourselves, so we should take full advantage of that. Try doing at least one nice thing a day and you’ll find yourself feeling more positive in no time at all. 4.	Reframing – It’s important to learn how to reframe situations in your head. Currently, if you are on lockdown you can’t leave the house to see your friends and family, you might not be able to go to work or exercise like you have previously. Various factors might make you feel like the world is plotting against you. Instead of looking at the situation negatively though, reframe it to something more positive. You might not be able to go to the gym, but now is a great time to learn about home workouts and expand your fitness knowledge. Can’t go and visit your friends? Sounds like the perfect time to discover new ways of connecting with them, and taking part in things like quizzes over video calls. Reframe the negative to a positive and look forward to conquering these new challenges! 5.	Practice Gratitude – Perhaps the easiest and fastest way to become more positive is to shift your focus away from negativity, judgment, and disappointment that you might regularly feel. Take the time to think about all the things you are grateful for. It might be a good idea to keep a journal of those things you are grateful for. I personally keep an achievement journal. If I am ever feeling down and a bit negative because things aren’t going well, I can look back and see all of the stuff I have already achieved. With renewed vigour and positivity I can then move on and complete whatever the task before me is. Once you have a strong grasp on what you are grateful for, your outlook with certainly become more positive. 6.	Find a Positivity Partner – You probably aren’t the only person who is looking to become more positive. Find a friend who also wants to make the journey to achieve a more positive outlook and team up! Together, you’ll find the process much easier. You can reassure each other that things will get better, and send messages to each other to show your gratitude for them and the things in your life as well. An added bonus to this one is that being in regular contact with someone will reduce any feelings of loneliness you might have during the current climate of social distancing. I’ll be following this post up shortly with another about staying resilient when trouble strikes, although I am hoping that is not the case for any of you during these unsettling times. In the meantime, I hope you found these tips about staying positive helpful and will start to use them in order to bring a smile back to your face and keep it there! Let me know how you are getting on with the lockdown wherever you are, and also let me know what kind of thing you would like to read about whilst stuck indoors!

I’ll be following this post up shortly with another about staying resilient when trouble strikes, although I am hoping that is not the case for any of you during these unsettling times. In the meantime, I hope you found these tips about staying positive helpful and will start to use them in order to bring a smile back to your face and keep it there! Let me know how you are getting on with the lockdown wherever you are, and also let me know what kind of thing you would like to read about whilst stuck indoors!

If you are struggling with your mental health during this unprecedented time, please know that resources and help are available to you. Please visit the Mental Health Foundation for assistance.

Michael is Amazing
Michael is Amazing
Appreciation and Happy Thoughts

Appreciation and Happy Thoughts: Why Being Nice Matters

At my workplace, I have recently been involved in a training day about dignity and respect at work. The policy itself is a lengthy piece of work, as you might imagine, and deals with all sorts of issues from harassment and bullying to discrimination and victimisation. During the training session – which was aimed at managers so we could identify and deal with issues as they might arise – it became obvious that there are many ways to insult people without even realising it. Certainly, since the training, my awareness of the issue has increased tenfold and now I really know why being nice matters. Appreciation and some happy thoughts can take you a long way.

“Snowflakes” and Appreciation

I can almost hear it now – and literally did in the training session – “people are too easily offended these days”.

Is this true? Perhaps. Is it a bad thing? Not at all. Why? Because everyone deserves to be happy and free from harassment.

It is easy to get confused about why people are offended about things that don’t, or “wouldn’t”, offend you. But in reality, you have no idea what it is like to live the life of that person. You might comment on their hair colour just once, but they might have heard it a dozen times already that day. Maybe they’ve been hearing about their hair colour for as far back as they can remember. Chances are, this person has been associated with their hair colour (of skin colour, or disability, or other mental or physical feature) for so long that it has taken an irreversible toll on their mental well-being.

Their “safe places” that you might criticize are actually important areas they can escape from the constant badgering of others.

Whilst I have become pretty much numb to it and think nothing of it now other than a minor nuisance, I have had people for all my life commenting on my height. Just the other day a carpenter came into my house and upon seeing me exclaimed how tall I was. Almost like I didn’t already know! If it were the first time I might almost be inclined to have a conversation about it. But it wasn’t the first time. It happens all the time – wherever I go. I’m not even the tallest person I know!

I don’t take much issue with it, but imagine if it wasn’t my height they commented on but my weight. Imagine a person who has struggled with losing weight all their life and is now constantly reminded about it by strangers on the street. Try having your beauty commented on continuously in the office by colleagues who objectify you. If you are honest with yourself, you would tire of it too.

Some people like to jump on the snowflake bandwagon too easily. Funnily enough, I find these people to be some of the biggest “snowflakes” when they have their views challenged. Easy to cling to notions of freedom of speech and the like. Well, I have some news for those people: freedom of speech is not freedom from repercussion. No one has to like what you have to say. And no one has to put up with it if they don’t want to.

Appreciation and Happy Thoughts

The Ease of Negativity

During the training session I had at work, we were instructed to perform a task were we would categorise insults, sayings, and even memes on how offensive they were. There was also 7 protected characteristics which they might fit into – things like age, sex, race, etc. – as defined by the Equality Act 2010.

What was remarkable is that some of these phrases were not really insulting at all. One might, at a glance, understand how some could be annoying – such as the “would you like to get a drink with me?” But what about “can I walk with you?” or bending over to talk to someone? Are these things that could be considered harassment?

Obviously, there was missing context from a large portion of the sentences and words we had to play with. Some not so much – “tramp”, “whore”, “pizza-face”. But others left us slightly puzzled as isolated they might not be considered to be ‘bad’. After all, if no one was ever able to ask people out for drinks our population might be considerably lower!

It turned out that all the phrases we were unsure of had been featured in tribunal cases where the plaintiffs were awarded large sums of money for harassment or discrimination in the workplace. Several of the phrases we had worked with, relatively innocent on their own, had been used in conjunction – repeatedly and/or over a period of time – to harass or discriminate against individuals.

It was striking how situations can develop into real pain for people, often due to throwaway words.

Throughout the whole training and afterwards myself and my colleagues were deeply reflecting on ourselves and our own actions at work. Have I been unkind to others? Have I passed judgement on another unfairly? To my great sadness, the answer was yes.

We have all done it – but it does not make it feel any better. Even if the damage that was done was only minor, to make another person feel bad is not something I enjoy. All of the things I must have done over my life. It was so easy.

Let’s not forget that you can be mean to people indirectly as well! I talk, of course, of gossip. A trade we all indulge in from time to time. Comments about another person because of their perceived work ethic. Because of their habits. Feeding our own superiority complexes. I have written about this before – the self-delusion epidemic. It is alive and well in all of us.

A stray word to a friend here. An unguarded comment to a colleague there. The short-lived satisfaction of gossip. Some people crave it like they might a drug. But it is damaging to ourselves and others. Why do we do it? Because being negative is so easy. So damn easy.

Appreciation and Happy Thoughts

Fight Back with Gratitude and Happy Thoughts

What can we do to stem this tide of negativity? How can we make others feel valued and treat them well? It’s all about showing dignity and respecting others. You must stop yourself when talking negatively about others (or yourself – but that is a topic for another post!).

Since the training, I am now much more aware of what I am saying. Some of my colleagues have even made a bit of a game of it – if another starts saying something that could be considered undignified to another we scream “DIGNIFIED” at them. Jokes aside, it is a great way to challenge others. And without being challenged, people will never change.

Some people have lamented that this new ‘trend’ means we can no longer have fun at work. No longer engage in banter with others. It simply isn’t true, however. You can still joke, laugh, and have fun with others. You just have to do it without being mean! If the Dalai Lama can laugh and joke with those he speaks with then we all can.

I challenge everyone reading this to go away and take care to catch themselves when speaking negatively of another. I want you to pay special attention to what you say to others, or about others, and how they might feel upon hearing it. How would you feel if it was said to or about you?

A good guideline is THINK. Is it True? Is it Helpful? Is it Inspiring? Is it Necessary? Is it Kind?

If it fails these criteria, then you probably shouldn’t say it.

Being nice to others, all of the time, matters. It matters because not only will it make you feel better in yourself, but it will make those around you happier and more willing to be your friend. Instead of pushing people away you will draw them in. Be kind so much that it becomes easy.

Appreciation and Happy Thoughts

Let me know in the comments below how you get on with the challenge. Have you received similar training or have an opinion on this topic? Let me know below as well!

Michael is Amazing
Michael is Amazing
gift of attention this valentine's day

Give the gift of attention this Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is an odd day. A special day to show you love someone? Surely every day should be thus! We do not love our partner any more on Valentine’s, so why would it be necessary to show them that love more than usual? It is possible that in your hectic life you aren’t spending enough time showing that love? If it is then it is understandable. We are all often very busy. We take things for granted. That is why Valentine’s Day is so important – to remind those that we love that we do love them. And I have an idea of the perfect gift for them: your attention.

It is possible you are now sitting or standing there thinking to yourself, “What? Of course, I will give my attention to my significant other on Valentine’s!”

But when I say give your attention to your partner I mean you do so fully. Do not let your mind wander, and do not interrupt. Pay attention to both the verbal and non-verbal cues you might be able to pick up on. Envelop yourself in their happiness, and their sadness. Just because it is Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean all of their problems disperse after all!

Working through any issues that your partner might have, in their relationship with you or elsewhere, is a powerful act on Valentine’s Day and one that is also deeply meaningful.

gift of attention this valentine

Making sure you understand what your partner is saying is an important part of paying attention, and my recent post on active listening is exactly what you need to make sure you have the tools at your disposal for this.

This deep connection which comes about from paying full attention is incredibly satisfying for both you and your partner. It is, of course, difficult to concentrate on paying full attention for an entire day! Your mind will naturally grow weary. Instead, try to focus on the times when the two of you are more intimate, such as at dinner or whilst walking. Be flexible as well – if your partner turns the topic towards a deep conversation then switch on your full attention to truly attune to what they are trying to tell you or say.

You might have already thought it, but paying close attention to someone is not something that should be restricted to Valentine’s Day, or even your significant other. Indeed, one should try to give the gift of attention to all of those important people in their life. By doing so, your relationships will improve and people will genuinely like you more just for paying attention!

Along with the techniques described in the active listening post, you also need to consider some other things when giving your undivided attention to another:

  • Make sure you clarify to yourself, in your head, that you will spend the next x amount of minutes focusing solely on the other person.
  • Remember to maintain eye contact, and if necessary, hold their hand whilst they speak.
  • If your mind starts to wander, notice that is has done so and bring your focus back to the person in front of you. Mindfulness can help you with this, and actually doing this is a form of mindfulness too!
  • Do not interrupt, do not criticise, and do not blame the other person. You want to be supportive, not antagonistic.
gift of attention this valentine

I hope you will be able to take these ideas forward and give the gift of attention to your partner this Valentine’s Day. Even if you do not currently have a partner, it would be a lovely act to find another person you care for and pay attention to them!

Spreading positivity and happiness

Spreading positivity and happiness


A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.


Amelia Earhart

Perhaps a cornerstone of this website and the theme of its writings is that one should always be a good person. Rarely is there a time to act otherwise. I believe that by being good people and doing good unto others, we can find fulfilment and, indeed, enlightenment – if you’re into that kind of thing. Let’s take a closer look at the second part: being good to other people and spreading positivity and happiness!

Even at a purely baseline and selfish level, being good to other people will make your life easier. People who like you are more likely to do you a favour, say kind things of you, and generally be more agreeable. If you act like you care about people, they will care about you. For the most part, kindness is always returned. Being truly kind, however, and spreading positivity and kindness to those around you is not possible in the long term if you are a selfish person.

Spreading positivity and happiness

Why is this? Because we are what we repeatedly do. Even if a selfish person sets out to be kind in order to gain leverage of some kind in order to make their life easier, over time being nice and good to people will become a habit. Suddenly – well, not that suddenly but over time – the selfish person will no longer be selfish but selfless.

Many people worry that that are too selfish. They might not describe themselves as selfish. Nor would others say thusly of them. But they feel like they could do more. More for those around them. A desire to become a better person. If this is you, then act as the selfish person does above – practice spreading positivity and happiness and it will become second nature to you.

Of course, there is nothing inheritably selfish about wanting a better life! One way to have a better life is to spread positivity and happiness to those around you and, literally, reap what you sow.

But why would you want to spread positivity and happiness in the first place?

The easiest answer to this is because we like it when people are nice to us. Knowing this, we want others to feel the same way. When we are nice to another we would think of how good they are feeling because of what we have said or done and that makes us, in turn, feel good! Not only do we get a buzz from being nice, but if they reciprocate, at that time or in the future, we get another feel-good buzz!

Not only that but by being kinder to others, you will become kinder to yourself. Not only will being kind to others boost your self-esteem as it is positively received but also you’ll find it less natural to be harsh to yourself. That doesn’t mean that you’ll no longer see a need to work on yourself and improve, but that you’ll begin to do so in a constructive and positive manner. You’ll want to lose weight to be healthier for yourself and others, not because you look fat and ugly. It’s a truly remarkable shift in perspective that comes – admittedly with time – from being a genuinely good and kind person.

Spreading positivity and happiness

Being a happy and positive person can, at times, be draining, particularly if you are not used to it. You’ll be fine once it is second nature to you but before you get to that point you should ensure you do not become burnt out. That doesn’t mean you should pick and choose who to be nice to, just that you should remember to take time for yourself and allow yourself to recharge. Read a good book or check out your favourite web pages to take a time out. Do so regularly. Looking after yourself means you can look after others.

One of the best ways to be positive is to stop with judgements. You don’t like being judged. Other people don’t like being judged. People really don’t like being judged. So don’t do it. You might have a small good feeling by passing judgement but it really won’t help you long-term. This also relates heavily back to my previous post about being deluded about our own capabilities. We believe we are better at things than other people even though we are not. Doing away with such thoughts makes it a lot easier to be an all-around good person!

An easy way to be kind to others is to put yourselves in their shoes. An old adage but still very relevant. Think about how complicated your life is. Everything that goes on in it. Everything you have to keep a track of. Now think of another person. They could have less going on that you, true. But they could have a lot more. Chances are you’ll never really know! But whilst the stresses they are under might be secret to you, there is no reason not to treat them kindly. You might be the only one that day to do so!

Dealing with difficult people can be its own challenge. You may find it much harder to be nice to them and spread the positivity and happiness you want to. You might be more inclined to dish out the pain! But resist such things. When dealing with difficult people you must first resolve the issue before moving on to spreading your positivity to them – although it is possible to be kind whilst dealing with the issue! In fact, being kind whilst dealing with difficult people is an excellent way to disarming them and making the whole situation easier for you to handle. I’ve just finished an excellent book on the subject and will be looking to write an article on what I’ve learnt soon.

Spreading positivity and happiness

Most importantly at all remember to listen to others. This is perhaps the number one way of being supportive and spreading positivity and happiness. Actively listen to what someone is telling you and they will be very grateful for it. They will feel good and so will you. It’s really that easy! Some people need to vent and some others need to say things they might be scared to say. Without criticism, listen to what they say and support their ideas. If necessary, provide constructive remarks.

Don’t forget that being mindful helps with spreading positivity and happiness no matter how you do it!

I’m interested to hear what you have to say on the topic of spreading positivity and happiness to others. Let me know what your most vivid experience of it is, either giving or receiving, in the comments below!