happiness

How do you value, and spend, your precious time?


Loving time

 

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” ~William Penn

How often do you catch yourself saying ‘I don’t have enough time for …‘?

Could it be possible that the things you believe you don’t have time for, are the very things most likely to increase your happiness?

Which of these, do you regularly say with conviction:

I don’t have time to …”:

  • Shop for fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Cook healthy meals from scratch
  • Take regular exercise
  • Spend time with my family or friends
  • Talk openly with my partner about what’s important in our lives and relationship
  • Enjoy being outside gardening, or playing games with my children (or grandchildren/nieces/nephews)
  • Sit still and be mindful
  • Read that book
  • Go dancing

You may be able to add many more pleasurable and uplifting things to the list. Or even start your own?

The question I put to you is, “What are you spending the 24 hours of each day doing, and prioritising  that leads you to really believe you’re deprived of quality time”?

Possible time ‘wasters’

Let’s consider three possibilities.

Working hours

Progression in the 19th and 20th centuries brought with it an increase in machinery, and subsequently computers and other technology. It was believed by the 21st century we’d be working less hours, freeing up more time for leisure. Is that true? It certainly doesn’t appear to be – but do correct me if I’m wrong. Or maybe we could be, but the pay has decreased disproportionately so to keep up with the lifestyle we aspire to we feel we have to continue to work long hours?

Or are we led to believe by subtle (but very clever) marketing messages that it’s important to have bigger and better careers, houses, cars, computers, phones, clothes, holidays in the exotic places, etc. We then find ourselves living to work, rather than working to live.

Maybe it’s time to ask whether we really need to?

What if each individual stopped trying to keep up with, or impress, anyone else?

Would you still need to earn as much as you are now?

What could you cut back on to release some expenditure?

One of the uplifting things for me about living in New Zealand for eight years, was most people’s lack of attachment to material possessions. It seemed accepted as ‘the norm’ to work part time, i.e. less than a forty hour week. And these were some of the happiest people I’ve met.

Shopping

The other thing I’ve noticed since returning to England to live, is the excessive number of shops and shopping outlets. Now I realise there’s a dichotomy here in that if people don’t shop, businesses don’t survive. But how much of it is a catch 22 situation?

The more people shop, the more shops are needed.  The more shops are needed, and the more money people spend on things they don’t need, the longer people have to work to keep said shops open.

I’m currently living on a very tight budget, as my husband and I have chosen to leave our ‘proper jobs’ to travel the waterways of England.  This has really opened my eyes to how much money we used to waste on unnecessary ‘stuff’ – even when living in New Zealand!

As Will Smith says: “Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.

Television

I challenged a client recently to consider giving up watching the television for one night of the week. She was initially aghast at this suggestion.  Her relationship wasn’t going well, and she believed her partner didn’t love her ‘enough’ – what on earth would they talk about? They both worked full time and had different interests that kept them occupied at the weekends. I’d asked what they did in the evenings after work. They generally ate ‘fast food’, as they didn’t have time to shop or cook ‘healthy’ options.  They then flopped in front of the TV until bedtime, when they were so exhausted and sluggish they just slept.

She took up the challenge.  Next time we met, her energy had changed dramatically, and she excitedly informed me her relationship had turned a corner. They’d begun to talk to each other. They’d made a plan to exercise together in the evenings – walking or running. They’d reconnected, found themselves and each other once again. Within six months they’d unexpectedly changed jobs – and countries.

This may be an extreme example. But ask yourself how much time you spend each day, week and month watching ‘the box’. What are you watching? How is it contributing to your happiness? Is it instead giving you the impression that the world is full of terrorists? Or conversely that everyone else is happier, richer, smarter and luckier than you?

Turn off the TV!

Turn off the TV!

Making time count

Imagine being diagnosed with an debilitating illness.  This could be something mild like a migraine, or a life threatening diagnosis. Consider whether you would continue spending your time in the same way you are now?

If you had a migraine, you’d have to take time off work, you’d have to get someone to look after the children and do the shopping and cooking. If you hear the worst and find your days are limited – will you feel as though you’ve spent your time wisely?

Ask yourself today the following:

  1. Is everything I do absolutely necessary? Write down each day how you spend your time, and keep this going for a month.  At the end of this time, highlight those things that were essential and which were desirable, which ones you did out of a sense of duty or habit. What could you let go of?
  2. Do you have to do everything you do, or could you ask someone else for help? It’s true that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Do you enjoy playing ‘the rescuer’, and need to feel needed? Do you take over and organise everyone else so they feel they can’t possibly live without you? How does that help you or others? What would it mean for you to hand some things over?
  3. If you knew in advance the day and time of your departure from this world, what would be the most important things for you to spend your time doing? A mantra of mine is ‘carpe Diem’, seize the day, from that wonderful film ‘Dead Poet’s Society’. None of us know what’s round the next corner. The world could be struck by a meteorite at any time and in an instant we’d be wiped out. Are you spending your valuable time trying to be someone you’re not, trying to please everyone, spending money on things you don’t need so you have to work longer? How can you begin to change this?

I’d love to hear from you about the ways you’re spending your valuable time, and where you could change to accommodate more of your pleasurable and heart-centred activities …

How can I be happy when the world is so terrible?


Does this resonate with you?  Many people believe they can’t possibly be happy when there are so many awful things happening in the world – it’d be far too ‘selfish’.

If you identify with this, my question would be “How does that serve you and those close to you?”

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New beginnings

How would it be if you loved and valued your ‘self’ first and foremost, and began to look at the world through a whole new lens?  One where everything is magical and wondrous, where we all have a choice to be happy, regardless of our particular circumstances?  That people come into our lives for a reason, and we choose to embrace this and allow ourselves to be open to limit-less possibilities, or we can completely miss opportunities by being closed off and fearful of change – believing we don’t ‘deserve’ to be happy because others aren’t.

Each day brings the chance of new beginnings, if we can be awaken to them and see the bright side instead of focussing constantly on the dark side.  Some days we may want to just sit and be, and that’s ok, so long as we’re making a conscious choice.

How would it feel if you stopped reading the papers and watching the TV – for a day, a week, a month or longer?  The media are going to feed you as much drama and negativity as possible – it makes gripping reading and viewing, they have to earn a living, and the ‘bad news’ persuades your brain that the world is indeed a dreadful and dangerous place.

But look around you – is it really?

It‘s a wonderful world, filled with miracles, if you’re open and willing to embrace them.  Agreed natural and man-made disasters occur somewhere daily – this has always been so since the beginning of time, and will continue to be.

Do you really believe you can ‘make’ another person happy, or change/prevent the suffering that goes on in the world?  We can certainly spread random acts of kindness and be more loving towards anyone our lives touch, releasing any need for having it returned.  It’s when we give with the expectation of return that can lead to disappointment and resentment, or we forgo our own happiness due to feelings of ‘guilt’ over events we have no control of.

In her book called ‘The Happiness Project’, Gretchen Rubin suggests …

‘… people cultivate unhappiness as a way to control others.  They cling to unhappiness because without it they’d forgo the special consideration that unhappiness secures; the claim to pity and attention.’

Makes you think doesn’t it …

The wisdom of aging …



Wise old owl

Over seven years ago, I decided I’d had enough of dyeing my hair.  I ‘d been resisting my ‘greyness’ for so long, and didn’t even know how much was there, or what my ‘real’ colour was any more.  Every six weeks I would visit the hairdresser to have my roots coloured, and every other visit I would also have ‘highlights’ put in.

At the age of 46, in my first year of immigration to New Zealand, I decided enough was enough – I’d reached a stage where I felt ‘comfortable’ with my ‘self’, so much so that I decided to embrace my age instead of being fearful of it.  I didn’t want to look 20 years younger, and importantly I didn’t want to keep paying all that money to try and make myself someone I wasn’t – I’d heard a scare about the possibilities of hair dye and cancer which pushed me a little too.

I had my hair cut very short, and a few ‘blonde’ highlights put in to soften the change as the grey grew out.  I’d hated those unsightly roots when they grew back, and it was so liberating not to have to worry about them anymore.  Most people (generally women) were aghast when they heard that I was ‘embracing my grey’ and couldn’t comprehend why I would do such a thing.

You’re never too old

Two months later, I met the love of my life, Barry, and we married in 2009.  So that talk I’d heard so often about ‘loving yourself’ before you can truly love someone else, was true after all!

I’ve been invited to talk about ‘Life Coaching’ to a group called ‘The University of the Third Age’ or U3A, here in Gisborne, New Zealand.  The person who asked me initially to present, wondered whether there would be anything to interest older people in ‘Life Coaching’.  “Of course!”, said I.  “We’re never too old to let go of anything that’s holding us back or to embrace change and find more life in our lives.”

One of the ways of preparing for this talk was to post on my Facebook page a ‘call to action’ – here it is and responses I received:

On 7th March I’ve been invited to talk to around 60, over 60 year olds, about ‘Life Coaching’.

 What are your thoughts on growing older, maturing, being an ‘elder’?

 What words spring to mind when you think of life after 60?

I’d really appreciate your feedback and comments …”

Respect, I definitely feel that the ‘youngsters’ have no respect for their elders anymore, don’t know that that’s going to help you though.”

 “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were? ~Satchel Paige

It’s sad to grow old, but nice to ripen. ~Brigitte Bardot

Everyone is the age of their heart. ~Guatemalan Proverb

Grow old with me! The best is yet to be. ~Robert Browning

You can’t turn back the clock. But you can wind it up again. ~Bonnie Prudden”


 “Funny I have quite a few friends that over 60 and they are as active and some are musicians, teachers and artist and they and myself most definitely don’t even think of them being over 60 lol Some people are definitely growing older and maturing others are just living life to the fullest and they most certainly don’t look like they are in their 60’s lol.


I think it would be how old would you think I was if you didn’t know how old I was!!!


“We don’t stop having fun because we get old; we get old because we stop having fun.’ – unknown. There is a wonderful story that does the email rounds from time to time about an elderly lady who is entering a retirement home. The nurse describes her room to her on the way up, and the elderly lady says ‘I love it already’. The nurse said, ‘But you haven’t seen it yet’. The elderly lady said it wasn’t how the furniture was arranged that would determine whether she loved her room or not; it was the way she arranged her thoughts.”

“It might seem more difficult to find things to appreciate as we get older, but it is the secret to being content with life. A good reminder is that the alternative to growing old, is dying young!


“I remember my mother telling me on her 70th birthday ‘I never wanted to get old’ – she died at 99! When I reached my 70th birthday I wondered whether or not I would live until I was 99 as my mother did. We had two things in common, firstly the desire to have a peaceful death (my mother did), and secondly to enjoy the time we have left – and for that I honestly don’t think you need life coaching; you’ve already had it!” 


“I’m 60 a week on Saturday and don’t feel any different to what I did at 30 or 40, all just numbers really. I don’t think I have any notion of death or nearing closer to it, sometimes I wonder if I am a live or is what I am doing just a dream in death … weird really, and certainly don’t care about dying personally. What I am looking forward to is becoming even older maybe the 80 age and being able to say and do things and get away with them as it being an age thing … or does that not happen lol is it just in my head that I accept old people and their semi senility.” 

“Clapped out but still dancing?”

 “Age and wisdom don’t always go hand in hand. Respect should be given unconditionally, but that is only learnt through experience. Experience isn’t about longevity, some people hang on to their preconceptions and prejudices their whole lives. Being over sixty is no different to being under sixty, except in the way you perceive yourself. Don’t think about a change in life because of a birthday, think about a party and the lovely range of people who could be there – of all ages.”

 “Gets a bit scary when the NHS start to bombard you with Cancer smear tests and bowel cancer tests in the week you turn 60!!!!


Also, one reaches 60 to be told sorry dear you can’t retire you need to work another 23/4 years now till you get your pension! No free bus pass now till one gets ones pension but free NHS for prescriptions!”

 “If it’s not fun or profitable…don’t do it!”


 “Hi Sandra saw you thing about 60s plus. Interesting – I think old age will be a totally different experience in years to come. Why .. Technology! Not just wellbeing, mobility and aids to living – but web access / twitter / FB / movies on demand / gaming etc. think our generation will be the tech oldies!”

 “I feel a bit guilty about being 60 plus (63 actually) for all of 5 seconds.  My children will never have the retirement I am having so I feel I owe it to myself to make the most of it.  What really annoys me is that they think because you are older that you want to settle for second best.  Well we don’t, we want to enjoy every opportunity that is given to us.  Take what ever you enjoy and makes you happy and do it.  After all it is only a number and that number doesn’t necessarily exist in your mind only sometimes in the joints!”

Some fascinating responses, diverse and similar all at the same time.  We all have different ways of approaching aging …

I also spoke with an inspirational woman from California, by the wonders of Skype, who started a business in her 60s called the ‘You University‘ .  She and her husband lost all of their retirement savings and considered committing suicide at one point rather than asking for help – but they managed, by various means, to change their viewpoint about what it is to age and now, in the ‘Age of Happiness’ blog it’s reported:

It had taken Maia and Bart nearly a lifetime to find their callings. The path towards them had cost a fortune. Maia and Bart are convinced that it was a reasonable price.”

Another way of informing my talk is by reading ‘Ram Dass: Still Here: Embracing aging, changing and dying’, which really resonates with my beliefs and is giving me greater respect for aging, as well as letting go of our consumer driven society, which judges us more on what we DO than WHO we ARE – mainly because most people are so busy they don’t really know!

Letting go of ‘stuff’

I’m also de-cluttering our possessions as Barry and I are making the move to England in just over two weeks, and plan to be there for the forseeable future.  There’s something very cathartic about letting go of the need for ‘stuff’, both literally and metaphorically, and I can feel my life becoming simpler.

I’m also letting go of my ‘career’ as a midwife – in spite of still occasionally feeling that it would be ‘safer’ to keep doing it, I know I can earn a good salary doing that, even though I know I’ve ‘grown out’ of the passion that it used to evoke in me.

However I know so many people who’ve spent their lives working hard to build up a career and save for their pension, and never manage to change even though they dream of doing so – then when it comes to leaving the role that they’ve become, they’re left in despair and don’t know what to ‘do’ with themselves.  Because they’ve been so busy making a living that they forgot to make a life!

As I grow and mature as a Holistic Life Coach, I’m inspired by the changes clients make towards letting go of the need for filling their life with work because they’re too afraid of facing change in their career and/or personal life.

And I’m really looking forward to talking with these elders about Life Coaching and what resonates with them – I’m sure there’s going to be much wisdom to be gained …

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts?