Making 2010 Your Best Year Yet – What are you Grateful for?

Reading time: 1 minute 34 secondsGratitude

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2009 is getting its coat, heading for the door and bidding us a fond farewell.  It’s been an interesting year for the world, seeing some challenging economic times and big questions about the future of our planet.   For me, the end of the year is a time to reflect on what has been, and to think about what could be in the future.

For me, this has been a year of change.  I’ve moved back to the UK from the US, gone from steady employment to setting up a new business, got used to working at home rather than in an office.  There have been challenges – being terrified of having no clients and no income at the start of the year, adjusting to a different lifestyle in a different country, learning to set boundaries and look after myself better.

Yet on reflection it’s been a wonderful journey and there is a lot I’m grateful for.  I’ve worked with some amazing clients who have made major changes in their life.  I’ve managed to volunteer my time advising some inspiring social entrepreneurs.  I’ve set up a blog read by over 7,000 people (so far – thank you!).  I’ve developed some new skills, particularly around managing my emotions and thoughts more effectively.  Most importantly, overcoming some of the challenges has strengthened my bonds with the most important people in my life.  For all this I’m profoundly grateful for the last year.

So before 2009 gets into a cab and waves goodbye, take a minute or two to reflect on your year:

  • What did you achieve this year?
  • What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?
  • What did you learn this year?
  • Most importantly, what are you grateful for (things, people, events) from 2009?

I’d love to hear what you are grateful for from 2009, so please do share a comment.  The next post will focus on making 2010 your Best Year Yet.

The Less Ordinary Guide to Loving the Holiday Season

Reading time: 2 minutes 3 seconds – Enjoying Christmas – Priceless

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but it’s two weeks until Christmas (gulp). The season of joy, happiness, family and celebration is well and truly upon us.  However the nonstop whirl of eating, drinking and being merry, combined with the organisation needed means that this can be a very stressful time of year.   To avoid weeping over the turkey or chasing granny with the carving knife, I’ve compiled four ideas to make this a Less Ordinary season.

1. Pay Yourself First – at this time of year we can be constantly on the run.  Often we don’t stop until early January.  This year, make the resolution to look after yourself a little better.  Try setting aside 10 minutes each day for some “me time” – it’s not really a lot to ask for.  Look for a way to get a little exercise, even if it is walking to the shops to keep mind and body together.  In short, do a little of what you like every day.  We can lose ourselves at this time of year – Pay yourself first and you can give more to others.

2. Be Generous – the Holiday spirit is about the fellowship of all humanity.  Be thoughtful and generous in giving your time and treasure.  A great way to really appreciate Christmas is to volunteer some time to a charity, and even get your family or loved ones involved.  Giving with no expectation of return brings joy to the world and a great sense of peace and satisfaction.

3. Count your Blessings – chances are you’ll be enjoying the Holidays with a roof over your head, heating, a good meal and the company of others.  Being grateful for what we have at this time of year puts our life in perspective.  Try to spend a minute every day (it could be whilst you’re commuting, on the escalator, even waiting in a queue at the supermarket) to reflect on how blessed your life is and to offer gratitude for this.

4. Slow Down – this time of year is typically lived at 100 miles per hour.  We run from pillar to post with no time to stop.  When life is lived at this speed it is all too easy to lose track of the bigger picture and get bound up in the hysteria.  To stay in control, try slowing everything down by half a beat.  Walk a little slower, take an extra half a second to think before you speak, stop and take a deep breath and appreciate the world around you.  By setting an intention to slow down, you’ll live in the moment more of the time, rather than having your mind wrapped up in the next event.  Slow down and really enjoy the Holidays.

What are your secrets to making the most of this wonderful time of year? – please do leave a comment or your thoughts on this article.  And if you enjoyed the article, please subscribe to make our dream of having 100 subscribers for Christmas come true by clicking here.

Thanksgiving and Gratitude

Reading Time: 1 minute and 47 seconds

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States.  This is a day devoted to gratitude.  Thanksgiving’s origins are from the original settlers setting aside time to be thankful for the harvest and having food to survive the harsh winter.  In the modern world, it has become a time to be with the people we love and to be grateful for all we have in our lives.  In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I wanted to share an amazing story of one man’s experience of struggle and gratitude.

In 1983, Rom Houben was driving home when his car was caught up in a huge accident.  He nearly died that day, yet somehow he survived in a coma.  Doctors ran every test they knew and found no response to any stimulus – Rom was diagnosed in a total vegetative state, and for 23 years he remained in hospital, motionless.

In 2006, Dr. Steven Laureys, an experimental neurobiologist was working on a project to better understand long-term coma patients.  Laureys decided to run new tests on patients to monitor their brain activity.  When Laureys ran his tests on Rom, he saw something remarkable – normal, healthy brain activity.  Everyone had assumed that because Rom’s body had stopped moving, his brain had shut down too.  Laureys realised that inside his still body, Rom’s brain was very much alive.

For 23 years, Rom was a prisoner in his own body.  He could see everything that was going on, hear the conversations of the nurses, smell the food on the next patients table and do nothing.  Rom heard about the death of his father from his distraught mother and was powerless to respond.

Laureys used intensive physiotherapy to help Rom break his silence using a voice machine operated by slight movements of one finger.  Rom was free.  So how does Rom explain his ordeal?

When the doctors first pronounced his coma, Rom “screamed, but there was nothing to hear”.  In the first few weeks and months, Rom felt “powerlessness. Utter powerlessness. At first I was angry, then I learned to live with it.”  Miraculously he learned to cope through intense periods of mediation, “I travelled with my thoughts into the past, or into another existence altogether”. Sometimes, “I was only my consciousness and nothing else”.

And after 23 years of being trapped, how did he feel when Laureys finally made his discovery?  “I’ll never forget the day that they discovered me,” he said. “It was my second birth”.  Rom had no anger or bitterness over his experience, only gratitude at a new chance at life.  His remarkable attitude shows the power of gratitude.  This story had helped me to reflect on my experience and feel immense gratitude for the countless blessings in my life.

Wherever you are in the world, I hope that you can take a moment today to think about your life and be grateful for your experience, and the world around you.  Happy Thanksgiving.