Discover 5 ways to have an amazing day

Warning: This post contains 5 powerful ways to bring more energy, joy, confidence and influence into your life.

Reading time: 2 minutes and 48 seconds

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Change your thoughts and you change your world” Norman Vincent Peale

How often do you try new things just to see what happens?

I love experimenting.  I am constantly looking for fresh ideas and ways of approaching life.  I like to dabble, try things out, spice things up a little.

I’m fascinated by the energy flows that humans have and how we can influence them.  In particular I’ve been playing with how our state of mind and physical presence can affect the energy of the world around us.

Here are some experiments I’ve tried with amazing results – they have helped me to increase my confidence, influence and presence.  If you’re interested, pick one and try it out – then leave a comment to share the results.

1. Fully Present

Spend a day fully engaging with everyone you meet.  Make it your intention to listen to everything they have to say.  Be encouraging and ask them open questions about what you hear.  Create space for the other person to express themselves.   Resist the temptation to bring the conversation back to you and your experience.

What was different about your interactions?  How did you change as a result?

2. Glitterball

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Walk around imagining that you have a glittering ball of energy and light floating just in front of your chest.  Let the light glow and shine in every situation.  Keep it present as you speak to people.  See how the world responds to you and your energy.  Try this in a crowded bar and see how long it takes to get served.

3. Eyes Wide Closed

Practice walking with your eyes closed.  Find a safe place away from traffic / danger (a path in the park or a garden is good), close your eyes and start walking.  Count your steps and see how many you can manage before your have to open your eyes.  Keep trying and see how far you can trust yourself to go.

4. Energy Field

A two-part experiment.  This one takes a little courage.  Next time you are walking in a city or busy place, try these two different approaches:

1)   Walk with a closed posture and keep your eyes to the floor.  Make yourself feel small.  Keep your energy inside yourself and at a low level.  Don’t get out of the way of oncoming people as you are walking.  See what happens.

2)   Walk with an upright posture.  Open out your chest.  Take up as much space as you can.  Slow your pace a little – feel at leisure.  Open your eyes wide and look ahead.  Make eye contact with everyone you see.  Walk in a straight line without deviation and don’t get out of the way of oncoming people.  See what is different.

5. Hat Trick

Imagine that everyone you meet today is wearing a funny hat.  They can all wear the same one, or each person can have a different one.  Jester hat, cowboy hat, viking helmet, policeman’s helmet, pirate hat, balloon hat, top hat, huge hat covered in feathers, tiara, royal crown.  As you talk with them, keep imagining the hat and seeing it sitting jauntily on their head.  What difference does this make to your interactions?  This works particularly well for uncomfortable situations, or in dealing with difficult people.

What other experiments have you tried?  Please share them with the LOL Community and we can play too!

Photo credit: Chez Worldwide, Fake Allowance (from Flickr Creative Commons)

How to Start

Reading time: 2 minutes and 10 seconds

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Get started today

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Twenty eight minutes.

That is all I have.  Twenty eight minutes to distil my thoughts into a blog post.  I’m in the coffee shop and the battery life of my lap-top has imposed this limit on me.

What am I feeling?  Pressure to create.  Where do I start? How do I start?

Sometimes I feel that my writing just flows.  My desktop tells a different story.  It’s a graveyard of half-written posts, abandoned to the scrap heap of history.  The one about learning to slice onions was particularly awful.  Maybe I’ll post it one day, so you can agree.

Getting started is usually the biggest hurdle.  The blank page.  The blinking cursor.  It’s almost mocking me.  Come on – fill me up.  Bring me to life.  How difficult can that possibly be?

My personal best is 47 minutes.  I’ve sat and stared.  Occasionally an idea popped into my head.  No, who’d want to read about that?  Too boring.  Too trite.  Too patronising.  Even I wouldn’t read that.  Back to staring, and waiting.

If only I was as amazing at everything as I am at self-censoring.  Life would be a breeze.

So how do I get started.  Breaking inertia, getting the ball rolling.  Michael Atavar, author of the brilliant How to Be an Artist probably sums it up best:


Pick something, anything to fill the vacuum.  Look at the world around you.  The people, the environment, nature, the sky, the sunlight playing on the water, the feeling you have inside you, the photograph of the old man in the café covering his eyes, the colour of the paint on the wall.  Anything that catches your interest.

Congratulations, you’ve started.  Now do something with it. Write it down, talk about it with someone, draw it, photograph it, video it, write a haiku about it.  The first building block.

Where does this take you?  What happens next, where does your mind draw you?  Find the excitement, open the next door and see what is behind. The rust starts to flake off the mental cog wheels.  Each rotation gets easier.  The rolling stone picks up momentum.  Moss be gone.

Starting something is much easier than not starting something. Not starting is static, frustrating, tedious.

Starting is dynamic, energizing, exciting, creative. It’s not important if you’re trying to write a blog post, get a project moving, find a new job or change the world.  Everything has to start somewhere.

So I pick something.  Twenty eight minutes.  I roll with it.  The wheels turn.  Something else follows.  Suddenly the words are flowing.  I’m riding a train of thought, not exactly sure where it is going.  And then I reach the destination, and I’m pleased.  With 8 minutes still to spare.  Time to start something new….

What are you ready to start?  How long have you been waiting?  How do you get the ball rolling?  What gets you unstuck?  Please leave a comment and let the LOL community know.

Great blogs about starting

Marc Winitz at Black Belt Guide on Making a Breakthrough.

Tess at The Bold Life on Living Without Regret.

Photo Credit: Lord Jim from Flickr Creative Commons

What I talk about when I talk about running

Reading time: 3 minutes and 12 seconds

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Always on the run

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“Why do I do this to myself?”

I ask this question at 7.32am on a Sunday morning as I stand on my front doorstep staring at the rain.  The marathon is 8 weeks away and the training schedule suggests that I run 18 miles today.

I nearly turn tail and head back inside to the warmth and comfort of bed, yet something makes me take the first step into the rain.  Three hours later I return, soaking, calves aching, hands stained black from the old gloves I’m wearing and starving.  But happy.

I’ve been a runner for 10 years now.  Before I got hooked, I didn’t really have a hobby or pastime.  Now I can’t imagine my life without running.

It is my passion, my outlet, a way to work out my body and stay healthy, a place to think, a ritual, a sanctuary, a whole new way of thinking, a challenge to my relationship with time, a way to learn about being with myself, an obsession, part of my identity.

For me, this passion is like a reliable friend – it is always there for me rain or shine, on good days and bad. Running never judges me, never gives me a hard time, never let’s me down.  Running is there to listen to what is going on in my head, and to give me time to reflect on it.  It’s a sanctuary from the storm and a place to celebrate success.  Running challenges me to be better, yet on my terms.

Running has taught me a lot about myself. I’ve found a new comfort with myself through spending time alone.  I used to struggle to spend 30 minutes alone, now I enjoy my own company.  I’ve found that time seems to melt when I’m out pounding the streets.  Hours fly by with barely a thought in my mind.  I sometimes enter a zone where time seems to lose any meaning and I feel a sense of genuine bliss.  I also find that my unconscious mind solves many of my toughest challenges on runs, and delivers the results later.

Most of all, I am a runner now.  It is part of my identity. Hell, I have 5 years of spreadsheets detailing every run I’ve done.  Running is not an option, it is an essential in my week.  I don’t run to impress or please anyone else, it is purely for my own enjoyment.  I couldn’t imagine being without my smelly old running shoes, the Goretex jacket and those ever so lovely Lycra tights.  Phil is a runner.

Reading this, I wonder if I’ve become dependent on running. Tracy Todd, an amazing blogger who had a car accident and is now quadriplegic wrote these powerful words:

There was a time in my life when I was living my dream.  Everything changed the instant I broke my neck in a car accident and was paralyzed from the neck down.  I was forced to change my dreams but I learned that is okay as long as one has dreams and hope.  I learned from personal experience that disappointment can be absolutely shattering if life happens to throw one a curveball.  It is important to have the ability to change one’s focus when necessary but even more critical is to have the emotional intelligence to make peace with it.”

How would I cope if my passion, my friend, my teacher, part of my identity was taken away from me one day?  How would I learn to let go?  How would I change as a person?

First, thinking about this helps me to appreciate what I have even more and to make the most of every run.  When I’m flagging and tempted to give up, it does sometimes cross my mind that “this could be my last ever run”.  That thought was a strong factor in me finishing 18 miles on Sunday.

Second, It makes me think about how flexible we need to be as humans living in an ever changing world.  Our certainties in life can disappear in an instant.  What we take for granted is fleeting and fragile.  Learning to change, adapt and continue making the most of life is a powerful ability.  However important my passion for running may be, it can never define me.

I’ve gained a new perspective on life through the appreciation and contemplation of running. My personal gratitude has grown through the gifts I have received.  If I ever reach the end of the line, there are no regrets, only happy memories.  And every time I lace up and head out into the rain, I do so with a smile on my face and thanks in my heart.

What things in your life that take you to another place, that bring you peace, fascination, release, happiness?  What do you talk about when you talk about your passions?  How do they enhance your life?  And what would you do without them?  Please leave a comment and share your thoughts with the rest of the LOL community.

Others great blogs on passion:

Belinda Munoz at the Halfwaypoint on the Small Things that add Meaning.

Patty Bechtold at Why Not Start Now on Cloud Watching.

Friends – Will they Really be There for you?

Reading Time: 3 minutes and 14 seconds

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Why do we have friends? This question was posed by the philosopher Mark Vernon at a breakfast I attended last week.  Humans are certainly social animals.  We have always lived in family units, which affiliated into small tribes in order to increase our chances of survival.  Our biology pushes us to put our faith in others to stay alive.  Yet in modern civilization, human interaction has become increasingly complicated.  Now we play a variety of roles – friend, colleague, lover, service provider.   What is special about friendship?

The Easy Relationship?

Friendship could be seen as “The Easy Relationship”.  On the face of it, there are very few rules or obligations relating to friendship.  It is a purely optional arrangement.  I have old pals that I haven’t spoken to in years, yet if I were to see them tomorrow, I know that we’d slip straight back into the old routine.  Friends can be seen as a low maintenance relationship, taking away some of the strong emotion that goes with a romantic entanglement.  Friends are there when you need them, yet there is no obligation to be there all the time.

Making friends

A friendship tends to develop built on shared experiences.  Many friends come from our time at school, college or work.  We share the great times and support each other in the tough times.  The time spent together becomes the foundation and glue that holds a friendship together.  We learn to appreciate our friends’ personality and quirks and to anticipate how they might respond to a situation.  This familiarity helps us to drop our guard and let another person take one step into our inner world.

Lovers kiss, friends talk

Yet despite this increased level of trust, a friendship is not monogamous. In a romantic relationship we tend to collapse the boundaries of our ego with one other person.  We trust them completely and share almost all our thoughts and emotions.  There is an expectation in most societies that this arrangement is mutual and exclusive.  With this added weight comes added responsibility.  There is typically very little separation between two lovers.  This can lead to thinking as a “we” rather than an individual.  When we seek advice from a lover there is almost always a lack of objectivity.   The response is within the context of the relationship and considers the potential impact on the couple.

By contrast, friendships rely on a degree of separation.  We look for friends who are can bring us something fresh and interesting.  Friends need shared experience, and also time apart.  We typically have different friends who fill different roles in our life; partner in crime, adviser, truth teller, insigator.  Friends are certainly not fully objective, yet they provide a broader perspective than a lover typically can.  We have a range of friends who fill in the gaps in our life, even if we have a romantic partner.

Keeping friends

Several research papers on friendship have suggested we should have at least 10 friends to get the support we need.  This allows us to keep friendships from becoming all-encompassing.  This way, we get a wider variety of inputs and perspectives.  Perhaps in the complexity of the 21st Century, this group is a proxy for our ancient tribe.  Our friends help us to make the most of life, as our ancient tribe helped us to stay alive.

Friendships are a vital part of our support system for navigating life.  Although we can rely on old friends, these relationships do need continued shared experience to evolve and grow.  I am determined to rekindle some of my closest friendships which have gone a little quiet recently.  I want to keep my tribal links strong.  There are a few good ways to do this –

  • Spending quality time together
  • Providing support to a friend in need
  • Asking for help when it is needed.

I’ll be looking for opportunities to appreciate the great friends that I have, and even for chances to develop new friendships.

What is your take on friendship?  How important are your friends in living your life?  What would life be like without friends?  Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Photo credit: Gwennypics (from Flickr Creative Commons)

Get off the Hamster Wheel

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Get off the Hamster Wheel

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Have you ever felt like you’re stuck on the hamster wheel – running as fact as you can and going nowhere?

Life can be seen as the sum total of all the choices we’ve ever made.  Every day we’re faced with hundreds of decisions – some inconsequential such as which brand of toothpaste to buy, some very important such as choosing a new career direction.

It is what it is….

Many people believe that our life is determined by fate and that there is no way to influence what happens to us.   This theory suggests that we have no choice in any events in our life.  Living by this philosophy can lead to giving up on life.  In this world, our life is little more than a piece of driftwood floating on the stream of fate.

The Smarter Choice

The alternative mindset is that we live in a world full of choices.   From this view point, the world fills with possibility.  In a given situation we face a huge range of options. If you are in a meeting with your boss, you could choose to answer her questions earnestly and to the best of your ability, you could choose to be challenging and stand up for your views, or you could choose to run out of the door screaming and never come back.   Each choice has potential consequences and inevitably some consequences may appear preferable to others.  However, we have the power to choose.

The Hamster Wheel

Even if we believe in choices, it is easy to close ourselves down to our options.  We can get into a routine or a rut.  Life becomes about survival.  Welcome to The Hamster Wheel.

Getting off the Hamster Wheel can give us tremendous energy and power.  It allows you to feel in control of a given situation.

Choose Life

Over time and through self-reflection we can learn to slow down and see the bigger picture.  Once we realise we have options, life stops being about survival and starts to become about possibilities.  We step off the hamster wheel.

When we are making deliberate choices it becomes easier to take responsibility for our actions.  When we choose and commit to our actions we can own the results regardless of the apparent level of success.   We make choices, we commit to them, we accept the results and we grow as a person.

Exercise – Getting off the Hamster Wheel

This exercise is a quick way to get off the hamster wheel and learn to see all the options.  You can work through it in advance to plan your biggest decisions by doing it every morning.  This also works in the moment when you feel stuck on the hamster wheel.  Asking these questions opens us up to the reality that we do face options.

  • What is the challenge that I face today / am facing right now?
  • What are my options?
  • What other choices could I make (regardless of how feasible they may be)?
  • What could I do if I had no fear?
  • Which choices best align with my values and who I am as a person?
  • What support can I get in taking this choice with power and committing to it?

Getting off the hamster wheel and choosing life is a tremendously powerful approach to life.   Try it today and see what happens.

Picture credit – Sebastien Davies (from Flickr – Creative Commons)