And so to bed…

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I admit it: sometimes I’m more a broad brush than a details person.

A good friend has just started working through Have the Best Year of Your Life and sent me a lovely message about how much she was enjoying it - with a gentle footnote pointing out that asking people to ‘Expand’ out of their comfort zone by sleeping on the other side of the bed one night was a bit hard to do for those in single beds.

Good point, and no doubt it’ll be the first of many small details that come to light and get ironed out in future editions.

But for now the best I could suggest was that she sleep at the other end of her bed, facing wherever her head usually lay. It’s not the position that matters, after all, so much as the message these small variations on day in-day-out routines sends to the sub-conscious. If we can change the small habits sooner or later we can change the biggies…And if your usual early morning alarm call state is to stumble from bed, head to the bathroom to do the same things you do every morning, then down to the kitchen for your usual breakfast, it’s just possible the startling effect of waking to a slightly altered view may jump start you out of automatic pilot and into a more aware morning.

Besides, if we don’t keep trying things out, how do we know what we have and what we do every day is what we want?

Topsy turvy world
Thinking about sleeping at the other end of the bed rather bizzarely reminded me of the funeral of another dear friend a couple of years ago. Steve was the embodiment of what it means to live the breadth of your life as well as its length, with more hobbies than Hobbycraft, friends in most corners of the world, and a heart bigger than his beloved motorbikes.

His funeral began as a sombre affair until his partner Viv spoke about him and told us how a few weeks before his death he’d suddenly announced they should sleep at the other end of the bed for one night for no other reason than that ‘it’ll be fun’. Apparently it was: mainly because the absurdity of it gave them the giggles.

Trivial change that it was, it gave Viv one more lovely memory to treasure - neither of them knowing how important that would be in a very short time. Which ties in so well with one of my themes in Best Year: the time to be happy, the time to be grateful, the time to love, be loved, laugh and notice the world around, the time to know you are alive, is now.

Steve knew that when he told Viv during another late night conversation that when his time came he wanted to be played out to The Laughing Policeman.

It’s the only time I have ever left a funeral with a big grin on my face.

How was it for you?
Got some feedback for me on this post, your own experience of changing your sleeping arrangements, or any other exercise in the book? I am not getting on too well with the comment function on this website so can I suggest you take your thoughts directly past ‘Go’ and onto the Best Year Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Have-the-Best-Year-of-Your-Life/116641138381218?ref=ts where I would love to hear from you.

Posted by Jane Matthews on 11/23 at 03:16 PM
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Are we having fun yet?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Couldn’t resist opening this blog post: How not to go bonkers at work: stress management tips. Where I work bonkersness is almost the default position.

In truth, most of the article is just good common sense (or suggestions you’ll find dressed up in a different vocabulary in Have the Best Year of Your Life).

But I do like the suggestion that one way of dealing with workplace stress is to take five minutes out to tidy the desk/counter/factory floor. I’ve always felt mess=stress and spending a few minutes organising, clearing and tidying away - in the home, the head and the heart as much as in the office - lowers the blood pressure a notch by giving you a sense of taking control.

In theory I also sign up to the notion that workplace stress can be relieved by play and creativity. If you’ve started working through my book you’ll have already come across some of the ways in which I think you can inject a little more of both into daily life.

The trouble comes, I think, when HAVING FUN is not an end in itself. I remember a time when my colleagues and I sat in silence watching a training video on how to lighten up and have fun in the office. It involved butchers hurling cuts of meat around a San Francisco indoor market,  a fair bit of lively language, and lots of big statements about how productivity improved because so many tourists started dropping by simply to enjoy the exuberant floor show.

Trust me: if you want people to have fun for the sake of your bottom line rather than because a good laugh makes us all feel more alive and in love with the world then you are already mincemeat.

Posted by Jane Matthews on 11/18 at 04:16 PM
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