Psst…what’s the password?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

One of my big themes for the coming month is about challenging some of the most stubborn negative thoughts that are a part of my daily soundtrack. How many times a day do I hear myself not only thinking how tired I feel, but reinforcing the message by telling others about interrupted nights, the difficulty I have switching off my brain if I do wake in the early hours, falling asleep on the sofa at a time when most self-respecting adults are just sitting down for dinner.

There are other themes that undermine how positive I feel about my life on any day of the week; damaging thoughts I am still trying to shake off after half a decade teaching others about the power of our thoughts to shape our lives. (Not for the first time I am struck by the truth that we choose to teach what we need to learn ourselves.)

For example:

Busy-ness: The beliefs I grew up with that only when you have done everything that needs to be done is it OK to take time for yourself, and a useful, worthwhile life is a busy life,  have embedded themselves deep, and run counter to everything I know and teach about the importance of mindfulness. I work constantly (and note my use of the word ‘work’ here), to remind myself to take time, to make time for my life, to notice and enjoy the moments, knowing I easily make time every day for all the things that matter to me.

Lack: I’m not sure where my belief that one day there will simply be no money left in my bank account and the world will come crashing down around my ears comes from. But it manifests itself in a low level anxiety whenever a bill or a bank statement arrives, in feeling guilt rather than pleasure when I do spend money on something that isn’t essential, and in a series of phrases that slip out of me every day with no thought (other than to reinforce that sense of lack): ‘I’m not made of money’, ‘that’s expensive’, ‘if only I could afford…’ It occurs to me that repeating occasionally that I am grateful for the abundance in every area of my life looks a little thin against their weight.

As I pondered the challenge of catching and changing some of these thoughts and themes over the next month I stumbled on an inspiring suggestion. In a world where so many of our daily transactions are governed by secret words - passwords into work, into our emails, into Facebook and Twitter and other social places, into our bank accounts, online shopping sites and the rest - why not choose secret words that reflect the positive thoughts I want to take the place of negative affirmations?

For obvious reasons I can’t share with you the passwords I intend to use, but I can tell you that each time I type in something on the lines of ‘peacefulday’ or ‘loadsoftime’ or ‘rollinginit’ I will make sure I pause, take a deep breath, and remind myself that this is exactly how, in this moment, I am feeling.

Win a pack of affirmation cards
I’d love to hear your suggestions - serious, tongue in cheek, or otherwise - for positive passwords. Visit the Best Year Facebook page and leave your suggestion and there’ll be a pack of affirmation cards for the best.

Posted by Jane Matthews on 02/27 at 08:30 AM
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Never too young…

Thursday, February 24, 2011 start changing the self-talk.
This link to ‘Jessica’s daily affirmations’ came from my daughter Amy who knows me well enough to know I’d be tickled by it.

What a great way to start the day (though perhaps without the squeaky voice…)

Posted by Jane Matthews on 02/24 at 04:08 PM
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One story ends and another begins

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Giving is a big theme in Have the Best Year of Your Life, and I’ve made the point that often we can’t or won’t know how our giving ripples out and affects others.

But let’s be honest, we all love to know how a story ends. So I was thrilled to see a new name in my email inbox, and discover its author, Richard Boswell, had been on the receiving end of the gift I wrote about in my last blog.

So here’s the rest of the story, with huge thanks to Richard for permission to share his words with you (and Christina all over again, for her imaginative gift):

Writes Richard: “I felt compelled to contact you after reading the email that you had received from Christina Austin. I was the person that found the book, The Secret, sitting underneath the table on one of the chairs in the restaurant that I work in.

I took it and put it away for safe keeping just in case the person that had left it might remember and come back. This didn’t happen. So I went back to the book and opened it, this time only to find a small post-it note stuck to the inside of the book. It read “if you find this book then it is a gift for you! I love it: it has taught me so much about how to ask for what I want in life and the rewards have been obvious. Enjoy & learn.”

I was overwhelmed. Someone had gone out of their way to leave this book for someone else to find because it had touched them so much.  It looked brand new, so I would find the time read it.

I left it beside my bed intending to pick it up the next night but before I even had time to read it my mother had found the book. When I told my mum what had happened and how I had found the book she said “what the one beside your bed? Well I found it in your room so that means that it was for me too.”

Mum wasn’t having a good time of things and was off from work so she’d spent the whole day reading the book. It now had fluorescent post-it note tabs hanging out of it “They are good points that I will go back to and remind myself of,” she told me. (I do love my mother for these kind of things).

I believe in fate and know I was meant to find that book. Christina could have chosen any book to leave but she chose The Secret and with the power of its message changed my mum’s low point into a life-changing one.

So thank you Christina.

Remember one small act whether it is a smile, a wink, holding a door open for somebody or maybe something that might cost a little more can make a big difference in somebody’s day, week, or year. Next time you answer the phone stop take a breath and smile for the other person on the end of the phone because I know that by the end of the call they will be smiling with you. “

Now doesn’t that make you want to rush out and leave a few carefully chosen books everywhere?

Posted by Jane Matthews on 02/12 at 07:11 AM
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Giving away secrets

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Had a lovely email from Christina Austin, who is an NLP practitioner and life coach and who’s been working through the book and wanted to tell me about her experience of trying to give a book away.

She’s given me permission to share the email: “It all started with the idea of taking a book that I love and sharing it with someone out there. Not surprisingly as a coach my choice was easy, I knew I had a hard copy of The Secret and thought that would be ideal.

I was going out for my walk from earlier in the week, but everywhere I went it didn’t seem to be the right time or place to drop the book off. So I waited and later that evening went out for dinner to our usual pub restaurant where I finally slid the book onto a chair before leaving.

I hadn’t been back until last week and didn’t even recall what I had done until we arrived at the restaurant. My partner knew nothing about any of this, not that he’d mind, but I wasn’t keen on hearing the usual ‘you’re such an idiot’ banter that I knew would be the reaction. What if I walked in and someone suddenly said ‘did you leave a book here last time you came?’ Nothing was said anyway and we were served with the usual good humour and regard by our waiter.

At least that was until I went to pay the bill.

‘Did you leave a book here the last time you came?’
‘What me, no I don’t know anything about a book.’
‘Oh right. (All the time he just casually continued with his task.) Thankyou anyway’
‘Why are you thanking me, it was nothing to do with me.’
‘It was really good and my Mum really enjoyed it. She read it before I managed to get to it. She really needed it at the moment too. It is really good’

At that point I just shared what I was doing, and why!

‘Thankyou anyway, It was really lovely.’

I can only hope that when it has done what it needed to for them, they think about passing it on to the next person who needs it. I just laughed all the way home.

I was really tickled to read Christina’s experiences, and heartened too, since one of the messages in the book is how little we really know about the many ways in which the small things we do or say may have a profound effect on others. One of my own stories is how as a rather confused 18 year old I found myself at college, training to be a teacher, desperately unhappy, but without the experience to know I could choose my own destiny. Until the night my flatmate bought home her latest one night stand.

While she made coffee we made small talk and I ended up telling him the horrors I was currently going through with teaching practice. He listened in astonishment. “If you’re so unhappy why don’t you quit and transfer to university or something?”

So easy. And so life-changing, since my English degree led directly on to my career in journalism. And it turned out all I needed was someone else’s perspective on being stuck.

I’d love to hear about those chance encounters - with people, places, ideas, or even a book left at a restauarant table - that changed the direction of your life.

And thanks Christina, for sharing your secret and The Secret - one of the most life-changing books I’ve come across.

Posted by Jane Matthews on 02/03 at 05:42 AM
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