Want Success? Aim Lower!

If you keep consistently missing the target, don’t aim higher – give yourself an easier target to aim at! You know it makes sense. How often do we set unrealistic goals – then punish ourselves for falling short? I know I do.

Take my Fitbit for example (other fitness trackers are available). When I first bought my shiny new exercise tracker, I was super keen to make it work for me. I even went for long walks in my lunch break to increase my daily step count. Once I got home, I was literally walking around the room to make sure I made my daily quota. It was 10000 steps or bust.

Why 10000? Well I thought it was some sort of medical recommendation to improve fitness. It turns out to have been a marketing campaign for an older version of a step counter, way back in the 1960’s.

Anyway, back to my efforts. Things went great for a month or two. It may have been less, but my memory is a touch hazy. Then gradually I started not trying so hard to reach my goals. And then the Fitbit seemed to be irritating my wrist, so I was wearing it less and less. And if you’re not going to achieve the target, there’s no point wearing it, right?

But as I started a healthy eating plan recently (it’s not a diet, definitely not a diet) I thought that would be a good time to charge up my Fitbit. It was at the time totally depleted of energy – not unlike myself.

But lo and behold, I still wasn’t hitting the magic steps barrier. And the trouble is, if I wasn’t close by the evening, there was no point to increasing my steps. I figured, if I’m going to miss my target, I might as well do it by a mile. Or several.

But then a thought hit me. Why not lower my target? 8000 daily steps seemed more doable. First, I had to overcome the ‘shame’ of lowering my target. But I gave it a go anyway. And you know what, it worked! On day 1, I was walking around the room again to get my steps up. By Day 2, I’d reached my goal without even thinking about it. Ironically, it was on my way back from picking up a fish and chips takeaway meal. The Healthy Eating Plan was taking a slight hit. But, one goal at a time, eh!

So, the moral of the story is, if you’re not reaching your target, make it more realistic (that’s ‘lower it’ to you and me). How good does it feel to reach a goal, no matter that it’s smaller? It certainly helps to keep that ‘Attitude of Gratitude’ on track.

Happy stepping!

 

Gratitude? It Doesn’t Matter!

‘Enchanted Fox’ Art by Amanda Lakey

With everything that is happening in the World these days, are you struggling to connect with Gratitude on a daily basis? Then I’m here to tell you that there’s no point struggling, it just doesn’t matter!

It doesn’t really matter what you’re grateful for. In fact, it could be absolutely anything. Someone else may think it’s trivial or silly, but you’re not doing it for someone else. It’s the feeling you get from gratitude that counts.

And sometimes it’s when things are at their toughest, that feeling better counts the most. A few seconds of playful thinking can help to turn around a bad day before it’s got started. Or stop it in it’s tracks. Which isn’t to say that negative feelings don’t have their place. They are there for a reason. But when negativity becomes a chronic thinking pattern, then maybe it’s time for a change.

And can it really be selfish to be grateful? When you feel good, it spills over into the rest of your life. And everyone in it will feel the benefit.

You could be grateful for just being alive.

Or seeing your first Bumble Bee of the season. A Queen, no less.

Or the sun cheekily deciding to shine after a long, cold winter.

Or a healthy, crustless quiche and minty bean salad for lunch.

Or a being taken for a walk in the country by your boisterous dogs.

Or seeing a fox run through your garden.

Or having so much inspirational reading just a few clicks away.

Or you could… fill in the blanks yourself.

What could you be grateful for now?

Keeping it Real?

 

mannequin-head         Photo: Mannequin Head by Peter Griffin 

Our connection to the outside world is governed by our senses. The human brain can process as much as 400 billion bits of information a second, but we are consciously aware of only about 2,000 bits a second. This means we filter out most of our ‘reality’.

The data we’re left with, is what our brain considers to be important. The information it thinks we need to thrive and survive. But our brain takes shortcuts based on generalisations. What was once important to us stays there unless new connections render the old ones obsolete.

Over time, we establish thought patterns and beliefs that determine how we expect ‘reality’ to behave. Anything confirming that view is allowed through, but conflicting information is generally disregarded. Constant conditioning.

But we don’t have to keep the same modes of thinking. It’s possible to consciously reset some of our filters.

For instance, if you tend to look on the negative side of things, you can make a deliberate practice of not worrying about things beyond your control. Stuff happens! Your challenge is to make your situation better, whatever your starting point.

Try and look for solutions rather than being stuck with your problems. Find a few things to be grateful for each day. Sometimes this can be tough, but if you’re reading this post, you’re probably more affluent than most people in the world.

For a few minutes, you can ‘live in the now’, focusing on your senses and nothing else. It can give you a chance to choose a better version of your own reality. Why not give it a try?

Life Lessons from an All-You-Can-Eat Restaurant

indian-food Photo: Indian Food by Jm Verastigue

 

Last night, together with my wife and a couple of friends, I had a meal in an All-You-Can-Eat Restaurant. In the UK, it’s not that common to have an all-you-can-eat-buffet, outside of breakfast or lunch-time specials.

It was a huge Pan-Asian restaurant, and there were sections for Chinese, Indian, Thai, Japanese and many more types of food. Even British-style fish and chips (maybe that’s what the ‘Pan’ part meant!)

The selection seemed almost infinite. And when one food tray was starting to run low, it was soon replaced with a full one. A small army of staff kept everything running smoothly. As soon as you had emptied your plate, it was whisked away, and you were free to help yourself to another, and fill it with whatever you wished.

Not being used to the idea, it was very tempting to overdo it. And I did. Each time I went back for another helping, I thought, I’ve got to get my money’s worth!

By the end of our two hour table reservation, I was completely stuffed, to the point of being uncomfortable. But why?

Apart from the obvious answer being ‘Greed’, a part of me must still be focusing on a ‘lack’ mentality. That I’ve got to ‘get it while I can’, and if I don’t it will be taken away from me. Instead of stopping when I was comfortably full, I had to take more than my fair share.

And yet, like Universal Supply, I knew my own supply of food wasn’t going to run out. There was clearly more than enough to go around. And me taking whatever I wanted wouldn’t result in someone else going without.

Maybe I should go there more often, until finally I ‘get it’! Or maybe I should make more of an effort to ‘get it’ in practice, rather than just in theory.

Sometimes, ‘self-help’ and ‘helping yourself’ can mean the same thing.

Law of Attraction or Law of Perception?

magnet-illustration Magnet Illustration by K Whiteford

You may have changed your car and noticed soon afterwards that you see a lot more of the same vehicle on the roads. It’s nice to be a trendsetter! But deep down, we know something else is happening. It’s actually that we’re noticing the cars that look like ours a lot more, rather than an actual increase. This is known as observational selection bias.

Now, what if the Law of Attraction was us actually noticing the things that we focus on, rather than attracting the things we focus on?

Instead of the Universe having rearranged itself to do our bidding, what if our changed perception can now see opportunities that were not clear to us before, despite always being present?

If we cultivate the sort of positive outlook that finds us ready to take advantage of our circumstances, do we really need to wait for the Cosmos to align in our favour?

There does seem to be an implicit question of faith with the LOA. If you’re not getting the results that the gurus get, do you believe strongly enough? Are you being positive enough? Maybe their latest book or audio program will help to boost your belief. These products can give you a short-term positivity boost, but in my experience, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. I know, because I’ve bought many of them myself.

It’s neither possible nor desirable to think positively all the time. Imagine being chased by a wild animal and not bothering to run, because you believe ‘It will all work out fine, in the end.’ I still think that we each hold the key to our own destiny, but I now accept that Life will always have uncertainties. Maybe that’s why we signed up in the first place.

Whatever our life circumstances, we can still choose how we view them and how we react to them. That is about us changing how we see ourselves, and our world.