Leaving Homepage!

Anyone that’s moved home will tell you that it can be a stressful experience. But moving homepage has definitely removed a whole lot of negativity from my life!

My morning routine for several years now has been to look at the BBC News website and watch their breakfast programme over my cereals. When I click to open my Safari browser, the first thing I see is a selection of the day’s news:

Our Prime Minister said this!

Their President tweeted that!

The Economy is about to do this! 

And of course, all the news and information is carefully screened and monitored to be inspiring, uplifting and positively the brightest way to start your day – Not!

It isn’t that the BBC is any worse than any other news organisation. But it can’t be coincidence that most of what we are shown is seriously negative. Is this really what we want?

Every disaster, natural or man-made, is systematically beamed from around the globe and presented in a condensed format that can be repeated at regular intervals, just in case we missed it fifteen minutes earlier. Perhaps we should be grateful that the misery is generally restricted to our planet. Presumably, in the future we’ll be shown the destruction of distant galaxies, holographically Live-streamed from the Delta Quadrant! 

So, I’m choosing to remain in blissful ignorance of Life’s misery. I’m sure if something is important enough, it will filter its way to me eventually.

My morning routine now consists of a slightly more healthy breakfast, with a reassuringly relaxing, yet superbly stimulating side-order of positivity.

My replacement homepage is WordPress. I now study positive posts on my Reader while listening to relaxing ambient background music. And when work beckons, I head for the shower with more of a spring in my step.

That feels like good news to me.

Life Lessons From a Fitness Tracker

On my previous post, ‘Want Success? Aim Lower!’, I wrote about how I re-engaged with my sadly forgotten fitness tracker, and by lowering my targets, I managed to succeed. I can happily report that my progress, for the most part, has continued. And if I have the odd bad day, I accept it and put my best foot forward.

I have since rediscovered the world of tracker stats. Delving into the accompanying app, there is a goldmine of health-related stats to pan out, should I get the urge. I looked at my sleep patterns (probably not getting enough), resting heart rate (dropped to respectable levels) and even started recording my water intake (increased due to buying a fruit-infuser water bottle).

And as a tracker is made for tracking, it’s great for looking at trends and patterns in your fitness journey.

But it also has another benefit. Whether you use the app or not, the  tracker helps you stay in the moment. Or at least to take one day at a time.

I’ve had good days when I’ve blown my targets out of the water. And bad ones where I’ve sunk without trace. But come midnight, everything resets to Zero. Without fail.

Every morning I wake up to a tracker empty of steps, but full of possibilities. How it plays out is down to me – I have to take responsibility for my own actions. Do I take a step in the right direction, or a turn for the worse?

And tomorrow, it all starts again – my results are washed clean. I’m up and walking. Today was the best day ever? Great, but soon those numbers will disappear. Yesterday was a washout? No matter, today can be better. I’m free to choose. 

That’s not a bad prompt to get every morning. So many positives from such a small device.

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?