Be Yourself


Now, more than ever, we seem to be bombarded with ways to ‘improve’ ourselves. The Self-help sections of book shops are full to overflowing with the latest advice on what we’ve been doing wrong, and absolutely foolproof ways to put it all right. You know the sort of thing:

‘Spirituality in 3 Easy Steps’

‘5 minutes a day to Self-Enlightenment’

‘The Only Self-Help Book You’ll Ever Need – Volume VII’

It’s not that we can’t benefit from being healthier in Mind, Body and Spirit. Of course we can. And sharing positive thoughts and actions is all to the good.

But are we to believe that someone else always has the best answers to our problems? And doesn’t that mean there has to be something very wrong with us in the first place?

I’ve been there, trying to soak up the knowledge. I’ve got a whole library of books and audios to prove it. They provided short-term inspiration, but never quite gave me the full picture.

And yet I know the one constant here is me. I’m having the life experience. So why don’t I look to myself for the answers? The phrase ‘Go Within’ can sound like a cliché, but deep down I know it makes sense.

Whether you choose to see it as connecting with your subconscious mind, Higher Self or just pure intuition, I believe we can find the answers internally. Meditation, quiet moments of reflection, or maybe a spark of inspiration while in the shower, can help us reconnect with our innate wisdom. Sometimes, we can just feel a ‘nudge’ in a certain direction.

We don’t have to be someone else’s idea of a better person. Learning to accept ourselves for who we are is a good starting point. We’re not broken, we’re just unique. There’s no one quite like us in the 7.6 billion humans we share the planet with.

From a place of self-acceptance, we can move forward positively in ways that feel more natural to us. We haven’t got to change, we can get to change at our own pace, guided by our inner feelings.

There’s no reason for us to stop using external learning, but we don’t have to rely on it as our only hope of finding a solution.

And just be yourself. No one does it quite as well as you.


Can’t See the Wood for the Trees

I always used to get stressed about leaving for work on time – because parking space is at a premium. In fact, if you’re not in there by 8.20am, you’re more likely to find a chilled-out T-Rex than an empty rectangular piece of car-sized tarmac.

So, I’m often left doing the ‘Car Park Shuffle’ – using short term parking, then moving on! We have several store car parks within walking distance of our building. The only problem is that they are limited to a maximum of two hours – some even less. And if you should accidentally go over your allotted time, you’re looking at a King’s Ransom in fines.

But if I can’t change the car parking situation, which, short of buying an Aldi store and levelling it, I can’t – there has to be another solution. I’ve had to look at things differently in an attempt to turn the negatives into positives.

There is a distant land where cars can stay, without fear of time limit or ticket. In the middle of a local park there are normally spaces to spare. But there is a downside – the long walk.

Realistically, the walk is less than 15 minutes each way. And now the British Spring has sprung, it’s a pleasant-enough hike on a tree-fringed tarmac path. And since I’m looking to increase my daily step count, it’s all good!  

And through the seasons, while walking through the park I’ve been inspired to use my phone and take a photo or two of something that catches my eye. Be it a beautiful winter wonderland, a spring flower bed in full bloom, or a travelling fair setting up.

Sometimes there’s hardly a person in sight, but often there are little kids zooming around on push scooters, being taken to school by their parents. Or small groups of dog walkers who stop to moan about the weather, just as the sun breaks through the dark clouds. 

A gardener occasionally chugs past on an industrial lawn mover like he’s in a Formula 1 Grand Prix race. A couple of the scooter kids give chase, leaving their parents trailing in their wake.

My route takes me past a big new-build house that I think looks perfect. I imagine myself living there, the owners having kindly moved out and handed me the keys. 

The gardener seems to be happily driving at half speed, now the kids have been drawn away by the urgent ringing of a distant school bell. 

And before I know, it I’m onto the road and outside my office building. Why did I ever think this option was a last resort? 

On some days, I find myself walking around the park in my lunch break, taking different routes, and soaking up the atmosphere.

So what was all the fuss about? Maybe I really couldn’t see the wood for the trees.  

Everyday Heroes

Recently I watched a TV series which featured the work of the lifeboat crews that protect the coastline of the British Isles.   

The crews are almost entirely made up of volunteers. These men and women give up their free time and risk life and limb, to help people in danger.

Countless lives are saved every year through their actions. The crews are ordinary people choosing to do extraordinary things – true everyday heroes.

I doubt the average person has such an impact on someone else’s life, on a regular basis. I know I don’t. Sometimes, it feels like we can’t make a difference. There are so many bad things happening around the world. What is the point? 

But then you see a story about a 14 year old girl whose petition convinced a supermarket giant to stop selling eggs from caged hens. Changing the world, one step at a time.

Signing a petition means you can add your voice for causes that are close to your heart. Or maybe your next door neighbour would appreciate seeing a friendly face every now and then. So if we can’t change the world, maybe we can change our corner of the world. 

Charities and good causes are always looking for volunteers. It’s more rewarding than just giving a donation, but that can help too.

If you don’t have the time to get involved yourself, you could use your social media influence to get the message out to those that do. Doing something, however small, is better than doing nothing.

Maybe you could clear out your closet and donate those shoes you regret buying. Who knows, it may help to buy another lifeboat. And then you and everyone else involved can join the ranks of the everyday heroes too.

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.

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.