Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Word of the Day: Resourceful

Resourceful: 'having the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties.'
antonym: unimaginative

I love the word Resourceful and was just reminded of it by an old blog here where I explored how to bring it into our lives more.

To me, being resourceful is empowering. It means taking responsibility and action in your life. It's not a passive word, it's not about sitting down and wallowing in our troubles, instead it implores that we use what we have and know to overcome our challenges.

In recovery and life in general, it definitely pays to be resourceful. Instead of accepting defeat, we decide to optimise our resilience and resources. We take control and ownership and find our own path through. We help ourselves create this path, using what's available to us in the given moment.

It's a valuable skill; a word that can transform obstacles into opportunities.

I left in the antonym of 'unimaginative', with the definition because blunt as it may seem, being resourceful also means channeling our imagination, our creativity and our curiosity. It means keeping an open mind and seeing possibility instead of problems. Being unimaginative makes me think of stagnation whereas resourcefulness promotes progression, development and change.

Today, use your imagination and a resolve of resourcefulness to seek your solutions. Take responsibility, power and control over making your own way through whatever challenges life throws at you 😊

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Recommended Reading: Braving the Wilderness

As may be noticeable throughout this blog, Brené Brown has been a particularly inspiring influence to me. Since I first heard her Ted Talk on shame and vulnerability, I've sought out, enjoyed and benefited from just about anything she's publicly created.

The work that she dedicates herself to is not only of great interest but also significant importance to anyone wishing to live a more whole, authentic life. Her natural flair for storytelling makes her years of thorough research easily accessible and her genuine, honest humanity always shines through to make her work relatable and applicable.

So yeah, basically I'd recommend all of her Ted Talks and every one of her other books.

But the one I'll stick the spotlight on for now is her latest which is titled, 'Braving the Wilderness'.

Having just re-read her book, 'Gifts of Imperfection', I refreshed the concepts of embracing our imperfect, unpolished selves and knowing and believing that we are enough exactly as we are. This ties in nicely with Braving the Wilderness' call to become aware of our need to connect, genuinely feel as though we belong and have the courage to contribute.

She defines True Belonging in Braving the Wilderness as:

'The spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness.'

We're meant to connect, to both ourselves and others and glean a true sense of belonging wherever we are. That can be such a tough thing to harness and I know I've definitely found it challenging to cultivate true belonging for a long time. But Brené beautifully shows how it's done and the path we can take to get there.

As a bit of an enthusiast for words, I love her many definitions throughout the book too. She has a brilliant way of explaining her understanding and translation for the key concepts she uses.

One of these lovely definitions was that of spirituality which I thought was helpful, as that can often be a tricky one to define:

'Spirituality is recognising and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion.' 

Her book calls us to become brave in finding our feet and place in the world we live in. She implores us to 'step out from the barriers of self preservation and brave the wild.' She makes a strong case for overcoming our differences, strengthening our capacity for compassion and ultimately finding a way to navigate through conflict towards connection. 

As usual she shares very relatable insight into our behaviour around belonging and loneliness, our unwillingness to lean into emotions and vulnerable experiences and the ways in which we can take the steps to overcome these. She encourages finding more helpful methods of communication - 'We have to listen to understand in the same way we want to be understood.' and 'the most courageous, is not only to be open-minded, but to listen with desire to learn more about the other person’s perspective'.

The main ideas that emerge I think are authenticity, love and compassion, connection, open and honest communication, perspective taking, understanding and another beautiful definition in the form of civility:

'Civility is claiming and caring for one’s identity, needs, and beliefs without degrading someone else’s in the process.… [Civility] is about disagreeing without disrespect, seeking common ground as a starting point for dialogue about differences, listening past one’s preconceptions, and teaching others to do the same. Civility is the hard work of staying present even with those with whom we have deep-rooted and fierce disagreements. It is political in the sense that it is a necessary prerequisite for civic action. But it is political, too, in the sense that it is about negotiating interpersonal power such that everyone’s voice is heard, and no-body’s is ignored.'

Overall, I think again she definitely presents an important and necessary movement, one in which we could all very much benefit from investing in.

Monday, 16 October 2017

3 Musings on Meditation

You might have seen recently here that I've decided to dip my toes into the world of meditation. It's something I keep coming across both recently and in the past, thus far without getting particularly into it.

So I'm giving it another go. This time, using some guidance from Buddhist monk, Ajahn Brahm's book 'Kindfulness'. This is his method of kind mindful meditation and an overall kinder, more compassionate outlook on life and our experiences of it.

I've been giving it a shot over the last week and in tune with the teachings in my book, here's what I've learnt:

1. Priorities

So I did that post about exploring meditation, got myself all ready to really commit to it, had my book to hand and then, well, nothing really happened. I was thinking a lot more about how I should start trying it than actually doing it. I was putting it off til later or just not getting to it at all.

Like anything, if we genuinely want to achieve it, we need to prioritise it. We need to make space for it and incorporate it into our day to day. Even if that means just doing it mechanically until it feels natural, cultivating new habits will require us to create space, time and a place of importance for them in our day to day.

2. Compassionate Vs Controlling Mindset

Probably the most common (and frustrating) obstacle in meditation is trying to quiet the mind. I've found once I start trying not to think, I just think about how much I'm still thinking. Brahm addresses this saying, 'What if you meditated by treating your mind like a best friend?'

"Treating your mind like a best friend involves approaching it with warm, engaging attitude: “Hey buddy! Do you want to meditate now? What do you want to watch? How do you want to sit? You tell me how long.” When you treat your mind with kindfulness, your mind does not want to wander off anywhere. It likes your company. You hang out together, chilling out, for far longer than you ever expected."

3. Payday 

The third thing I noticed was the potential impact of impatience. Expecting quick results can put pressure on the process hindering our enthusiasm for it. Brahm resolves this frustration with a payday analogy, saying we have to work to earn our paycheck.

"Why can’t every meditation be a payday? During the difficult meditations you build up your credit, the reason for your success. In the hard meditations you build up your strength, which creates the momentum for peace. Then when there is enough credit, the mind goes into a good meditation, and it is a payday. But you must remember that it was in the so-called bad meditations that most of the work was done."

* * *

This week I want to ride out the difficult meditations and continue towards the meditative payday.

Have you had similar experiences or other challenges when getting into meditation? How have you overcome them?

Monday, 25 September 2017

Belonging: Brave the Wild

Thought for today: "Step out from behind the barriers of self preservation and brave the wild" ~ Brené Brown

Relieve yourself of the restrictions of saving face, avoiding vulnerability and attempting to 'fit in'. We expend so much energy trying to​ dodge discomfort in these ways that we're actually keeping ourselves stuck.

Get into it, get real and raw and open to life. Let the guard down and ditch all the attempts to be something you're not. Trying to protect ourselves from uncomfortable emotions and experiences is not helping us, it's just denying our own humanity, the validity of our authentic emotions and the person we truly are.

Embrace the imperfect self that's living behind that barrier. Let yourself be seen. We're not all meant to be robots or replicas of each other.

We're here to be human, to live humanely and to enjoy that experience. Exactly as we are, we belong here as much as any other human. Belonging does not require us to bullshit, it requires us to brave the vulnerable territory of being who and what we really are.

"You will always belong anywhere you show up as yourself and talk about yourself and your work in a real way.” Steve (Braving the Wilderness)

Cultivating Kindness: Accept Compliments!

Treat compliments as gifts. People are not obligated to say nice things to us, so when they do, take note! Without thinking, we often dismiss compliments, we don't believe them to be true and we reject what they say. How kind is that..?

Compliments can build us up and make us feel good, it's time to start treating them as truth.

On wonderful advice, I actually used to keep a notebook of compliments I received. This gave me the opportunity to take them on board, be grateful for them and read over them when a reminder was required that I'm not all bad 😊

Compliments are valuable, beautiful, and very kind things definitely deserving of our attention and appreciation.

From now, begin to enjoy and believe in the compliments you're given. And if you're really feeling kind, start dishing them out too 😊

Cultivating Kindness: Find Your Way to Compassion

“Most unhappy people need to learn just one lesson: how to see themselves through the lens of genuine compassion and treat themselves accordingly.” —Martha Beck

"Feeling compassion for ourselves in no way releases us from responsibility for our actions. Rather, it releases us from the self-hatred that prevents us from responding to our life with clarity and balance.”

—Tara Brach

When we're used to beating ourselves up or putting ourselves down, compassion is likely lacking.

But if we want to start responding to ourselves and our lives in a kinder way, compassion is going to be key.

We need to create a new path, one that is built on self-care, forgiveness, understanding and self-respect. A path that doesn't lead to negative self talk and criticism, one that is free of judgement and poor self image.

It may be one we haven't gone down before, maybe a little overgrown and unknown, but it's ours to nurture, it's ours to shape and establish. Learning to be compassionate to ourselves will lead us so much further, it'll transform our experiences, outlook and attitude to others.

Today, let's take the first step down a new, kinder path towards genuine self compassion 😊

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Cultivating Kindness: Commit to Credit 📝

Throughout the day, how much attention do we give our achievements or accomplishments? How often do we give ourselves​ credit for how we've gotten through, handled situations and overcome stresses?

Instead, I think we sometimes focus more on what went wrong or mistakes we've made. If we were to actively write a list of things we can give ourselves credit for, imagine the boost we could feel. Bit by bit the credit adds up to build us up, to acknowledge our positive abilities, to transform our outlook into one that focuses on how well we're doing instead of constantly putting ourselves down. We cultivate a supportive, rewarding mindset rather than one run by a harsh, negative critic.

So today let's create more kindness by beginning to give ourselves the credit we're due 😊