I don't know about you, but after an amazing event or holiday, I tend to suffer pretty badly from the Post-Holiday Blues. You know... when you feel a bit depressed, unmotivated, lethargic, or easily irritated. And you want to be anywhere but where you currently are...
Where in your life are you playing small?
Whether it's at work, in your relationship or at home - fear and self-doubt are never far behind. How many times have you had a big idea or a great opportunity, and before you know it fear pops up. Naturally we avoid, retreat, delay, procrastinate or make excuses.
We feel relieved in the short term, but over time we end up feeling stuck. To move forward with our lives, we need to meet challenges and opportunities with courage instead of avoidance.
The difficulty is that we’re often faced with challenges we haven’t encountered before, so understandably we doubt ourselves. A job opportunity comes up at work or a chance to ask someone out on a date... but the "I've never done that before" excuse comes up.
Luckily, there are many people (not so different from ourselves) who have encountered and moved through similar fears. Knowing who you admire (e.g. A family member who started a business, a friend who had the courage to leave a bad relationship, Oprah, Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama) and why you admire them (e.g. because they stood up for what they believed in, because they took a chance, because they don't care what other people think) can help to inspire us and pull us forward
As Gretchen Rubin so eloquently put it...
“Knowing what you admire in others is a wonderful mirror into your deepest, as yet unborn self”.
In other words, what you see in the people you look up to, is a reflection of your own (perhaps unseen) potential.
These brilliant spirits and noble souls are also fallible humans who stumbled, doubted themselves and started out somewhere (perhaps in circumstances similar to your own). Nevertheless, they rose, overcame and triumphed. And perhaps, what has been possible for them is also possible for you.
The beauty of knowing who you admire and why – is that you can call on their strengths and qualities in moments of self-doubt or personal challenge. As you use these strengths, they become your own.
Take a moment to consider:
How fear or doubt has held you back in your life? (e.g. Maybe you've avoided going for a promotion, leaving a bad relationship, starting up your own blog or going on that trip you've been dreaming of for years)
Now, ask yourself:
What would my hero do right here, right now?
Perhaps they'd email their boss and ask for that promotion, make time to sit down and have that difficult conversation, or book a one-way ticket to that place they've been longing to go.
By asking yourself the simple question “What would my hero do right, here right now?" you can start to live with greater courage, water the seeds of your unseen potential and over time grow into your very own hero.
So go on, be like Beyonce!
The New York Subway is a constant source of amazement to me.
It’s a microcosm of society with all walks of life, where you see some fascinating and some truly heartbreaking things.
Amongst it all, the thing that stands out the most to me is the incredible generosity shown by transiting New Yorkers.
New York has the highest percentage of homelessness in the America, with over 60,000 people currently homeless, with one-third of that made up of children.
Struggling to make ends meet, these people get on the subway to ask people for anything that they’re willing to give. People hand over money, give them food, water, or even the coffee out of their hand. Given how much New Yorkers love their coffee, that could be considered an enormous act of kindness.
Amazingly, people respond with the same compassion day after day.
Sure they’re good-hearted people. But people also like to give because it feels good.
People often mistakenly think that the more I get, consume, own - the happier I'll be. Sure, if you go from being homeless to living comfortably, your happiness will skyrocket. But once your basic needs are met the research shows that accumulating more has very little impact on your happiness.
In fact, studies show that when it comes to lasting happiness, it isn't what you've got, it's what you give. That's exactly what Prof Elizabeth Dunn and colleagues from the University of British Columbia found when students were given money to either spend on themselves or someone else. Those who spent it on others reported feeling happier in comparison to those who spent it on themselves.
No one has ever become poor by giving - Anne Frank
A ton of research has been done on the positive effects associated with altruism... and some of them are pretty surprising.
Doing something for someone else can not only improve your physical health, it can also reduce feelings of depression, improve your romantic relationships, help you fight addiction, enhance your financial standing, and even improve your life expectancy.
When we give to others, the pleasure center of our brain lights up like a Christmas tree and our brains release a surge of endorphins. Scientist call this warm and fuzzy feeling the “helpers high".
Interestingly, the region of our brain associated with social connection and trust is also activated when we’re kind to others. Professor Sonja Lyubomirksy suggests that this makes us like ourselves and other people more.
The benefits of altruism aren’t restricted to the person giving kindness or receiving kindness. James Fowler and Nicholas Christakis from Harvard University found that altruistic acts positively impact the giver and anyone witnessing the act of kindness.
As a result, an act of kindness can lead to a cascade of social consequences, impacting dozens of people at a time. Witnessing or even hearing about an act of kindness increases the likelihood of you engaging in a random act of kindness yourself.
So why not try doing something kind for someone else – and spread some happiness for them, for you and for anyone else watching on.
If you need some inspiration, here’s a sweet little video of acts of kindness.
May you keep happiness in sight xx
For more on the science behind kindness - check out these two videos. Sorry about the promotional nature of them (you're welcome Orly Wahba).
Dunn, E. W., Aknin, L. B., & Norton, M. I. (2008). Spending money on others promotes happiness. Science, 319(5870), 1687-1688.
Fowler, J. H., & Christakis, N. A. (2010). Cooperative behavior cascades in human social networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 107(12), 5334–5338. http://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0913149107
How often do you come home at the end of the day with work circling around in your head? You feel totally exhausted, yet you can’t sleep because you’re going over your to-do list, stressing over the things you didn’t get done during the day, or re-living the things you wish you’d done differently… the list is endless (as you well know).
Want to learn how to improve your emotional resilience?
We all have those days when we get upset or frustrated by almost anything, even when we’re trying our best to manage our emotions. While we all have an innate level of resilience that helps us navigate life’s struggles, certain things (that we often overlook) can undermine our ability to bounce back.