Catriona Futter – Equip For Life Coaching Becoming your best self and living life to the full – 07713 974138

Category Archives: 10 Steps To Happiness

How do you measure happiness, and how can you become happier? Outlined here are 10 steps towards happiness, with lots of practical ideas you can take now to improve your happiness and well-being.

Grow happier with a friend alongside!

it's good to work together!

Persevering with implementing changes in our lives towards becoming happier is tricky – there is much we can do on our own, but the secret is in having someone

believe in us.

Someone who knows us, believes in what we are doing, and knows that we can get there.

We were made to be in relationship with each other, we were not created to be an island. It is not only ok to ask for help, it strengthens our relationships and creates interdependence – together, we are much more than the sum of each of us separately. On our quest towards happiness, as we consider how we can implement ideas raised in considering the 10 Steps to Happiness, having a friend alongside makes the whole challenge more achievable, and perhaps more fun.

So this week, who could you ask to hold you accountable and encourage you as you make and keep changes in your life?

And who could you do that for?

Persevering towards happiness.

keep going!

Not only is lack of motivation an issue for us as we try and implement changes to our lives, the other thorny problem that often stops us in our tracks is perseverance. We know what we want to do, and we start out with great gusto and enthusiasm. And then life pressed down around us, or we get derailed by something tricky, or we simply revert to learned behaviour patterns that are very strong and hard to break.

So this week, think about what works for you in terms of keeping going with something. Whatever it is you are seeking to implement,

be it spending more time with friends, working towards a goal, accepting yourself, or exercising more,

the question is the same: What keeps you motivated? What will encourage you to keep on keeping on until your new activity becomes a habit?

Perhaps you could set up a weekly reminder on your phone?

Write it on the calendar?

Put a post-it note on the fridge/front door/computer/tv?

Find a way to persevere with something, and your success and confidence will grow as you do so.

What motivates you to make changes?

How thankful are you?

Most of us don’t suffer from lack of information, but lack of motivation. As we consider how happy we are, and how we live our lives by reflecting on the 10 Steps to Happiness, I want to come back to a favourite of mine –

thankfulness.

I was recently challenged on facebook to list three good things a day for a week.

So this week, I challenge you to do the same

– on paper, on your phone, on facebook, on a piece of paper on the fridge –

wherever you like,

but write them down and look at them, and as you do, express thanks for all that they represent.

Thankfulness changes our perspective, and shifts the focus from what we don’t have or can’t do, to what we do have and can. And this can only be good for our happiness levels!

What are you thankful for? Find out more keys to happiness and how thankfulness can change your perspective here!

What is your GREAT DREAM?

What makes you happy?

What is your GREAT DREAM? We have been exploring the 10 Steps to Happiness over the past weeks, as outlined by the Action for Happiness, and following a UK government initiative to create a national happiness index. This is the holiday season for some, and a chance perhaps to be less busy and more reflective.

So over the next few weeks, I simply want to ask a question to get you musing over how happy you are, and how you can put changes into your life to move you more towards where you want to be.

Have another look at the 10 steps:

Giving Relating Exercising Appreciating Trying out

Direction Resilience Emotion Acceptance Meaning

Which one stands out to you right now?

Why is that, and what feelings does that generate in you?

What could you do this week within that step to increase your happiness and fulfilment?

Has this inspired you to think in more detail about your life, but not sure where to start? I can help! I would love to give you my self-coaching guide for free. The guide contains many more ideas, thoughts and practical action points you can start implementing now to make the changes in your life that you really want. Simply fill out the form (and watch your spam folder as the reply sometimes ends up in there).

Your free gift to unlock your own happiness!

Your key to happiness               We have reached the end of our exploration of the 10 keys to happiness, and much food for thought has been consumed and digested. Perhaps for you more questions have been raised than have been answered – I do love to ask questions! – and what has been highlighted is that you are unsure how to proceed. You know you are a bit stuck and something has to change in your life, but you are at a loss as to how you approach it.

Well I am delighted to be able to give you an opportunity to become unstuck, and explore these issues in more detail.

Is it really possible to implement all we have been talking about in the keys to happiness?

Do we really have that kind of time – surely we are all super busy and running around crazy and this just something else to add to the never-ending-to-do-list?

And herein lies the rub –

the secret is not lack of time, it is how we see and use time.

Want to find out more?

Want to start to transform how you use time?

Excited about implementing some of the keys to happiness but not sure how to proceed?

Your free 8 page self-coaching guide will give you plenty more food for thought, as well as inspiration, encouragement, and lots of practical ideas that you can start putting into practice straight away. Simply fill in the form below, follow the links, and the guide is yours (do check your spam folder in case the initial welcome email ends up in there!).

It’s good stuff – I’m not in the business of wasting your time or filling your inbox with spam. I simply want you to become your best self and live your best life, inspired and inspiring.
 
 

Meaning-less or Meaning-full life?

What gives your life meaning      So we come to the last of the 10 Steps to Happiness, and this week is Meaninghaving a connection to something bigger than ourselves. What is that about? Well, for some, it will be a religious faith or spiritual connection. For others, it could be commitment to any number of causes, and on any scale. Perhaps we are passionate about the environment and work to protect our local green space and the community that use it. Maybe we are involved in campaigning for a local project, fundraising for a charity that is personal to us, or petitioning the government on some issue at national or international level. Some will find meaning and a sense of calling right under their noses, in their homes and family.

The important thing is to have something in our lives that gives us that sense of meaning and purpose, something bigger than ourselves to which we make a contribution.

How do we get there? One starting point is to consider what people, activities and belief systems create in us the strongest sense of purpose. Ask yourself:

What really stirs me up?

What do I get on my soap box about?

What am I really passionate about?

What would others say I don’t stop talking about?!

Answering those questions will give you a clearer idea of what matters most to you. The next step is working out how you can get involved in activities linked to that bigger issue, or prioritise such activities. Often life whips past us at such a frenetic pace that we miss the opportunities to be involved or to contribute what we can, and we lose sight of what gives our lives meaning.

Another approach to this that flips the perspective around on your life (and you know how I like perspective!) is to consider your legacy.

What do you want to leave behind at the end of your life?

What do you want to be known for?

What would you like to be said about you once you have departed this earth?

I don’t want to get all morbid or morose here – but simply to challenge you, and me, to live now in a way that enables us to make that contribution to whatever it is that matters to us most. For everyone that will be different, and this is not about comparisons. It is simply about committing to and prioritising activities that give us meaning and purpose in life, to which we can make a contribution, and which will bring out the best in us and what we uniquely have to offer. Meaning – where do you get it from?

 

 

 

It’s perfectly ok to not be perfect

We're not living in a perfect world!

We’re not living in a perfect world!

Ooh, a really thorny one this week – Acceptance. Being kinder to yourself when you get it wrong. Accepting that no-one is perfect, and that yes, you are going to get it wrong sometimes, but dwelling on those faults will cause a spiral downwards out of which it is hard to climb. Accepting yourself warts and all – the ninth key to Happiness.

How often do we play the Comparisons Game?

“If only I was as clever/arty/thin/attractive/generous as ………..”

“I will be happier about myself when …………. “

“If only I was less short tempered/shy/fat/ugly/…….”

“I wish I was more like……..”

This is exhausting, and keeps our focus on what we are not and can’t do, rather than enjoying what we are, and have, and can do.

It is a sure and guaranteed way to be unhappy, and to allow much of life to pass us by as we live in a boggy mire of self doubt and self criticism, regret and recrimination.

We have all done this, we have all lived like this. But the great thing is, we don’t have to! We have choice, and we can choose to respond to ourselves differently.

This is not about sweeping under the carpet the mistakes we’ve made, or ignoring what we are not good at. But it is about acknowledging and enjoying what we are good at – our strengths, skills, personality traits – and taking responsibility for the downsides of who we are, what might be called our weaknesses. Not beating ourselves up about them, but seeing them for what they are, and choosing to change our response to something more positive and life affirming.

Acceptance is choosing to feel ok about ourselves even when we have got it wrong. It is facing up to when we have made a mistake, learning from that mistake, and choosing to respond differently next time – and then letting it go.

Acceptance is recognising what we are not good at, and finding someone who is good at that, and working together – recognising that each of us is unique, and together, we can be greater than the sum of the individual parts.

Acceptance is agreeing that, in the words of the song Perfectly OK, by the fantastic Fischy Music folk,

WE’RE NOT LIVING IN A PERFECT WORLD, SO HOW CAN ANYBODY BE PERFECT….
BUT WE’RE PERFECTLY OK, WE’RE PERFECTLY OK, WE’RE PERFECTLY OK!

How full is your glass?

What produces positive emotions in you?

What are you feeling good about today? About yourself? The world around you? Perhaps your work, or family?

This key to happiness is perhaps more obvious – the importance of Emotions, namely positive ones, like joy, gratitude, contentment, inspiration and pride (feeling appropriately proud, not proud in an arrogant way you understand). I have always been a “glass half full” person, an aspect of my character that my nearest-and-dearest don’t always find very easy to live with. I will generally try and see the positive in any situation, and encourage them to do likewise, when sometimes the preferred option would be to stay in a grumpy mire, feeling a teensy bit sorrowful. Nothing wrong with this for a short time, but stay there long term and your world closes down around you.

Don’t get me wrong – I am not advocating an unrealistic, papering-over-the-bad stuff, ‘don’tworrybehappy’ approach, as this is very unhelpful and can have the opposite effect to that intended.

Nor am I diminishing the devastating effect of depression, both for the person suffering directly, and for those loved ones around about them. Depression has directly affected my family, I am well versed in the destructive ways of the Black Dog.

But there is good evidence to show that regularly experiencing positive emotions, and looking for the good in any given situation, builds our resources and spirals us upwards rather than downwards. This is hard to argue against:

“fear closes down our minds and hearts, whereas positive emotions literally open up our minds and hearts

they really change our mindsets and our biochemistry”

– Dr Barbara Fredrickson, Psychology Prof, North Carolina University

(From the Action for Happiness website)

I can speak for my own experience of practicing being thankful in the midst of a dire family crisis – the crisis didn’t change, but my perspective did.

A dear now-departed Dutch friend used to talk of the importance of giving your liver a good shake everyday ie: having a right good belly laugh.

And the perspective shift that is choosing to see what I do have, and be content with that, rather than regret or resent what I do not have, is so much easier to live with and brings real contentment.

So this week, consider how you could try some of these:

  • list all the things about the last 24 hours that you are thankful for

  • express your pride in the achievements of someone you love, no matter what size

  • watch a funny film with some friends/your kids and laugh until you cry

  • write down all the things that you like about your life currently, and allow that to develop a sense of contentment

  • on that note, contentment and complacency are very different – this isn’t about passively accepting your lot and staying stuck where you are. So no matter where you are in life just now, list a few things you could do that inspire creativity in you.

As usual, all simply food for thought, ideas to get you thinking outside the normal humdrum of life and recognising the tools you to choose positive emotions.

Looking for some more ideas, tips to get your teeth into? Download your free self-coaching guide for plenty more inspiration by simply filling out the form (watch your spam folder, the reply sometimes ends up in there).

Do you bounce, or do you fall?

 

How resilient are you when life gets to you?

How resilient are you when life gets to you?

On our voyage through the 10 steps to happiness, we reach an interesting one this week – Resilience. Look it up in the dictionary, and you get the following definitions:

resuming it’s original shape after bending, stretching, compression

readily recovering from shock, depression

It comes from the Latin word resilio, which means to jump back, and describes our ability as humans to deal with and bounce back from difficult circumstances or adversity. Two things  interest me most here.

Firstly, from my experience as a physiotherapist (physical therapist), when someone bends or is stretched in one direction, especially when stretched to their physical limit, several factors enable them to recover their original standing posture – to bounce back.

  • good strength, especially core strength (deep stomach and back muscles).

  • good balance

  • a stable base of support

The parallels are easy to see:

When hard times hit, where does our strength come from?

What has life taught us thus far that equips us for what is ahead, assuming we take the time to learn those lessons?

On what principles is our life based, our value system from which we derive strength?

Secondly, how balanced are we?

Do we take appropriate care of ourselves, and get the physical, mental, spiritual and relational input we need to resource us and prepare us for adversity?

And thirdly, how stable are our support networks – whom would we call on in crisis?

Who is there in our life that energises us, inspires us, nourishes and feeds our soul?

And to whom do we do that, as it works both ways.

Equally, with whom do we celebrate the little and big things in life?

The second thing that strikes me as important when considering resilience is it’s position within the 10 steps. Some of this I have alluded to already, but think about it with me – if you are already in the habit of giving, have a strong network of close, meaningful relationships, regularly care for your body through exercise, learn to enjoy the moment and appreciate the present, are being stretched and growing in self-confidence through trying new things, and have clear goals and direction for your life, then it follows that resilience will be, in part, fruit of those life choices. Resilience can be learned. We can not always choose what happens to us. But we can choose how we respond, what our behaviour and attitudes will be, and we can choose to learn from our circumstances and in so doing, grow in character.

Try this – stand up, reach as far as you can in one direction without falling over. Then return to your original position. How strong are you? How balanced? And what of your base of support? Take action now on one of the other steps to build your resilience and grow in happiness.

Want to know more about how to live life with more balance, especially when it comes to what really matters to you in life? My self coaching guide is full of inspiration, tips and practical ideas to enable you to live according to what really matters to you, and it can be yours for free! Simply fill in the form and submit, keeping an eye on your spam folder as the reply sometimes ends up in there.

Goals. No, not football!

What direction are you going in?

Do you know where you are going in life?

Imagine living life with no sense of direction or purpose, no idea of what you are aiming for. Sadly, in this crazy frenetic world, sometimes that is exactly how we do end up living, at least for a season. It seems there isn’t the time to step back and look at our lives, what we have learned, from where we have come, and then dream and plan for where we want to go.  But without goals, life can seem meaningless, bland, and lacking in purpose. Sounds a bit grim doesn’t it!

However, much can be done to change this, and the sixth step to happiness is Direction – having goals for life. Happiness doesn’t just happen, or suddenly land in our laps. Working out what is important to us, and then thinking, planning, and pursuing those things brings fulfillment and happiness. And that involves creating goals. Goals motivate us, give us a sense of achievement and fulfillment, challenge and inspire us, and focus our efforts and use of time/skills/energy.

That said, they can’t be just any old goals –

If they are not your goals, you won’t own them and they won’t motivate you.

If they are too big, the risk is you will become overwhelmed into inertia, and give up.

If they are too vague, it is hard to know how to channel your energies into specific activities towards your goal.

If they are too small, and reached too easily, you risk missing out on your full potential.

SO – how to create Goldilocks goals – goals that are just right. The world of management is full of good ideas and management-speak, and one that works well here is very simple. Create goals that are SMART.

S – specific: keeps you focused

M – measurable: enables you to check your progress, and celebrate achieving your goal

A – attainable, attractive: do-able, you feel good about it, depends on your own choices not someone else’s

R – realistic, relevant: you can envisage yourself doing it, enjoyable, therefore less likely to give up

T – time bound: a deadline gives you more motivation, an end point and a means of providing accountability

Not rocket science. None of this stuff is – but putting it into practice can be life changing. So what are your dreams? Why not take an hour this next week to write down your dreams, create SMART goals for the top two or three, and start working towards them. Imagine your life with direction and a clear sense of not only where you are going but how to get there. Yes please!

 

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