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

Category Archives: Live Life Without Regrets

Should Contentment be on the curriculum?

Should contentment be taught as a skill?

Learning contentment as a life skill

Learning contentment as a life skill

This is a fascinating thought – that contentment, along with other life skills, could be on some kind of educational curriculum. A friend posed this question in response to last week’s post, that contentment could be taught alongside resilience as a way of equipping us for the pressures of modern day life. Certainly, what we focus on and fill our minds with hugely influences our thoughts about ourselves, our lives, and others. There are twins laws at work here:

  • the law of cognition – you are what you think
  • the law of exposure – your mind thinks most about what it is exposed to

So it follows that when you think most about what you don’t have, that will influence how you live, your perspective on your life and how others perceive you.

The idea of scarcity links with this – scarcity captures the mind, whether we are short of time, money, food, hope. And that by focusing on what we don’t have, the way we think is remodeled at the cost of our creative imagination and an ability to see the bigger picture. Another friend brought this article on scarcity to my attention, and it makes for very thought-provoking reading.

Could this then be our first lesson in contentment – spend time thinking about what we do have, and what we are grateful for about our lives, and we will be more content people. I suggest this also will lead to greater resilience – withstanding difficulties and setbacks because we have a more stable and secure footing in who we are and the good in our lives.

So as you go about your life this week, what are you content with about your life? What and who are you thankful for? And when negative tapes start playing in your head, replace them with positive affirmations of what is good about who you are and what you do have.

Contentment – a life skill worth learning.


Will you regret not being content with what you have?

Content with what you have

Content with what you have

Contentment – an interesting theme for me in the week in which I consider getting older (birthdays do that to you).

More recognition, options, time, freedom, stuff, money – we always seem to be wanting more of something.

It is good to want more in some areas of life -to be better at what you do, to be more of the best of you in your relationships. But it is also essential to truly appreciate what you have.

This fits with what I can do and who I am. When we focus on the negative – what we don’t have and where we are not in life rather than what we do have and where we are in life – it becomes harder to spot the positive. We can become almost anaesthetised to the good around us, and the tapes in our head are stuck on ‘what if’.

Being content with what we have, where we are in life, who we are – it doesn’t mean we stop seeking to be better, but it does mean we can stop and enjoy the moment. Recognise that we already have so much.

I am quite content being the age I am, and am very much enjoying this decade. And this is a good week to stop and look at the bigger picture of my life and recognise that what I have is more than enough. Simple things that give me pleasure: the love of my family, great friends. Good health. Music. Nature. Cake. Need I say more?

Are you taking life too seriously?

benefits of laughter

One of the benefits of laughter is not taking yourself too seriously!

Laughter is the best medicine, so they say.

Whoever they are. Apparently one of the major regrets of those at the end of their lives is that they took life too seriously. Not having enough fun. Seeing the worst or the most doom-filled scenarios.

I think my daughters’ view would be that I don’t take life seriously enough, looking for any opportunity to be a bit bonkers. This is younger daughter and I dancing on a table. Don’t ask, but hey, it was great fun.

Now of course, life can be pretty tough and we all experience traumatic and difficult times, some seeming to get more than their fair share. But taking opportunities to have fun, see the lighter side where possible, have a right good belly laugh when we can brings many benefits.

I explored the medical benefits of laughter (not a very scientific study, just a quick wee trawl) and found that laughter :

  • reduces stress, improves healing and boosts the immune system
  • stimulates production of endorphins, the body’s own natural pain killers
  • produces an initial increase in heart rate, rate and depth of breathing and therefore increased oxygen consumption, followed by a decrease in heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure,  with muscle relaxation
  • soothes tension and improves mood
  • increases personal satisfaction and allows a better perspective on the situation.

That is quite a list! And of course, unless you can think of any, there are no negative side effects of laughter, no prescriptions required, no special equipment. I did once fall off a table because I was laughing so much, but that incident in itself prompted further laughter in subsequent days!

Laughter is a very unifying thing too, bonding together people over a shared joke. Who are the people in your life that can make you laugh till you cry?

Have you been taking your life or yourself too seriously? Go on – find someone to laugh with, or something to laugh about and give yourself a health boost! Or dance on a table…..

Friends come and go, but at what cost?

friends to dance with

Precious friendships are too important to lose

Are there people in your life, precious friends once upon a time, that you have lost touch with?

People whom at the time you knew them well, you could never imagine them not being in your life. But sometimes life happens, time passes, the connection lessens. Perhaps they were the ones to not return the call and so we put the onus on them to re-establish the friendship. And then more time passes, they slip out of mind, new people come into our lives.

But how often, when we reflect on that person, do we realise that we miss them? We miss the way they made us laugh. We miss crazy dancing about the living room with them (maybe not, but a nice idea!). We miss our late-night-deep-and-meaningfuls.

Chances are, they may be feeling the same. So what is there to lose? Very little in the grand scheme of things. Friendship is too important to take for granted. But sometimes our pride or stubbornness gets in the way; we put it on our mental “must get in touch with so-and-so” list where it stays and festers. And then we get to the end of our lives and look back and regret that loss…..

There have been many small incidents charting the importance of friendship in our house this week. Eldest daughter is working her way through the potential minefield that is the social groupings at secondary school. She is learning about loyalty, integrity, and what it means to be a good friend as she tentatively makes new ones.

Talking with a group of students, we oldies were observing that friendships formed in student days, in that intense bubble, can often last a lifetime, if properly maintained. This weekend sees us re-connecting with precious friends who live some distance away –  seen rarely, but the connections of two decades are so strong that they are quickly re-established. It has not always been thus – I have had friends slip just to the brink of near-permanent loss of the relationship, and realised with a start that I need to make amends.

Be the first to call. Get back in touch, and remind both of you how significant and special the relationship you share is. You will be glad you did, rather than risking regret at the loss of that friendship.

Who loses out when your harbour a grudge?

bitterness takes hold like roots

Your stomach is all chewed up.

Tension across your shoulders. Headaches. Disturbed sleep, disjointed and disturbed dreams. Chronic irritability and an inability to concentrate. Not a pretty list is it? For me, these are just some of the physical symptoms that come with harbouring a grudge.

Someone wounds you, there is an injustice.  It hurts. You hold onto the incident, allowing it to fester and brew, to gain power over you. You nurture it, holding and caressing it – ‘it’s not fair, look what they did to me, I don’t deserve this, I’ve been wronged, I want everyone to know what they did, how can I go on now‘ – and it takes root.

And of course, resentment grows, and the root has a name – bitterness. And you know what, bitterness will eat you alive, digested slowly from the inside with pain, unpleasantness, loss of joy. You name it. It will suck the life out of you.

As someone once very wisely said:

“Bitterness is like drinking poison

and waiting for the other person to die”

When we are wronged – the Wrongee – we very naturally feel hurt, wounded, and a sense of injustice, and often we want others to know what harm we have befallen. We want the person who hurt us – the Wronger – to have their comeuppance.

And it is important that we own those feelings and acknowledge them. Pushing them down into the deepest recesses of ourselves will not help, those emotions will only grow of their own accord and suddenly spring out of us when least expected. Trust me, I know – and the ensuing rage was not pretty at all. Very damaging for nearest-and-dearest.

But – and here is the key – once we have owned those feelings, we then choose to reflect on what happened and learn what we can for our own character growth, and then LET THEM GO before a grudge is formed. Because ironically, the chances are the Wronger may be blissfully unaware and going about their business with gusto and cheerfulness whilst the Wrongee suffers and is eaten alive with bitterness.

Choosing to let go of the hurt, not form a grudge, and – here is the even trickier part – to forgive the Wronger – is the only way to regain our own sense of peace and self. To rid ourselves of the destructive physical, emotional, psychological and mental effects of bitterness. And perhaps, to gain an insight into ourselves along the way that enables our own character to develop just a smidgen.

Don’t get to the end of your life and regret the destructive effect bitterness has had on you because of that long-held grudge.

Let it go. (I feel a song coming on…)

Do you leave work at work?

more time at the office?


This deathbed regret is quoted so often that it tends to lost it’s impact. There is an irony here – we are designed to work, and have an in-built desire to provide for those we love. But if we are honest, sometimes we justify excessive time at work by arguing that we are providing for our families, when our families would rather have more of us, physically present to them, than whatever we think we are providing.

Now of course, with all these regrets, it is never as simple as that, and being committed to your job, giving of your best, working with integrity and sometimes going the extra mile are important.

But the underlying principle is a very straightforward one:

What is most important to you in life, and how much time to you spend on that?

Work will always be there – instant communication through email and the internet can be something of a double-edged sword.

But imagine getting to the end of your life and looking back – don’t be in the position of having missed out on precious time with your nearest-and-dearest because of never-ending work commitments. Do your job well, and then leave it at work. It will still be there when you die, but your relationships might not be.

Challenged by this? Want to explore more what it means to live according to what matters most to you?

Download your FREE self-coaching guide for inspiration and lots of practical tips.

I have confidence in ….me?

What abilities of yours are you confident in?

Do you wish you were more confident?

Another oft-cited deathbed regret, this follows on from the discussion of the comparisons game – when we learn to accept who we are and what we can do, and start to live as that person, we gain confidence in being ourselves. If we are constantly wishing we were something or someone we aren’t, not only will we not be free to be ourselves, but our confidence in our own abilities will be rock bottom simply because we do not believe in our own abilities.

I am not advocating misplaced confidence, cockiness or arrogant pride in ourselves. Not good, any of those.

Being aware of who we are and the strengths and skills we have

is key to enable us to do what we do best.

I say this often to people in my work as a life coach, and it can involve something of a mindset shift. We generally are quite hard on ourselves, and can be downright dismissive of our own abilities. Particularly us Scots. But as we start to understand who we are and what we can do, and put those skills and characteristics to good use, our confidence grows.

Equally, as we gain confidence in what we can do, and understand and accept ourselves, we can also grow in confidence and acceptance of what we can’t do. That sounds a bit odd, but there are two elements to this.

Firstly, trying something completely different that we wouldn’t normally do and stepping way out of our comfort zone can be exhilarating and great for our confidence. Elder daughter cites abseiling down a cliff as a key achievement in her short life. She doesn’t like heights, and was very nervous about stepping – literally – off a cliff. But with good tuition and great support from friends she did it. And her confidence soared.

Secondly, when we are confident in what we can do it is easier to be accepting of what we can’t and that provides a great opportunity to build someone else’s confidence:

“I can do this part of this project/task/exercise/event but I don’t have these …..skills. However, you are great at this – would you do this part, and show me and teach me as you go?”

What a gift to boost someone else’s confidence as well as positioning ourselves to graciously learn something new.

What difference would being more confident make to you?



What would you see in the moment if you stopped to look?

stop and look

When was the last time you bumped into someone on the pavement because you were both walking along looking at your phone? This is a 21st Century phenomenon, and fits with the next deathbed regret

I wish I was more aware of the real world around me.

For people who are currently on their deathbed who are in the latter stages of life (again, without being all morbid about it!) I think this is less of an issue. Septuagenarians and octogenarians will have grown up without the need (perceived or real) to be plugged into some form of technology all the time and everywhere they go simply because the technology did not exist.

But nowadays, it seems that we as humans find it impossible to sit on a train, go for a run, or walk to work without musical or social media accompaniment. Maybe it is just me, but I struggle to understand the need to check my facebook status several times throughout the day when I am out and about. Of those (twentysomethings) I ask who do this, their main reason is fear of missing out on something that Might Be Happening.

It strikes me there is a huge irony in this – walking down the street, running through the park, even being on the tube (I concede that doing the same journey day in day out can get very boring), there are things that ARE actually happening right under our noses, yet often we miss them because we are plugged into something that might be happening on social media, or arranging something by text that will happen later.

This topic was discussed on the radio the other day. The suggestion was made that we could be more like dogs in our approach to being outside (another fabulous irony if I was promoting a certain phone company, but I am not!) – rather than running and listening to music, run with no accompaniment:

follow our noses to interesting things or views

notice the scenery

spot people

take in smells.

There is interesting stuff to see, no matter how little or seemingly insignificant, everywhere around us if we only stop and notice.

If you walk the same way to work everyday, and pass the same people, start smiling at them and saying good morning if this is something you wouldn’t normally do.

Next time you are outside walking somewhere, be deliberately conscious and present to your environment. Notice the beauty that is all around. Easy on a glorious sunny day in spring when there is new life budding everywhere. Look up at buildings, spot interesting shop signs, be attentive to people you see.

It all sounds quite trivial, but being aware of and enjoying the moment is so important because that moment is never coming back.

My body, your body, everybody?

you only have one body!     Taking better care of my body –

a bit of an ironic death-bed wish don’t you think?

Depending of course what you are dying of…But without getting all morbid, we only have one body, and what we do with it and to it matters. Taking care of our physical bodies is an important part of caring for and replenishing ourselves, so we can be the best of us and do what we do best.

  • How much sleep is the right amount for you, and what would it take for you to regularly get that?
  • What goes into your body, what do you consume and what are the effects of that?
  • And exercise – what, when, how often, what works and what small changes can you make that will up your energy levels through exercise?

Not very glamorous or exciting I grant you, but the implications of this are both very practical and very important. We look after the physical containers for all that makes us us, live a full life, and on our death bed, avoid looking back with regret that we took our frail beings for granted, or failed to maintain them in a way that would enable them to function at their best. 

Don’t make them guess how much you love them.

tell those you love that you love them!

Watching a programme on television recently about a day in the life of a busy accident and emergency department, I was moved to tears by the heartfelt and earnest opening remarks of an A and E consultant: tell your loved ones how much they mean to you because you never know what is going to happen to you that means you never get the chance again.

Stark, emotionally charged words from someone who has witnessed the loss and grief of sudden tragic life-changing events all too often.

This is a common and more expected death-bed regret

wishing we had told others more often we love them.

We all like to be appreciated, and if we are honest, sometimes our focus in a relationship can be receiving love not giving it. Equally, often we know in our heads that we are loved by those around us and that we love and value them.

Here’s the thing though – how often do we actually say it out loud? I know, I know, not a very Scottish thing to do at all. But I challenge you this week to try it and see what fun it is. Don’t necessarily tell all your friends and family at once right enough, in case they all think you are having some kind of crisis or are terminally ill. And there can be the odd awkward moment at first, especially if it is a wee bit out of character.

But telling a friend what specifically it is that you appreciate about them, and that they mean a lot to you is an incredible gift to give. You could even go so far as to tell whoever it is that you love them.

To their face.

I do this a lot now – not sure what those on the receiving end think of it, they all know I’m a bit bonkers. But it’s fun, and I would be heartbroken to get to the end of my life (be it sudden or expected) and for those precious to me not to know how much they enrich my life, give me joy, make me laugh, inspire me.