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

Category Archives: The Importance Of Valuing Others

What role do those nearest to you play in your life? How willing are we to listen to others, and change how we behave as a result?

What are the 10 steps to happiness?

I'd like to be given these!

How happy are you just now? And how on earth do you measure happiness? There is much interest in happiness in the media currently. Last month, a poll commissioned by Action for Happiness found that 87% of UK adults “were found to prefer the ‘greatest overall happiness and wellbeing’, rather than the ‘greatest overall wealth’ (8%), for the society they live in.” What would you have said? And what makes you happy? Of course, happiness can often be thought to be quite a superficial concept –  a product of our external circumstances, with little bearing or relevance when life is really tough. Words like joy and fulfillment carry more depth, and suggest an inner contentedness that provides stability and peace despite any external storms and challenges. 

But there seems to be more to happiness than perhaps we think. In a series of programmes on the radio this week, entitled “In search of Ourselves – a History of Psychology and the Mind”, the presenter is exploring the UK government’s plan for a national ‘happiness index’, including looking back over history to the roots of our search for ourselves. Well, to me this is just fascinating and right up my street!

So I dug a bit deeper, and found via the Action for Happiness site, 10 steps to happiness. Fabulously, they spell the acrostic GREAT DREAM – some very clever people have worked hard to come up with that – and the list is intriguing. So in my quest to encourage you to think, be your best self and life a full life, I thought it would be fun to expand on the steps over the next ten weeks,  give you practical ideas to try each step out, and see how your happiness indicator changes over that time! 

Step 1: Giving.

Random acts of kindness, giving of ourselves in lots of different ways, helping out others – all of this makes us happier and healthier. This probably won’t come as a huge surprise, but equally, how much fun to do, and how easy to start incorporating into your life right now. You can give money, time, help, yourself:

  • buy someone a wee unexpected gift, treat a friend in need to something delicious (I would love to receive these tasty morsels!), help someone out with a bill
  • help someone declutter part of their house that has been getting on top of them
  • phone an elderly relative for a chat
  • provide a listening ear to a friend in difficulty
  • play a game with your children on their terms
  • give someone a big, unexpected hug (Younger daughter excels at this)

What could you do? How many other ways of giving can you think of and put into practice over this next week to become a happier you?

Inspire the dream in others

149       Who has inspired you this week? And who have you inspired, told them that you believe in them? In thinking about this, I am more aware than ever of the people in my life who have supported me, encouraged me, believed in me and enabled me to keep being and going and doing. Friends who have held my cherished dreams tenderly and reminded me of them or listened as I rehearsed them again to become re-envisioned when I might otherwise have given up. Friends who have affirmed me in what I am doing, and who I am becoming in the process. Friends who have given feedback, challenged me, read things, commented on things, responded to requests for help, pointed me towards useful information and new ideas. People who have worked with me who have told me I am not completely bonkers when it came to jumping off the cliff of change. And of course, my nearest-and-dearest who have been part of the process of change and without whom I couldn’t do what I am doing. So if you are reading this and you are one of the aforementioned, a huge thank you for who you are and what you bring to my life. And the challenge in this is to think, for whom can I be that person? Who can I affirm, encourage, inspire this week? Whose dreams can I show interest in that prompts the dreamer to more self belief and possibly action? None of us is an island, we need each other in this tricky, complicated world and who knows, you might be just the person that someone else out there needs today to bring that word of affirmation and encouragement.

Choosing to love not regret.

DSCF5885        Imagine reaching the end of your life and looking back – what would cause you the greatest regret? That might not be a very cheery thought for Valentine’s day, a day on which we are encouraged to think about our nearest-and-dearest and celebrate love in all its many forms. But perhaps that is exactly why today of all days (if we can get past the commercialism) is the ideal day to think about how our life choices impact on those we love. It is an oft trotted out cliche that on our death bed it is unlikely we will wish we had spent more time at the office. But knowing this, recognising where there might need to be changes made, and then actually MAKING those changes is another story, and much more difficult. Last week’s poll of challenges for this year may have started you thinking, along with the New Year new you food for thought. The first step to making positive change in life is to recognise where you are starting from – being aware of what your life is like at the moment. The next step is painting a picture of where and what you want your life to be, as this can start to inspire you towards your goal of not having those regrets at the end of your life. Inevitably there will be a gap between where you are now and where you want to be, and that middle bit is where the fun starts – starting to make small, achievable changes to every day choices you make that will gradually lead you to where you want to be. For me, my first step is to choose to affirm my nearest-and-dearest today, and at least once every day for some specific and positive thing I love and value about them. What will you choose to do that will ensure you do not get to the end of your life full of regrets? 

 

Cherishing the Important

DSCF5447         Sometimes we lose sight of not only what is important, but who is important. Imagine going to meet a friend you have not seen for a while. What preparation would you make? In this situation, I would probably make an effort to look nice, would look forward to the meeting, would be excited to see that friend. I would ask them all about how they are, what they had been up to, and want to share life with them. There might be laughter or a sharing of harder times. There might be honesty, encouragement, affirmation – a reconnection at a soul level. All good, and all important to sustain our emotional and mental wellbeing. But now consider for a moment – how often do I make that kind of effort with those closest to me, my nearest-and-dearest, those right under my nose? And if I am honest, how often do I take them for granted, giving them the least and the worst of me? And how much do I, and they, suffer as a result? Our lives are full of people who we know for lots of different reasons and at different levels of friendship. Sometimes we get so caught up in life that we lose sight of which of those relationships are most important. Who is it that really matters to you? How much poorer would your life be without them? What steps can you take to make sure they know regularly how significant they are to you? Little things make all the difference in communicating to them that they are a rich blessing in your life, and that they bring you joy.

Celebrating others

This has been a week of connecting with precious friends, lovely folk who have known me years and years, have seen me change and become more comfortable in my own skin, and who have remained faithful friends throughout that (often prickly and difficult) process. Friends who really listen. Friends who do get inside my skin and walk around (not literally, or all at the same time you realise – that would be truly revolting). Friends who challenge me, encourage me, laugh and cry with me, don’t let me get away with being stubborn or trapped in my own head for too long. Friends who encourage me to be my best self. And friends who, yup, you guessed it, allow me to see my own world with fresh perspective. Our lives are so enriched by friends like this, who bring joy and depth to our world. And how much do we need to be this kind of friend to those in our lives who would call us friends. How often do we stop to appreciate them, tell them we love them (how un-Scottish), and affirm them for the role they play in our lives? How often do we stop and say, d’you know what, I wouldn’t be who or where I am now if it wasn’t for you? Try it – it’s fun! 

Walking around in someone else’s skin

I have two Primary school age children. Last week, we were discussing their school work with their teachers, and it turns out that our 8 year old (that’s her, leaping for joy on the beach at the top of the screen – she is a really exuberant character who experiences life to the full daily) is very good at seeing things from someone else’s point of view.

According to her teacher, if there is a bit of bother in the class, or one of her classmates is behaving badly, our worldly wise little one will stop and wonder what might be going on in the life of that individual that is causing their behaviour, and not just jump straight into an argument or get annoyed. We are heartened and pleased by this, as we are trying to bring them up equipped to see the world from different perspectives.

My favourite book of all time is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and probably my favourite quote of all time comes from Atticus Finch:

If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view—until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.

Have I mentioned that I like perspective? Maybe a few times? Really listening to someone (see last week’s entry) often starts when we get into their shoes and to try and understand how they feel, how they see the situation, what their perspective is.

There’s that word again.

 

Silently listening or listening to silence?

Stop. Listen. What can you hear? Background noise, white noise, traffic, music, work noises, the cat scrabbling around on the floor (oh, that’s just me – she’s only got three legs, so makes an odd noise when she walks). So many noises competing for space in our heads, but how often do we actually stop and listen. Really listen. How often do we stop and take in the silence, so precious in our noise-packed-instant-world. And appreciate it, appreciate the moment before rushing on to the next thing. And how often do we stop and really listen to what someone is saying to us – to what is going on under the surface, to what is being communicated but not said, before we respond, and in so doing make the conversation more about them than us .

To encourage takes courage

This past week has brought several unexpected encouragements from often unexpected quarters or at unexpected times. None of them were sought, they just popped out at me in passing, as if to say – hey, you’re doing OK and I love who you are becoming. Equally, I have had the opportunity to encourage or have affirming conversations with several people, and it is just such fun and so exciting. Often, the opportunity passes me by and I miss it, but crucially on these occasions, I opened my mouth and spoke out words of love, support, affirmation before I chickened out for fear of looking silly or being too unScottish and over-emotional. And that is why encourage has courage at the centre; sometimes we have to overcome our natural inhibitions or fears to tell someone we love them, or that they are beautiful, or that they are persevering with grace and integrity despite the hardship of their circumstance. To listen to someone, hear their heart and then affirm and encourage them for who they are is to give a precious gift – to whom can you give it this week?

Running stubborness

I have started running. Two wise, precious friends have been saying to me for years that I would love running. I mocked, was stubborn and ignored them. Turns out they were right, I do love running. They know me well, and they know what makes me tick. They know that I love being outside, that I love listening to music, and that I love the feeling of exercising hard. Had I listened to them, I could have been enjoying the freedom and buzz I get out of running all this time. So this week’s thought – where are you being stubborn? Who knows you better than you think, do you listen to them and are you grateful for the blessing they are in your life?

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