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

Category Archives: The Power Of Thankfulness

Being thankful is a powerful way to shift your focus back on to what really matters, and to communicate that to those who really matter.

Whatever the weather, we’ll weather the weather

“I don’t think we should be complaining about our weather” was the comment Younger Daughter made in response to seeing some of the pictures of Hurricane Irma on the television.

Whatever the weather...

Whatever the weather…

Something of an understatement, me thinks. And quite an astute comment from a 12 year old.

We love to talk about the weather in Britain. In Glasgow, where I live, it is something of a national obsession. We get a lot of weather. And a lot of it is fairly rubbish.

However, what underlies this are both perspective and mindset.

If the only perspective I had on our meteorological conditions – the only frame of reference through which I looked at our weather – was that of our own local situation and recent history, I could have grounds to grumble.

(Although I am acutely aware of my own musings on the importance of personal choice and responsibility – I choose to live here after all).

But look at our weather and compare it with what is affecting others and suddenly my perspective on how grey and wet it might be here is somewhat challenged. Any complaints I might find myself giving voice to are silenced, in humble recognition of how little we have to complain about.

So too with mindset. When we choose a mindset of what isn’t, what we can’t, what is not working or going the way we want it to, often we find ourselves living in a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“I think therefore I am” proclaimed Rene Descartes an astonishingly long time ago.

What we think, and the way we choose to view our circumstances, will have a huge bearing on our own personal sense of well-being.

Another oft quoted adage is

There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.”

This is attributed both to Alfred Wainwright and Ranulph Fiennes – both of whom certainly knew what they were talking about.

Now I believe that a hurricane stands most definitely as the exception to this.

But the point is a similar one – external circumstances can only spoil my inner well-being if I choose to let them. I can sit inside and grump on a wet, dreich and miserable day and complain about what I can’t do. I can allow this frustration to tip me into a bad mood and become irritable with those around me.

Or I can choose to dress appropriately in outdoor gear and go out and embrace the wilds of our amazing country, to look for beauty even in the rain. And on my return, I can choose to be thankful for and celebrate a steaming shower, dry cosy clothes, hot chocolate and a good book by the fire in my warm, dry house.

I may not always view my home circumstances with such dewy eyed warmth, but compared with those in the aftermath of recent hurricanes, just having a roof over my head is grounds for celebration indeed.

When we look around us, no matter our circumstances, there are always things we can find – when we choose to look for them – to be thankful for. Including the weather.

More musings inspired by Dr Seuss…and fish.

teach a man to fish

Teach a man to fish…

As part of an occasional series of thoughts and musings based on Dr Seuss words and quotes, here are another couple of my favourites:

 Just tell yourself, Duckie, you’re really quite lucky!”

There has been much in the popular press recently about the scientifically proven power of gratitude. I can testify to this in an entirely unscientific way. Furthermore, I have anecdotal evidence of several clients. Each of them is choosing to record three things daily that they are thankful for, or that are good in their lives. And each one speaks to the huge perspective shift they are enjoying –

immensely helpful

empowering

“focusing on positive outcomes and feeling much better”

Try it for a week – at the end of each day, simply write down three things you are thankful for. And see what happens Duckie.

 

It is better to know how to learn than to know.”

I LOVE this. If there is one sentence that sums up the power of life coaching, then this is it. If I tell you the specific solution to one particular problem that you have in your life, then once that problem is resolved, you potentially find yourself back to square one when the next problem comes along – stuck with a new problem and no solution.

However, if I enable you to come up with solutions for yourself by learning how to problem solve, then you are potentially set up for life. Each of us has the ability within ourselves to come up with creative and unique solutions to our own problems. What we sometimes lack is an outside perspective, and some objectivity to think outside of the box and learn how to problem solve.

Put it another way –

Give a man a fish and he eats for a day.

Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime. 

‘Twas my grandfather who used to say that, not Dr Seuss. Ancient Chinese wisdom was considered to be the source of this saying, although doubt is now cast on this. It matters not a jot.

What matters is the ability we each of us have to learn how to learn, and therefore be better equipped for the rest of our lives.

Need help learning to fish, metaphorically speaking? Get in touch – I can help! Find out more about what life coaching is and how it can help you here.

 

Thank people before it’s too late – or, a good goodbye.

Thank people before it's too lateThis week saw us say goodbye to some dear friends. It felt like one of those before-and-after moments: a defining goodbye that marked the shift in life before-and-after them. I cried many tears at the goodbying, and startled myself somewhat at the extent and depth of my sobs – I cry easily and often (it can be a real nuisance) and many who know me know this about me, but even so.

I have been pondering deeply about what was at the root of this volcanic well of tears. And what crystallised for me is that these dear friends, these lovely generous hearted people, have played a key role in my own inner growth over the many years I have known them. Over the past two decades, I have learned to let go of lies about myself, grown in self acceptance, gained more confidence and freedom to be the me I was made to be, and stepped out into a new career. And I realise that this in part has been because of my participation in events and experiences that these dear friends made happen. I am deeply indebted to them for their creativity, inspiration, facilitation and for often stretching me quite a long way out of my comfort zone.

I have been able to express my gratitude to them, through the tears and in writing. It has been very important to be able at least in part to articulate specifics of how they have impacted my life and what a difference they have made.

But I wonder – how many other people are there in my life who are also significant, precious, dearly loved, and how often do I thank them for their role in my life? Now these friends are neither dead nor dying, and we will see them again. But how often do we wait until the person is dead to fully appreciate out loud what they meant to us or tell them that we love them – and by then it is too late.

Between MB (My Beloved as he is known here) and I, we have received emails and letters that have expressed gratitude to us for what we have meant to the sender, and why. These are precious and treasured communications. They have often come out of the blue, sometimes prompted by a significant birthday.

Recently, I heard about a project called The Living Eulogy Box on the radio (Radio 4 Saturday Live, Feb 25). The premise is a simple one – to tell people when they are very much alive and well how much they mean to us, and to honour and thank them for their role in our lives, of whatever magnitude, rather than waiting till they are dead. By that time, for the deceased, it is too late to know of and enjoy the recognition and affirmation of others – how much more would it impact us whilst alive?

Perhaps this is something we could choose to do in Lent, which can be for some a time of reflection – to thank people before it is too late.

Perhaps there is someone in your life who means the world to you but you’ve never told them – you just kind of assume they know, right? Or someone who made a positive, significant difference to your life at a certain point, no matter how far back, but you’ve never let them know?

MB had a card a few years back from a friend, thanking him for his role in her life when they were students more than 20 years previously. He was deeply touched and humbled to read the words, as to him, he was just being her friend, but to her, it meant so much more, and she took the time and trouble to write and thank him.

Thank people before it’s too late – let’s not wait for the goodbyes to tell people how much they matter to us.

Don’t look back in anger (cue for a song….)

Look back...

Look back…

How do you look back at your past life experiences? What lenses are you wearing and how do they affect how you see?

I have been doing a fair bit of musing and reflecting of late on how I got to where I am now. This has in part been prompted by goals I have set myself for this year. And in turn, these goals have grown out of my experiences of the last few years, and what I want there to be more or less of in this coming year. The soul weariness I spoke of a year ago, an understanding of good boundaries and appropriate rest, and the importance of continuing to learn and develop as a life coach have all prompted an unusual-for-me degree of introspection and reflection.

Recently I was listening to a radio programme about whether we are glass-half-full or half-empty people, and how this affects our perception of event.

This struck a chord.

My life has changed hugely in the past 15 years. And how I look back over those years has a huge impact on my view of the future, and expectations thereof. If I allow the impact of MB’s depression, plus my own experiences of soul weariness and over busyness to be the lens through which I look at life thus far, what tends to dominate is regret and sadness at the hard stuff, the things missed, the struggles. And therefore this clouds how I look forward to this year – expectations clouded by negativity and pessimism.

But it need not be thus. We can learn to look back through a different lens.

At no point 15 years ago, even in my wildest dreams, would I have believed that I would be running my own coaching business at this point, with the fulfilment, challenges, joys, freedom and flexibility that this life brings. And I am where I am now because of so many things coming together over the years – opportunities, conversations, huge support from family and friends, MB believing in me, self awareness and growth, access to great training and learning, financial provision. So much to celebrate and be thankful for.

Thus I change the lens on how I look back, and the over-riding emotion is gratitude. And looking back with gratitude changes how I view the present and the future, and I look forward with hope and optimism because I see what is possible. Change can happen.

It’s a simple formula, and nothing to do with the Oasis song that is buzzing round in my head –

Look back with regret and only see the negative, and you will more likely

look forward with fear and pessimism

Look back with gratitude and see and acknowledge the positive, and you

look forward with hope and optimism.

This is not to diminish difficult life events and circumstances. We learn most through the hard stuff. But we learn, we let go, and eventually we move on and the negative then loses it’s power. We can then focus more on the positive and see all that is good.

How do you look back at life, and how does that affect how you look forward?

An attitude of gratitude not keeping score

Attitude of gratitudeThink back with me to the beginning of your relationship. Those heady days of infatuation, giddy bubbles in your tummy, talking endlessly into the night. Your partner could do no wrong. And you couldn’t do enough for them. There was no thought of demanding something in return – simply being in their company was enough. You both oozed an attitude of gratitude towards each other.

What went wrong?

Well, reality for a start. Jobs, mortgages, bills, health issues, the multiple mundane repetitive tasks of normal domestic life all do their little bit to take the gloss off. Possibly adding children into that maelstrom. Although lets face it – the initial days of total infatuation are not compatible with normal life. I remember one of my first dates with MB, talking till 5 am, getting maybe an hour’s sleep and then going to work. Couldn’t function like that now. Much older, value and need my sleep more, and the practical element of me kicks in – nothing would get done!

But a teensy bit of wistful reminiscing does no harm, especially if the reasons we got together in the first place are remembered.

Because last week we talked about the dangers of keeping score in a relationship – the lie that I am owed for what I do for my partner. And this is a far removed place from those halcyon first days when there seemed more simplicity, more grace, perhaps more gratitude in the relationship.

What is it you really love about your partner?

Why were you attracted to them in the first place? What strengths, character traits, little foibles make them unique and precious to you? Or at least, did at some stage?

What do they bring to the relationship that you would be lost without?

The key here is to recognise that within a relationship, we are not owed anything by our other half and therefore cannot start demanding or expecting them to do certain things. We choose to do things for each other whether merited or not because that is grace and love within a healthy relationship. We have entered a relationship with a desire for mutual love, respect, and give and take. This is not a business arrangement or contract.

How easy it is to fall into the dangerous black hole of doing things for the other to then manipulate them into doing something in return. Or to cast up to them how little they do and how tired and worn down we are.

Is it possible instead to choose to do things for and help the other other? Dare I say, to serve?

To choose to do what you do because it is the right and loving thing to do?

To learn to cultivate an attitude of gratitude towards each other, rather than keeping score?

If you are in a difficult place in your relationship just now, and feeling unloved and unvalued by your partner, I really do get that this will likely stick in your craw. In the face of our own unmet needs, choosing to continue to graciously and willingly do things for our partner will feel like a Herculean task. But again, I ask – what is the cost of continuing on the current path?

There are no easy answers, no quick fixes. This takes time, effort, willingness and a large dose of humble openness with each other. But the most important thing is to start to talk about what is going on, and gain awareness and understanding of each other.

When one partner feels they are doing more than the other and allegations of score keeping are flying about –

  • talk about the practicalities of who does what without blame or accusations
  • acknowledge the emotions and unmet needs
  • choose to see and affirm what the other does do
  • discuss ways of distributing things more fairly/evenly/appropriately (everyone’s situation will be different – there are no set ways nor stereotypes at work here)
  • understand that it is not wrong to want our spouse to do things for us, but we are not owed anything from them in return for what we do for them – this is a relationship not a business contract
  • understand that if I choose to do something for my other half, I do it out of choice not to get something back. 

If you have never come across the concept of love languages, this can be a useful way to gain understanding of yourself and your partner, and can provide the key to unlock the barriers between you.

And, perhaps most importantly, practice an attitude of gratitude. This goes a long way to changing our perspective. What little things does your partner do that you can appreciate and affirm them for? What are you thankful for about your other half?

 

What is your legacy this week?

What would your legacy be this week?

What would your legacy be this week?

Legacy. I have started counting the number of times that word is used by news people in the same context as the Olympics. It’s quite a fun game…try it next time you watch the news and see how often the words ‘Olympics’ and ‘legacy’ appear in the same sentence.

What has been my own legacy for this past week, I wonder? With my family, I have been a wife and mum who has been tired, preoccupied, negative and distinctly lacking in enthusiasm for life. Not what I would want to be known for or leave behind.

I am not planning on departing this earth anytime soon. But I was struck by fact that how we choose to react to the events of the day has a huge impact on those around us, and how representative is that of who we want to be, and how we want to be known?

I would much prefer my legacy to be along the lines of –

bringing out the best in folk

seeking to encourage and speak life in small and larger ways to people

an honest, real practical problem-solver who generally sees the hope in any situation

But this week has definitely not seen me living as that person, and – of course – my Nearest and Dearest are the ones who suffer the most.

Nothing dramatic or terrible has happened. But over the past few of months there have been some fairly significant challenges in several major areas of life for both MB and myself (My Beloved as he is known here). The cumulative effect has somewhat worn me down. And in that weariness my response has been to become preoccupied, negative, and serious. And in displaying such characteristics, I see I am negatively impacting those around me too.

Not what I want, not who I am – not my legacy of choice.

I am not proposing a Pollyanna blind optimism approach here – ghastly and really unhelpful, especially for those in seriously dire straits.

But the question of legacy has made me reflect on my own choices of behaviour, and where I choose to focus my sight. Call it mindfulness, faith, gratitude, meditation – being aware of the moment and practising being grateful does shift the focus from trials and challenges onto a bigger, more hope-full perspective.

Many things have fallen apart/broken/fallen off walls in our house in the last couple of months. There are associated frustrations, time and expense ahead which neither MB nor I have the energy or time for. But we have a house, we have great friends and wonderful neighbours. And there are gifted people out there who can fix broken things.

Right now, MB would most benefit from me being emotionally available, supportive and encouraging. He needs my problem solving and proactivity in helping him process and structure some of his work challenges. If we are taking an in-this-together approach to life and career, my negativity and preoccupation with the woes and worries around us will simply bring him down and be entirely counterproductive.

Both daughters need a mum who is available, positive and has a balanced approach (guffaws from those reading this who know me!). They need me to provide stability and loving acceptance in the very wobbly and unsettling world of teenagerness. That is much more the kind of legacy I want – and I am more in control of that than I sometimes would like to think.

I choose how I respond to events, even if I don’t choose the events themselves.

What about you? What is life throwing at you at present, and how are you responding?

And what do your responses say about who you are, what matters most to you, and what sort of legacy you want to leave this week?

 

The secret to happiness

Last week’s musings contained a challenge to support Fair Trade fortnight, and buy some fair trade products. How on earth does this lead on to the secret to happiness? Apparently Martin Luther King, some 50 years ago, said:

Before you finish eating breakfast in the morning, you’ve depended on more than half the world.”

That’s quite a thought – cereal, coffee, bananas, milk, bread, peanut butter – regular breakfast items in our house

that someone somewhere has produced. I don’t often give it a thought, and instead often give in to the tendency to be consumed by my own problems and concerns. Those pressing issues of the 795 million undernourished people globally (according to the Fairtrade Foundation) are detached and distanced from my own life.Fair Trade challenge

But this is shocking, when I stop and consider how wrapped up I can be in my own immediate woes and concerns.

How much of my time is spent worrying about what are first world issues?

Things that concern me that would be unthinkable luxuries for many of the inhabitants of this planet?

Elder daughter, in a recent Modern Studies module, came across the concept of shrinking the world to 100 people and looking at the statistics. They were stark, shocking and very sobering:

If you have food in the fridge, clothes on your back,

a roof overhead, and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world.

If you have money in the bank, and some change in your purse or wallet,

you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealth.

This is not to induce guilt nor to minimise poverty in this country, which is very real and very serious.

But I write this to challenge myself to stop and be aware of what I do have, and be thankful and appreciative rather than worrying about what I don’t have.

Being self-employed carries with it the challenge of a fluctuating and unstable income. I can easily fall into the trap of worrying about the costs of everything from car repairs, school trips, holidays, the children’s hobbies and activities. I am not going all political, nor am I suggesting that those things are bad and should be given up and the money given away. We are creatures with free will and choice, and the biggest challenge in this is to enjoy what I have and celebrate that with thankfulness and generosity – I have a loving family, great friends, wonderful neighbours, education for me and my children, a job, freedom of speech, food and a lovely home.

Came across this great quote today:

The secret to happiness lies not in getting what you want, but in wanting what you have.

Now I fully realise that this is a huge, complex and multifaceted issue, and far beyond the scope of my short musings. But I am simple soul who sees the world in black and white terms. And thus I challenge you and me alike:

Can we learn to live in appreciation for all we have, rather than worry or regret about what we don’t have?

Can we make wise decisions about how we use our resources to share those resources out a bit more?

Can we be inspired by videos like this one on the world if it were 100 people, and enjoy each day with gratitude, challenge ourselves to reach our full potential, and do our wee bit to make a difference?

How to fill the vacuum of the present without guilt or anxiety?

I came across this quote the other day:

“When thinking about life remember this: no amount of guilt can solve the past

and no amount of anxiety can change the future.”

Thankfulness in the present

Thankfulness in the present

A lot of truth in that. What interests me is the vacuum in the middle.

I am a ‘so what’ sort of person – when presented with new information, I tend to ask myself first, ‘well, so what?’. What difference does that make, or how does that change things?

Now, there is enough fodder in the above quote to keep many psychologists happy for a long time. But in my own, very tentative musings, I recognise a few things:

  • dealing with your past, reconciling yourself to it and learning all you can from it can enable you to live more humbly and wisely and freely in the present
  • identifying what it is you are anxious about, whether you can take steps to minimise the situation or whether it is out of your control can help bring a more objective perspective to the future
  • learning what you do and don’t have responsibility for and when to let go

This is not said simply or glibly, and I am all too aware from my work how much of a challenge these issues are. And what time, effort, tears, understanding and self-awareness are required to live like this.

But that brings me back to the vacuum in the middle. Where does that leave us? In the present. There are lots of platitudes about the present being the only place to live, and that is why it is a present. Again, true if a teensy bit cheesy.

There seems much heaviness around us just now, with folks local and global enduring pain, grief and suffering.

And perhaps the idea of thankfulness filling that vacuum seems trite, over simplistic and down right insulting.

So I say this carefully and very cautiously.

Perhaps we can we learn

to live more in the present….

to value and cherish those around us today…..

to recognise what we have got…..

to embrace what we can do…..

to celebrate what we have learned and gained from our past…….

to find things to be thankful for even in the midst

Living free of guilt for the past and anxiety for the future -perhaps the key is thankfulness in the present?

Things to be thankful for in anticipation

Being thankful in anticipation

I was greeted this morning by super-excited younger daughter announcing that it is only 8 days till Christmas. The Advent calendar is looking more bare as the count-down removes more items. Pantos and parties today and tomorrow. Christmas baking, carols on the radio, lots of lit and sparkly trees to count in windows. Christmas concerts and shows.

Are you enjoying it, or feeling a bit frazzled? Maybe Christmas is a really difficult time of year, and you are dreading it.

It is easy to get caught up in the busyness….frantic shopping….commercialism….for the focus to be on the superficial and the insubstantive.

So this week, in the heightened anticipation of approaching Christmas, a simple reflection –

 What is it that matters to you most about Christmas?

What are you most thankful for in this season?

How can you take time to stop, breathe, be still for a minute and reflect on that?

In all the anticipation, I wish you a very happy Christmas, and time to be thankful, a time to enjoy loving and being loved by those that matter to you most. Perhaps even the One that for some, is at the centre of the Christmas celebration.

Things to be thankful for in preparation

thankful in the preparations

Advent is a time of waiting and preparation.

And with two weeks to go until Christmas, preparations are in full swing. What preparations are you enjoying? And what is driving you nuts?

I am being exercised in the art of being thankful in amongst all the preparations. Sometimes it feels like the sheer volume of stuff going on at this time of year is enough to drive us over the edge – food, presents, cleaning, socialising, parties, multiple different school events with all the associated paraphernalia etc. And yet, all of those things in and of themselves can be great fun.

Which brings me back to thankfulness – why am I doing all of it?

What is my motive for a lot of what I do at this time of year, and what am I communicating to those around me by my attitude?

I am challenged daily to be thankful IN the preparations, to remind myself that we are in the Advent season and there is much that is good right under my nose, now, and not just on December 25th.

I am inspired to be thankful FOR the preparations, for helping hands, for delicious food, for choosing gifts for loved ones, for seeing children practise hard for concerts and shows.

And I am learning to prepare myself – to choose to be grateful, humble, cheerful, and bring out the best in those around me so we can prepare to celebrate what really matters to us together.

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