Why how you show up each day will affect the quality of life you lead.Feb 08, 2021
Time after time
I’ll be honest with you, I am finding this Lockdown rather wearing now and I think that’s the general consensus.
I hear so many people say they're finding it harder than the ones before and I totally get it. It’s the third one. It’s Winter. We almost feel like we can touch the freedom of being able to go out and about, yet it seems just out of reach, which means we can find it that bit more frustrating.
The goalposts seem to constantly move – we have a date when we might be out of Lockdown, it gets reviewed and then extended. Schools are going to go back mid-February in England but that changes to March. Schools in Scotland are to go back 22 February – so, might the date change for schools in England? Who knows, it’s all under review. I make no political comment on decisions that are made because with the ever-shifting sands of this pandemic, I’m sure it’s incredibly challenging to weigh up the social, economic, educational, and wellbeing factors that affect us all. Hindsight is a marvellous thing and on the other side of all this, no doubt there will be much rumination and analysis on what could and should have been done. Heck, we’ll all have learnt something about ourselves if we reflect on the past year or so.
The big wheel keeps on turning.
The recent passing of Captain Sir Tom Moore was such very sad news, in a time when we need hope to cling on to. And Captain Sir Tom Moore was a shining beacon of hope during the Spring and Summer Lockdown – a man with a great sense of purpose that inspired so many people. He set out to raise £1,000 by walking 100 laps around his garden before he reached his 100th Birthday. That initial fundraising target was smashed in no time and in the end, Captain Sir Tom Moore raised almost £33m and quite rightly, became a national hero.
But something Captain Sir Tom Moore said should be etched in our consciousness: Tomorrow will be a good day. In fact, it’s the title of his autobiography. It echoes the assumptive affirmation which the Winning Edge’s Richard Jackson MBE says every day: Good things happen to me every single day. Because that’s just it isn’t it? The big wheel keeps on turning and the passage of time is something we can do nothing about. It’s a lighthouse – we cannot move it, only intelligently navigate our thinking around it. COVID-19 is a lighthouse – other than keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe, we can do nothing about the current situation. But there is an element of choice in the situation, even though it might not feel like it. Quite simply, you can choose to change the way you think about it, or carry on feeling frustrated, disappointed and angry.
I am not negating what we might have all lost so far – perhaps loved ones, time with loved ones, time in the classroom, training and development, time with friends, jobs, our business, money, physical and mental health, activities we enjoy, holidays and so forth. However, to keep moving forward, we can choose how we respond to all that is going on. We all have an invisible force within us – the nature of our thoughts, and they are powerful – more than many realise; we can either make those thoughts work for us or allow them to work against us and the choice we make will create the quality of our life.
The longest time
Each day, time will march on regardless of the type of thoughts you have. You can get to the end of the day feeling hopeless and disheartened, which you have absolutely every right to feel. And let’s face it, we’re all human and find me someone who throughout all this, hasn’t felt like they just want to hide under the duvet for the next week. Or, once you’ve had a few days feeling pretty crappy, you might then decide enough is enough, and you get back out there, putting one foot in front of the other, maybe creating a day you feel proud of. That could be getting out of bed when you just don’t feel like it, carving out some time to spend with your children during your working day – guilt-free, or it could be creating a presentation for work that you’ve been procrastinating about for the past two months (this is SO not me I am referring to…!). It’s deciding how you’re going to show up.
During the tough times during this Lockdown, I am handling it a bit like the film About A Boy (which I believe I have referenced before to illustrate a different point!). Hugh Grant plays a guy who’s since departed father, wrote a now very famous and much-played Christmas song. Hugh’s character lives off the royalties and hence doesn’t need to work however, he is bored, to tears. And he thinks of his day as units of time. A unit of time for him was 30 minutes so taking a bath is equal to one unit, watching Countdown was one unit and getting his hair cut could run to a whole four units of time, and so forth.
So, on those challenging days when my frame of mind is not particularly positive, I use this formula. Working days are fine, my units of time are sorted but at weekends – I plan what I’m going to do – family time, cleaning, baking, calling family and friends and getting out on my bike. It helps me to have a sense of purpose in all this – to have a sense of achievement.
Fit for purpose
Research points to the fact that if you have a sense of purpose in life i.e. the brain has something to look forward to, you’re more likely to enjoy positive physical and mental health and have a better quality of life.
Have you found that when you are looking forward to something you feel better? This is because the brain is like a heat-seeking missile and strives to achieve goals. It works teleologically, which means it is end-goal orientated. Evolutionary speaking our brain is the same as it was 10,000 years ago, and 10,000 years ago every human had a strong sense of purpose - it was called survival!
We are wired for challenge, not for ease and we’re wired to strive and to fight for survival. Without goals, our brain is a missile without direction. If we don’t give the brain a goal, then we suffer from dis-ease – not disease. Consider it as life out of balance. It can lead to our immune system being lowered and lead to depression and there is so much research that our mental and physical health are intrinsically entwined.
So, to help get yourself through what might seem an interminably long Lockdown, create some wins which you’ll feel good about and will boost your self-esteem. Set yourself some mini-goals – nothing too heavy so that you feel you’re putting pressure on yourself along with everything else on your plate; think fun, productive and rewarding.
Maybe you could try cooking a range of new recipes, join an online fitness class, achieve 10,000 steps at least four times a week, set up a Zoom cocktail making session with friends, or a fun family quiz. It’s about being creative with what we can do at the moment. My sweet spot last weekend, after the exciting Click and Collect shopping run, was a visit to the Starbucks Drive-Thru with one of my daughters where we purchased numerous delights and then sat in the car chatting for an hour. Just me and her, together, with time to chat and no interruptions. We redefined what joy is for us at the moment because let’s face it, we need it.
What brings you joy? In the parameters that we’re currently working within, what goals can you set yourself that bring joy, fulfilment, happiness and a sense of achievement?
Time is going to pass by anyway, so we may as well get to the other side of all this knowing we got through this to the best of our ability.
And to help you feel empowered in this current situation here’s one way to think about it...
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