Tim O'Rahilly Life Coaching

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Mindful May: Why I am a positive thinker.

My friends and social media followers are all well aware of my belief in the power of positive thinking. The positive greetings that I post on Facebook every morning now have a regular following. Those messages have become important to me and I know from feedback that many people now look forward to reading them every day.

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Some people have asked me how I always manage to be so positive, especially at six o’clock in the morning. How can I always be happy? The honest answer is that I’m not. Yes, my natural state is a positive and happy one, but I would be lying if I said that I was able to maintain that 24/7. There have been mornings when that positive message has been as important to me as it has been to my followers. Sometimes I need a prompt to get my mind in the right place and my day started on the right track.

Recently I’ve become aware of too many people around me being in a negative state even to the point of despair or depression. The reasons for this are many and I do not intend to go into any great analysis here. Suffice it to say that the fast paced world that we now live in lends itself to stress, frustration, sometimes a feeling of disconnect from the real world. The increase in mental disorders and the high rates of suicides are evidence of this.

Positive thinking is not a cure for these ailments but it can be a tonic that soothes the symptoms. More importantly I believe that positivity can delay or control the onset of real trouble such as clinical depression or some forms of dementia. I repeat however that it is not a cure and telling a clinically depressed person that they just need to be positive shows a complete misunderstanding of their condition.

Positive thinking takes time and effort. Being in a positive state is easy enough to achieve. Getting to the point where that state of mind becomes so natural that it is an ingrained trait takes a little more effort.

So what am I trying to do here? Well, I have devoted over forty years of my life to human development of one sort or another. If you Google ‘human development’ looking for a definition you will be faced with ideas about economic well-being and political maturity. There is even a Human Development Index. My personal definition of human development is something far broader than that. Both as a teacher and as a Life Coach I always believed that it was not my place to provide all the answers or to hand over information or solutions on a plate.

For me, human development is about creating an environment which allows people to reach their full potential and to lead productive, creative lives which are congruent with their needs and their interests. By definition then, human development is about expanding the options available and giving us the ability to make choices which allow us to lead the lives that we value.

All my training, qualifications and experience as a school teacher, counselor, trainer, life coach and NLP Practitioner have brought me to an important understanding. We need to have knowledge of the past but we should not dwell in it or be held back by it. We should look to the future and we must do that with optimistic, positive thoughts. We need to hope for a better future whilst accepting that hope is not a plan. The future we seek must have goals and we must understand the actions needed to move us towards those goals and away from the past. With past and future taken care of, what of the present – the here and now?

Ah, we’ve reached the Mindfulness bit. If we are to start making those wise choices we must be grounded firmly and confidently in the present. Mindfulness can give us the means to manage our emotions, thoughts and sensations as they occur in the present moment.

62e82c4ecdaa7adb73e8c1d4669aea19When I first heard about Mindfulness, I was almost put off it by the way that the New Age leanings of some of its practitioners seemed to be hijacking its real use. More recently, Mindfulness has gained world wide acceptance and popularity. It is used by psychologists in the treatment of a variety of disorders. I do believe that as a practice, Mindfulness has a place in everyday life as part of a battery of resources which can help us to truly know ourselves. Over the coming month I shall take a close look at these resources and see how we might employ them to help us to make some of the important life choices that present themselves to us. We need to be grounded in the here and now, in control, self-confident, positive about the future and mindful of who we really are.

Next time I shall be looking at the practice of mindfulness, its origins and its practical use today.

Valentine’s Day: Loving and Self-loving.

lg_single-red-roseValentine’s Day has come and gone once more. Red roses, chocolates and champagne will have been given es expressions of our affection and devotion to our loved ones.
It’s a shame if we need a date in the calendar to prompt us to do that but there is no doubt that setting aside all commercial considerations, the occasion generates strong feelings, high emotions and huge smiles.

Whether or not you receive red roses, you are loved. Do not forget that the person who should love you most is yourself. I am not referring to arrogance or any of the other anti-social varieties of self love but rather a very healthy regard for self, a sense of the real you.

According to Wikipedia:

In 1956 psychologist and social philosopher Erich Fromm proposed that loving oneself is different from being arrogant, conceited or egocentric. He proposed that loving oneself means caring about oneself, taking responsibility for oneself, respecting oneself, and knowing oneself (e.g. being realistic and honest about ones strengths and weaknesses). He proposed, further, that in order to be able to truly love another person, a person needs first to love oneself in this way.

We regularly use terms like self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-care but they are all facets of self -love, which should be as unconditional as our most profound love for another. If we are to know ourselves well we must look honestly at our core values and beliefs. These are profound and deep rooted and they are the baseline against which we measure all of our behaviours and the behaviours of others.
If you were going to write a special Valentine card to yourself, what would you write in it? How would you recognise the high esteem and respect you have for yourself? How would you put your love and admiration into words?

“You can search through the entire universe for someone that is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
– Buddha

Regular readers of my blogs will know that I believe in putting ideas into action. First, why not write that card to yourself now and declare your unconditional love for YOU? Next, write down at least five things that you could do to express your love for yourself. Finally, choose one of the things from your list and treat yourself to it this week.
Have fun and let me know how you get on.

When Does Autumn Fall?

 

Every year at this time I hear the big debate start up. No it’s not about calling it Autumn or Fall, it’s about when the season actually starts. Well the answer is that there is no one single answer. In fact there are three valid options so take your pick.

First is the meteorologist’s option. Our weather forecasters like to divide the year into four equal portions of three months each. That means that their Autumn starts on 1st September and runs to 30th November. This is not chosen for any particular scientific reason but rather because meteorology uses a lot of comparative statistics and the fixed seasons allow direct comparisons with the same seasons in any previous years. Most people follow this tradition and so from today the summer clothes will be getting packed away and the recipes for soups and stews will be pulled out again.

The second Autumnal option is the more scientific one. Many of the significant events in our calendar are defined by celestial markers, often related to the sun or moon. For Astronomers the Autumn Equinox marks the start of the season and this year that occurs at 02.29 GMT on Monday 23rd September. As its name suggests. The equinox marks the day on which night and day are roughly of equal length. The astronomical Autumn ends with the Winter Solstice in December which this year occurs at 23.03 on Sunday 21st December. This is the shortest day of the year and marks the start of Winter.

The third option is a much more fluid one and is based on the study of phenology. This looks at periodic plant and animal life-cycle events. It is those changes in the natural world which define the changing season. The colouring of the leaves and the ripening of Autumn fruits and nuts. This is a much more personal definition and as such is not fixed by the calendar. The average tipping point for these features is usually in mid-September but since it is based on observations in nature, it varies from year to year. The long term trend also shows a shift in the seasons due to climate change.

Whichever definition you go for, don’t see the Autumn as a time to retreat indoors and start your winter hibernation. There are still bright sunny days when you can get out and enjoy the lengthening shadows and the glorious colours. These are the features which have inspired so many artists, writers and poets.

Follow T.J. Masters’s board Autumn on Pinterest.

Happy 12.12.12

Celebrate this special date and do something to make it memorable. For geeks like me who love numbers and patterns it’s a great day. This date was last seen 100 years ago and will not be seen again for another 100 years.  It also happens to be one of only 12 sequential dates (01.01.01 to 12.12.12) and so the next sequential date will fall in 89 years time.

Today there will be a significant increase in the number of people getting married and many are booked to take place at 12 noon or even at 12.12 this afternoon. There will also be people celebrating 100th birthdays and to me that is an important point. This is probably the first time in human history where hundreds of people have lived long enough to see 2 sequential birthdays. Advances in science, medicine, social improvements and healthcare have brought this about and I have no doubt that human longevity will stretch even more in the next century. For me, one of the most powerful thoughts today is that there are people who are old enough to read these words now, who will still be around to read them on the next 12.12.12

For my fellow geeks the fun does not stop there.

Mathematicians love the number 12 for its inherent divisibility. 12 is one of the few smaller numbers that can be evenly divided into multiple subsets of halves, thirds, fourths, sixths and twelfths. Because 12 can be so easily divided, it’s commonly used in measurements. There are 12 inches in a foot, 12 ounces in a troy pound (used to measure gold, silver and gems), and 12 in a dozen.

The number 12 has found its way into religion with the 12 apostles. In mythology there are the 12 Olympian gods and astrologers have the 12 signs of the zodiac. Not only are there 12 animal signs in the Chinese zodiac too, but in Chinese numerology, 1 is a yang number ruled by the sun and represents independence and individualism. 2 is a yin number ruled by the moon and represents symmetry and balance. Combined, the number 12 brings harmony to the yin and the yang.

Of course the number 12 often represents the end of one cycle and the beginning of another. December is the 12th month of the year and every 12 hours day turns to night or night to day.

So many random facts about the number 12 too, such as the 12 pairs of ribs in most humans, or the 12 picture cards in a deck of playing cards. Finally yet another mark of human endeavour is the fact that 12 people have walked on the moon.

What will you do to mark this date then? If you are a parent or a teacher then make it a memorable one because most of the children in your care will still be alive for the next 12.12.12 too. How about asking them to imagine celebrating this day in the year 2112? What do they think their world will be like? What will they personally want to have achieved?

 

Have a wonderful day!