Gratitude – Yawn!

Gratitude

It was 2001, I’d just turned 31, and I was all fresh to the journey of personal development. I started out by reading the classics, like Napoleon Hill’s Think and grow rich, I joined internet forums (if you’re too young to remember this: it was a thing before Facebook, I swear), and I began some recommended practices for a positive mindset and success.
 

The one thing every single teacher or guru recommended, was gratitude. So I dutifully started my gratitude journal, where I wrote down 5 things I was grateful for every day.
 

Do you want the brutal truth? It was mind-numbingly boring. I went through the motions, came up with 5 items every day, and then quickly moved on to whatever other list I was writing at the time, such as 10 daily successes.
 

It took me a while to figure out why gratitude wasn’t working for me. You see, simply “thinking” (as you do when you write something down) doesn’t quite do the trick. Gratitude is an emotion and a state of mind, and the challenge is to tap into that. Only then can we access the abundance the gurus promise.
 

In the following, I’ve put together three non-sucky ways of incorporating gratitude into your life. Try them out, pick and choose, and keep what suits you. It really is worth it!
 
 

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1. The daydream

 

When you were a child, did you ever sit in a boring lesson at school and found your mind wandering to altogether more pleasant pastures? Heck, never mind school – plenty of us have done the same thing at a less-than-interesting job. I’d like to you keep this effortless daydreaming in mind when you read the following paragraphs.
 

You see, “visualisation” isn’t a terribly accurate term. It implies picturing something, but I suggest doing much more than that. Just like you did in your schooltime daydreams, I want you to get into all five senses as well as the emotional state you’re imagining.
 

What you’re imagining is, of course, whatever it is you’re grateful for. Instead of writing “my husband and kids and our house”, you picture a scene on a mild spring day in the garden with your family, as gratitude for your beautiful life warms you like the sunshine on your skin. In short, you paint a picture of the thing you’re grateful for.
 
 

2. The tribunal

 

If you like to challenge your mind, this one’s for you. Think of what you’re grateful for, and then imagine yourself in court, where a clever attorney is trying to get you to admit you’re not actually grateful.
 

List all the reasons why you are, and don’t forget to describe the way this makes you feel. Emotions are, in fact, the best way of convincing this particular court, so feel free to lay it on thick.
 

This may sound a little weird, but if you look for reasons why you feel gratitude, you also remind yourself of how much reason you really have. It’s so easy to forget otherwise!
 
 

3. The take-a-breath

 

This one’s great when you’re busy or working on something for a long time. First of all, you need to remember to take breaks (trust me, your performance will improve as well. Even and especially if you “don’t have time” for a break). At the very least, stop what you’re doing for ten seconds, look up from your work, and take a deep breath.
 

As you breathe in, think of something that’s good right now. It could be the cup of coffee in front of you. Your colleague who offered help earlier. A hug from your three-year-old this morning. Just think of something, however small it is, and with the deep breath and sighing out-breath, feel your gratitude flood you.
 
 

The magic key

 

Gratitude is like a magic key which opens the doors to abundance, be it in love and relationships, in your interests and passions, or in material abundance. Like everything else, gratitude can become a habit if you practise it daily for at least three weeks, so I suggest you stick with your chosen practice for at least that long.
 

Now, if you’re having trouble even thinking of anything to be grateful for, I suggest your passion or passions. I do hope it plays a major role in your life, because if it doesn’t, then you and I really need to talk! You are on this planet to be joyful, loving, and ecstatic. Claim what’s yours.

About Time!

Time and Time Management, Wild Spirits Coaching

When I was a kid, I was chronically late. My friend, who’d pick me up for school (in those days, we walked to school), unfailingly arrived on time and stood in our hallway, waiting patiently while I dashed around looking for stray books to stuff into my bag, and my mum tried to get me to hold still long enough so she could run a brush through my always-messy and untameable hair.
 

Looking back, it’s funny, but there was a lot of unnecessary stress in my life when I was growing up! It’s even funnier when I, after learning punctuality and time management in my 20s, get told by people how “German” I am because of this (I live in Ireland these days). If only they knew how very “un-German” I am by nature! It was a big effort for me to come to terms with that elusive thing called time.
 

Over the years, I’ve studied and tried out different time management systems, with varying success. It’s probably no accident that my Coaching specialisation – prioritising passions – has a lot to do with time management.
 

Are you ready for some pointers on how to deal with the, quite literally, ‘time of your life’? Read on.

[bctt tweet=”Are you ready for some pointers on how to deal with the, quite literally, ‘time of your life’? @sibylleleon”]

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Systems failure

 

I adore the work of the late Stephen Covey. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is my all-time favourite non-fictional book. It all makes so much sense, and I’m applying so much of it in my own life, and yet, the time management system attached to it is something I’ve never quite been able to implement.
 

The same goes for all the other systems I’ve learned about over the years. There are always highly valuable elements I put into practice, but an entire system? Nah. Isn’t that strange?
 

I believe it’s because time is a construct which doesn’t actually exist. Gay Hendricks acknowledges this fact in his book The Big Leap and introduces a principle called “Einstein Time”. He points out how relative time really is, how time can drag or fly depending on what we do, and draws the conclusion that time is under our command. Humans created it and so we can decide how much of it we have. It sounds a little crazy – you’d really have to read it in the book to fully understand – but as long as you understand that time is whatever you make it, you’re getting the gist of it.
 

When it comes to learning, I’m very eclectic: I take whatever suits me from the different ideas and approaches I study, and put them into practice. In the following, I’ll tell you some “time hacks” you can use to take control over the time in your life.
 
 

Prioritise like a pro

 

If you are one of those people who always have a million things on their plate, Stephen Covey’s quadrants could be a lifesaver. The idea is to focus on the things that are important, but not urgent, things like looking after your health (eating well, going to the gym), your relationship (it’s not urgent to spent quality time with your spouse; you won’t get divorced tomorrow if you don’t do it today, but in the long run, you will run into problems), and self care.
 

The important, but not urgent quadrant II contains all the most important parts of our lives. In reality, it often gets pushed aside by things that are urgent, like the phone ringing, everyday chores like the grocery shopping or picking up the kids from school, etc. The idea is to schedule your quadrant II activities first, before everything else, and make them a priority.
 
 

Master of time

 

  • What activities makes you feel like time stops existing? I mean the kind of feeling you get when you’ve just fallen in love, the way the hours spent with your lover somehow don’t exist, as if the two of you together were outside of time. Anything which makes you feel even remotely like that, is likely a passion and should take a central role in your life.
  •  

  • Watch out for your Einstein-Time clues. Audit your life: Are there obligations, clubs, meetings, even hobbies, that you are no longer passionate about? Don’t feel bad about cancelling something. It may have fulfilled you once, but you have outgrown it. Time to let go!
  • [bctt tweet=”Remember that you don’t have to fill every minute of every day with activity. @sibylleleon”]

  • Remember that you don’t have to fill every minute of every day with activity. Downtime, simply being instead of doing, is good for the soul and slows down the overall pace of your life. You’ll suddenly find you’re much less busy and frantic, and find time for those things you actually want to do.

Why Positive Thinking Doesn’t Work

Positive Thinking, Wild Spirits Coaching

Wait, what? Isn’t positive thinking the cure-all prescribed by countless self-help books and Coaches, including myself?
 

Not quite. Focusing on the positive is indeed beneficial. However, it can be actively harmful to believe that you can change your life by positive thinking only. If you’ve ever done any Coaching with me, you’ll know that mindset is just one of the factors which need to be in place. The same goes for all areas of life.
 

I see the attraction of a formula like: “All it takes is positive thinking”. Humans like simple truths. It’s like someone is offering to solve all your problems at the push of a button.
 

What if I showed you a slightly more complex, but still simple formula that actually works, instead?
 
 

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1. The framework

 

Many people either don’t bother with this step, because they think it’s not important, or they get stuck in doing this but nothing else. I challenge you to fall into neither of these groups and realise that this is a critical step – there’s a reason why it comes first – but it’ll only give you the results you wish for if you continue with the next steps afterwards.
 

The framework is what you could call the mind’s work. You need to get clear on what it is you want, and put your intention into writing. It’s where goals come into play.
 

Say you need more money. Your goal will be a certain amount of extra cash earned by a certain date (it’s important to give specifics. Vague goals like “more money” don’t work). It might also be to save a particular amount each month.
 

If your goal is to attract the partner of your dreams, state what you want from the relationship. I don’t recommend describing your ideal partner beyond a few general characteristics like kindness and honesty, because love famously often looks quite different from what we were expecting.
 

The most important part of this step is to put your goal into writing. Be as specific as you can and add a deadline to it.
 
 

2. Lighting the fuse

 

Now that you know exactly what it is you’re striving for, you’ve got to kindle a flame underneath your goal. This is where emotions come in. If your goal is only rational and resides in your brain, it won’t do you much good. Incidentally, this is why positive thinking alone doesn’t do much good! If it’s only in your head, you’ll have trouble manifesting your goal in the real world, because the world consists of more than just your rational mind.
 

Ways of getting excited about your goal include to daydream about it, share it with your best friend, go and look at the end result (for instance, if you want a house, you could drive around and look for houses which match your dream, or browse real-estate websites).
 

Infuse some fun and passion into this; the idea is to get fired up whenever you think of your goal! Don’t think that this is silly or inappropriate; emotion is what manifests things. If you are looking for a new job, you may not want to arrive at the interview giggling, but you do want to have a good laugh beforehand so you’ll arrive looking happy, relaxed, and confident.
 

Be playful and creative with this. Whatever you can think of – as long as it works, go for it! And if you have trouble coming up with anything, you may want to consider some Passions Priority Coaching.
 
 

3. Buckling down

 

This is the part most people don’t want to do. It’s what suspiciously looks like work, and often is. You could call it the physical part of making things happen.
 

Quite simply, you need to take action, and it should be focused and consistent. It may seem obvious, but think about it: How many people fall down here? How many times have you made plans in your mind and not followed through? Everyone is guilty of this every now and then.
 

The way to avoid your goals dissolving into thin air here, is to keep working on the first two areas, in the shape of regularly reviewing your goals and making adjustments where needed, and finding your joy and passion for them. This will keep you motivated to put in the actual work.
 

It might not be as easy as simple positive thinking, but it’s definitely not complicated! If you keep the three steps in mind, you’ll be able to pinpoint any issues faster and move past them.

NLP Hacks To Transform Your Life

NLP: Wild Spirits Coaching

I had tears streaming down my face, so painful was the memory of the argument. The gentle voice of my NLP Coach told me it was okay, that I was in a safe space… And then she told me to take myself out of the scene that I had recreated in so much detail, and to view it as a mere spectator instead. Gradually, as she guided me through further stages of the process, my tears dried. When the session ended, I felt a profound sense of relief and peace. I’ve been able to remember that argument without feeling any emotional upset ever since.
 

Some people claim that “Neuro-Linguistic Programming” (NLP) is basically manipulation or mind control. In reality, NLP simply makes use of the way our brains work. These mechanics are happening anyway, and all NLP does is to make us more conscious of them, so we can get rid of negative patterns, communicate more successfully, and even re-shape our lives.
 

Used correctly, NLP is a very powerful tool. In the following, I’ll give you a few easy to learn techniques.
 
 

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Inner Critic

 

A lot of us are struggling with a nagging inner voice that pipes up at the most inconvenient times. “You’re such a clutz!” it chides when you stub a toe, or: “You’re useless. You’ll never get that job,” whilst you are writing an application.
 

Next time your inner critic makes itself heard, try and tune in to their voice. Whose voice does it speak in? Is it your own voice, or the voice of a parent or teacher from your childhood? Could it be that critical “friend” you used to hang out with in college?
 

Ask yourself where the voice is located. Is it in your ears, your chest, or somewhere else?
 

Now start playing with you inner critic’s voice. If it’s usually in your head, try and move it to your right foot instead. Make it sound like Donald Duck or Mr Bean, make it ridiculous or very childish.
 

This may sound silly, but it’s actually an excellent way of silencing an inner critic. Even if the voice doesn’t go away, if you do this exercise regularly, you’ll be much less inclined to take it very seriously or let it affect you.
 
 

Anchoring

 

Anchoring is a technique that allows you to access a desired emotion at will. Try happiness: Start by imagining a time when you were very happy, and then replay the situation in your mind in great detail. Tune up the colours, the sounds, the scents – every detail – until the happiness you feel is a clear 10 on a scale of 1-10. At that moment, touch your left earlobe between your thumb and forefinger (or circle your wrist with your other hand’s fingers, or any kind of touch that you’d not normally perform).
 

Repeat this exercise at least once daily for about a week, and you’ll notice you feel happy just by touching your earlobe with your thumb and forefinger, without having to go through the entire sequence of visualising the happy memory anymore. To maintain the anchor, simply perform the touch every time you feel particularly happy.
 
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Nerves/Anxiety

 

To calm your nerves or anxiety, you can employ a technique called reframing. Say you have an important test or exam coming up and the mere thought of it makes you break out in cold sweat. Every time this happens, shift your focus from the scary exam to how you’ll feel once you’ve completed the exam successfully. See yourself holding the diploma. Look forward to the exam as your doorway to what you want.
 

This one can be great fun! You can also use it for dating. If you’re nervous on a date, simply visualise actually being in the relationship you hope to get to (provided that’s truly what you want!). See yourself with your date, taking strolls together, having a romantic picnic – if you are cheeky enough, you can even imagine the two of you having steamy sex. Trust me, it’ll put a sparkle in your eyes and a glow on your cheeks, relax you and bring out your best self.

[bctt tweet=”NLP is a lot like taming your brain to work in your favour instead of against you.”]

Obviously, you can also try anchoring a feeling of calm and relaxation. These techinques all have various uses, so be creative and play around with them! NLP is a lot like taming your brain to work in your favour instead of against you. In many cases, the processes work very fast, which makes it very rewarding to study NLP. Experiment a little, and have fun.

Want The Simple Life? Stop Hustling.

Live your dreams: The simple life

Every now and then, a post goes around Social Media that pretty much everyone can agree on. It praises the “simple life”, reading by the window, going for walks after the rain… It gets shared widely and makes people sigh wistfully.
 

Ironically, those of us who share these types of posts, are often people who work all hours or juggle a family with countless social obligations. I include myself in this: As a multi-passionate, I used to be involved in way too many things. Individually, each activity was meaningful and fun, and I loved the people I met through them, but overall my schedule was exhausting.
 

You see the disconnect, don’t you? I’m the first person who’ll tell you to live your dreams – it’s what my Coaching is all about – but to do that, you need to eliminate everything from your life which doesn’t fit the vision.
 

[bctt tweet=”To live your dream, you need to eliminate everything from your life which doesn’t fit the vision.”]

I’d like to take you on a journey of creation. Are you game?
 
 

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Time for dreams

 

This is the fun part. Put on your tinfoil hat and get comfortable, and then close your eyes (well – it might be a good idea to finish reading the next paragraph first!). Then imagine that magically, money or social obligations no longer play a role in your life. You are enjoying the incredible luxury of doing exactly what you choose every single day.
 

Picture “A day in the life” for yourself. Spend at least 10 minutes on this and imagine every last detail. What does your house look like? Who else lives there, if anyone? Where do you live? What do the surroundings look like? What’s the weather on this particular day? How do you wake up in the morning, and what do you do? How do you spend all the beautiful hours of your day?
 

A few questions to consider:
 

  • Do you work? If so, what is your work? How much time do you spend on it and how does it make you feel?
  • Do you make art? Craft? Create? Pursue your passion or multiple passions?
  • Do you exercise? Play?
  • Do you travel? If so, where to?

These are just a few prompts to get you going! Go ahead and dream up a perfect day in your perfect life. If possible, write down your vision; written dreams are particularly powerful.
 
 

Reality check

 

Once you’re done dreaming, it’s time to reconcile this vision with your reality. It may seem impossible at first, but don’t dismiss it too quickly. First, take the following steps:
 

  • Think or read back over your dream day. What was the overall atmosphere in it? What did you feel (happiness, content, love, gratitude…)? Be specific and write down these feelings.
  • Before, I invited you to go into detail. Now, I ask you to look at the big picture and find out what the general theme of your dream life was. Was it peace and quiet? Excitement and adventure? People and love? Of course, there might be elements of several or all of these things (and others besides them). Just try to find the one main theme, the one which matters to you the most.
  • Now it’s time to compare the dominant emotions and the main theme of your dream to your current reality. Write down your observations, especially obvious discrepancies.

Now you have, right in front of you, the things you need to work on. If your life already matches your dream, great! Figure out ways in which to infuse even more of your favourite emotions and “theme” into every day. If you see discrepancies, make a plan to tackle them one by one. This is a perfect time to introduce Coaching into your life, by the way!
 
 

Alignment

 

Don’t try to revolutionise everything at once. Often, only small adjustments are needed. Remember, you aren’t trying to live the life of a millionaire by tomorrow; you are trying to recreate feelings and themes, and those aren’t dependent on a budget or life situation.
 

If it’s the “simple life” from the quote at the beginning of this article that you’re craving, then maybe it’s time to drop all those obligations and activities. If you’re all for excitement, then maybe you should spend more money on travelling than on housing. if you want to pursue your passion, maybe you don’t need 25 pairs of shoes or the latest gadget.
 

The point of this exercise is to align your life with what you truly want. 
[bctt tweet=”Life is too short to live somebody else’s vision. It’s time for you to create your own.”]