I imagine you have set yourself a few goals? Small goals, long term goals, business goals, personal goals, you know exactly what it is that you want to achieve, you even know how you are going to get there ... but in amongst all of this solid, concrete, tangible planning and possible results, are you happy?
Today is International Day of Happiness and I ask you this, isn't it your right, your responsibility to the human race to be happy? To be happy not just for yourself, but for those around you, for your family, for your friends, because when you are happy you are more open, productive, loving, healthier (both physically and mentally); in other words "happiness is the key to success."
We are living in world now where happiness and well being are becoming much more of a focus, you just have to look at the myriad of blogs and vlogs and websites out there that talk about the hows and whys of well being. This is just not a good thing, but a GREAT thing, because we are all unique human be-ings and therefore we will all have difference requirements when looking after our happiness and well being. What makes one person happy and content may make another person apathetic (the best example I can think of is the argument I've had with my flatmate over which is best - yoga or pilates, I'm for yoga, she's a pilates girl through and through, neither of us are wrong or right, we are just passionate about what each practice does for us). So in this blog post I am not going to rehash things that you have already read, processed, and materialised, instead I want to give you a little insight into how I can be happy, living from my story of disability and anxiety.
I have been disabled from birth, having been born with missing limbs, and for some people this would be a tragedy, an end of a life not even begun. Growing up with the family that I had, however, meant that I never felt that I was different or lacking in any way. In fact I had probably the happiest childhood I could have, I remember it as light and bright, hot summer days spent out in the pool with my parents and siblings, eating hot chips under the carport with friends, picking up lizards as gently as I could, haring down the path on my trike - it really was the quintessential Aussie childhood ... and I remember being happy, because I was living in the moment, as most children do. My teen years were spent training for the Paralympic Games, I did have emotionally wobbly moments here, as all teenagers do, but only part of the wobbly moments were to do with my disability, but in general I was happy, in fact I was loving life (even the 5am starts). In my twenty's I went to University and learnt, learnt how to think independently, to think outside the box, to think deeply about life, about purpose; my interest in Buddhism grew, and loved the freedom to do my art. I was happy. My thirty's have been tougher, as having a go at my PhD in a squeezed amount of time proved to much for my mental health and I ended up taking anti-depressants for anxiety ... I then started my own business, and as you fellow entrepreneurs out there know, it's stressful, extremely gratifying and satisfying, but stressful to run your own business ... I went through some dark times with bereavement ... but I am now, emerging out the other side ... dare I say it, happy!
On International Day of Happiness, even with my most recent bereavement of losing my Mum to cancer, I would like to declare I am happy, in this very moment I am happy ... and here's the thing, I am glad I am, because my Mum always said to me, she just wanted me to be happy, and I am.
So what is it that has helped me maintain a level of happiness and contentment throughout my life? It is something that I only became aware of, gave a name to when I started reading about Buddhism, and that is being present. My most happiest times of my life have been when I've been most present.
So my action for you today, on this International Day of Happiness, is to try and be present in everything that you do, be present in the shower, when you eat breakfast, when you drive your car, be present when you speak to colleagues, eat lunch, go for a walk, be present when you walk in the door at home, when you cook dinner, when you talk to your family and friends, and see, see if you can just be happy today.
“I’m sorry to tell you, you have 2 to 6 years to live”,
I was told this in the Spring of 2011, I was devastated. I was 41, a wife and a Mum to 2 teenage
children. It was like falling out of a plane without a parachute, speeding towards the ground……all
my dreams and goals evaporating into the air.
Wow, all my dreams and goals evaporating into the air? In 2011 I wasn’t really focused on any
dreams or goals, I wasn’t taking action towards anything, I was plodding through life. I didn’t really
know I had dreams and goals until this moment, and now they were evaporating away! I knew I
was capable of more in my career, I knew I was capable of more in my personal life, obviously my
health could be better…… but I didn’t have my dreams written down, I wasn’t really conscious of
my dreams, therefore I did not change a thing! I plodded.
It was only when I was faced with no future, with my own death that I truly realised what I wanted in
my life. How sad is that statement? But the true realisation is that the majority of us don’t actively
pursue the life we want, we get trapped by day to day life, with our careers, with school runs, with
technology and social media, with the need to make money, to survive!
I was unlucky that my illness progressed far quicker than expected and it was only 7 months
later that my health deteriorated to the extent I needed treatment. I had MDS (a rare blood cancer/
bone marrow failure), but 7 months later I also had Acute Myeloid Leukaemia…..not a good
position to be in at all!
I was lucky in that I was able to have a bone marrow transplant. Lucky? Yes. I had the chance of
a cure, a 60% chance of surviving. I spent the majority of 2012 receiving treatment. I spent 8
weeks in isolation treating the leukaemia with chemotherapy, and then a further 4 weeks in hospital
having chemotherapy and total body irradiation before I had my stem cell transplant. A stranger
gave me the gift of life. WOW! (check out www.anthonynolan.org or please email me if you would
like further information).
During 2012 I researched a lot about the mind and body connection, about living the life we are
truly meant to live. I believe that when we do this, when we connect with ourselves and ask
ourselves what it is we want from life and truly listen to the answers we live a more healthy, fulfilling
life. Of course, it isn't easy following our dreams. We have to take action. Without action our dreams
are just a wish list. I realised in hospital that when I was well I wanted to do something that made a
difference, I wanted to be an Inspirational Speaker and Personal Development Coach, I believe we
owe it to ourselves to be the best version of us that we can be, to live a life of balance, one where
we are happy today but excited for our tomorrows.
An Inspirational Speaker……that has been a massive challenge for me. I was initially petrified of
standing up and speaking to people but I realised that my message and my talk was more
important than the fear I felt. Do you have a dream that you are afraid to admit too, does it seem
too big or too scary? Do you want to change something or improve something? What is it that you
do want for you, for your future?
How did I do it? I made a list of exactly what I needed to do to achieve my goal, I worked through
my list, I conquered the challenges by breaking them down into smaller, achievable steps, and do
you know what…..sometimes you just have to step outside of your comfort zone and do what it is
you want to do. Gradually your comfort zone stretches and you as a person grow.
The main ingredient for success is to take daily action, even if it is only tiny steps towards
achieving your dream, to achieving the life you want. Action and commitment are key. If you want
it you will not allow excuses to get in the way, take control of your mind, of your attitude……do not
allow others to tell you that you can not do it, and do not tell yourself you can not do it. Give 100%
commitment, it is your life, your responsibility…..it is up to YOU!!!!
My biggest dream is to one day be a Grandma. Isn’t it funny, that my biggest dream is to do with
my family and with love.
My 2nd biggest dream is to live the life I want and inspire others to do the same, through my
keynote presentation titled Parachute of Dreams, and through my coaching programme.
Jayne is an Inspirational Speaker and Personal Development Coach.
LinkedIn: Jayne Snell
Yes I am mixing up some cultural sayings in that title ... a bit of Irish luck never hurt anyone, but also, a bit of Australian hard work never hurt anyone either (culture/language lesson here - Yakka is a variation on the Aboriginal word Yaga, meaning 'work'). St Patrick's Day is tomorrow, so as the world turns green, it got me thinking about life, and luck, and success, and can we really just get by on leaving our fate to the universe?
Ultimately the answer is no we can't, we can't just leave our success up to luck and the hope that our goals will just miraculously POP! into triumphant being. To get anywhere in life it is a given that YOU have to work hard for it. You and you alone (with the assistance of others ... we are not quite islands remember) have the power to create the conditions for success in your life. Without these conditions, any luck that is floating around in the ether, will fail to materialise, will fail to stick.
So how do we create our own Luck of the Irish in our own lives?
1. Firstly, you have to create a goal journey. A goal journey is all about creating the right conditions and generating opportunities for your goals to happen. SO make sure that you plan out and execute your goal journey to the best of your ability.
2. Secondly, attach yourself to people who can help you on your journey. Join or create a Mastermind group (if you want to know how you can start a mastermind group check out my ebook here - Mastermind), get yourself a coach or mentor, attend networking events relevant to your goal journey theme, or simply chat to family and friends, it can be surprising who in your immediate circle can help you out (i.e., bring you some luck).
3. Keep up to date on relevant research and information coming out. Keeping abreast of latest developments, whether that be study techniques, business marketing, the latest wellbeing research, means that your eyes are open to the latest opportunities you can grab. Opportunities that you otherwise would miss if you weren't active in your goal journey.
4. Be open to the unexpected. When your eyes are wide open to what is happening around you then you will spot the the more unusual and unique aspects of your journey. Embrace the unexpected because out of the unexpected can come the most marvelous of luck.
5. Consider those that have been lucky before you. They say you make your own luck, so look at the greats who have come before in your particular area of interest or expertise. Look at what they have done, how they have structured their goal journey's, the people they have socialised and worked with; it's no coincidence that they have had 'the luck of the Irish.' So be inspired by them, copy their strategies, learn from their goal journey.
So are you ready to combine some Luck of the Irish with some good ol' Aussie hard yakka? Cause if you do, a glorious goal journey and solid success will be yours.
(When I say pastoral care I don't mean let your children loose in a paddock! But how pretty is that picture of paddocks above! Image from Trevor Wilson)
Yesterday morning, as I drove down the M1 at 6.30am, the sky was turning a spectacular kaleidoscope of colour - pinks and peaches, pale blue and silver edged whisps of cloud, warm oranges with hints of golden tint closer to the horizon. It really was a beautiful moment; an omen for the day to come?
I was off to Birmingham, a two and a half hour drive from Leeds, to attend the 21st Century Pastoral Care Conference, 2015, being run by Newman University and NAPCE (The National Association for Pastoral Care in Education). After admiring the sunrise, nearly being run off the road by someone who obviously doesn't take the habit of checking your blindspot very seriously, and getting lost in Birmingham after my phone went on the fritz, I arrived at Newman University. A small University, it was perfect for the intimate conference I was about to attend. After signing in, I made my way into the Welcome/first lecture, totally ignorant to the mind blowing ideas and inspiration I was about to receive, not just for the role of pastoral care in schools, but really the pastoral care we need for life!
The first lecture was by Professor Terry Wrigley who gave us a interesting talk on Pastoral Care in the age of austerity. I then attended Phil Jones' workshop on Challenges for Pastoral Care in Schools 2015. I feel I have to discuss these two talks together, as the impact of them both, on my thinking about my approach to pastoral care with the schools I work with, is mindblowing. Here are the most common themes that arose from the lecture and workshop -
1. Bringing the "human" back into the classroom - not seeing students as students/learners anymore, but as fully developing human beings who need education beyond the academic.
2. Starting and developing conversations with the children to fully understand where they have come from and where they want to go - aspirations are often rooted in the environment the children are living, what does this mean for the constant push for academic success in schools?
3. Believing in the individual - stereotypes was seen as a huge issue for schools at the conference, the fact that we base our assumptions on the abilities of children on their home lives, areas they live, the job of their parents ... stereotypes are generalisations and do not take into account the individual.
4. We have to start challenging how things are done - in living by the status quo we are just perpetuating the stereotypes that we have had for years, we have to shake up the system to give the best educational experience to our children.
(On a side note, Phil Jones said a very interesting thing about inspirational/motivational speakers, he said "having been a head teacher, and having bought in speakers to the school I worked at, there is a belief that the inspirational speaker must impact change on the academic outcomes of the child, otherwise it's a waste of time, but I believe the best speaker is one who may not improve the child academically, but inspire them to change their life, in whatever capacity that is." Heavily paraphrased there peeps ... but the idea gives you food for thought, what is your school doing to inspire a change in your children's lives, not just their academic results?)
This then leads me succinctly into the lecture of the day for me ... Dr Dawn Casserly, the head teacher at St Paul's School for Girls, gave us a talk on Pastoral Care: beyond first aid. To say I was inspired by Dr Casserly's talk is an understatement - her passion for pastoral care in her schools knows no bounds. In fact, she stated that they have a ring fenced budget for pastoral care and even with budget cuts coming, the savings will have to be made elsewhere, as pastoral care is most important to the success of the school and students. Here are some of the more pertinent points she made regarding pastoral care in schools -
1. Pastoral care is about nurturing the child's soul - when all their needs are met, success will follow.
2. A quote on a slide she used - "Human Be-ing
3. You have to inspire students to thrive, not just survive.
4. We have to move away from the de-personification of the children - the emphasis should be on their unique individuality, their own interests, and abilities.
5. Staff should be encourage to see and celebrate the positive, the successes, and not just focus on punishing the bad and commiserating the failures.
6. Pastoral care should be about a heart to heart conversation between the teachers and students.
7. There is a constant bombardment and attack on children's self esteem and self worth in the 21st century, teachers should be aware of this and have strategies to engage and eliminate this bombardment.
8. Acknowledgement that failing is not a bad thing, Dr Casserly put it like this - F irst
9. Children should be seen as works in progress, not an automaton programed to just pump out results for the school.
10. We live in a superficial celebrity culture and children are growing up believing that it is all about "me, me, me," this is where the school can counteract this positive role models and open up dialogue about what is success.
This is just a touch on what I learnt at the conference, and as I'm sure you can tell, it was a very enlightening conference, calling on people that work with children to consider the whole child and not just the student part that impacts the statistics surrounding education. The thing that got me though is that a lot of these points are pertinent to adults as well, adults at University and in the workforce ... there is a loss of the unique person underneath the student/employee, and if we could engage with this unique person more, imagine the fantastic growths in creativity, aspiration, and knowledge we could achieve.
This coming sunday in the UK is Mothering Sunday. To be brutally honest, I've kind of been ignoring it, it's still cutting a little to close to home for me. The thing is, it's getting harder and harder to ignore as the day gets closer, so I want to use it as an opportunity to remember my mum and exactly what she means to me ... basically appreciating what I had with mum, the love, the hugs, the kisses, the support, the time, the words, the connection, the way she would draw on my face when I wasn't well, the way she would squeeze my hand when we were walking, the crazy sense of humour we shared, the bizarre dreams we both seemed to have and delight in telling each other, the beautiful things she handmade for me, the love of reading she gave me ... the life that she gave me.
The original meaning of Mothering Sunday has no resemblance to the meaning we attribute to it now - if you want to understand more about the original, religious, meaning, go here. Mothering Sunday is now linked to the celebration held in the US and other countries, a literal celebration of all mother's. In celebrating our mother's we are showing our thanks and our appreciation for the life that we have, for without our mother's we wouldn't be here.
So what I am asking you to do is to write down three things that you appreciate about your mum - to remind yourself, at this time, what your mum has done for you, given you, or how she has shown her love to you.
"Your Determination is Limitless"
- Elizabeth Wright