So, I had just got home from a fantastic day at work, made some dinner, and then turned the TV on. Scrolling through the live TV options, I opted for my usual chill out go to, "Friends." I grew up with Friends; as a teen I loved the humour, loved the characters, and wanted to grow up to be ...... a mix between Phoebe and Monica, believe it or not LOL, (Most girls wanted to be Rachel!). I had a mega crush on Chandler, found Ross annoying, and barely rated Joey.
I now rate Joey.
You see, the episode I watched was "The One in Vegas" - a quick synopsis - the gang go to Vegas, Monica and Chandler have a HUGE fight, but make up, Monica is succeeding at gambling and her and Chandler agree that if she wins the next round they'll get married. Ross and Rachel childishly fight on the flight to Vegas, Ross draws on Rachel's face with permanent ink, and they both get drunk and ...... (you'll have to watch to see what happens!). AND Joey, the forever optimist, meets his "Hand Twin" and decides that he is going to get rich.
So how does Joey finding his "Hand Twin" cause me to rate him as a character AND as a role model for us all? It is his eternal optimism, about life, about work, and about relationships that make the case. In this episode Joey proves that you can keep on trying, even when you are knocked back, that you can find opportunity in even the most unusual of places, and that each day you have to be persistent in pursuit of your dreams, even if the world seems against you ..... but let's explore these a little bit deeper.
Joey has gone to Vegas to do a movie, the movie is canceled due to lack of funding, so he get's a job at a casino to "tide" him over until the movie production starts up again. On realising that the movie probably won't get the funding, he takes a casino chip he got as a tip, and decides he is going to use that chip to become rich and fund the movie .... He loses the chip immediately and is bitterly disappointed, but he discovers, in the same moment, that the dealer is his "Hand Twin." He decides that with his "Hand Twin" he is going to become rich, because they will be a hit, with a show (and song .... see below). At each turn, when he is faced with defeat in some way, he is only disappointed for a moment, before his optimistic nature takes over, and he looks for the next opportunity to make his dreams happen.
Joey doesn't close himself off to any opportunity or bright spark of an idea that comes to him - who cares if it seems crazy or impossible. It is with this creative openness to life that means that Joey is optimistic and shows great grit and determination when it comes to chasing after his dreams. And with that grit comes a persistence like no-other, if one harebrained scheme fails, let's try another, and another, and another, until you hit on the one that sticks, that works, that brings you to your potential.
In the sitcoms, "Friends" and "Joey," Joey ultimately moves to LA to pursue his acting career more seriously, perhaps revealing a slightly more mature and grown up approach to life .... but still with his eternal optimism towards pursuing his dreams. "Optimism is the foundation of courage," says Nicholas Butler, American Philosopher and Educator .... Joey is the epitome of optimism and it's resulting outcome of a courageous life. So .... are you ready to be like Joey, to be the Eternal Optimist, to live a courageous life? What are your biggest dreams and how will optimism help you achieve them? Comment below.
A lot of teens have now finished their final A-level exams (or are about to finish), and Uni offers have come in, and now is the wait time. Waiting to hear whether your marks are up to scratch and whether you definitely have that place at uni or not. It can seem an eternity as you wait for your future to be decided ..... but what can you do in the meantime, to prepare for uni? There are habits and actions that you can put in place now, to help you be at your best when you start your degree and I am going to help you navigate some of these habits and actions in this blog.
So what good habits can you start working on TODAY that will help you in the present, and in the future, for your future success?
1. Mindfulness practice: Mindfulness is "a way of paying attention to, and seeing clearly whatever is happening in our lives." Mindfulness practice is becoming more and more well known, and as the benefits of mindfulness are revealed, it is being taken up by a lot of people. So how can you develop a mindfulness practice and how will it help you at uni or in a new job? There are many different tools you can use to cultivate mindfulness, the most popular one is meditation. Meditation is cultivating the ability to sit in silence and focus, learning how to deal with the distractions that your own mind can throw at you, and how to understand your emotions, as they alter and change throughout the day. If sitting still for 10-15 minutes a day isn't for you (and to be fair, I know quite a few people who struggle with sitting still), try walking or running. Getting out into nature and walking for a few miles every day or second day, is like a meditation in itself. Or try colouring in or drawing/painting, getting creative is a definite meditative practice, as you focus on the action of colouring/drawing. The positive effects that building a mindfulness practice will have on your life as a uni student is constant. You will find that your levels of focus will increase, the ability to tolerate and deal with stressful situations will increase, and your creativity will increase.
2. Be organised: You have finished high school and now you have a few months to chill, party, and socialise like it's the end of the world .... but suddenly it is September, and you have less then 24 hours to organise your life to move to uni and you are STRESSED! I know it can be hard to focus on what needs to be done, when all you need (and deserve) is a holiday/break - but trust me when I say if you start getting organised for uni/work now, then when it comes to the crunch you can enjoy the process much much more. So what are a few things that you could be organising for now? Start to think about your budget, speak to banks, speak to parents, do your sums and see what you can and can't afford, and prepare for the year on a financial level. See if there are any Facebook groups or forums where other new students are and join in the chat, get to know people before you even start uni. Make sure that you know the basics of looking after yourself, ask your parents for a few easy cooking lessons (or check out StudentRecipes.com), ask how you use the washing machine, and what are the best products to use to clean the loo - this might seem a little silly to think of these things now, but trust me, you will appreciate it in a few months time.
3. Formulate your Goal Journey: So you know where you want to be in a few months time, but do you know where you want to be in a few years time? It is time to think about your plan for the next few years and really start to map where you want to go .... and make this goal setting and mapping a habit. Make a goal journey for the bigger picture, and use that as a template to make smaller goals and mapping those too. The sooner you get into the habit of setting goals, the easier it will become to set them and achieve them at uni/work. Success really is about habits and actions, so you might as well set the habits now. (In my next blog post I will take you through the steps to setting goals and mapping them).
These are only a few habits and actions you can start working on now - can you think of any others? Or do you want me explore some other positive life habits? Let me know in the comments below.
I have had a few discussions lately that have either been directly about letting go of outcomes, or should have been about letting go of outcomes. What I am finding is that, even in this ever enlightened age, there are many people that are still consciously focused on certain outcomes of certain actions, or are unconsciously focused on certain outcomes of certain actions. And this focus on achieving certain outcomes can limit the possibilities of your actions, which isn't good for you, and it isn't good for your potential.
Now this is not to say that you shouldn't focus on an end result - when you set yourself a goal you have to remember everyday what it is that you are trying to achieve ..... but, and this is a HUGE but .... you have to not get so attached to the end result being a certain way, or resulting in a certain feeling, etc. A perfect example (that is NOT a swimming example - say WHAT?!?) is when I was at University - in my first year I had no idea what I was doing, all I knew was that I was doing art and that was what I loved. Then my competitive nature emerged. We had a young woman from Iran to Australia to study Fine Art at my University. Maryam was so lovely, kind, warm, and extremely smart - she had ditched the engineering degree she was doing in Iran to come and study art in Australia - and she immediately went to the top of our class with her marks. I remember looking at my 1st year results, passes and credits, and then looking at Maryam's distinctions and High distinctions and thinking - daaaaaaaamn I want that! So I set my self a goal, by third year I wanted to be averaging distinctions across all my subject areas. I set myself the goal, and then I set to work to make it happen. I asked my lecturers constantly for advice on how to make my marks better, I worked with their advice, and slowly saw my marks improve; by the end of 2nd year I had my distinction average. By the end of third year? I had a high distinction average and finished top of my year .... yes you read that right, I finished top of my year! My initial goal was to simply get a distinction average by my third year, but dang!! I got much more than I bargained for - in a GREAT way.
Now I could have simply limited myself to reaching that end result of getting distinctions, I could have settled with my outcome, being enveloped and coddled by the outcome, been content in that moment without ever recognising my true power.
Whether you reach an outcome or just fall short, to limit yourself to a particular end result is to limit your power and your strength. If you look beyond your limit, to either an outcome that totally surprises you, or completely exceed an outcome and achieve more than you thought possible (just as I did at uni, or even what I did with swimming, with moving to the UK, with becoming self employed) you free up your life to be more successful then you could ever dream. By opening yourself up to the journey and what you can learn on that journey, by being curious about the path and the paths that will inevitably open up to you, the outcome you expect will in all likelihood feel unsatisfactory if you achieve it, whereas the unexpected outcomes will excite you, make you crave the journey again, to see the true possibilities unfold in intriguing and challenging ways.
So where are your limits? Write them down, list them, contemplate them. Write a story about where you have limited your possibility for success, how you did it, and why .... and then rewrite this story with a limitless outcome. Rewrite this story with a change in your behaviour and attitude, with a more optimistic and infinite power vibe, and let this be a remembrance of what has been before, but what can be now and in the future. You have the power to change your outcomes - by being conscious of and freeing your limits.
Become limitless and watch miracles flow in.
What is courage?
What is courage to you?
Courage is the feeling of throwing caution to the wind when your rational mind screams no. Courage is the fire in your belly when people tell you you can't and you won't. Courage is the beacon of bright flame when you're surrounded by the darkness of fear. Courage is inside of you just waiting for the moment when you lose your hesitation to step into the fire.
Courage is the horse galloping you towards your wildest dreams with fierce determination and the inability to slow down, let alone stop in its tracks. Courage is the beating heart that beats to it's own rhythm each and every day. Courage is the ability to know your true self and honour that truth right now, in the present. Courage builds every step of the way as you walk your own path of wild, mad, life.
Courage is the light I see in children's eyes when they talk about making the impossible possible. Courage is knowing when to ask for the help you need to stoke that fire and make dreams come true. Courage is the strength in your legs when you take a stand against the wrongs in the world and speak proudly about the rights. Courage is each deep breath that fills your lungs with an unconscious, but living energy.
Courage is you.
Two years ago, when I was going through the toughest time of my life (my mum was really ill, and ultimately passed away from cancer), I turned to things that would cheer me up a little, things that would make me laugh and forget for just a little while the worry I felt for my mum and family. One of those things was this little Netflix show called "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt." The premise of the show is about a young woman who is finally released from a bunker where she was a part of a doomsday cult, and her reintegration into everyday life. It sounds a bit dire and dramatic doesn't it? But don't get me wrong when I say it is one of the wittiest, feel good tv shows out there. For me, Kimmy gave me 20 minute episodes of unabashed optimism and smiles, as well as little nuggets of pure life truths - that show really helped me "take each 10 seconds at a time" (a little piece of Kimmy Schmidt golden advice right there).
I have recently started watching "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" again - starting at season 1 and continuing onto the 2nd season that I haven't seen yet - but the irrepressible lust for life that Kimmy has has inspired me all over again. There are quite a few lessons that Kimmy has to teach us, and here are a few of my favourite ones:
1. Take each 10 seconds at a time - we all go through really tough and tragic times, it's an inevitable part of being human. Whether is is the death of a loved one, an accident that changes your life, being kept in a bunker cult for 15 years (just like Kimmy was), or you fail your A-levels, get fired from your job, or have a massive fight with your best friend, everything is endurable as long as you stay present and "take each 10 seconds at a time." The message here is to stay present, acknowledge how you feel, sit with it, and recognise that how you feel, right now, isn't forever. In fact, as you live each moment your feelings will change, and even the toughest of moments will pass.
2. You do not have to be a victim - We really do have choices people! We can choose to embrace the tragedies and difficulties that we have faced and be defined by them, or we can choose to acknowledge our hardships and learn from them, growing into more empathetic, giving, and joyful people. The choice is yours. Kimmy chooses not to be defined by her past - of course it impacts on her, and she probably does need some counselling (because who wouldn't need counselling after being part of a doomsday cult for 15 years), but ultimately she refuses to let her past stop her from living life to the full.
3. "Be you. Be what you want. And then become unbreakable" - We live in a world that tries to put us in boxes, defining us based on our gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, ability/disability etc. Ultimately we can break through these bonds and be our own person! Kimmy has always been true to herself, even when trapped in the bunker. She is unashamedly herself with everyone, and when she does have moments where she tries to be someone she is not, it ends in catastrophe, and she bounces back to her usual, happy, joyful, crazy, fun, self. Her true sense of self and self belief is "unbreakable" and this is perhaps her biggest lesson for us all. So look at who you really are and embrace that! You are perfect just the way you are, right here, right now.
4. [In a French accent] "Beyonce" - Or rather, fake it till you make it! Kimmy, for obvious reasons, has not kept up with the latest .... well, everything, due to being locked in a bunker for 15 years, so she starts to "fake it" to "make it." Or rather, she throws herself into the world and decides that she isn't going to let her limited knowledge about stuff stop her from pursuing her dreams. In striding forward into her job, friendships, and experiences, she goes without fear, preferring to learn on the way, and isn't that really what life is about? Having a curiosity and desire to learn and discover new things everyday ..... so make like Kimmy and [In a French accent] "Beyonce."
5. "We're not garbage. We're human beings" - Accepting people for who they are, warts and all, is a HUGE part of the show. The variety of characters is a more realistic representation of society and the type of people that we come face to face with everyday. Kimmy takes people at face value, she has a smile for everyone, and though she confuses a lot of pop references and social niceties, she doesn't judge people - even if they are mean and nasty to her (like Jacqueline Voorhees and her steps daughter Xanthippe Voorhees), she recognises that these people have some deep-seated issues that cause them to be judgemental and confrontational, and so she shows them compassion and friendship when many others wouldn't. So before you judge someone and cut them from your life, really consider where they are coming from and recognise that they might be having a tough time too.
So my challenge to you today is to take a Kimmy lesson of your choice and really embrace it today, be mindful of it, and try to enact it in your actions, e.g., "Be you." Do at least three things today that are authentically you, if you want to sing out loud in the shops sing out loud, if you want to pat every dog you see on your walk in nature do so (with the owners permission of course), and if you want to wear a bright pink jacket over a bright red top because they are your two favourite colours, do so - who cares if people think your weird and wacky, you're not there to please them, your here to embrace and be you!
"Your Determination is Limitless"
- Elizabeth Wright