(image from pixabay)
The health benefits of friendship are seemingly endless, but today I am going to talk about how friends can hold you accountable to change unhealthy habits, and support you through the process (just as you can support others).
Who better to have, than a friend, when you are trying to exercise more. Research at the University of Aberdeen has shown that exercising with a companion (or friend!) can improve the results of an exercise regime. Essentially, when you want to achieve things in life, and specifically a health related goal, it is all the more easier when you have a friend supporting you. A friend's support can:
1. Increase your commitment to your health goal.
2. Push you a little more each day/week to improve your fitness level.
3. Share your progress with an hold accountability for showing up every day/week for exercise.
For me my exercise of choice in the past few years has been walking.
I have had a few particular friend's who have encouraged me to walk regularly.... and each walking partnership is significant in its own way. The walking whiz that is Tara was the first, Tara had (and still has) a dream for me - to walk The Camino across Spain. Walking with Tara saw our friendship develop in a beautiful way - trust, closeness, and unending support for the other beyond just walking. When I walked with Tara it wasn't just a stroll around the park, it was a pushing of physical, mental, and emotional limits, a confrontation of stolid beliefs about my 'self' that needed changing. Tara helped me grow beyond these beliefs, she helped me see that I was capable of much more than I gave myself credit for.
Next came Anj (from Inspiring Women Changemakers). Walks with Anj are never about the physical challenge, but about the spiritual challenge. Our walks are about nature, and that bond that develops from a love of trees, birds, flowers, butterflies, and dragonflies. Quick walks that happen locally, we discuss philosophy and spirit, inspired by the surroundings. Having said that issues and beliefs of other sorts are confronted, my own feelings of guilt about holding people back, etc by my physical and emotional limitations. Anj makes it alright though - her friendship is steady and accepting of all of my quirks and foibles.
Then came Fred (The Happiness Speaker), my friend, RWS business partner, and walking companion on a level playing field. We both have our physical limitations, but through encouragement and commitment, we ensure that we get through the shortest of, and the longest of walks (of which both of us are capable). Being business partners of RWS | Resilience Wellbeing Success, a lot of our walks become inadvertent business meetings.... but there is proof that walking meetings are much better for you, walking meetings increase creativity, increase energy, and allow for better communication. So for Fred and I, our friendship bond increases, we hold each other accountable, and our business continues to grow as we live by our philosophy of resilience and wellbeing.
Do you have friend/s you can walk with on a regular basis? Is there a walking group you can join and where you can make new friends? Keep your mind open, get into nature, and build bonds with the people who matter.
(image from pixabay)
“True friendship comes when the silence between two people is comfortable.” - David Tyson
(I admit to not knowing who David Tyson is.... so I wikipedia-ed him, and OMG, he co-wrote Alannah Myles' song "Black Velvet" - I loved that song as a kid!)
And so we move into Friendship this month. The virtue (or character trait) of friendship is that opening up, non-judgementally, to someone who you meet, where there is a click, a connection, an inkling of recognition. In that moment (and the many moments after) of non-judgement, you find that you want to be there for that person, for a day, a week, a year, or a lifetime. Friendship can be momentary or last forever, it can involve having a friendly smile for the stranger on the street, a bunch of flowers for your new neighbour, or a shoulder to cry on for the friend you've known since kindy.
When I think of long-lasting, enduring friendship, I think of the people I can sit with in silence. Where the feelings of non-judgement, of care, and understanding, are so strong, that you intuitively know when you're friend needs a moment (or ten). To understand within yourself that sometimes you're mind needs to wander, settle, or ponder as well, and you just know that your friend get's it.
I have many friends that I feel this way with, not least my housemate, Anj. This friendship is a true test of different temperaments being able to live, non-judgementally, in an understanding and open way. Anj is an extrovert.... I am an introvert. Anj is always bubbling with energy and vibrancy (in a way I wish I could sometimes), I am quieter (though I do have my moments - especially when there is wine involved), and slower, more deliberate per say in my movement and actions. We function at different times of the day, I sleep like a log from 10pm and am itching to get up before 7am, Anj get's by on little sleep, but likes to lie-in whenever she gets the chance. Sometimes one of us needs company and the other is happy to give it, other times, one of us needs space and quietness and the other is happy to give this too.
We are different, and yet she is one of my dearest friends, we can have the big discussions and also talk about poo (cause don't we all talk about poo?), and most importantly, we can also sit in silence. No need to fill the still, quiet space.
Other friends I can do this with know who they are, and I appreciate the silence - wherever that silence happens doesn't matter, how long that silence lasts doesn't matter, when one has something to say it will be said, and when it is time to simply be a pillar of love and strength I (or they) will be this.
Who in your friendships circle can you be silent with? Are there opportunities to be silent more? Let me know.
So friendship for the month of May will look at the benefits of friendship, the experience of friendship, how we can cultivate more friendship in our lives, and also how we can be more of a friend to the people we know. Is there anything else you would like me to explore? Let me know in the comments below.
ps my friend Anj, is the founder of a wonderful movement - Inspiring Women Changemakers. She is currently looking for story nominations around social change for her awards evening being held in November. If you (or someone you know) has an inspiring story about social change please check out the eventbrite link here - Inspiring Women Changemakers Awards.
(image from pixabay)
And here I am again. It seems appropriate that I am writing this blog this week of all weeks (it's mental health week). I haven't kept up with my Character Challenge the past month because of one thing and one thing only - ANXIETY!!! (Da da dummmmmmmm).
Yes, my anxiety has been a little off the charts, and sometimes it hits me out of the blue, sometimes I can see when there's a possibility that it will grow (like a tiny spark that is flamed by life). This past month my anxiety has had to be managed, for the sake of myself (and others), and I have managed it, but it has meant a month off the blog and the challenge. And you know what? That is more than okay. If we can't read the signs within ourselves and beat with the rhythm of our lives/hormones/pressures, then we would cease to function.... or so I think.
Sooooooo.... what character trait have I missed - Volunteerism.
So, to maintain the challenge as best I can I am going to double up a month and do two character traits. I have yet to decide which month will be the double up, but I will let you know asap.
In the meantime we are in May now and that means we are in FRIENDSHIP month.
Ohhhh what a lovely month to be in and I will be spending loads of time with friends this month, including a special trip next week.
Keep an eye out for the introductory post on friendship tomorrow.
(image from "about St Francis")
I was baptised as a baby. I attended Scripture at Primary School, and everyone in my family was married at a church; we were/are a Christian family without the regularity of a devoutly religious grouping. Both my parents believed in God, and I did as a child. I outsourced, what I saw as my innate gifts, to God. In actual fact I saw it as a kind of divine trade-off with God - to "compensate" me for my missing limbs, He gave me talents beyond imagining, the ability to play the piano, a fantastic speller (a skill that has sadly reduced), a natural ability in the water, the skill to draw.....
But was it right to "outsource" by skills as being a divine intervention? Or were these skills just part of me, myself, and (Ego) I?
Keeping on the Christian theme (humility is a HUGE aspect of the Christian faith), I look to St Francis of Assisi, and his understanding of humility and divine gifts from God.
The other day I was watching a documentary on Youtube - How to Live a Simple Life - and Peter Owen Jones, the guy who is trying to live a simple life (and also a minister in the Anglican Church), has based this entire project on the concept of St Francis of Assisi's monastic, simple, quiet day to day life, without materialistic concerns, such as money. One of the pertinent things that pops up in the documentary is Owen Jones' exploration of pride and ego over being humble and accepting of help from others. He says this about St Francis' philosophy - "Giving up money makes you vulnerable, it forces you to swallow your pride and take lessons in humility."
"Swallow your pride and take lessons in humility."
To try to be humble, in this sense, is to really think about the interconnectedness of all things. In this article on Huffington Post - "St Francis on Pride, Humility and Creation" - the author states "God is the source of every good thing, gift, talent, event, experience and so on. We are not the sources of our selves, the originators of our own existence, but beneficiaries of the free and gratuitous love of God."
St Francis of Assisi said that "nothing belongs to you," and from a view of humility or being humble, he is correct. Where we are, right here, right now, is not purely because of ourselves, we are where we are because of the countless influences, events, and relationships that have happened up until this point. Interconnectedness at its most poignant.
I often say to children that I could not have swum at the Paralympics without my parents, family, friends, coaches, teammates, Dr's, psychologists, physiotherapists, etc. I could not have achieved my results at Uni without my family, friends, lecturers, fellow academics, supervisors, technical staff, etc. I couldn't run my business without family, friends, business partners, fellow speakers, schools, teachers, pupils, etc. I realise that I cannot boast, I cannot be proud, without recognising - publicly - that I could not have achieved what I had without all of these other people. In essence, and to bring this discussion full circle, I am recognising that my talent was outsourced to hundreds of other people - just as I believed God gave me the talent to play the piano, so all of these people gave me the skills to swim, academically write, and make speeches.
To be truly humble is to see that you are not alone and in accepting that "nothing belongs to you; you can boast in none of these things." Knowing that you are supported, and also that you support; just as others help you, you help others, even if you don't realise this. This is true interconnectedness and true humility.
(image from Pixabay)
The other week I was working with my two business colleagues, running a workshop for a bunch of (really awesome) Head teachers. At one point in the workshop we were doing some work on character strengths (right up my alley right?!?) and one of the teacher's happened to choose the word "humility" as part of the exercise. At this point I happened to pipe up and mention my 2017 Character Challenge, and how the month of March was all about humility and that I was interested in what people thought it meant.
This guy's response has stuck with me - "I think humility, or to be humble, is to know that you are no better then anyone else, that we are all human and we all make mistakes and have opportunities."
I actually agree with him. I think that when it comes down to it, to be truly humble is to acknowledge, know, and act as though you are not better then anyone else. This doesn't mean that we should strive for stuff, set goals, work hard to achieve our dreams, but it does mean recognising that we all have this right, and just as we have the right to strive, we are also going to experience failure, obstacles, tragedies, sadness, grief...
Humility, or to be humble, is to really feel what it is to be human. To be humble is to recognise ones own weaknesses and limitations, and to accept these, just as we accept our strengths.... but it also means to accept the weaknesses of others, to not judge harshly - as we all feel anger, frustration, fear, and sadness - and if we can feel this, then so do others, and so who are we to judge.
Perhaps then, to show humility is to not judge, not criticise, not fear, but to be open, forgiving, and loving in all of our interactions with people around us. It is in this that we see the idea of interconnectedness and collectivity. In this world of individuality, we are taught to embrace our differences and uniqueness, and whilst to celebrate our differences and uniqueness, we should also look for and love our similarities, for it is here that we see true humility.
"Your Determination is Limitless"
- Elizabeth Wright