The difference between Gratitude and Appreciation

I’ve just got back from a fabulous time at the Quest Festival in Devon. I had the absolute pleasure of running 4 workshops on Happiness, The Artist’s Way and ‘Future Self Now‘. Everyone who came to my sessions was really up for all the games and exercises that I love to throw at people. We had a fun time together!

Thinking about these past few days and how perfectly everything worked out, I’ve been feeling very moved today. I’m remembering, however, to make sure that I’m in a state of appreciation and not gratitude.

What’s the difference?

Well it’s this:

Gratitude is often a state of being pleased that something has worked out despite possible negative outcomes. E.g. “I’m grateful that my workshops worked out” (because they could have been a disaster!) or “I’m grateful that I had a smooth journey down to Devon” (because I could have got stuck in the normal jam around the M5). Gratitude, in other words, looks backwards and more often than not promotes the overcoming of something. It is has a sense of relief about it: –  “Phew I’m glad that that didn’t happen!”

Appreciation, on the other hand, is more a state of savouring a current reality. It is more firmly rooted in celebration and delight for the thing itself. Its about highlighting the positive and dwelling on the deliciousness of it.

So, what we’re talking about here is a difference in the emotional quality of the two words – not the words themselves.

Remember: What you pay attention to grows. So even though this talk of the difference between two words may seem like splitting hairs, it really does matter because Gratitude can trigger a focus on overcoming a negative in the past, whilst Appreciation lives very firmly in the savouring of the NOW.

So, new friends from Quest and old blog-buddies, I very definitely do not feel gratitude towards you (“thanks for liking me!”) – I APPRECIATE you in all your glory for who you are now and into the future!

A joyful collapse

Yes, I know, I know, dear hearts. I’ve been away for 3 months. I never forgot you. I never intended to be away for so long. But one thing I am absolutely certain about is that I must never do anything that doesn’t feel instinctively right. And for some reason this blog just suddenly ceased whispering to me. I obeyed.

Today, however, I’m back – answering the call of this sacred space. I find it odd that the blogging went quiet like that but I certainly wasn’t going to impose on you words that weren’t coming from a place of natural outflow for me.

Something that I find fascinating is that this radio silence lasted for as long as I was running my 3 different workshops – on The Artist’s Way & my Future Self Now program. Perhaps teaching  creates a entirely different energy? Not ‘wrong’ by any stretch of the imagination, just different.

It feels delicious to be in this new place. Much as I am passionate about teaching – I truly am – I must live my own life too. I must explore my own new frontiers and break down my own walls. Nikos Kazantzakis said this:

“True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own.”

So this new energy – one totally aligned to this blog and to any fresh vistas that want to come my way now – is perhaps part-and-parcel of a state of joyful collapse. And I would only add that it’s not only about my students learning to create their own new pathways – it’s also about me being willing to become a beginner again. Before building a new bridge, I must wade out into my river and re-familiarise myself with its banks, it’s eddies and flows, it’s twists and turns.

 

 

Spring!

Ahhhh – how wonderful to finally feel Spring in the air. It inspired a Haiku from me tonight: sitting here, windows wide open to the warm air, the birds excitedly ushering in nightfall…

Night song on ink sky

Celebrates joyous day

Spring is here at last!

(Don’t worry, I won’t give up the day job!)

We are such primal creatures aren’t we? We think of human-kind as having mastered natural forces but we haven’t at all. Look at how our mood is affected by the changing seasons. It only makes sense of course – we are tuned into Universal flow as much as the tides are or the sun and moon. Our bodies are sensing machines and adapt to our environment on many, many different levels. I don’t know the science behind it all I just know that on the cusp of each season I can feel the pull of a different energy and it’s always a relief to finally tip well-and-truly into the season that is presenting itself.

So here is Spring at last – it felt like a long time coming – and here to celebrate are a few photos I’ve taken over the last week of nature showing off her beautiful new clothes:

 

spring flower1 spring flower2 spring flower3 spring flower4

How to Handle Problems

Here’s a great article from my dear friend and coach Karen from Canada. She has been my coach through thick and thin for over 14 years now and I can assure she has the magic touch. I loved this article because it provides wonderful wisdom at just the right time for me. I hope it strikes a chord for you too!

How to Handle Problems

by Karen Hood-Caddy

Everyone who hires me has a problem. Sometimes that problem is big, sometimes it’s small and sometimes, it’s gnarly, or frightening.

Needless to say, over 30 years of coaching, I’ve learned a great deal about how to help people solve problems. I want to share with you some of the skills that will help you address the tough situations in your life with greater ease and efficiency.

Because if there’s one thing that differentiates happy people from unhappy people, it’s how they address the hard parts of life.

Here are the best tips I know to handle problems like a pro.

  • To be blunt, the only people that don’t have problems are dead people. So, accept your problems and trust that they beat the alternative.
  • Get bigger than your problem. People who are living a great life aren’t as affected by their problems as people who aren’t living a great life. It’s like this: If you only have one cookie and mud gets splattered on it, it’s going to feel way more significant than if you have a whole box of cookies. Most people find that the moment they begin to live juicy lives, their problems seem to diminish in size and ferocity.
  • Plan for problems.  I have found this a HUGE help in my own life. I used to live as if everything would go smoothly, now I give lots of room for snags and actually look for problematic areas in advance so I’m not so put out when they appear.
  • Trust that solving a problem will evolve you. We often have to grow or change our attitudes to deal with a problem and that’s a good thing. I had a great teacher in Switzerland say to me, “What just about breaks you, makes you.” It’s so true.
  • Ask for help.  There is always someone else who knows the answer to what’s problematic for us. Involve them. It will move you through the problem SO much faster.
  • Start by chipping away at the problem: write down 5 small baby steps you can do to start taking the problem on. (You’ll be surprised how effective this is.)
  • Know that everyone has problems, and many, many people in the world have exactly the same problem as you. This will help you feel less hard done by and less alone.
  • Containerize the problem.  Yesterday I woke up feeling a little down about an issue in my life. Then I realized that even though I don’t have this situation handled in the way I might like, I can still have a great day and still believe I’m a wonderful person.  This thought gave me an immediate feeling of lightness. Yes, I still had the problem, but it wasn’t leaking into other areas of my life.
  • Write down 5 crazy, outside the box solutions. It’s amazing how creative thinking can sometimes give us fresh ideas.
  • Journal 5 ways your ‘Best Self’ might benefit from this problem. A communication problem with a child could give you greater empathy skills, a financial issue might make you more clear on monetary goals, a health problem could make you more committed to your physical wellbeing.  Life is continually trying to evolve us. Don’t argue─grow!

I hope these suggestions were helpful. Please contact me if you’d like a complimentary idea session on how you can handle your own problems better and live YOUR BEST LIFE. Karen@personalbest.org

 

Karen Hood-Caddy

Personal Best Coaching 

karen@personalbest.org

www.personalbest.org

Personal Best on Facebook

Finding a new job for my brain

There’s been a  lot going on of late – workshops, webinar preparations, coaching, school initiatives, business planning – on top of the normal running of family and home. I don’t say this for sympathy – we’re all busy and I’m no different – it’s just that my response to this growth in busy-ness has been one of defensiveness. It’s as if I’ve been afraid of the expansion – afraid it will consume me. Ironically, I realise, it’s my fear that’s been getting all the air-play and taking up a large chunk of my time rather than the activities themselves.

Byron Katie asks us:

 “Who would you be without that thought?”.

So who would I be without the thought “I’m too stretched. I’m afraid I might burn out”? I’d be in-the-moment, taking one step at a time, open, lighter – in other words, I’d be free of mental clutter that’s preventing me from getting things done.

Working with this over the last couple of days I’ve realised I need a new context. It’s not enough to say that I’m happy to just roll with the punches – that’s too passive. I want to invent a new context that feels more creative and pro-active.

It reminds me of this poem by Hafiz:

Find a better job
Now
That
All your worry
Has proved such an
Unlucrative
Business,
Why
Not
Find a better
Job.
 

So what shall my new context be? I had a good ol’ write about this this afternoon. What new intentionality can I bring to my every-day? I went around the houses a bit but finally I got it. For me, right now, it’s all about Play.

I looked at my Future Self and her way of being for clues. I came up with words like ‘light-hearted’, ‘relaxed’, ‘spacious’, ‘silly’. Recently, whenever I interact with my Future Self, she’s been having a great time taking the mickey out of me. A week ago I asked her to give me some wisdom on something I was struggling with and I watched her as she solemnly led me to a room which had a huge ancient book sitting on a high table. I waited in eager anticipation of the profound wisdom she would impart to me from these ancient teachings. Slowly she turned to a page in the middle of the book … and out shot a party balloon – farting loudly as it disappeared over her shoulder. She looked up and grinned at me. The message was clear – “lighten up, T.!”

I’m sure I’ve been down this road several times before – you’ve probably heard me tell of it more than once in this blog – but it seems I need to get this lesson in all its various and technicolour guises: Stop Taking Yourself So Seriously.

So how do I do that exactly?

  • Well, first of all I’ve put a big sign up in my bedroom: PLAY!
  • Secondly I’m going to meditate a lot more.
    • I’m finally getting the message about meditation. It’s about clearing the channel, giving myself a breather from my significance-hungry brain. I heard a great thing from Abraham Hicks this week: ‘saying you’re too busy to meditate is like saying you’re too busy to find your car keys and that you’d prefer to walk instead.’ Nice one!
  • More Artist’s Dates! (see The Artist’s Way)
  • Listen to more show tunes
  • Dance
  • Watch and learn from my children

What I really want is some kind of out-sized, plastic blow-up hammer floating over my head that activates whenever I get too naval-gazy or meaning-making. One swift thwack to the skull should be enough to wake me up and remind me of all this.

*Sigh* In the absence of said hammer it might be that I come back here a few times before I finally get close to my Future Self’s level of glorious irreverance, but hey, I suppose it would be a very good start to just let go of making that mean anything!

 

 

15 powerful things happy people do differently

Here’s a great post from Purpose Fairy (www.purposefairy.com)- well worth a read:

 

What are the differences between happy people and unhappy people? Of course, it should be very obvious:happy people are happy while  unhappy people are unhappy, right? Well, that is correct.But, we want to know what happy people do differently, so I have put together a list of things that happy people do differently than unhappy people.

1. Love vs. Fear

Well, I can tell you for sure that those people who are really happy, fear less and love a lot more. They see each moment, each challenge, each person as an opportunity to discover more about themselves and the world around them.

2. Acceptance vs. Resistance 

Happy people understand that you can’t really change a situation by resisting it, but you can definitely change it by accepting that it is there and by understanding that there might be a reason for its existence.

When something unpleasant happens to them, they don’t try to fight it (they know that this will make the situation even worse), but they ask themselves questions like: What can I learn from this? How can I make this better? And then they focus on the positive, rather than on the negative. They always seem to see the glass half full, no matter what happens to them.

3. Forgiveness vs. Unforgiveness

Really happy people know that it’s not healthy to hold on to anger. They choose to forgive and forget, understanding that forgiveness is  a gift they give to themselves first and foremost.

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. ~Buddha

4. Trust vs. Doubt

They trust themselves and they trust the people around them. Whether they are talking to the cleaning lady or the C.E.O. of a billion-dollar company, somehow they always seem make the person they are interacting with feel that there is something unique and special about them. They understand that beliefs are self-fulfilling prophecies.

Because of that, they make sure to treat everyone with love, dignity and respect, and make no distinction between age, sex, social status, color, religion or race. These are the great men that Mark Twain was talking about: “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

5. Meaning vs. Ambition

They do the things they do because of the meaning it brings into their lives and because it gives their lives a sense of purpose.  They understand that “Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life” as Wayne Dyer says.

And they care more about living a life full of meaningthan what, in our modern society we would call, living a successful life. The irony here is that most of the time they get both success and meaning because they choose to focus on doing the things they love the most and they always pursue their heart‘s desires. They are not motivated by money; they want to make a difference in the lives of those around them and in the world.

6. Praising vs. Criticizing

Happy people would probably agree with Carl’s Jung theory on resistance: “What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size.”  They don’t criticize the absence of the behavior they want to reinforce, ratherthey know by praising the person and the behavior they wish to reinforce (even if it’s not often), they will actually encourage the positive behavior.

When a parent wants to make sure their 7 year old boy will learn to always put the toys back in the box after he’s done playing with them, they make sure not to focus on the many times the child didn’t do it, criticizing him and his behavior, but every time the little boy does put the toys back, the parent praises him and his behavior and that is exactly how they reinforce the positive behavior, and in the end get the wanted results.

7. Challenges vs. Problems

Happy people will see problems as challenges, as opportunities to explore new ways of doing things, expressing their gratitude for them, understanding that underneath them all lay many opportunities that will allow them to expand and to grow.

8. Selflessness vs, Selfishness

They do what they do not for themselves, but for the good of others, making sure that they bring meaning, empowerment and happiness to the lives of many. They look for ways to give and to share the best of themselves with the world and to make other people happy.

Before giving, the mind of the giver is happy; while giving, the mind of the giver is made peaceful; and having given, the mind of the giver is uplifted. ~Buddha

9. Abundance vs. Lack/ Poverty 

They have an abundant mindset, living a balanced life, achieving abundance in all areas of life.

10. Dreaming Big vs. Being Realistic 

These people don’t really care about being realistic. They love and dare to dream big, they always listen to their heart and intuition and the greatness of their accomplishments scares many of us.

Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men. ~Goethe

11. Kindness vs. Cruelty

They are kind to themselves and others and they understand the power of self-love, self-forgiveness and self-acceptance.

12. Gratitude vs. Ingratitude

No matter where they look, no matter where they are or who they are with, they have the capacity to see beauty where most of us would only see ugliness, opportunities where most of us would only see struggles, abundance where most of us would only see lack and they express their gratitude for all of it.

13. Presence/ Engagement vs. Disengagement 

They know how to live in the present moment, appreciating what they have and where they are, while still dreaming big dreams about the future.

When you are present, you can allow the mind to be as it is without getting entangled in it. The mind in itself is a wonderful tool. Dysfunction sets in when you seek yourself in it and mistake it for who you are. ~Eckhart Tolle

14. Positivity vs. Negativity

No matter what happens to them, they always keep a positive perspective on everything and by doing so, they tend irritate a lot of negative and “realistic” people.

15. Taking Responsibility vs. Blaming 

They take full ownership over their lives and they rarely use excuses. Happy people understand that the moment you choose to blame some outside force for whatever is happening to you, you are in fact giving all your power away. They choose to keep their power and take responsibility for everything that happens to them.

How many of these things are you doing in order to become a happier person? Share your insights by commenting below or by leaving your feedback on the PurposeFairy Facebook Page.

 

With all my love,

 

You cannot get it done, ever, and you cannot get it wrong.

“You cannot get it done, ever, and you cannot get it wrong. So you might as well relax and start having fun with this.”   Abraham-Hicks

 

I find this thought very liberating. I often hamper myself by getting hung up on doing things “right”. Sometimes “good enough” is kinder. Sometimes allowing ourselves to fail is very smart.

We, like all of nature, are programmed to grow. It’s innate and impossible to fight. We will grow to the day we die – the learning never stops, the capacity to feel and do more never wanes. It’s because of this that we will never get ‘it’ done. We cannot get it wrong because there are always more depths we can explore.

When we understand this we can forgive ourselves if our natural expansion has caused us to hit a bump in the road. We can welcome the ‘wrong’ things and seek the growth in them. We can start to relax into the journey, be a little silly, take a few risks and have fun!

 

“Every blade of grass has it’s angel that leans over it and whispers, ‘grow’, ‘grow'” –  The Talmud

 

(With deep and loving gratitude to my friends and coaches extraordinaire, Kelly Cowan and Karen Hood-Caddy)

 

 

Roots and Wings

Like everyone – Mr Benn in particular – I have a choice of many costumes I could wear at any one time. One of those costumes is a sauce-stained apron with copious pockets. Inside the pockets are a red pen, an eraser, a cheque book, a little silver Monopoly dog, a bunch of multi-purpose tissues, arnica, assorted plasters, an emergency banana, loose coins, car keys, curling ribbon, an alarm clock, consent forms, my CRB check certificate, a metronome and a detailed map of where everything belonging to every member of the family is located.

Being a Mum is without a doubt (and here I must resign myself to a cliche) the best thing I’ll ever have the privilege of doing. On my death bed it’ll be what I ask myself first: was I an OK Mum?

The children are getting to an age where they are starting to do things I can’t take any credit for – in other words they are becoming their own people and I must increasingly just sit back and marvel.

My friend Lyn, in Canada, years and years ago, told me as we pushed Julia around in her snazzy jogging pram (Julia was only 2 at the time and I only jogged with that thing twice), “T, our job is to give our children roots and wings”.

I love that. Roots and wings. Grounding and freedom. Stability and letting go. It’s a balancing act for sure and, as any tightrope walker would tell us, that’s the whole point – enjoying that edge between scary and thrilling.

Yesterday was mother’s day. We went for a walk to Tyndale monument above Wooton-under-Edge with some friends children. Sasha and his friends waved long sticks around at each other. Julia and her friend sang songs, all the way there and all the way back.

 

P1040677 (2)