How To Feel Good – My Top 10 Things

  1. Music

I forget sometimes just how much listening to a song you love can improve your state on mind and general sense of wellbeing.

2. Sunshine (Get some)

Depending on the time of year and your current situation, this can be a bit more challenging than it sounds. It also depends on your preference – I love sunshine, but some people love rain and cold weather. It’s more about taking the time to enjoy the elements around you.

3. Good food

This can go either way – if you are generally eating well, take some time to eat something for the enjoyment of it. If your diet is a little all over the place, then have one meal of quality, healthy food to do your body a favour.

4. Tick something off your to-do list

Never underestimate the feeling of accomplishment. Being able to tick something of a list of things that you want to do builds some momentum and then makes the other things on that list just a little bit easier. But don’t look at the whole list – just one thing. Perhaps a first step could be creating a to-do list if you don’t have one.

5. Read

Something that you are interested in – be it either fiction or non-fiction. My go-to is the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child and I strongly recommend reading a real book and not one on an I-pad or something similar.

6. Breathe

I had a counsellor once tell me to breathe because she noticed that I was holding my breath, subconsciously. I didn’t know this is something you could forget to do, but, well, here we are. Remember to breathe. Spend a minute just doing that.

7. Clothing

This hurts me a little to admit because I like to think of myself as a non-fashion type of person, but when you look good, you feel good. Find your best piece of clothing/outfit and wear the heck out of it. If you don’t have one – go find one. Op shops can be great for this.

8. Treat Yourself

Allow yourself time to have something that, for you, is a treat – meaning something that you don’t have very often. Be it chocolate, wine, chocolate wine, or other things that people seem to enjoy.

9. Laugh

Like music, laughing can shift your mood very quickly. Watch a short video of your favourite comedian. May I suggest Michael McIntyre if can’t think of one. Just a few minutes of good humour can change the way you turn up to the world.

10. Gratitude

This is the foundation for the previous 9 – everything hinges on gratitude. Sure, life may not be going exactly as you had planned but there is always something that you can be grateful for and there are always good things that happen in the midst of, or even because of, the challenging circumstances we may find ourselves in. Even if it is only that you are grateful for being able to do some of the things on this list. If you can practice gratitude, and the other 9 a little bit each day then I guarantee you will be feeling good before you know it.

What if Bob Marley was Wrong?

What if every very little thing is not going to be alright?

What if Bob was just trying to make us feel better but instead steered us away from the truth? The truth about life, especially as we experience it in 2020, is that life is difficult. There are challenges and there is suffering. In a culture that likes to be the masters of our own destiny it can be hard to comprehend that every little thing may not be alright. It’s hard to look that in the face.

We can see clearly that everything little thing is not going to be alright for the hundreds of thousands of people who have died from coronavirus. It is not going to be alright for those who weren’t able to say goodbye to loved ones due to travel restrictions as they passed away in hospital. It’s not going to be alright for those who are separated from family members due to hard borders being in place – parents missing out on seeing their kids grow and develop during one of the most challenging times in recent history. You can never get those times back. Saying ‘don’t worry about it’ to those people doesn’t seem to help and nor should it.

So what do we do? Do we just get sucked into the void of depression because ‘life sucks’, things are not always good and not everybody is nice? How do we continue to function? How can we keep putting one foot in front of another and finding the joy in life?

There is great power in naming something. When we can honestly name a situation or experience as tough, overpowering, challenging and just plain sh*t, there is an internal shift. It allows us room to experience the painful emotions, to sit with them and notice them for what they are – emotions that will pass. It’s not blame, it’s not loaded with outrage, it is just a time to express sadness and recognise that not everything is okay. When we can do that, it provides an emotional depth that creates a foundation of greater emotional joy.

Sometimes, everything isn’t going to be alright. But during those times, we don’t need to run from it or pretend it’s not happening, we can sit in it and even find joy in its midst.

I Don’t Have It Nailed Yet

Life’s a journey. One of growth, discovery and failure/learning. I’ve been writing and speaking about generosity for a number of years now. About all the benefits that it can bring, and how it improves your life. Mostly, I have been writing and speaking to myself, to help me in my personal journey of generosity. My hope is that I have become a more generous person during that time, and my future hope is that I will continue to become more generous. I don’t think I’ll reach the point where I am generous enough and can stop. Not for a long time anyway, because I see areas in my life where I can be more generous. All this to say, I am the Generosity Guy only because I point people to the benefits of living a generous lifestyle, not because I have the generous lifestyle nailed.

What are the benefits of a generous lifestyle? They are numerous, but essentially it is good for the people that you are generous to, it is good for the people around those that you are generous to and it’s good for you – physically, emotionally and spiritually.

There are very few things that a generous act can’t fix.

Don’t be disheartened if it doesn’t come easy for you, or if you really wish you could be more generous that you are but can’t seem to find a way forward. That’s okay. It’s a journey that we can be on together, and it happens one generous act at a time.

The generous lifestyle is like building a muscle, but unlike super gross bodybuilding guy, you can’t build your generosity muscle up too much. So keep at it.

Changing The World

I think we all want to matter. We all want our efforts to make a difference in the world, however small. Having a sense of purpose and accomplishment is connected to wellbeing.

But when we are faced with the enormity of events that are happening on a global or national scale, it can be disheartening. It doesn’t seem to matter what we do we won’t be able to change the world, right?

Whether you are facing a global pandemic, or the leader of your country is a raving lunatic (as a random example), there is always something that you can do. The challenge is not getting too far ahead of yourself and thinking that what you are doing today won’t really change anything.

There is an ancient military methodology of spreading leadership responsibility around in an efficient manner and training future leaders at the same time. There were commanders of one thousand, commanders of one hundred and commanders of ten. It may sound simple to us today, but it made great numbers of soldiers manageable and created a clear reporting structure.  The commanders of ten reported to the commander of one hundred who reported to the commander of one thousand. Any form of structural hierarchy we have today can be traced back to this line of thinking.

What has that got to do with making a difference? Well, to become a commander of one thousand, you first needed to prove yourself as a commander of one hundred, after proving yourself as a commander of ten, after proving yourself as a soldier.  You couldn’t just jump to being a leader of thousands of people without first being one of the people.

In the same way, to change the world, you need to change your country, after changing your city, after changing your community, after changing your household, after changing yourself.

If you want to make a difference in the world, choose to act in a way that will change the lives of those in your household.

They don’t have to be large, outrageous actions, but little things – maybe one per day, and build on it. Over time it creates momentum. Have you ever heard of a pilot with thousands of flight hours and wondered how they could possibly have flown that much? Well, one hour at a time. Or an author who has written numerous books? They did that by writing one word at a time. In fact, anyone who has ever done anything great, performed small actions, consistently and well, over time.

Making a difference in the world, changing it for the better, requires small things done today, and then every day, and in the future you will be amazed at the world you are living in.

Reproduction

“You teach what you know, but you reproduce who you are”. John Maxwell

It’s Gandhi’s most famous quote, but perhaps the true impact of “be (ing) the change you wish to see in the world” goes beyond just doing good things, it is more about be-ing.

We can talk and use amazing language to describe what kind of family we want to have, what kind of organisation we want to work for or city we want to live in. We can lead from the front in outlining what the behaviours are we want to see from people. Heck, sometimes we can even do those things, but if it isn’t a natural out-flowing of who we are then we are just wasting our time.

If you find yourself in the place where you aren’t the type of person who does the things that you would like to see (firstly, welcome to being human), then become that person. If you find yourself in the place where you don’t like what you are reproducing in others around you, then become what you want to see in others. The beauty of it all is that you can change who you are. (Which is simple because we have unlimited access to resources to do it, but it is certainly not easy.)

If you want to see generosity in those around you, become someone who is generous. If you want to see thoughtfulness, become someone who is thoughtful. If you want to see creativity, become someone who is creative. Talking about and teaching these things won’t reproduce in others until you live it. We don’t need more people with knowledge of generosity, we need more people with generous behaviour.

You can’t just talk about things, you need to become what you want to see.

The Dangers of the Mob

“The Government got that wrong. They have double standards.”

It has been a common refrain around the country in the past few weeks when discussing the protests around the Black Lives Matter movement.

Many have asked why we haven’t been able to gather for weddings and funerals in large groups during the Coronavirus pandemic, but thousands of people have been given approval to meet together and protest. How is that fair? What is the government thinking?

Maybe the government was confident that the protesters would be outdoors and could maintain social distancing, or perhaps it had nothing to do with any political alignment or any opinion about how contagious or controlled the virus was, but was based on the power of the mob. Of course, not all protests turn into riots, in fact very few do – but the risk that something will escalate is real.

Here are three insights into mob mentality:

Mob Mentality is Dangerous. Something significant happens when large groups of people get together, especially when they are all in agreeance on a hot-button political and emotional issue. In a group setting, individuals are emboldened and grow in courage to act in ways that they never would if they were alone.

History shows us this – whip a mob into a frenzy and it can turn into a riot. We saw this in Cronulla in 2005, but there have been many others including in Kalgoorlie in 1934. We’ve seen it in America numerous times also, in LA in 1992, Baltimore in 2015 and, of course, LA in 2020 (among many others). Jesus was crucified by the mob, without evidence and without the explicit approval from the ruler of the day.

Mob Mentality is Powerful. Governments across Australia did not deny people the ability to come together and protest in the midst of a pandemic, basically because they had no power to do so. Some groups are just too large to stop.

For example, WA has almost 7,000 police officers, including auxiliary staff. All you need is for 8,000 people to turn up somewhere and authorities have little hope to quell anything that gets instigated. Trying to keep a large group from rising up and overpowering you in a violent incident is not as far fetched as we may think.

Fredrick Douglas said “the oppressors only have as much power as the oppressed give them.” Which means that the mob can be outrageously powerful, for a while.

Mob Mentality is Short-lived. It can escalate quickly but then, just as quickly it can dissipate. Sometimes within seconds, sometimes within hours, other times it can last for days and weeks – turning into an ‘occupy’ type situation. But the mob will always run out of steam and begin to disintegrate, but only after the damage has been done to the people and the places around it. The longer it lasts the more damage is done, and when it is over the community is left to pick up the pieces and get back to real life.

Politicians fear nothing more than an angry mob, because whilst it exists, they are powerless against it.

Was That Tit or Tat?

Two truths and a lie:

  • We don’t control what happens in the world
  • We get to choose how we respond to things that happen
  • Some people know how to push our buttons and they make us angry or force us to respond negatively

The last one is a lie. No one can make you feel any emotion. Our emotions are our own response to what is happening inside us.

Harsh, but true.

When how we feel depends on what happens around us, it can lead to dangerous outcomes. We get caught up in what is happening to us, how people are hurting us, how those around us are making us feel, that we respond with raw emotion and anger in an attempt to hurt the person back.

The trouble is we don’t see that we are doing exactly what we are getting upset about. We only see what is happening to us and not the impact our actions are having on, which is probably how someone hurt us in the first place – they were dishing out the pain they have received on to others. Hurting people hurt people.

Similarly, there is a slippery slope of justifying questionable behaviour. I have seen it firsthand; when a person has perceived that something bad has happened to them, they will then do something unethical, (lie/steal/slander) to make up for it, because ‘someone did something bad to me, so I can behave like this’.

When you think about retribution and justice there a probable a few phrases that come to mind, like

“An eye for eye and a tooth for a tooth”

Which for the longest time I considered to be barbarian, but I discovered that this Old Testament Law came at a time in history when it was common place for acts of violence to escalate so quickly that an innocuous knock of a tooth could turn into all out war and hatred. (Some would consider that we still live in that time).

Martin Luther King Jnr. was talking about this exact issue when he said “Hate begets hate. Violence begets violence…we must meet the forces of hate with the power of love”.

Jesus gave an example of what love looks like in this situation, and took the eye for an eye concept further:

“Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get  us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, gift-wrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.”

Generosity is outrageous. It humbles the ego, looks to the other person, sees their pain and willingly submits to physical, emotional and social brutality. At the same time it takes all the power away from the instigator. Non-violence is the most powerful, subversive act.

Generosity, by looking past someone’s actions to their intentions and motivations, will not fix all our immediate problems, it just removes the future ones. The ones that we create for ourselves.

Not That Kind of Locust

“Our experience shapes the way we see the world and how we see the world shapes our experience.”

“Sometimes stuff happens to you and sometimes you happen to stuff.”

I find it fascinating to watch how people respond to life circumstances. And let’s face it, there has been a lot of ‘life circumstances’ happening this year. It’s got me thinking a great deal about what responses are appropriate and what it takes to control our response to those things which are outside of our control.

I decided to do some reading on the psychological concept of locus of control thinking that it would help me break down people into two groups.

  1. Those that have an external locus of control being people who sees the events of their life and the world around them as happening to them, without having any control over.
  2. Those with an internal locus of control being those that can control their response to external events and recognize that they can always do something.

It turns out locus of control is more about people’s view of how success is achieved – whether it is completely within their control (internal locus) or success comes from luck or fate alone (external locus). As you could imagine, most people fall somewhere in between.

Regardless of that, this frame of thinking can be the springboard for how we approach the world. Generally, people will either lean more towards action or reaction. Action, being more in line with an internal locus of control, someone who creates the world that they want. And reaction being more about an external locus of control, someone who responds to the world as it happens to them.

This year has seen a great deal of things ‘happen to us’ and I am in awe of those who are creating the experiences they want, the life that they want and the cities that they want to live in. They are the people who are not overwhelmed by challenging circumstances and are creating positive outcomes where others only see tragedy.

As Hamlet put it, ‘nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.’

You’ve Been Owned.

There is something about completely owning someone. To be the victor in a challenge or sporting event feels great and is an amazing boost to the ego. You can look down your nose at those you have overcome and know that you are better than them. You are the winner and they are the loser.

Winner…

Loser…

That’s what it is to ‘own’ someone. It’s young person lingo to describe you as a winner and someone else a loser. They are trampled underfoot and you are the victor dancing on their grave.

I guess it’s not too much of an issue in the context of a game, but I am seeing the culture of ‘owning’ someone become common place in political engagement and social media. The goal no longer appears to be to create dialogue, uncover each opinion and seek to change someone’s mind. Instead the goal looks like finding the most cutting one liner that is both clever and true – a zinger perhaps, one that is so amazing that it removes the need for any further conversation. The person delivering the line then walks away in full knowledge that the other side was ‘owned’ whilst onlookers can only think ‘Well, there’s nothing more to be said. I am well and truly convinced by that pithy statement ausguy_645 said’.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, that’s not how communication works. What we end up seeing instead is dozens of people jump in with their one liner in an attempt to cut down someone else with a different opinion. They all speak at the same time and use whatever language necessary to be heard over the others and it does not have the desired impact of silencing anyone. It only creates more angst and anger, and more one liners. Finally, the only way to be heard is to say the most outrageous, malicious statement as loud and as violently as you can so that the conversation stops, therefore winning the argument and ‘owning’ the other side.

Here’s the thing. It’s lazy. It’s bad communication. There is no generosity there. Anyone can say something cutting and seemingly interesting in 280 characters. Anyone can drop a comment on a post and bring in to question the credibility of someone else. Sure, some people do it better than others, but the real work comes from the second 280 characters, and the 280 characters after that. And the curiosity about someone else’s opinion. And the suggested way forward after that. That’s where the skill lay.

That’s generosity. It comes along side someone and invites them into a thoughtful dialogue, and if the invitation is refused, generosity walks away without malice and frustration.

Now is the time

Who you are tomorrow begins with what you do today” – Tim Fargo

Building muscle is hard. Especially if it’s not a muscle that you naturally use every day.

If you want to build the muscles that don’t get a lot of use, you need to intentionally exercise them, put them under stress, so they grow and strengthen. This requires discipline, time, and money. It becomes more of a challenge if you suffer an injury to that muscle because then it’s not just a question of building it, but of repair and healing, then building. It’s painful to rehabilitate but it’s also painful to do nothing. Either way, pain is forced on to you, but you get to chose which pain you experience.

Generosity is like a muscle. If you don’t exercise it, it doesn’t grow. And through challenging financial times, it can feel as if it is a muscle that has suffered an injury. It hurts to use it. But if you want to see the muscle grow over time, and to become a more generous person tomorrow, what you do today is paramount.

Now is the best time to start working your generosity muscle. To give some money away. Start small, make it consistent and keep it going. Sure, it may hurt, but it will heal and repair over time, then it can grow, and you become who you want to be tomorrow.

If you want to be generous when you have much money, start when you have little.

As Arthur Ashe said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

Don’t waste this challenging financial time. Begin acting generously.