As we go through our lives, we collect nuggets of wisdom along the way. Some of those are particularly helpful for a season, some may be relevant for a lifetime. Having read a post earlier this year in which the writer shared his 14 Things About Life I Need To Remind Myself Of Every Day, I’ve been curating my own list.
One: Every day I have choices to make and those choices make me who I am
Every day has some structure or obligations imposed on it but there are also many choices to be made. I can choose to get ahead of my to do list and write three blog posts in one morning; I can choose to get up and go for an early morning walk or I can choose to have a lie it; I can choose to call up an old friend for a chat; I can choose a salad or a sundae. Some choices will have a big impact, some will be far less significant but they are all choices and they contribute to who I am and what I do.
Two: I can’t help everyone but I can help someone
There is so much uncertainty in the world today and sometimes it can feel overwhelming. There are many causes in which I’m interested and I’d love to be able to make a difference. It would be easy to become stuck in a mire of indecision as I can’t give my time, my money, my skills or my energy to everything. When I feel like this, I think of the starfish story and how that little boy made a difference to one starfish and ask myself what can I do to help one person today.
Three: Joy doesn’t make me grateful; gratitude makes me joyful
I am a passionate advocate of practising gratitude and fifteen years of research suggests it’s good for our mental health – it may even be good for our physical health. If I’m feeling sad or anxious or distracted, asking myself ‘what three things am I grateful for right now?’ always helps restore me.
Four: The only person I’m competing with is myself
It’s easy to compare ourselves with others – just take a moment to imagine walking into a school reunion twenty years after you left. Who owns the Jaguar in the car park? Isn’t she a CEO now? Don’t they seem so happy together? His daughter’s just graduated from Oxford, hasn’t she?
I joined a gym at the end of April and my lovely trainer, Meg, said to me, ‘it doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing, it only matters what you are doing. How does your performance today compare to last time?‘. I often think about that – not only when I’m working my way through intervals on the static bike, but also when I’m coaching. Am I continuing to develop? It helps me to focus and prioritise my self-development at all levels.
Five: Remember to write
Anaïs Nin wrote in her diary ‘We write to taste life twice, in the moment, and in retrospection. … We write to teach ourselves to speak with others, to record the journey into the labyrinth.‘ My diaries will be of no historical significance to anyone but me and I’m fine with that. Sometimes our days do feel somewhat labyrinthine and I find that keeping a journal helps me to find my way out of the labyrinth.
Six: Rest is essential
In terms of physical fitness, we know that taking a rest day after strenuous exertion is essential to allow muscles to recover, repair and ultimately grow stronger.
Rest is also key for good mental wellbeing. It can be tempting to say ‘I’m too busy to take a lunch break/go for a walk/step away from my computer screen: I’ll just press on with my work.‘ I know that if I don’t take time out, I’ll ultimately have to take time off because I’ll have worn myself out, physically and mentally. Fitting rest into my lifestyle is an important part of my physical and mental fitness.
And on that note, I’m going to step away from screens and devices for a little while: I’ll be back here on my blog and sending my weekly newsletter on Friday 28 June.
Today’s pebble for you to ponder: what do you remind yourself of daily?
Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.
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