The bottom-line is that everything we experience in life is our own doing and is based on one thing and one thing only. That thing is what we believe. I want to thank my good friend Fiona for inspiring this week’s blog. We were chatting the other day, and we were talking about self-belief and self-image and how they impact every area of life. Then she said, when it comes to belief, often it’s not even our belief, but one we have adopted from someone else. So, the question was posed; whose belief is it really?
As I have mentioned in a previous post, I was given a beautiful gift last week. I was asked by the Lions Club, a wonderful organisation doing incredible things to make a difference in people’s lives, to come and speak and interact with several flood affected families at a camp they were hosting. It was over three hours to drive to a beautiful mountain surrounded wilderness park in a place called Licola in Victoria. As I said in my social media post, I believe the person most impacted by my visit was me.
There were nine families, lots of energetic children, and they were all loving time to have fun and be away from the stresses of the trauma they were experiencing at home. We started outside kicking the football and playing some games, until the rain started, and so we went inside to sit in a circle and chat. I had no idea how this would work, particularly as there were many young children with energy to burn. Incredibly, it was one of the most profound and inspiring experiences of my life, as people were very open to share their thoughts, struggles, and breakthroughs.
There was one teenage girl in particular who had the greatest impact on me, and her name was Angel. Angel now 16 years old was left by her drug affected parents, who couldn’t take care of her, to be taken care of by her grandmother when she was a baby. Her grandmother was at the camp as well, and is an amazing lady, for sure. Even after her parents had moved on and had other children with different partners, Angel was still not embraced or supported by either of them. As you can imagine, she had deep issues with abandonment and feelings of being unworthy and unlovable.
As we sat in that circle, I asked several questions of the group. One question I asked was, what is one thing you are proud of about yourself? Angel, who is a shy girl, put up her hand and told the group she was proud that she had removed herself from a toxic relationship. Her initial belief about herself was that she was not worthy of being loved, and so she stayed in the relationship thinking she would never find another, even though it was not healthy. But here is the great news. Angel had realised that the belief was not hers, it was passed on to her by her parents. She went on to say, I have too much self-respect to stay in a toxic situation’. The whole group applauded and hugged her and gave her so much love and support it brought tears to my eyes.
I know Angel will go on and do great things in this world and have a positive impact on many lives, as she is doing right now. It does beg the question I want to ask you, as I have asked myself, whose belief is it really? When you tell yourself you are not good enough, where did that come from? You were not born with that belief. Who told you that? Who exampled that to you? Who conditioned that into you? When you resign yourself to the fact that you will never have enough money, where did that belief come from? Trust me, it’s not yours. It may have come from growing up in a family that struggled financially, or associating with people who believed the pursuit of wealth is evil. Whose belief is it really?
In my podcast this week with Andrea Nicholson, called A pristine health scene, she talks about her own health challenges and the significant history of heart disease in her family. She explained that every woman had died before 50 and every man before 70. It would be a pretty common belief that Andrea would experience the same fate. However, what she said was amazing. She said, genetics had very little to do with the generational history. It was adopted beliefs and habits that led family members down the same path.
I want to encourage you to really examine your beliefs and attitudes towards certain areas of your life this week. If you are struggling, and if you are telling yourself certain stories based on your beliefs, I want to urge you to ask the question, whose belief is this, really? When you realise it is not your belief, but one adopted by you, or pushed onto you by someone else, then let it go and replace it with one that serves you. Your life is far too short and you are far too important to be influenced and impacted by the belief system of someone else. Start today with your own belief that you are worthy and enough.
I do a regular spot on a couple of radio stations, and I really enjoy it. I do ‘Thursday Thoughts’ with Pablo on Triple M, Karratha, and ‘Mental Health Monday’ with Elerrina & Jodie on Juice FM, Gold Coast. I am grateful for the opportunity to share some thoughts on great radio shows to help me on my mission to create a wave of wellness around the world. On Monday, Elerrina & Jodie asked me about some simple things people could do, in these trying times, to be happier and healthier. I encouraged their listener to take the 3G challenge.
There is no doubt about it, we are living in trying times. There is no doubt about it, we are also living in exciting times. So, which is it? Testing times or exciting times? That’s a question only you can answer, based on the meaning you give to the situations and circumstances you experience. In my last blog I spoke about being an inverted paranoid, and I would encourage you to read it, as it will help with this important perspective. What I want to do this week is offer you a challenge if you are up for it and want a more exciting and fulfilling experience of life. That challenge will require you to focus on three simple things each day for the next seven. They are the three G’s.
You’ve heard it, you know it and you’ve experienced it. The question, is focusing on what you are grateful for part of your daily life? You see, you can’t be angry, anxious, fearful, resentful, bitter or worried and grateful at the same time. We can only hold one emotion in our bodies at one time. My thinking is, why not hold an emotion that will strengthen your physical well-being, improve relationships, and help you make choices that will enhance your life? Gratitude neutralises the emotions that harm you and will potentially lead to harming others. It is so simple. No matter what happens, just ask yourself, what is there to be grateful about this situation? If you ask the question with intent, you will always come up with an answer.
It is easy to be grateful when things are going the way you want them to go. It’s not so easy when adversity strikes. So, let’s try this right now. Think about something that, at first look, seems adverse to you. Now, as hard as you can, try to find something to be grateful for about it. In Melbourne, as I write this, our sixth COVID lockdown has been extended yet again. My first thought was Sh#t, I am so over this. However, upon deliberate reflection, I am grateful that I get to help more people, spend more time with my cute pup, and reflect more on the blessed life I have. How did you go? Compare the feeling in your body when you thought about the horrible situation versus when you focused on what you were grateful for. Different right? Challenge 1: can you spend time every day, no matter how bad things may seem, to focus on what you have to be grateful for?
Have you ever noticed, when you feel bad, or you are going through a challenging or traumatic time, how doing something for someone else always helps you feel better? Why is that? Because you shift the focus off yourself, and your own problems to helping someone else. One of the most abundantly powerful, joyful and healing strategies is giving to others. Giving love, giving time, giving encouragement, giving support, giving money and giving of yourself with change lives. Not just the life of the person you are giving to, but your own.
Not long after my mother had been diagnosed with secondary cancer of the liver and was given only a short time to live, she started working with Petrea King at the Quest for Life Foundation and giving support to other cancer patients. I believe this is one of the reasons she outlived the medical prediction for her life by fifteen years. Challenge 2: give one thing every day that helps another person in some way.
It is very easy, at this time in history, to focus on all the things we have had taken from us, and what we can’t do. I want to encourage you to focus on the things you are in control of. That is, your own growth. I want to encourage you to be creative and start taking positive action, today and this week, on something that will enhance your life. You could spend time each day listening, reading, and learning something that will help you in your life. You could focus each day on building a stronger family unit or improving your own physical wellbeing. You could get creative and start writing your book, painting, developing your musical ability, building a business, or starting a new hobby. Why not now and why not you?
One of the best things I did in 2020, was finally, as a result of lockdown, start The Wellness Puzzle Podcast. I have just launched episode 72, called Return to self, with Meryem Arpaci. What she talks about will help you on your growth journey with this challenge. Challenge3: do something every day that will grow you or a part of your life.
In just seven days, if you focus on the 3 G’s, I know you will be a different person and have a different experience of life. I say it all the time. Life is way too short to spend focused on what you don’t want. What happens in your life is up to you and how you respond to the circumstances you are exposed to. Take the 3G challenge and take control of your life.
Have you ever been told by someone; ‘stop stressing,’‘don’t stress’ or ‘there’s nothing to be stressed about’? When someone says that to you, do you just want to slap them? I know I do! They talk as if it’s not a big deal, right? When actually, for you and for me, it is a big deal. If whatever it is wasn’t a big deal for us, we wouldn’t be stressing about it, so it’s important to validate our stress. Probably more important, however, is to understand why we have it, the damage it’s potentially causing and how we can break the stress cycle.
My latest podcast Feed the brain to be stress resilient, with Dr Delia McCabe has literally blown my mind and given me a totally new perspective on stress and how to manage it. It’s been a long-held belief of mine that we create our own stress with the thoughts we focus on and the perspective with which we look at things. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still believe that, but there is another very significant aspect at play here, which Delia explained to me on this podcast. You can try as hard as you like to have the right mindset, learn new things and deal with stress the best you can, but if your brain isn’t being fed to allow it to function optimally, all the strategies to manage stress, remain calm and stay in control will be much more difficult. She used the analogy of building a house, and that you can’t just build the roof, or even the walls, or even the floor. The most important part of any building is the foundation. Without it, you will end up with a pile of rubble. Many people’s lives are rubble because they haven’t been aware of the proper foundation to build to ensure they are fully able to cope with the demands of life.
Delia has spent many years researching the field of nutritional neuroscience and what she has discovered about the nutritional impact on brain function and hormone production is game-changing. I am going to do a terrible job trying to relay this information, so I strongly recommend you listen to the podcast to get it straight from Delia. However, she explains that stress is very greedy from a nutritional point of view. For the brain to produce the hormones adrenaline, cortisol, serotonin and melatonin it requires us to consume significant nutrient fuel to allow these hormones to be produced in the quantities we need.
The immediate effect of stress on the body is a release of adrenaline and cortisol, the fight or flight hormones. They are useful hormones, but in too much quantity can be damaging, and need to be balanced by more healing hormones. So, if we don’t have a good nutritional foundation, then these two hormones will gobble up all the available nutrients and leave nothing for the body to produce serotonin, which is the body’s calming hormone or melatonin which helps us sleep. Wow! This is mind-blowing information if you really understand it. The stress cycle you may be currently on, can be simply broken by ensuring that your foundation is strong and that your body has the stores of nutrients it needs to feed all hormone production.
If you needed another reason to start eating better, that’s a pretty powerful one. I am not going to bore you with what you should eat, because you already know it, and Delia goes into detail on the podcast and in her books and blogs. What I do want to ask you is, do you want to break the stress cycle you may be on? Do you want to have better moods and stronger relationships with the people you care about? Do you want to be more productive, make more money and live on a beach somewhere? Do you want to look and feel great? Do you want to live your best life, for as long as possible? I am pretty sure you answered yes to those questions. So, are you finally ready to feed your brain and break the stress cycle?
When you eat real foods, natural foods, like; all the colours of fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and quality proteins, you will create a stable blood sugar level, which will keep your moods and energy stable so that you can better handle demanding situations. We already knew that, didn’t we? But, now to know that the food you are eating is either feeding or starving your brain and its ability to produce the key hormones that will lead to peace, love, happiness and sleep is the best news I could possibly share with you.
Whilst yes, your mindset is critical to the task of breaking the stress cycle, unless you feed your brain with the right foods, you are not going to be able to focus the mindset on the things that will help you diffuse and solve the issues at hand. This is so easy to do, so please make the decision today to really start eating the way you know you need to eat. Not just to look great, not just to help you maximise your energy and productivity, not just to help your body function optimally, but also to build the foundation that will allow you to break the stress cycle.
The idea of going to bed for a good night’s sleep for some people brings great joy, and for others it brings stress, anxiety and fear. If it brings you joy, and you get a quality 7-8 hours of sleep each night, then enjoy the wonderful rewards great sleep brings. If you are one of the people for whom sleep may seem elusive at times or on a regular basis, then this blog is for you. I want to help you reposition sleep, take the pressure off it and suggest that it is simply a reward for what you have done during your day.
I wanted to write a blog on sleep to follow up from my podcast this week with Dr Lillian Nejad, called, ‘Sleep, beautiful sleep,’ because I think it’s a critical part of living your best life. We all know the obvious horrible effects of little or no sleep, don’t we? It impacts our energy, our moods, our ability to focus, our relationships, our resilience, our wellbeing, our body’s ability to function and pretty much every important area of our life.
After some research, I found fifteen incredible benefits of getting enough quality sleep on a regular basis. They include; reducing stress, improving memory, lowering blood pressure, helping your body fight back, weight control, putting you in a better mood, reducing chance of diabetes, keeping your heart healthy, can be a painkiller, can make you smarter, helping fight germs, improving energy levels, improving athletic achievement, better concentration and improving gut health. Wow, I am sold on sleep.
Sometimes telling people the benefits of good sleep can have the reverse effect, because they are frustrated as they don’t feel like they will ever get to enjoy them. There is one person I know really well, and that person is me. In fact, I know me even better now after 2020 and many months of lockdown and isolation… an amazing blessing very heavily disguised. One thing about me is, I love my bed, and I sleep well. For me, when I get into bed, I feel safe, I feel calm, I feel relaxed and I feel ready for sleep. For me, going to bed and to sleep is my reward for the day I have just experienced, and the things I did during that day.
There are so many ideas about getting better sleep – and Dr Lillian goes into many of them in her podcast – from letting go of stress, to meditation, to reducing stimulants, to making sure the room environment is conducive, and many others. All are great, but I want to focus on just one idea, which is, I believe, sleep is the product and reward for doing the right things during the day. I will describe a typical day of mine, and that might explain what I am talking about. Please note, I am not telling you this stuff to try and impress you, rather to impress upon you what works for me, and I know will work for you also.
I get up between 5 and 5:15am each day, with a passion and purpose for the day ahead, and the first thing I do is exercise, whether I feel like it or not. I always feel amazing afterwards. From the time I finish training and up until about 10am I have; walked the dog, done my affirmations and goals, responded to emails, sent out connections and messages on Linked In, checked in with my mentor, done some writing on my next book, edited my next podcast, made phone calls and set up meetings. This is now my normal morning routine and I love it. The rest of the day is a little flexible, but includes some or all of; meetings (online or face-face), podcast interviews, presentations (online or face-face), walking my dog, meditation or a power-nap, eating yummy and healthy food and many other amazing things.
I get most of the productive and important stuff done by 4 or 5pm, and whilst I will often have evening meetings, I have had a day I am proud of and it’s still quite early. This means I can reward myself. A nice dinner, a bit of chill out time and then into my favourite place in the world… bed!
I am in bed early and 10pm is late for me. When I go to bed, I rejoice. I have done what needs to be done for the day, I have moved myself closer to fulfilling my purpose and I have made notes for what I didn’t finish but needs to get done the next day. It’s still early enough so that I can easily get my 7-8 hours of sleep and I smile to myself, as I snuggle in my wonderful bed and, feeling totally fulfilled (most days), drift off into restful and renewing sleep. It is my reward for what I have achieved that day. Bed is the prize for me and, if you struggle with sleep, I want to encourage you to look at bed and sleep the same way.
All you have to do is this; focus on your purpose, set your intention and make a list of what you want to get done during the day. Keep it manageable and achievable so it doesn’t overwhelm you. Then simply get to work completing tasks, ticking boxes and feeling great. Beware of the many distractions that may steal your attention and time away from these tasks and push completing them to later in the day or evening. Save the distractions until the important jobs are done and then enjoy them as a reward. Most of all, when you have done what needs to be done, and delegated your tasks for the next day, get in your bed and smile as the next 7-8 hours of blissful and rejuvenating sleep you are about to enjoy is a reward you have rightly earned.
Did you know that your outer world is simply a reflection of what’s happening on the inside of you? Bang! There’s a powerful opening statement for a blog. I know there will be people who disagree with it, maybe even you? How can the Coronavirus be a reflection of what’s happening on the inside? How can the way other people treat ‘me’ be a reflection of what’s happening on the inside? How can my health, finances and the undesirable circumstances I am experiencing, be a reflection of what’s happening on the inside?
I wish life was easier, don’t you? I wish people would all just respond and react the way I wanted them to. I wish that I just had optimal wellbeing without all the effort and discomfort. I wish I was paid more. I wish when I asked for things, people would just say yes. I wish there was no conflict. I wish we could all just love and respect each other and get along. Well, I can wish all I want, but that isn’t going to make things change or people behave the way I think they should. I guess, the good news is that every one of us is in the same situation, right?
That being the case, how come there are some people who thrive in life and other people who struggle? When the same circumstances confront us all and the same opportunities are there for us all, why are some people creating success, whilst others are spiralling into the pits? When we all have access to the same foods and exercise options, why are some people lean, fit and healthy, whilst others have failing health? Now, whilst there may, in some very extreme cases, be extenuating circumstances, I will tell you that the difference between these people is not result of their external circumstances, but very much because of their inner game.
As you may know, I am single again after another failed relationship. It’s not where I had planned to be at this stage of my life, and I have been very tempted to blame external circumstances and people, but instead, and as a result of COVID isolation, I have been forced, as uncomfortable as it has been, to go inside and do some self-evaluation. Wow, it was busy and messy place inside my head, until I went in there and did some spring cleaning. I have looked back at my past, my upbringing, my influences and my relationship history and I can now clearly see the problem. The one person in common with each of these relationships, is me! I can now also see what I need to do from a thinking, self-belief and behaviour point of view. I feel like I am starting to win the inner game, which I know will have a positive long-term impact on my next relationship, whenever that happens.
You have heard the saying, it’s not what happens to you that matters, it’s how you respond, right? That’s your inner game. There are things that are out of your control; COVID, other people’s opinions, the weather, government directives, the economy and many other things, but what you are in control of is your inner game. The people who are successful, happy and healthy in life are not the people with less struggles and challenges, but the people who are winning the inner game. So, what does that mean?
It means that they are able to clear out the noise in their head, focus on what really matters and make decisions that empower them to move forward in life. It means they are able to focus on what they are grateful for, no matter what their circumstances may be. It means they find opportunity when many find problems. It means they can find a lesson in adversity that can help them move forward in life. In other words, it means they have chosen and developed an attitude independent of circumstances.
I have to acknowledge that this can be difficult when life continually throws challenges at us. One of the things I have found incredibly powerful in terms of clearing out the internal noise to help me focus on what’s really important and win the inner game is the ability to silence my mind through meditation. I am grateful to have reconnected with Sara Picken-Brown, who has definitely helped. In fact, in this week’s podcast called Meditation with Sara – Introduction, we discuss the benefits of meditation and she guides a short five minute meditation. But wait, there’s more! Sara will be offering regular guided meditation on my podcast to help us all win our inner game.
Your outer world will always be a reflection of what’s happening on your inside. So, maybe now is the time to start to work on filtering, recalibrating and strengthening your inner voice. When you can win the inner game, the outer successes, relationships and outcomes will take care of themselves. Enjoy the game.
If you haven’t listened to my podcast this week with Morgan Beard, the lady with the amazing singing voice, I recommend you do. Wow, what a powerful conversation I had with her about her fight with depression, suicidal tendencies, and, what she overcome to be inspiring people today. At one point in the conversation, she talked about the difference, as described to her, between illness and wellness.
In many ways she was referring to mental illness and wellness, but I believe this every much applies to physical illness and wellness also. She spoke about a doctor, who when asked what he believed was the difference between the two, described in a very simple, yet powerful way. As I highlight the following letters in the two words, you will see the obvious and very accurate difference between Illness and WEllness. Clever, right? And, so true. It has been highlighted to me so clearly in the time of isolation during COVID-19.
I hope this doesn’t sound bad, but, for the most part, I have actually really enjoyed the period of isolation over the last few months. It has afforded me; time to reflect, time to grow as a person, time to create, the necessity to try new things and opened the door to amazing opportunities that have come my way. On the other and, however, living alone in some ways has been hard, really hard. I have, as previously mentioned, struggled with loneliness and dealing with certain things on my own. It resulted in some anxiety, periods of sadness, and whilst I don’t think I would describe it as depression, it was really tough at times.
The easing of COVID restrictions coincided with my niece, Tess’s 21st birthday, and so I went to spend a couple of hours with my brother, Matt, sister-in-law, Fiona, nephew, Jake and Tess, to help her celebrate. I arrived at their front door, pressed the doorbell and Tess came to answer it. She opened the door, looked at me with an unsure look on her face and asked, ‘are we hugging?’ ‘Heck, yeah!’ I said as I grabbed her and gave her a big and loving uncle/niece hug. It felt so good. For the next couple of hours, to be in the company of people that I love; talking, touching, hugging and laughing was just what I needed to leave feeling refreshed, renewed and ready to get back to happy me.
In last week’s blog, I explained that you are not alone in this world. This week, I want to encourage you to discover, find and spend time with your peeps, your tribe, your community and the people who care about you. This, my friend is the best antidote for illness there is. Get away from the ‘I’ mentality and get into ‘We’ mode. Many mental health issues begin because a person feels alone in the world, un-loved and un-heard. Morgan, in this week’s podcast, describes this heartbreaking feeling in her life as she spiralled into depression and many suicidal thoughts and actions. It was her connection with other people, which kept her alive, just one day at a time, until the WE-factor allowed her to fully recover and go on to be a person who is there for and impacting so many lives in a positive way.
When we are ‘I’ and feel alone, we often dwell in our brain on the things that are not good in life and the insecurities we have about ourselves. This can lead to unhealthy and damaging thoughts, emotions and actions that will destroy our mental and physical wellbeing. When we find ‘We’, in the way of the community of people who care, support, encourage and want to help us, then we feel strong, positive, confident and the thoughts, emotions and actions that follow will help us to be strong, healthy and happy; mentally and physically. If you want to live and amazing life of joyful longevity, then please move away from Illness and towards WEllness.