Embracing acceptance and engaging with the purpose of our lives
For the past month, we’ve been practicing accepting ourselves – unconditionally. Personally, I found this hard to do. Too often I was drawn into the high pressure, high stress reality of trying to do everything perfectly, so that I could feel good about myself. Frequently, maybe not frequently enough, I recognised this and offered myself kindness and compassion and fought against the urge of perfectionism. I accepted myself with lower standards and it felt liberating. I will be focusing on this unconditional acceptance going forward, I have only just scratched the surface, and need to commit to this each day in the future. I can almost touch the freedom that unconditional acceptance brings! I’m thankful that my happiness club friend has really inspired me. I have some great ideas of how I can take this forward into my life from her. We also talked about the month of meaning and how to be part of something bigger in the next month
Taking forward acceptance
My lovely happiness club friend talked about the importance of identifying our core beliefs, and using these as daily positive affirmations to live a more accepting life. My friend had been saying to herself “I am good” and “I am competent” each day and she described how it had actually been really powerful!
I have thought about my core beliefs and have written 7 affirmations, one for each day of the week. I will focus on one each day and observe if I feel happier as a result, and if it quietens my inner critic, who is such a perfectionist (I think I might give her a name, so I can recognise when she starts criticising!).
The importance of language
Every day I practice Mindfulness, which involves a daily meditation. As someone who is quite self-judgemental I have to be very accepting of my meditation and not judge how it has gone. Practicing mindfulness has helped me be less self-judgemental but there's still some way to go. That's why it's a practice - I don't know if I'll ever be 'there'. I asked my husband not to ask “did you have a good meditation?” instead preferring “did you do your meditation?”This has made a big difference as I don’t judge the practice any more.We talked in the happiness club how this could be extended to all aspects of life. For eg, “did you have a good day?” could lead us to judge ourselves and perhaps asking “how was your day?” is better.
The final month of Action for Happiness’ GREAT DREAM is upon us. We recognised a lot of the messages in the Psychologies magazine’s article from the month of relating and we’re looking forward to re-focussing again on some of these aspects.
One happiness club member mentioned in a previous month that she’d like to volunteer to spend time with people who are elderly and she’s going to do this during this month.This will give her a bigger sense of purpose and meaning and the opportunity to hear the wealth of experience and stories that elderly people have, which she no longer gets the chance to hear within her family, at the same time as making a difference to someone else’s life. I’m sure that she will gain such a lot from the experience and find it incredibly rewarding.
On a bitterly cold day in November my 10 year old daughter took spare gloves and hats with her when we went shopping in Leeds so that she could give them to a homeless person. The reaction she received was very moving and we have given more items out since, together. I’ve made contact with a group called Project Winter Coat Bradford who collect various items for the homeless people and then deliver them whilst talking to people and hearing their stories. I’ve offered some more items for donation to them (and am collecting more items from friends) and have made plans to go with them to deliver the items as well.
My happiness club feel it is really important to be part of something bigger. Last night we discussed if we do feel part of something bigger in our workplaces. We thought we did but not necessarily as a result of the tasks of our roles, but as a result of working somewhere that we believe in and making sure our contribution is wider than the immediate role. Even talking to people in different departments can make us feel happier and more engaged.This extends to life in general and shows how important it is to reach out and feel part of a bigger community, in whatever way suits you and your own meaning or purpose in the world.
What is our purpose?
We really liked thinking about People/Activities/Beliefs to try to identify what our bigger purpose is. We had a lovely discussion around these three areas and, just one day later, I already feel more engaged in making my life have purpose and meaning by focussing on the things that matter to me, which are not necessarily the things that I have been putting all my energy towards until now! These are exciting times.
Next month my happiness club will meet again, to review the month of meaning and to have a review of the last year and our highlights. I’ll look forward to blogging to you next time!