Before I write about the things that inspire and motivate me, set my soul on fire and genuinely make me want to be a better human being, I want to mention three things that do the exact opposite:-
- The news
- The tabloids
- Fashion/beauty magazines
I stopped watching/reading the news and newspapers when the recession hit the U.K. in 2009. Every day I faced a dirge of negativity and doom. I spent countless sleepless nights tossing and turning about the impact the economic downturn was going to have on me, my family, my job and our finances. One morning I woke up after eventually dropping off in the early hours and thought, nope, no more of this b*llshit! I realised I was in control of what I saw and heard and that I did not have to tolerate having that constant negativity shoved down my throat 24/7. When the news came on the radio, I switched the channel. When the news came on TV, I switched off or left the room. If I was in a public place, I’d leave.
Not long after, I realised I could take the same control over the beauty industry b*llocks that was permanently being forced on me and women in general. Was it any wonder I had a skewed self image where I thought my eyes were too wrinkly (laughter lines), my thighs would never have a gap (that’s normal), my greying hair must be dyed (grey is all the rage), my horrible feet were ginormous (size 9, just like Kate Winslet), I have fat knees (with no access to airbrushing) and countless other ‘flaws’ the beauty industry would have me believe could be, nay should be, fixed?! So I took charge of that and stopped buying or even reading so called beauty magazines, discovering (a) I saved a few quid and (b) in doctors/dentist waiting rooms Lancashire Life was a far more engaging read.
A few years later I resigned Facebook, then Twitter and eventually Instagram – what a liberation!
These decisions were the most transformative I’ve ever made. I’ve been happier, more content and slept better than ever. I’ve never looked back even now some 8 years later. The only way I know what’s going on in the crazy world we live in is because a family member mentions something or I overhear a conversation (which I quickly unhear). Some may think that as a result I’m out of touch, however, I’d argue I seem to be doing just fine.
So, I turn to the things that inspire me, the things that make me want to be a better person.
Life affirming & positive stories – by those who have been there and done that. I love reading and watching things that those more experienced at life than me have to say. Watching YouTube shorts such as Life Lessons From 100 year olds will really put things in perspective for you (https://youtu.be/9AThycGCakk).
Pinterest is full of inspirational stories and quotes, it’s a real mine of information and education. It’s not all about decorating ideas (although there’s some fantastic design inspiration), my ‘Quotes’ board is filled with 400+ snippets that have given me support, inspiration and motivation both professionally and personally.
Tedx Talks are a fairly recent revelation to me! You can listen to real people talking about life lessons on anything from alcohol abuse, drug addiction and quitting your job to pursue your dreams to creative leadership and poetry writing. With over 8,000,000 YouTube subscribers there’s definitely something for everyone. Take a look at http://www.ted.com.
Volunteer to help someone or some cause. Help the homeless – volunteer in a soup kitchen, raise money or donate old clothes from your bursting wardrobe. There but for the grace of a higher being we’d be in the same situation – it doesn’t take much. Mentor – pass on your knowledge and experience to someone personally or professionally who can benefit from your support. There are tons of schemes out there you can sign up to like http://www.onemillionmentors. Help animals in need – Dogs Trust, RSPCA, PDSA, there are loads to go at. Donate your time, old blankets, sponsor a dog even. Those helpless creatures did nothing to deserve their fate and your help and a little TLC will go a long way.
It’s been proven time and time again that not only do those we help benefit, but we in turn are rewarded ten fold in the satisfaction we get from helping others. Audrey Hepburn put it well when she said that as she got older she realised why she had two hands, one for helping herself and one for helping others.
If you seek out positivity you will find it and if you open your mind and your heart to it you will feel genuine benefits, particularly to your mental wellbeing. I don’t believe people are born positive, upbeat or happy. I believe positivity and happiness come from choosing to be that way, actively pursuing people, information, pastimes, professions and activities that make us feel good about who we are and the part we have to play in this world for the finite period of time we are lucky enough to be on this earth.