Passion and first visual impressions

 

“I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this, but first impressions are often entirely wrong.” ― Lemony Snicket, The Bad Beginning

 

Please help me understand the impact of first impressions…..

I am always amazed at what life’s twists and turns bring forth. A recent meeting completely threw me. Following a number of phone conversations, I had the opportunity to meet someone from another company in a similar line of work to mine. Let’s call him Tim.

Great, I thought. The chance to share. To learn. To leverage and even possibly, work together.  We had spoken on the phone before the meeting and the conversation flowed smoothly and I felt that the tone of the discussion meant that when we met, things would progress positively.

How wrong was I?

Since it was a business meeting, I dressed accordingly. Suit and tie. It was going to be an open discussion with Tim and one of his colleagues. I travelled to their offices and was there in plenty of time. I waited in reception for the colleagues to come out and greet me. Come the time, came the people.

Dressed, not in business suit attire, but casually, chinos and open shirts. Completely different to me.

Even worse was to come.

Just before I shook their hands, Tim looked me up and down and presented me with one of the least positive handshakes I have ever experienced. Some people’s are limp. Some are wet. Some are so aggressive that they seem to be trying to crush your hand rather than shake it. Tim’s was none of these. All I can describe it as a reluctant handshake.

I shook his colleague hand as well; a normal, positive one this time and we proceeded to a meeting room. We started the discussion and I knew from the start that things were not going well. Tim’s colleague led the discussion and we talked through a number of topics:- Such as best practices. How different companies manage the use of their resources to deal with particular problems. etc. During the discussion, Tim made a comment along the lines of “Your rather passionate about this aren’t you”. To which I replied, “Yes, I was”. More strangeness was to follow.

Unfortunately, Tim’s colleague had to leave and as soon as he left, Tim turned to me and said that he wanted to terminate the meeting there and then. No reason, just that he felt “that there was no synergy to us working together”.

I reflected on the whole event as I drove back to the office. How the initial telephone discussions had gone so well versus the face to face meeting. It really was down to first impressions.

I recall reading a book about our ability as humans to make snap judgements of one another and that these “first impressions” tended to stick. The book also referenced a study carried out in the USA where students were shown silent a10-second video clips of lecturers teaching. The students were asked to score the lecturers purely on the video clip. The students then started their semester and attended classes run by the lecturers. At the end of the term, they were asked to rerate them. The results were correlated and the result was that the scores matched, hence the idea that first impressions stick. By the way, the article on the 10 second video is below.

Article on the 10 second video article: http://ambadylab.stanford.edu/pubs/1993Ambady.pdf

Has the experience changed me? It has certainly made me more aware of first impressions and the power they have over people. Will it change my approach to how I meet people for the first time?  Absolutely..

Do you have a story of a first impression that completely threw you? Have you been impacted by someone’s reaction to you on meeting them for the first time? Has your first impression of someone changed over time? The following quote says it all for me:

 

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style”

Maya Angelou

The cynical view of Mindfulness

“Cecil Graham: What is a cynic?

Lord Darlington: A man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.

Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan

Much of the recent press coverage on Mindfulness has been overwhelmingly positive; where the benefits both to the individual, as well as to the wider community are widely highlighted. However, there is an element within the press that appears to be cynical about the benefits. Comments such as “it is just another self-help fad and will fade” or “it is being used in the business world as another load of executive bull”, are just a couple of examples I picked up on.

In some respects, Mindfulness and the practices that support it – both the formal meditation, as well as the informal, in the present moment focus – is not a universal panacea for all of the ills of people. Some people believe that it will cure their depression; or will stop them feeling so angry; or will make them a happy person. In business, it is being touted as a way to make the employee more productive and to get managers to be more focused on the work itself.

Mindfulness, of itself, is not designed to fix all these issues. There are many different forms and practices of Mindfulness meditation. Almost too many to describe. These include such practices as Breathing meditations. Body scan meditations. Sitting meditations. Sound. Thought. Light. Loving-kindness. Even walking meditations. The focus for all of these is being aware, in the present moment and recognizing the thoughts and feelings as they arise.

Then there are different types of programs you can follow. The two most common are MBCT and MBSR. MBCT, or Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy is used in support of treating people with mental health issues, especially depression. MBSR, or Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction is used to help people “de-stress” and become more focused.

And just like food, people will prefer one type of meditation to another. Some people prefer to be in groups. Some prefer to be on their own. Some, prefer to practice in complete silence. Some prefer guided practice, where you follow instructions. Some, prefer to practice in the morning or in the evening. I know someone who can only afford the time to do it in their lunch hour at work.  

I have my own preferences and have my own preferred style of practice. It works for me, but equally, might not work for you.

The beauty is, nothing is wrong. All are equally valid.

The point is this, the practice itself. And just like any activity in life, it takes time, patience and the desire to create a long-term habitual change, that makes the difference. So if you have started practicing mindfulness and are finding it hard going. Or if you have tried it and given up, don’t despair. Instead, contact someone you know that practices Mindfulness on a regular basis. Or possibly, join a group session in your local area. Feel free to contact me for some help if you would like.

Finally, apologies for the small break in articles. I took some time off for Easter to recharge and reflect. Oh, and I spent quite a bit of time reading some great books.Or as I call them “brain food”.

I leave you with the following quote:

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

Oscar Wilde

 

The four constituents of Well-Being you can change

 

“Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope.”  

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Achieving well-being has been the concern of philosophers since Aristotle, and is, in many respects the essence of human existence. In recent years, well-being  has come to the fore and there has been much research on the roots of well-being.

I have heard a number of talks on well-being and one of the most recent was as part of a talk given by His holiness the Dalai Lama. The host was Richard J. Davidson. He is the William James and Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry and Founder and Chair of the Center for Healthy Minds, at the Waisman Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His is the chap that measured Matthieu Ricard’s brain and was able to prove that Mathieu is one of the happiest men in the world.

Anyway, Richard has identified four, scientifically and well-researched constituents of well-being. There maybe others but these have been well researched. There is the concept that we can take more responsibility to develop these constituents and thereby, further develop and improve our own levels of well-being. Since our brains are structured in a way that allows for neural plasticity, it means that we can develop skills and techniques to strengthen these constituents. The four constituents are:

 

  • The first is called Resilience. It is defined as “the rapidity that we recover from adversity” that defines resilience. The faster that you are able to recover from an adverse situation or event, the more resilient you are. Mindfulness meditation helps in this area as it helps to build resilience to adverse situations and helps you recover more quickly. The only downside is that it takes about 6,000 hours before the neural pathways in the brain change.

 

  • The second is called Positive Outlook. The idea is about seeing the positive in situations, in other people and in life’s events. The  supportive and forward looking. People with this element have lower levels of stress and may actually have better physical levels of non-stress in their lives. Loving Kindness and Compassionate mindfulness meditation are the key ways to do this. However, unlike resilience which takes time, using loving kindness meditation practices can rapidly change the neural pathways in the brain. How quickly? Only seven hours or about two weeks are sufficient to make the change.

 

  • The third is Attention or a Focused Mind. A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. On average, about 47% of an adult’s time is spent with a wandering mind. The ability to bring your mind back into focus is critical. Being present with another person, intently listening. Learning to pay attention to the present moment and to accept what happened in the present moment is critical in this area. Being more contemplative helps in this area. When was the last time you too time out to just sit and be? Sunday was a beautiful day. The sun was shining and it was warm outside. I just sat in the garden and appreciated the day.

 

  • The fourth is the most important. It is Generosity. This is the one that drives everything else. This is not just about money and giving to charity. It is more about altruistic generosity. Here are a few tips to help in this area as well.
  1. Get connected: Feeling connected to other people, even by just reading words like “community” and “relationship”, makes us more altruistic.
  2. Get personal: We’re more altruistic when we see people as individuals, not abstract statistics. So if you want to encourage aid to people in need, give their problem a human face.
  3. See yourself in others: In general, people are much more likely to help members of their own group. Finding a thread of similarity with someone else, even something as simple as liking the same sport or team, can motivate altruistic action toward that person.
  4. Give thanks: Grateful people are more generous, perhaps because they’re paying forward the gifts they appreciate receiving from others. Receiving gratitude can also encourage altruism.
  5. Lead by example: People who constantly display altruism encourage others to follow suit.
  6. Put people in a good mood: Happy people are more likely to be generous.
  7. Finally, fight inequality.

 

The conclusion is that Well-being is a skill that you, me, or anyone can learn and develop.

To watch a talk on the four elements of well-being, go to:

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/gg_live/mindfulness_well_being_at_work/speaker/richard_davidson/four_constituents_of_well-being/

To watch the talk given by His holiness the Dalai Lama, go to:

https://youtu.be/Hp5YpB0ohac?t=28m43s
I leave you with the following quote:

“There are many aspects to success; material wealth is only one component. …But success also includes good health, energy and enthusiasm for life, fulfilling relationships, creative freedom, emotional and psychological stability, a sense of well-being, and peace of mind.”

Deepak Chopra

The power of 5

“The trouble is if you don’t spend your life yourself, other people spend it for you.” Peter Shaffer, Five Finger Exercise: A Play

 
I was asked recently to try to help some graduates in my organisation prepare for a training course. The course was entitled “Personal Impact” and it concerned your own personal impact in business. As the course outline stipulated:

“….designed to help the Graduates be more self-aware and therefore, help them understand how they can capitalise on their personal strengths to make an impact in the business. During the module they will learn their individual Myers Briggs personality type, understand how to adapt their style to get the best out of different situations and influence others in the business.”

The grads asked me, as their mentor, for advice as to their current personal impact and style. As I prepared to share my perceptions with them, I realised that in order for them to be able to get the most from the feedback and also from the course, that they needed a short concise list of feedback items. I wanted to make sure that the feedback was positive and insightful. Not negative, or pointed. Helpful and honest.

There is a raft of publications and articles that talk to the optimum number of items or chunks of information that you should give. From Wikipedia, you can see:

The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information” is one of the most highly cited papers in psychology.It was published in 1956 by the cognitive psychologist George A. Miller of Princeton University’s Department of Psychology in Psychological Review. It is often interpreted to argue that the number of objects an average human can hold in working memory is 7 ± 2. This is frequently referred to as Miller’s Law.

I have spent many years in business, preparing and giving presentations and talks. I have also worked  with and managed a lot of people and had to give and receive feedback. I have learnt that the optimum number of topic items to talk to in a presentation and also the optimum number of feedback items to give is 5. Yes. 5. People tend to get lost if there are more than five topics or items of feedback. I have tried to give 7 or more and you can see people getting confused. So I would challenge Miller’s Law and state that the optimum is 5.

Anyway, back to the grads. Both of them have great skills and capabilities. Both are different. For example. One item we talked about was how they verbally communicated. One is quiet and thinks before speaking. This can give the impression of being a thoughtful person, but also can mean that the conversation has moved on before they have a chance to contribute. The other chatters away, vocalising their thoughts as they go. This can give the impression that they are always contributing to the conversation, However, they can also give the impression of being a “chatterbox” and not prepared to listen.

Neither approach is wrong. As I said to them, “you have used your individual skills to great success and have achieved much in your lives so far. But, perhaps we can work on some tips to help going forward.”

Both of them recognised and knew of their own abilities. However, rather than just recognising them, I wanted to give them a couple of tips to help them. I had prepared a list for each grad and made sure that there was only 5 items on the list for each of them. Alongside each of the item, I listed the positive, as well as the challenge. And then an alternative approach. Some very quick tips, but they really appreciated the feedback. A couple of examples are listed below:

 Observation: Talks too much.

    1. Positive: You can follow their thought process
    2. Challenge: Can mean they don’t listen
    3. Suggestion: Pause for a second and write down query

 

Observation: Too quiet in meetings

    1. Positive: When they contribute, the question is well thought out and insightful
    2. Challenge: Can mean they miss out as the conversation moves on. Can be overlooked as a contributor to the meeting
    3. Suggestion: Prepare before the meeting, based on the topics, suggestions and thoughts. In effect, pre-work

 

I checked in with them after they had attended the course. Their feedback was that the feedback was extremely helpful. They completed a Myers Briggs assessment on their preferred personality type [I guessed correctly their types!]. They also did assessments of the types of engagement to expect in business. I’ll follow up in a separate article on the tools & techniques to use in this space.

I really do believe in the power of 5. Whether it is used as the formation of the content of a presentation, or used as a feedback tool.

 

A great quote to finish today, enjoy…….

“My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-seven now, and we don’t know where the heck she is.” Ellen DeGeneres

Choosing a Habit

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”  ― Robert Frost

Part of the January ritual that society seems to have developed is this concept of New Year’s resolutions and the concept that we should develop new habits. i wondered where it originated and a thirty-second view of Wikipedia came up with some of the origins. They include:

  • Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debt.
  • The Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named.
  • In the Medieval era, the knights took the “peacock vow” at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry
  • At watch night services, many Christians prepare for the year ahead by praying and making these resolutions

It made me realise that the concept of making promises is almost as old as creation. And as as old, people have probably tried to keep the promises and then broken them. Sunday is always that time of the week when I reflect, write and catch up on blogs, videos and podcasts. One of my favorite people I follow is James Tripp. He is currently on an extended world tour with his family and published a youtube podcast. The link to it is at the bottom of this article. Anyway, he was talking about “Choosing Vs Yielding”.

This made me realise that the key to creating a habit, keeping a promise and maintaining your New Year’s resolution is all about choosing to make that habit stick. I have in the past made a conscious agreement with myself that Mindfulness is an important part of my life. If it is as important to me as the rest of my life, then it should be as central to my daily life as possible, That is why, every weekday morning, I get up at 5:30am to practice. Why on earth 5:30? Well, if like me, you have to get up and go to work and that involves travel, then you know that for most of us, the hour’s drive, commute, cycle or train journey and you need to be at work for 8:30, then early starts are the key. So for me, to be able to practice 30 minutes of mindful movement and meditation every day, I need to be up early.

The start was hard. I got tired and ratty. The opposite of what I wanted to achieve, but, I was making that choice. After about a month, the effort got less, the idea became more unconscious and after about two months, it was a habit. Now I can do it or not and I do not feel guilty if I miss a day. I just accept and practice the following day.

Choice is one of the most powerful concepts. You choose to do something. To be someone. Moment by moment, day by day. Every day. We all make choices. Sometimes good ones. Sometimes not so good ones. For me, I made the decision and made the effort. Even if I missed a day, I did not remonstrate with myself, but accepted that sometimes, events meant I could not do it.  

James, mentions a riddle about frogs on logs. I came across it when I was doing a major change programme for an international company, changing the complete Services Delivery organisation for Europe. The book was given to each of us, as part of the Management of Change programme we were leading. I do recommend the book to read if you are going through major change at work. Though the bok is quite old, a lot of the premise and concepts are still valid. The riddle goes like this……

A riddle:

Five frogs are sitting on a log.

Four decide to jump off. How many are left?

Answer: Five

Why?

Because there’s a difference between deciding and doing.

Five Frogs on a Log: A CEO’s Field Guide to Accelerating the Transition in Mergers, Acquisitions And Gut Wrenching Change by Mark L. Feldman, Michael F. Spratt

 

I leave you with the following quote. It is from one of my favorite authors and books:

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’

‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.

‘I don’t much care where -‘ said Alice.

‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.

‘- so long as I get SOMEWHERE,’ Alice added as an explanation.

‘Oh, you’re sure to do that,’ said the Cat, ‘if you only walk long enough.”

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 

Choosing Vs Yielding – A Dynamic Transformative Meditation by James Tripp

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qiLRiZr84es

New Year, new resolutions and tips on how not to fail

“I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me. ” ― Anaïs Nin

This blog was originally going to be called “New Year, Old Habits, New Habits, New Beginnings” but I realised two things. Firstly, I was being too positive and making the assumption that we would all be succeeding in our new year’s resolutions, rather than failing in the first week and secondly, the no one was really talking about the practical steps we can all take to help support and make the changes we want stick.

Come the New Year, comes the idea that we should have a “New Year’s Resolution” to do something different. Diet exercise; relationships; work/life balance; savings and spending; change of life direction; smoking; drinking; eating meat [or other types of food]; we get to January and want to make a new start.

We set out with the best intentions in the world and then work / life / family / something else, gets in the way and we fail to achieve what we have set out. Why does this happen? Let’s start with a view of why our best intentions falter…….

[A]. Change is easy

We create the idea that whatever change we want to make is going to be easy. Let’s be truthful here. Any change is hard. We are creatures of habit. Small habits, like what type of toothpaste to use, types of food we eat, the types of clothes we wear, the types of places we visit, even the type of friends and relationships we have. All are based on comfort and a reluctance to change.

[B] You assume you have a plan, are following it and are being successful.

Or as they say about “assume” you can make an ass out of you and me.Come on, really. you have a plan? We might, if we are lucky sketch out on a piece of paper or write on a diary / calendar the end point that we want to get to, but the journey in between is written in fog or not at all. You are making a life choice. Think about examples like buying a house; getting married; or moving to another country / place. Do you do these on the spur of the moment or do you think and plan for them? We are making personal changes and we should plan and celebrate milestones of achievement. More later.

[C]. Time and Milestones of achievement.

There has been a raft of research on how long it takes for a habit to “stick” and become part of your every day life. Some say 21 days, other research says as much as 66 days. Pause for a moment, please and think about the last time you made a successful change in your own habits. Go on think. From the moment you had the idea to make the change, through to the point where it became part of your life, can take anything from 1 month to 3 months. Dependant on the depth of the change; how much effort you had to put in and obviously, how much you wanted it to happen as quickly as possible.

So, we have dealt with why change resolutions falter. I want to turn it around to how you can make them successful. Oh, by the way. Even if you have started a resolution, it is still worth thinking about how to make them “stick”. And for those of you that have dropped one of your goals, you might want to think about taking some of these tips and trying again.

Understanding your “Change & Learning Styles” to achieve your goals:

How? We all use the “VAK” model in our everyday lives. What on earth is “VAK” and what does it mean? Which type of person are you? What is your preferred learning style? That is the key here. How do YOU learn….

We all have a preferred learning style, be it through looking at; listening to;or touching. These different approaches are called Visual; Auditory or Kinesthetic learning styles. If you don’t know what is your style, there are links at the bottom of this article to help you identify yours. So, how can you leverage this to achieve your goals?

Visual Aids and Tips

  • Use pictures from magazines, or from the web and place them in noticeable places in the house for example, for foods that you want to eat, rather than foods you should not
  • I saved the money when I gave up smoking. Every day I would add a £5 note to the jar. After a week, I realised that if I was to start smoking again, I would have to begin by taking out the £5 notes and burning them! After a month, I had £150 and went out and treated myself.
  • If you have put milestones on the calendar, put pictures on it, highlight key dates. If you have a smartphone, put in reminders and include positive congratulatory notes.
  • An interesting tip, is if you use a PC, tablet or smartphone and have a password, why not change the password to reflect the phrase of your goal, i.e. “I no longer smoke”. It does work. Check out this article for details: https://medium.com/the-lighthouse/how-a-password-changed-my-life-7af5d5f28038#.7sfv38ja1
  • Feel free to comment on examples you use….

 

Auditory Aids and Tips

  • Why not record yourself saying what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it. Then play it back to yourself.
  • If the resolution or goal involves a trip abroad, why not play the music from that place. Or the sounds of the sea if you happen to be by the sea.
  • You can use music, videos or movies to help re-enforce the places, events or activities you would like to happen.
  • Why not talk to a friend or family member and talk about the goal you want to achieve and get them to remind you on a regular basis – in a positive way – that you are doing really well

Kinesthetic Aids and Tips

  • This all involves moment, so in some respects is the most simplistic and at the same time, the most difficult to develop.
  • One of my goals for this year is to focus on exercise, so I have been focusing on standing up and movement. This encourages me to want to move more.
  • Have an object near you that you can touch. For instance, a tennis ball or golf ball if you want to learn tennis or golf.

The key elements to creating a new habit, is understanding what the goal you want; develop the routine and then reward the change. The power to positively reinforce the changes you want to make is the biggest element in any success.

As for me, I have three resolutions for 2016 and every day I am trying to achieve elements of each one. This first week back at work can only be described as manic, but even so, I have managed 3 out of 4 day to achieve my goals. Not perfect, but again, I am moving forward. I will write a separate article on my “3 words for 2016”.

I leave you with the following quote:

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

 

If you want to find out what you prefered learning style, you can check out these links:

http://www.brainboxx.co.uk/a3_aspects/pages/vak_quest.htm

http://www.educationplanner.org/students/self-assessments/learning-styles-quiz.shtml

A year of Mindfulness and its impact

“Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant.” ― Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

As this year races towards its conclusion, I am taking some well earned time away from the normal work world to spend time with my family and friends. At the same time, I am reflecting on what a year it has been and how much my practice of Mindfulness has made a difference. If you practice Mindfulness, are interested in its impact, or curious as to some of the benefits its practice might bring to you, your world and your friends and family; I’d urge you to read on

I have been practicing Mindfulness on a regular basis now for more than a year. My formal meditation practice is regular, at least five times a week. It follows a routine I have developed first thing in the morning before I get ready to go to work. However, I also experience the “in the moment” elements of Mindfulness during the day. The short pauses to focus on the breath; the quiet reflections when I am stationary in traffic; even the being in the moment when I am in a meeting or discussion with people. It comes to me when I am relaxed, as well as when I am stressed by work and life in general.It has become a way of being for me. I am not perfect at it. Far from it. Many experts and people that have been practicing Mindfulness for years say you are always on a journey and I can agree to that.

So what are some of the results and changes I have noticed? What have others noticed around me? They include:-

  • Stress: My levels of stress are much lower than ever before. Even major changes in the work environment have not made me so stressed as once they might have done.
  • Calm and centered:. Whether at work or at home, I am much more calm and centered. There have been very few – I can count them on one hand – moments where I have become angry and frustrated. Even when I have gone “off the deep end” it has been more of a shallow dive than a “full twist, half tuck, and belly flop” moment.
  • Accepting and forgiving: My levels of tolerance and forgiveness have improved dramatically. I am much more likely to listen, accept and move on. I love the following prayer and have a copy of it printed out at my desk at work:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference. Reinhold Niebuhr

  • Being present: I find that I have moments of quiet reflection and am just happy being. It is a strange feeling but very rewarding. Even when someone has cut me up in a traffic jam, I just sit and accept.
  • Open and engaged: I feel that I am more open to the differences that exist in all of us. More engaged in conversations and much more likely to feel part of the flow.
  • Ruminating: I love this word. I imagine a cow sitting and chewing the cud for hours on end. That is what most of us do with our thoughts. With 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts going round in our heads every day, there is no wonder that we can get caught up in a rumination. I have found mine are a lot less. Yes, I still have them and can find myself getting caught up in thoughts and feelings, but it is a lot less than i used to do and the impacts are lower.
  • Finally, Meat: This is a strange one. I went to a talk given by Matthieu Ricard earlier in the year. I wrote a blog post about the experience and the impact it had on me. It was titled: An evening with Matthieu Ricard”. There is YouTube video of it as well. You can even see me standing up before the event started [around the 10 second mark into the video]. It is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6SrjbRDP-Q

I bought his book “Altruism: The Power of Compassion to Change Yourself and the World” at the event and even though it is a massive 800 pages long, read it over the following two weeks. The two chapters on the way we farm meat and the impact on nature really touched something in me. I remember as a small boy going through the cattle market in Newton Abbot with my grandmother and aunt and seeing one of the marketeers punching a hole in a cow’s ear to insert a tag. It had a profound effect on me then and even now. So I decided I would continue to eat fish, but all other forms of meat I would give up. It has been hard. I love meat. I always have done. But for me, this is something where I wanted to make that small change in my world. I have tried for it not to affect the family too much. We still have tray bakes and roast dinners etc. I just do not eat the meat.

That has been the impact of a year of Mindfulness practice and its impact on me.

I would encourage to have a go at Mindfulness – either via an app for your smart phone; via a face-2-face class or one-on-one sessions; or even to read a book, such as “Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world by Professor Mark Williams and Dr Danny Penman”. Please do let me know how you get on. Oh and if you want any help, do get in touch.

Likewise, if you practice Mindfulness, it would be great to hear from you as to its impact and benefits you have seen.

I leave you with the following quote:

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”  ― Neil Gaiman