I got really excited last week when I read Arianna Huffington's new book Thrive. It was so wonderful to read a book from someone with such a prominent profile talking about this need for a shift in focus to create happiness. It also fitted in really well my theme for this month - which is to just stop.
For the last ten years I have been coaching people from all walks of life to refocus their lives. Many have reached for that power and success that Thrive talks about and yet just as it says in the book still felt unfulfilled and at a loss as what to do next. They haven't even known there was a different way to create happiness, they had only ever learnt about power and outward success.
In the book Arianna talks about how we need to focus on a third metric for defining success, and that includes well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving. I feel this is a very timely message for everyone which is why I recommend this book highly.
In the book Arianna speaks about how we are constantly disturbed by our digital media, always on our phones, at the beck and call of the companies we work for and how that eats in to our personal lives. We don't even know we can say no. However the good news is that she points out that things are beginning to change. Larger organisations (including The Huffington Post) are creating better working environments that recognise that employee well-being is paramount to long lasting success. One even pays their employees to go on holiday - I love that!
This message is not just for those who work in the high-powered high-octane world. The message of unplugging and reconnecting to our hearts, being quiet enough to hear our inner wisdom is for everyone, whatever your lifestyle or situation.
I am very blessed to live in the South of Spain. I don't have a huge commute to work (about 20 seconds from my kitchen) or have to juggle a family and full-time job. I played in that world for a while (not with the family but with the time hungry job) and so know how hard it can be to disconnect from everything and reconnect to myself. But I also know it is possible and I have experienced it both for myself and with my clients who are still in that world and have been able to re-balanced their lives and redefine success for themselves.
Where to start? Well that my theme this month - you start by stopping.
Now that stopping could be a myriad of things but they all have the same purpose. To create a little of the quiet time in your life so you can begin to hear the inner intuitive voice. Because you will only know what your next steps are when you start to stop and listen. It is one of the most challenging things I ask my clients to do, stop running forward to achieve more and wait for the answers to come to you.
You can start this stopping process in many ways. Actually having a lunch hour (or even half hour) and leaving your desk to go somewhere different to eat your lunch. Finding a quiet space at work to simply sit and breath consciously for a few minutes. That one simple act will shift how you are in the day.
Getting up 10 minutes earlier to meditate, starting your day with silence will filter through the day. Instead of jumping out of bed, rushing around, going from stop to full speed in a matter of moments start your day with a purposeful pause and allow yourself to enter the day quietly and purposefully. At the end of your meditation set an intention - what do you want to focus on in the day that will nurture you? There are lots of apps to help you learn meditation - it is not a difficult thing to be. One mentioned in the book which is also one of my favourites is Headspace.
If you don't feel you can master meditation quite yet but like the idea of a quiet start to the day writing morning pages is another option. It comes from a book called The Artists Way by Julia Cameron and is about writing three pages of literally anything first thing in the morning. This is just simply a flow of consciousness, you never read it back, or use it in any way, it just gets the creativity flowing. If you can't think of anything to write you simply write "I don't know what to write today, there is nothing to say.... and very shortly you will find you are writing about something. This process again allows you to enter your day from a quiet space.
Another way to stop is too look at all the things you have committed to and see if there is something that you can actually let go of to create some extra time in your day. Have you said yes to something because you think you should? When you think of it does your heart sink? If so - that is something you can stop. It's ok to say no.
One of the things that made the biggest difference in my world is that I do not look at emails from Friday night to Monday morning. I take a weekend and so if you are one of these people who never turn off the email (or twitter or any other social media feed) I invite you to switch off. If for the whole weekend is too scary just try for a few hours and build it up from there.
Thriving is such a wonderful word. It means to flourish, prosper, bloom, succeed and it has heart in it. To reconnect to your heart you first have to stop and reconnect to yourself. Only then can begin to hear the inner promptings that help you identify the 'shoulds' and 'ought tos' and chose something different, the thing you soul has been pointing you towards for all of your life.
What has been your experience of stopping? How do you support yourself to succeed with heart? Do leave a comment below and join the conversation, together we thrive.