5 easy ways to show kindness today

  1. When walking the dog, let him/her sniff and snuffle around outside.  This is their version of reading the ‘news’ or catching up on the local gossip!
  2. When on the verge of criticising someone, snap your lips tightly shut and BE QUIET!
  3. When thanking someone, lightly touch them on the arm and look them in the eyes.  This is a lovely act of kindness to yourself and others:  these simple acts of connection can make a difference to your day.
  4. Before you eat, pause for a brief moment and give thanks for all the people who have been involved in bringing this food to your table (growers, transportation companies, delivery companies and so on).
  5. if you receive a request to sign a petition against a cause which resonates with you, then DO IT!  Your participation can make a difference.

Wishing you all a happy week.  It’d be great to hear your thoughts on any of these suggestions.  Anita.

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Weather the storm with gratitude

(published in Fibromyalgia Magazine, Oct 2017) Estimated reading time: 5 mins.

You know, I’m not an expert in psychology.  Neither do I have all the answers in dealing with pain and fatigue brought on by Chronic Fatigue syndrome and Fibromyalgia from which I’ve suffered for nearly ten years.   But, like many of you, I’ve been at my lowest point many times over these years and have increasingly found that gratitude and kindness help me weather the storm until it passes.  So I wanted to share some suggestions from my book, ‘Acts of Kindness from your Armchair’ on self-kindness and gratitude in the hope that these may help you too.

A little self-analysis:

Are you a glass half-empty or a glass half-full person?  I admit to being the former in the past.   Youth brings for some a tremendous sense of entitlement and when things don’t go according to our plan, we blame others or make excuses.  We rarely think that our negative attitudes may be contributing to our failures.  Many psychologists believe that we have an inbuilt tendency to notice the bad things in life, the possible threats as we see them.  Perhaps this can be traced back to our Stone-Age predecessors whose very survival hinged upon their ability to notice threats on the horizon.  It does help to explain why many of us hold a negative view of life:  the glass half-empty standpoint.  At the extremis, those in this group rationalise that because they will never be successful, there is no point in trying.

However, I have seen that for every negative act, every act of disappointment or despair, there are thousands of acts of kindness and love throughout the world.  If our focus is solely on the negative aspects – as we perceive them – of life, our vision may become blurred to the good things around the periphery.  That’s why it’s important to give gratitude every day for the blessings in our life.  Remember also that when we focus on things which we perceive as a threat, this often triggers the stress response, (the “fight or flight” response) which can be incredibly harmful to our bodies.   It produces noradrenaline which floods our system; increases heart rate and pulse; induces feelings of nausea; and causes muscles to tremble and shake in preparation to “fight or flight”.  This is a useful inbuilt genetic program which kicks in in times of extreme danger.  However, our stressors/dangers are other people in cars, screaming children, barking dogs, all sorts of things which invoke this hitherto ‘emergency’ response time and again.  If this physiological response is allowed to continue over time, it may detrimentally damage your health.

It’s certainly easier to look on the negative side of life if we have an inbuilt propensity to view the world in this way.  It takes a lot more effort on our part to counteract this tendency and focus on the positives, all the blessings in our life.  We have to retrain our minds not to take our blessings for granted but to be grateful for them.   The following gratitude practice has proved to be very beneficial to my mental health, allowing me to climb out of the well of depression where I saw no glimmer of hope, to sit calmly in the warmth and light of positivity and optimism.

Practice 4:  Daily gratitude

Make a note of five things which you are grateful for every morning.  If you prefer, say them in your head, but I believe it’s beneficial even for a couple of weeks to write them down.  This allows you to look back and gain an overview of your thoughts and words.  Some people prefer to record their daily gratitude journal onto a tablet computer using the microphone keyboard icon.   Do this every morning before rising, at morning coffee break or some other time to suit you.  Be sure to say why you’re grateful for the blessing and what difference this makes to your life.

Here are some of the things I am grateful for and why:

  • I am grateful for the fact that I work from home and can keep my own hours, as this flexibility is really important to me and gives me a sense of control.
  • I am grateful for my dogs, as they get on well together, and are good company for me.
  • I am grateful for electricity because it provides an abundance of energy for cooking and heating. In this way I can wake up in a nice warm environment which helps my pain with a lovely hot cup of tea which soothes my soul.
  • I am so thankful for my sense of hearing, so that I can listen to the birds at the feeder in the morning. This makes my heart sing.
  • I am grateful for my friends as they make me laugh and keep me positive.
  • I am thankful for the family into which I was born. My parents instilled diligence and perseverance in me which allowed me to prosper in life and my siblings are a constant source of friendship for me.

Make your own gratitude list.  It may be tempting to allow your ego to intervene in this process, noting down things which it thinks you should be writing down to make your life appear more exciting.  But no-one else needs to read this list.  No-one will judge you.  Simply write down what you’re grateful for this day.

If you’re thankful for your husband’s patience as he cares for you, because this makes your life so much easier, write this.  If you’re grateful that you live in the middle of a city because you love all the buzz and the noise, write that.  List the ones which resonate with you.  Everyone’s list will be different.

Practice 5:  How did I show love and kindness today?

The second practice in this chapter is to note how you showed love and kindness.  I do this at the end of the day, lying in bed. Reviewing your day, remembering what you did, and more especially, in what ways you were loving and kind is an act of kindness to yourself.  It focuses the mind, enabling you to analyse events and how you made someone else’s life better that day.  Break this practice up into three sections:  kindness to the self; kindness to other people; and kindness to the natural world and the environment.   To help you get started, here are some things which you could include:

  • I showed kindness to myself by eating healthy food because I know it helps to keep me strong;
  • I showed love and kindness by watching something other than the news. In this way I was more positive which I know is good for me;
  • I showed kindness to myself by meditating on one of my poor behaviour choices from the past and handing it over to God;
  • I showed kindness to myself by sitting out in the garden for a while, just being with nature. It is so good for the soul: the birds singing, the flowers showing off, the warmth of the sun on my bones, the smell and sounds of grass being mown.
  • I smiled at the grocery delivery man and engaged him in a conversation. He showed me a photo of his dog on his phone.  That made us both smile!
  • I showed kindness to the birds by making sure their feeder was topped up. Otherwise they waste vital energy flying in only to find there is no food and I do love to watch them.
  • I showed kindness to others by joining in a remote meditation, sending love and positivity to world leaders as they met to discuss a peace plan for a Middle Eastern country which has been ravaged by war for years.

It’s over to you now:

Being thankful is a major way to show love and kindness to ourselves.  It also has the added side-effect that our renewed positivity will affect those around us.  Even if we don’t say anything, they will perceive by our demeanour and outlook that we are much more positive and thankful.  So, be kind to yourself.  Change negativity, sarcasm, pessimism, lack of motivation, glass half-empty attitude, to positivity, optimism, compassion, determination, glass always half-full!  You will become a better, kinder person if you effect these changes in your life.

 About the Author:

Anita Neilson is an Author, Spiritual Poet and Kindness Blogger.  A secondary school teacher until ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia struck in 2008, she now spends her time writing for many mind, body, spirit publications; walking her dogs and meditating.  You can connect with Anita at: http://anitaneilson.com, on Facebook @AnitaNeilsonAuthor and Instagram @anitaneilson61.

Her book, ‘Acts of Kindness from your Armchair’, is out November 24th 2017, available from your preferred online book retailer.

 

Thank you for your kindness!

A special Thank You! to Fotoula Adrimi, Director of the Isis School of Holistic Health, for her lovely review of my upcoming book (publication date Nov 24, ’17).  See what she’s written about it below:

“Acts of kindness from Your Armchair is a book that takes us back into our inherent humanity, our heart, our light and god form. Anita Neilson has researched a multitude of methods, meditations, and alternative ways, inviting us to break through the patterns of fear, sickness and scarcity, that are widespread in our world, and welcome kindness, gratitude and compassion into our life. Anita inspires the reader to achieve a happier, more fulfilled living and open up to positivity, peace and natural wellbeing.
With so many simple and down to earth approaches, the reader is spoiled for choice and through her intuition finds exactly what resonates with her.”

Fotoula Adrimi
Director of The ISIS School of Holistic Health
http://www.isis-school.com   

Why not also take a look at Fotoula’s website http://www.theisisschoolofholistichealth.com/ which is fabulous!  It’s a wonderful act of kindness to support each other in our endeavours. Please like and share!  Have a great week.  Anita.

A special Thank You!

A special Thank You! to Heather Grace Bond (MacKenzie), Author of ‘Awakening Child: a journey of inner transformation….’, for her lovely review of my upcoming book (publication date Nov 24, ’17).  See what she’s written about it on Goodreads:

 Lovely review of ‘Acts of Kindness from your Armchair’!!

 

Why not also take a look at her website www.heathergrace.co.uk which is fabulous!  It’s a wonderful act of kindness to support each other in our endeavours. Please like and share!  Have a great week.  Anita.

Healthy, wealthy, happy and strong!

How often do we affirm to ourselves how lucky and blessed we are with our life?  Yes, we have challenges—everyone does, that’s what life is all about: how we rise to the challenges and become better human beings to ourselves and each other.  So the challenge for you today is to think about how you are healthy, wealthy, happy and strong?  Here are some ideas to inspire you:

Healthy:

(a) Physically—I eat a healthy plant-based diet; I do gentle exercises every day; I go for a little walk in the meadow with my dogs, inhaling the sweet scents of the natural world; I do small bursts of writing then I rest, and repeat.

(b) Mentally—I meditate twice daily, as well as regular 10 minute mini-mindfulness/soft breathing sessions to re-energise, help me focus and clear the mental dross that builds up during the day; I do puzzles (crosswords, Sudoku etc.) to exercise the brain cells!

(c) Emotionally—I have stopped watching news on tv as it was drenching me with sadness.  I feel a lot healthier emotionally for doing this one simple thing.

Wealthy:

I am financially secure and I give thanks for this every time I have a major purchase to make; In terms of assets, the most important is my small group of friends who are as sisters to me, and this makes me feel blessed and content; I also never take for granted having a safe, secure home in a healing natural environment.  What more could I want or need?

Happy:

I am content with my life.  How many of us can actually say that? I acknowledge past mistakes as simply stumbling blocks along the path to where I am now.  I am grateful for all the skills and aptitudes I have been given/gained in this life and my aim now is to use these in order to help others.

Strong:

I have a strong body with hands to use as tools and legs as my transportation, an intelligent brain to reason and think.  I have a strength of character, a determination to do things to the very best of my abilities and a resilience to keep on keeping on regardless of any hurdles which need to be overcome.  I am stronger still when I engage with God and ask his help.

It’s over to you now!