Many years ago, I played the part of Blanche Du Bois in the famous Tennessee Williams play, ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’. The character of Blanche is one that is tragically sad and her mental health is very poor; she is an alcoholic and is damaged by the many losses and traumas she has endured. In the play we see her inevitable demise as she loses a battle of wills with her scheming and brutal brother in law, Stanley.
Those of you who know the story (you may have watched the iconic film with Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh) will know that at the end of the play Blanche is taken, against her wishes, to a psychiatric hospital. In fact, she only agrees to go with the doctor when she becomes delusional and believes that she is going to a better life. It is in this dramatic conclusion that Blanche delivers the famous line: “‘Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” What is so sad is that she feels she has been let down by everyone else and ultimately never taken responsibility for herself.
This week I found myself in a position where I was not quite as desperate as Blanche but certainly in need of some help from strangers. On Tuesday evening as I was collecting Luca, my son, from his weekly Scouts meeting I discovered that I had left the inside light on in the car and as a result it was now as dead as a dodo! My initial reaction was not as calm as I would have hoped for – I was cold and tired after all! I wasn’t quite sure what to do when an angel appeared, well a man opened the front door of his house and asked me if I was okay. He said he had noticed that the light was on and was concerned for the person who owned the car. Almost immediately another gentleman appeared in his own car asking if he could help. Relief flooded through me and I quickly found a pair of jump leads that my always-prepared husband had left in the boot of the car. In two shakes of a lambs tale, my two “angels” had the car started and I was on my way to my warm home.
Small incidents like these help us to acknowledge, recognise and feel gratitude for the kindness that exists in other people.
To clearly see the goodness that is the essence of the human spirit is uplifting and to make a conscious effort to contribute to it is empowering. the kindness of strangers
On that note, this week I ask of you just one small thing – ask yourself, how can I help someone today? The accumulation of small acts of kindness contribute to a society where we can all feel safe and at peace with one another. So, hold the door open for someone, let somebody out in traffic, give somebody change if they need it, give somebody a lift if they need one, pour your colleague some water when you are getting some for yourself. If there is anything that you can do that will make someone else’s day easier, then please do it.
I am sure that many of you already live your lives in this way but truth be told, when we are really busy a little nudge in this direction can help. It is important to remember the fundamental value that helping others has, both for them and for yourself. Helping others is a sure-fire hack into your happy hormones and releases lots of oxytocin and serotonin that keeps you healthy and living at your optimum level. It really is a win-win situation!
And to those two “angels” who came out on a cold night to help me, thank you! What you give to the world is what you receive. It is flow, it is a dance with life, it is the essence of all that is good in you. If only Blanche had received the help she really needed she too could have experienced the joy of helping others.
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Who said January is a long month? It is in fact no longer than March, May, July, August, September and October which all also have 31 days. Who came up with the notions, “thank God it’s Friday” or “the Monday blues” or, on a Wednesday, “we are halfway there”? I’d love to know exactly where we are halfway to? Where is it people are so busy trying to get to? All of these common and conditioned phrases trip off our tongues without much thought; they carry about as much weight as a passing comment about the weather and yet the subtext they give is that we are fundamentally “wishing our lives away”.
Ask someone with six months to live if “January is a long month” or “isn’t it great that it’s Friday at last” and they may well express a very different opinion.
Choosing to embrace January with a positive mind-set is the beginning of being able to let go of such preconceived and out-of-date ideas that ignore the wonder and joy that each precious day has to offer.
This week, settling back into my busy life in Dublin, many well-intentioned people have asked me, “How are you coping?” They are not referring to the jet lag (which by the way, is like childbirth, you don’t know what it’s like until you have done it) I may be experiencing after my trip to Australia but to the reality of being home, the weather, returning to work etc. The idea that “reality” is a place that is best avoided and that escaping to the sun is the perfect way to avoid this harsh “reality” is based on false conceptions. Now, I love the sun more than most but at the same time I can honestly say that I don’t feel the need to escape to it to avoid my life here in Dublin. I am very comfortable with “reality”, in fact I love “reality” and find it a great place to be, no matter what day of the week it is or, for that matter, what month. The trick is to find something positive in your “reality” and believe me there is always something. The grass is always green if you choose it to be.
The importance of gratitude is something that we can all focus more on in 2017 and beyond. Helen Kelleher’s inspirational quote, “I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man with no feet” sums it up for me. Every day that we wake up is a gift that deserves to be treasured and not wished away because it is January or today is Monday or that it’s cloudy outside or that we’ve no disposable income left after Christmas.
When I was a child, one of my favourite activities was to move the furniture around in my small bedroom. I got so much pleasure from moving my bed from one side of the room to the other or rearranging and relocating my teddies. This idiosyncrasy has stayed with me and my husband has been known to return home from work to find that the kitchen table has yet again been moved and “isn’t it so much better?” This week, our bedroom was the target and as we live on a main road with windows on both sides of the room, I decided to do what I should have done years ago and move the bed to the back of the room and away from the traffic. As Eckhart Tolle, author of the iconic book, ‘The Power of Now’ has commented – to complain is in itself a form of madness; if you don’t like something and it is within your control then change it. If it is something outside your control and you can walk away then do that and if you can do none of the above, the next step is moving to accept it.
I ask you to take this opportunity, dig deep, be brave and ask yourself, is there anything in my life that causes me to wish my life away? If you hear yourself frequently saying, “thank god it’s Friday” or if you find yourself dreading Monday mornings, ask yourself why? Following this, ask yourself if there is anything you can do to change the situation and if there is then do it. If you can’t change the situation then work on accepting it and move towards finding the positive in the situation. It is incredible but true that,
When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
You may be surprised to notice that January isn’t long enough; each month, each day, each moment is precious, and I wish you the courage to appreciate all of the wonder that life has to offer.
My Sunday Share & Care videos now go monthly. On the last Sunday of each month, Fiona will post a video crammed with top tips on how to help you deal with anxiety and stress and to reach your full positive potential for the coming month. Please take the time to subscribe.
I choose to send you all the joy and happiness, love and light that you deserve for 2017.
New Year is the quintessential time to examine where you are in your life and what new habits you want to establish, what old ones you want to break and also what goals you want to set for yourself both professionally and personally.
I love this time of year because it provides the opportunity to focus on all of the above. Having a vision for the year ahead is something that makes my dreams and aspirations more concrete and realisable especially when I commit them to paper.
For many of us, writing down our goals and dreams is the easy part but implementing the necessary changes is where it can get tricky!
In these situations it is imperative to remember that we have a choice in whether these changes come about or not. Choice is the crucial word; you always have a choice – a moment when you can decide which thought, action or behaviour will serve you and those you love best. However, when you are tired, fed up or feel that a situation is out of control it is easy enough to forget that you have a choice.
On one of the last days of our fabulous trip to Australia we made a second visit to the Art Gallery of New South Wales which, as many of you may know, has a huge and interesting collection. On this particular visit I was mesmerized by ‘Manifesto’, a video installation by the German artist Julian Roselfot. It features Australian actress Cate Blanchet in different personas in a series of thirteen videos.
At the core of the work is the idea that all art is essentially “fake”. Blanchett performs a series of monologues using the actual words from various artists’ manifestos which is an interesting idea. However, what really struck me was the variety of roles that Blanchett plays, ranging from a school teacher to a homeless person to an egocentric ballet director. You see her play three of these roles at any one time on three different screens in each room. Watching her (an actress, I know) adopt these diverse, totally different characters amazed me and it raised the question of how many of our choices are conscious and how many are merely conditioned responses?
The clothes you wear, the way you carry yourself, the gestures you use, your tone of voice, the work you do, the people you spend your time with, the thoughts you have and the way you behave are all your choices. Realising that they are choices is where your freedom lies. Choosing to show the innate goodness that exists in you, choosing to reach your full potential, choosing to love yourself and show compassion to yourself and those around you is what I wish for you in 2017.
Right now, back home in Ireland day has once again become night, summer has become winter and 2016 has become 2017. All of these external facts don’t detract from my choice to focus on my resolutions for 2017 which are to help more people. The more people I help, the more I also flourish.
Finding your focus and purpose is one of the keys to success. Don’t be afraid, don’t hold yourself back, choose to unleash onto the world all that is special, incredible and unique about YOU!
Thanks for all your wonderful feedback in 2016 and I look forward to sharing more, giving more and hopefully helping you more every beautiful Monday morning in 2017.
The Positive Habit continues to receive five-star reviews and is helping people every day.
If you are considering signing up for the course, today is the day to register. The special limited price of €69.95 will increase to €99.95 tomorrow, January 2nd at midnight.