Positive Pause – 16th January, 2017 – the Kindness of Strangers

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.

My Sunday Share & Care videos now go monthly. On the last Sunday of each month, I will post a video crammed with top tips on how to help you deal with any anxiety and stress and to reach your full positive potential for the coming month. Please take the time to subscribe.

The Positive Habit, my six-week, online self-help course continues to receive five star reviews from those who have completed it.  Here is the latest testimonial:

“I have a long term illness called cardiomyopathy and find it hard to cope with this debilitating condition. I am very anxious,stressed and frustrated a lot of the time as have had to give up my job and find it very hard to live a normal life as I am always tired. This programme has opened up my eyes to what really is important in life and has helped my anxiety a great deal, so much so that I now look forward to socialising again. Thank you so much Fiona.”

I encourage you to register and please do let friends and family know about the course.

Best regards

Fiona Brennan

Positive Pause – 9th January, 2017 – Who Said January is a Long Month?

who said january is a long monthWho 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.

Positive Pause – 1st January, 2017 – Choices

ChoicesHappy New Year!!! Choices

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.

Positive Pause – 26th December, 2016 – Homesick?!

homesickHappy St Stephen’s Day!

I hope this email finds you well and that you had a wonderful day yesterday. Personally, I love Christmas but have to admit that this year I struggled to feel “Christmasy” under the baking sun. No amount of cheesy music and Santa hats could convince me it is normal to be wearing a bikini on Christmas eve!

Last week saw its ups and downs in the land down under! The “up” was climbing to top of the viewing pylon of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The construction of this enormous bridge is a testament to what people are capable of when they put their minds and physical power to it!

The “down” came the very next day when my nine-year-old son, Luca, developed a bout of extreme homesickness. He had gone off camping with his cousins for a full week leaving myself and Ciaran, my husband, in Sydney, for work reasons. The problem in this case is that  “home” (Sydney) for Luca happened to be a 7 hour car journey away!

I’m sure we can all recall, as children, the horrible feeling of being homesick when moments feel like hours and days like weeks.  This is different from loneliness and hits you right in the pit of your stomach.  Luca is already very far from home (Ireland) but it was his parents that he really missed, so perhaps homesick is the wrong word as it’s really the people we love that we miss.

Remembering this feeling from my own childhood, we decided the best thing to do was to go and pick him up as he seemed inconsolable. Just as we were about to set out on the long journey to collect him, Ciaran decided that chlorine needed to be added to the pool to keep it clean while we were away.  In his rush a splash of the toxic chemical got into his eye despite him wearing sunglasses.  Not usually prone to the dramatic, Ciaran came running though shouting he had been blinded! Our attention had now swayed from our distraught son to getting Ciaran medical attention as suggested by Dr Google. Many hours later and a few hundred dollars down, Ciaran was told his eye was fine! In the meantime, Luca had had a 360 degree change of heart and decided to stay at the campsite and told his auntie to tell his parents that if they hadn’t already left, not to bother! Throughout the day, as things changed from moment to moment, I found myself taking a big step back and my ability to trust the sequence of events showed that everything worked out just the way it was meant to: no long car journey needed and Luca more time to play with his cousins.

What I didn’t expect was to wake up on Christmas morning suffering my own feelings of “homesickness”. I hadn’t slept well and the thought of my parents and sister at home getting ready for our annual Christmas Eve party coupled with echoes of Christmases past, missing relatives now long gone came up and the tears started to flow.
Christmas provides us with a window in which the everyday business of life comes to a halt and our focus turns to what’s more important – love of our family and friends.

I’ve said it a hundred times and I’ll say it again, when an emotion swells up, please give yourself space to really feel it. Repressed emotions lead to ill health in both the body and mind. If you feel homesick, sad or lonely at any point, then embrace these feelings. In my case, I let the tears flow and allowed myself to reminisce for a while. After a while everything settled, the sun came out and I had one of the best, most unique, beautiful, loving Christmases I’ve ever had and I didn’t even mind the fact that I was wearing a bikini!

Positive Pause – 19th December, 2016 – “Too Easy”

too easy“Too Easy!”

On our arrival in Cairns (Queensland, Australia) we were greeted by a friendly, young guy who booked our coach transfer from the airport to the apartment we were staying in, a resort about 30 minutes from the airport. Almost everything he said finished with the expression, “too easy!” This really made me smile and I have found myself echoing his words frequently ever since. I think he meant that nothing is a problem. Life, when we choose it to be, really can be “too easy”.

Cairns is known for its tropical climate and when we arrived it was very hot and humid with a lot of low-lying clouds. Shortly after arriving at our beautiful resort the clouds opened and torrential rain fell on and off for the next three days! Locals told me that there hadn’t been a drop of rain for five months! To think that on cold wet days in Dublin I had visualised myself basking in the tropical sun sipping cold drinks by the pool. Not to say this didn’t actually happen but inevitably, we had to run for cover every time it rained (frequently).

The work that I do is about helping you create your own inner sunshine which is not dependent on external factors; the ability to carry an inner light full of joy is empowering. Your choice of response to any situation allows you true mental freedom.  You choose what will become “too easy”. By mentally choosing to create your own inner world of light and peace, your feelings, behaviour and experiences will all be imbued with a positive light.

We were fortunate enough be able to book a trip to the rain forest, one of the few remaining in the world.  And yes, it did rain!  But as I soaked in all the beauty that surrounded me and witnessed the incredible power of waterfalls in that jungle, I felt connected – the flow of water represents life, always changing.  The ability to “go-with-the-flow” Aussie style is certainly a path to freedom as is being able to accept each and every precious moment of your life.  This is what allows you to live and love fully.

too easyLet me tell you, I had no problem “going with-the-flow” the next day when we made a trip to see the Great Barrier Reef, something I have always dreamed of. We set out with our umbrellas (in case of rain), determined to snorkel and witness one of the most incredible wonders of the world before it eventually vanishes. From the moment I woke, I knew that this day would be one for the positive memory bank. We met a lovely group of people on our tour, Luca found pals to play with and the day was filled with laughter and light – the sun really did come out! I had moments where I felt my heart would explode with joy and gratitude.

As I snorkelled under the water and saw incredible fish and coral, a beautiful feeling of excitement and peace came over me. Under the water everything is still and quiet and yet full of possibilities. I took a mental snapshot of this moment and I know that whenever I need to feel like this again, I can simply close my eyes, feel my wet suit and listen to the silence of the sea. “Too easy!”

As I write this, Christmas at home seems so far away but I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a peaceful and joyous celebration. Thanks so much for taking the time to read this blog and for all your feedback over the last year.  It has been and remains my privilege to be able share my thoughts with you and to help you in any way I can.

Please do take care of yourself and stay calm even if you are surrounded by Christmas chaos. Take time out if you feel anxiety or stress building. Please read my article in A Lust for Life which gives some tips on how to deal with the wonder and chaos of Christmas.

Register Now, Pay Less & Start The Positive Habit in January! too easy

Every day the 5-star rated Positive Habit Course is changing people’s lives and offering people with anxiety an alternative to medication. The current, limited introductory price of €69.95 (note this is approx $76 for U.S. clients & $99 for Australian clients) will increase on January 2nd, 2017 to €99.95. If you haven’t already registered, you can do so now and delay the start until January 2nd to avail of this special introductory price.

Positive Pause – 12th December, 2016 – The Wonder of Oz

the wonder of OzMy first impression of Sydney was of how incredibly green it is; an appealing combination of the abundance of flowers and trees and of being in a major city at the same time. It also helps that my lovely sister in-law lives in the leafy suburb of Forestville where we were staying. the wonder of Oz

On Tuesday, after claiming that jet lag doesn’t really exist, I found myself in bed wide awake  at 4.am, totally confused as to whether it was day or night. I broke my “no device in bed rule” in order to find out not only what
time it was but also what day!  In doing this, I stumbled across an article in Psychology Today about the Hadza, an indigenous ethnic group in north-central Tanzania and one of the last remaining hunter/gather peoples in Africa.  The article was particularly about the link between their active lifestyle and their very low levels of cardiovascular disease.

Constantly sitting down is the new smoking and a sedentary lifestyle causes untold problems for both physical and mental health.

My sister-in-law is a personal trainer and gives incredible meta-fit classes.  This new form of keep-fit is taking off here in Australia and in other places. It is an intense workout that lasts just twenty minutes so I just had to try it.  I must confess that while I loved it my muscles were not so forgiving the next day!

The citizens of Australia may not need to forage for food like hunter/gatherers but they certainly appear to get plenty of exercise! Everywhere you look someone is running or doing a boot camp, playing cricket or tennis or football not to mention the surfing  and meta-fit classes.

As a country, Australia promotes physical well-being; there are signs everywhere telling you not to drive when you are tired, to drink enough water, to protect yourself from the harmful effects of UV; in some restaurants they even offer complimentary bottles of sunscreen on your table. The wonder of Oz is that it also aware of the importance of good mental health. For example, along the beautiful cliff walk, The Gap, there are signs aimed at those who may be suicidal saying, “We care. We can help. Day or Night ” and a number to call.

the wonder of oz

If Australia was a mother it would make a very good one, always caring, always protecting and wanting the best for her children; as a result its citizens flourish. There is a real positivity and genuine helpfulness in the people – they stop to ask you if you need help without you even asking, they are inquisitive and stop to have a chat, some people we don’t even know, (neighbours and friends of the family) are lending us their car. In general and from my experience to date, Australians are relaxed, open, friendly and navigate their way through life with an abundance of everything I believe in.

As Christmas approaches and routines start to crack, please emulate the Australian desire for physical exercise by doing some sport or physical exercise. I know we don’t quite enjoy the same climate but make it your business to get out when you can and go to the gym or even do some keep-fit at home. As you know, the mind and body are totally interlinked – the cliche is true:

A healthy body = a healthy mind.

The converse is also true – if you don’t look after your physical healthy your mind will suffer.

I feel very privileged to be here and to see all the wonder of Oz. It is truly amazing to travel to the other side of the world and at the same time feel completely at home in a nation that welcomes me like a long lost daughter and reminds me to take good care of myself. As always, I ask you to do just that.

Please take the time to look at my new weekly video series – Sunday Share & Care – How to Stay Mentally Fit.  I share tips, tools, insights that are both practical and informative. The Sunday Share & Care videos teach you to train your brain for positivity.

Register Now, Pay Less and Start The Positive Habit Course in January! 

Everyday the 5-star rated Positive Habit Course is changing people’s lives and offering people with anxiety an alternative to medication. The current, limited introductory price of €69.95 will increase on January 2nd to €99.95. If you haven’t already registered, you can do so now and delay the start until January 2nd to avail of this special introductory price.

Fiona Brennan