Last week, after losing time due to a ‘laptop mishap’ and finding a replacement, I regrouped, with renewed determination to make the most of my restored technology and ability to live my dream of running my mental wellbeing company.
However, this desire to ‘get more things done’ was dashed when I woke up to a power cut yesterday morning. Picture the scene:
- No heating
- No lights
- No wi-fi
- No hot water
- No electrical equipment or means to charge battery powered ones of any kind, including cooker, fridge, TV, hairdryer etc.
- No lift (to make 6 flights of stairs seem like 6 steps)
Once again, I managed to stay calm and feel that this was largely due to last week’s, what I’m now calling ‘training exercise’! Compared to this, the laptop mishap was a breeze! Admittedly, by sundown, when there was still little hope of the power being restored, the lack of wifi and light almost made it impossible for me to run my free wellbeing event and participate in a nourishing accountability group, and I resorted to the kindness of that age old ‘wellbeing technique’ of allowing myself a comfort and congratulations-for-not-losing-it-all-day pizza.
As the day went on, I noticed myself finding out what it must be like to have to actually bat an eyelid about:
- How to keep myself warm
- How to obtain hot drinks and cooked food
- How to dry my hair
- How to do my work without an internet connection, enough light and enough laptop battery
- How to prevent the wasting of purchased perishables by preventing them from….perishing
- How to relax and have a giggle during my lunch break without access to my usual entertainment strategies
- How to make my phone battery last as long as possible (both to enable connection to the ‘outside world’ as the landline was cut off as well, and to enable me to use it as the all important hotspot)
- How to safely descend 6 flights of stairs in darkness and ascend them safely carrying precariously packaged hot drinks
Both these episodes (Laptop Mishap, aka Gratitude in Training and Power Cut Pandemonium, aka The Real Thing) have deepened my awareness of just how incredibly easy I have it on a ‘normal’ day. My ‘normal’ days are easy, in terms of my basic needs being met without me batting the aforementioned eyelid.
So much more goes right for me than I give life credit for.
These adventures have inspired me to find new ways to truly make the most of these blessings in particular, because they are paving the way for my divine dreams of serving the world. I have now set an intention to do as much with them as I possibly can, and I believe that one of the blessings these challenging experiences has brought me, is that they will help me remember the privilege of these opportunities and therefore the importance of realising my intention.
This month, I am grateful to be part of an amazingly supportive ‘anti-procrastination/accountability’ group run by the unassumingly wise and wonderful Simon Jacobs of Professional Weirdos. The Unleashed group, and it has unequivocally proven to be doing that for me, as well as others in the group, has helped me get into the habit of ‘eating the frog’; obliterating seemingly anciently-rooted but now totally irrelevant procrastination patterns of my old life. The epiphany is, success wasn’t about rushing and pushing to ‘get more done’. It was about appreciating that I have everything I need to make my business succeed (including all the resources within me), and that to let anything stop me, whether it be my own limiting beliefs or obsolete but destructive patterns, or technological challenges, the fact remains:
I have all my basic needs being met, automatically, every (‘normal’) day.
This affords me the freedom to pursue the fulfilment of my higher needs.
It’s like having a standing order in place for my physiological and safety needs. And clearly, some basic needs require actual standing orders to make them happen (utilities bills etc).
There are people who have to fight every day just to survive. To keep themselves safe from harm. To find shelter – yes, to FIND it. Let that sink in. To get warm. To eat and hydrate. To fight for their basic health and hygiene. Even to breathe. To keep control of their mental health (of this I have personal experience).
My heart breaks when I think about these people and their daily battle to survive.
There was a time when I wanted to feed the whole world, but started with Watford. It was 2009 and I had just had another mental health breakthrough after 15+ years of depression. I had finally broken through the ice, and coming up to breathe the air of the real me again felt like such a relief – I felt happy and grateful to be alive, in all senses of the word. To have my basic needs taken care of (according to Maslow’s Hierarchy, these are physiological and safety related), freed me up to be able to pursue my higher needs – love and belonging, achievement and esteem and eventually self-actualisation – realising my potential.
My heartbreak and exasperation at the knowledge that some people have to spend their day struggling just to survive (especially when, apparently, there is enough money in the world for every person to be a millionaire), combined with the relief and gratitude I felt at not being at the ‘needing help’ end of the spectrum, awoke in me a feeling of duty to pay forward this immense blessing, through meaningful impactful action.
I fostered the belief that:
Those who thrive have a responsibility to give a hand UP (not a hand out) to others, who need help to survive.
With this appreciation of being privileged to be ‘on the side that is able to give’, I was looking for a way to channel this into positive action, and the Universe responded. I found out that my beloved late Grandma was part of a scheme that involved making sandwiches for the homeless. I was inspired by the idea of many hands and hearts joining together to serve people who were not independently able to fulfil their own basic needs. I set up Club Sandwich, a monthly gathering of volunteers who would bring whatever bread and filling they could afford, and together we would make sandwiches for the 75 homeless friends served by New Hope Trust in Watford. As well as the fillings we would spread onto the sandwiches, a lot of love was spread too, including donations of time, provisions, delivery services and even a venue. As my relationship with gratitude practice developed, so too did the project – I changed its name to Club Gratitude and began to include activities to bring in more consciousness and loving energy, with the aim of increasing its impact to bringing a kind awareness to the volunteers of the work they were doing and why.
With the help of a team of fantastic volunteers, this continued, until, after leaving the security of full time employment, my own situation meant that I was no longer in a position to give as much of myself as I wished. I guilted myself about this for a few years, until I learnt about the dangers of serving from an empty cup. Later on, I would receive an invaluable adjustment to this mindset from Sukhi Wahiwala, a kind-hearted, highly successful multi-millionaire business mentor (among other things). Sukhi taught me that in fact, serving from an overflowing cup is more empowered and empowering. Thank you Sukhi!
Gratitude practice has become a way for me to fill my cup with nourishing thoughts, which become positive energy that enables me to provide myself and others with a greater quality of service and a big smile, rather than a brave face. I have found it to be a mindful way to reinforce some of the abundance of blessings in my life, so that if I have an ‘abnormal’ day, I am more resilient to the challenges it may bring.
I reaffirm my intention to let nothing stop me from making the most of the incredible opportunities I have in life, so that I can grow my business to flourish, and one day return to the philanthropic goals and impact to help people who do not have the luxury of basic needs.
Now Try This!
If Mindfulness is being curiously present with what is, then Gratitude is being present with what is going right, and appreciating it. Combining these practices is even more powerful – Mindful Gratitude, a double dose of goodness!
After the power came back on, I took a few moments to explore the following:
How does it feel to have a working fridge again?
A real relief, knowing that I could once again have a place where there is nutritious, fresh food I can eat and cook whenever I need it. I also identified a safety and comfort in that knowledge.
How does it feel to once again be able to make tea without needing to leave the flat and buy it?
I actually noticed excitement and relief here. Upon looking closer, I realised that I was excited at having the freedom to treat myself to something uplifting and familiar, and it was having the choice that felt empowering too. The relief was due to not having to negotiate the 6 flights of stairs carrying a torch!
Behold the power of the Gratitude Goldmine!
Why not have a go at some Mindful Gratitude? You may notice blessings you didn’t even realise were underneath the ones you can see, hear, smell, taste or touch.
N.B You do not need an internet connection to practice these, only a heart connection.
If you have enjoyed this article and would like to bring the energy of gratitude into your organisation, or just your life, please reach out as I am available as a Gratitude Writer and Facilitator. I have also created a new 4 week course for organisations – The Power of Gratitude.