After having a tough time of late, what with one thing or another. Whether you’re here in Scotland or over on the other side of The Pond in the USA, you may well have heard of all the broo-ha-ha kicked up by the press over Donald Trump’s proposal to build a golf course and hundreds of holiday homes in a conservation area in Aberdeenshire being turned down. As I work in the Chief Executive’s Office, we’ve been hit by the full force of everything there and the last week or so has, as a result, been even busier than usual as we’ve been dealing with the hundreds of letters (both for and against the decision that was made) and emails that have come pouring into the Council.
Me being me, however, I decided this would be the perfect time to try a little experiment on the power of positive thought. Every Monday I receive an email from a man who calls himself “Very Happy Phil”, it’s only a brief message, but it’s always a very positive one and relates a little story of how positive thought has helped him and how it can help other people. This week I decided to put his theories to the test and see if I could actually will myself to have a good week despite all the extra stress we were expecting.
I actually had Monday as a Flexi Day, and so I had an easy start to the week. All I had to do was, when I got up in the morning, was to declare, out loud, “today is a wonderful day”. As it happened, I had an appointment to get my hair cut at 9-o-clock in the morning, which meant getting up at around 6-o-clock to get breakfast, get ready and get out the door. I had planned on getting the bus, but as I reached the end of the road, I saw my bus pulling away. Rather than get cross about it, I thought to myself, “it’s a lovely morning – a walk will do me a power of good!” I put my earphones in and listened to a few chapters of my audio book on my iPod as I walked, and found that I arrived at the salon in plenty of time for my appointment.
The last time I got my hair cut was my birthday back at the end of September, so I had a lovely chat with Nelly while she cut my hair, and we got all caught up. I also had a head and shoulder massage and a hand massage, which was wonderfully relaxing. By the time I was finished an hour later, I was feeling wonderful, and the fact that the whole thing cost £5 more than I was expecting didn’t phase me at all, instead I thought, “Nelly has progressed to the next level of seniority in the salon – she deserves it!”. I left with a smile on my face.
I decided to pop in past my sister’s work with her favourite coffee from Starbucks, but when I got there, I found they weren’t open yet, so I walked along the road to The Works, were an old homeless man sits with his dog and gave the steaming coffee to him instead.
I then had to pick out a few more Christmas gifts for Dale, as well as a one for my Dad’s birthday, so I thought to myself, “Today I will find the perfect gifts,” and what do you know? I did! I got home (walking back rather than getting the bus) around lunch time laden with shopping and ready to wrap everything. Dale was also home (having finished his shift) and I was able to spend a little time with him before he went to bed for a few hours.
Again, on waking up, I said, “Today is an excellent day!” I got myself ready for work and walked to the office. When I got there, I found I was the first one in and was able to get myself all set up and settled before my colleagues arrived. They immediately told me what an awful day they’d had the day before, to which I replied, “Ah, but today is a different day and it’s all going to go smoothly! In fact, I’ve already started dealing with the internet enquiries, so you don’t have to bother with them!” Throughout the day, I amused myself in little ways, deciding that the cup of tea I had at breaktime would be the best ever (and it was particularly good too!) and by the end of the day, I found that I had managed to catch up on everything that I had missed being off the day before!
Wendy and I then had to go to our evening class. Up until now, I had been thinking of Tuesdays as being very long, spending a whole day in the office and then going straight to college to grab a quick bite to eat and then go into class for several hours), but tonight, I decided that the class was going to be a good one and that everything would go smoothly. I pulled out a few practice sheets I’d made up and found that I actually remembered a lot of what we’d learned the week before, and during the class that night, I found that everything was falling into place. When I got home, Dale was still up and about, so we watched an episode of NCIS together before I had a nice, relaxing bath and went to bed.
The previous week, I had been dreading Wednesday, because it would be the first night that Dale would work night shift and so, because I also had a night out (with the Posh Club), I wouldn’t get to see him at all that evening, as he would be asleep when I got home to get ready. However, after leaving work at 4-o-clock (and having an excellent day, I might add!), I got home to find Dale up and about, and running a bath for me. I was able to take my time getting ready to go out and felt all the better for having spent at least a little time with Dale before he went to work. I had an excellent meal and a wonderful Indian restaurant (Jewel in the Crown in Aberdeen) with great company, and came home, having just missed Dale who left about 15 minutes before I got in to get the bus. No matter, I decided I would read a couple of chapters of my latest book, and I could do so without feeling that I was neglecting Dale by being engrossed in my novel. I didn’t get much sleep that night, as I’m not used to sleeping alone, but I had a pleasant enough evening.
After only a few hours of sleep, you might expect me to be feeling cranky, but once again, I decided to have a great day and by the time I got to work, I was already feeling very good about how the day would go. Over the previous couple of days, I had been aware of my colleagues being a little annoyed by my chirpiness, but today, it seemed to start rubbing off on others, and many of my colleagues seeemed to be feeling a lot better throughout the course of the day. At one point, I was happily humming a tune to myself and then realised that several others had actually joined in! Dale was still asleep when I got home, so I did the dishes and put a load of washing into the washing machine and made a lasagne from scratch – something I don’t usually have time to do for a “normal” dinner time, but as we would be eating at 8-o-clock, I had an extra couple of hours to cook something a little more time consuming. After watching an epsiode of NCIS with Dale, I packed him off to work and then soaked in the bath with my book, safe in the knowledge that I could take as long as I wanted, as Dale wasn’t waiting to use the bathroom.
Again, not much sleep (still not used to sleeping alone), but I still determined to have a great day. When I got into the office, I greeted anyone who asked “How are you?” with, “I’m fantastic! How are you?” It got a smile from everyone, as they were expecting the usual “not bad” response that everyone gives (why do we say, “not bad”? Why not just say, “good”? It means the same thing and has more positive connotations!). One of the office Xmas meals was that evening, so those who were going were in higher spirits. Despite the fact that I wasn’t going (I have WAY too many events to attend and one or two had to be ditched!), I joined in the general light-hearted atmosphere and, once again, had a wonderful day! I was the only one in the office from 4-o-clock onwards, but I was pleased to find that once again I had caught up on everything I needed to do and could start fresh on Monday! Once I was home, I was able to potter around and read a little before waking Dale and having dinner (I decided to give myself a break and bring home fish and chips from our very good chip shop around the corner, as a treat for Dale – we hadn’t had fish and chips in ages). Once more, we spent a couple of hours together before he headed off to work and I relaxed in the tub with a drink and lit candles in the bathroom.
I had made plans to meet up with Suzie and Amy for coffee at 11-o-clock, so I headed into town in a jolly mood, despite the fact that over the last three days I’d avereaged about 3 hours sleep per night, and took their Chritmas cards and gifts with me, determined to spread good cheer. I explained to them about how well my week had been going, despite having extra work to deal with (due to the whole Trump thing) and how determined I was to get enjoyment out of each day. They laughed and said I must have really annoyed my colleagues. I said that, yes, in the begining I had, but people had also made very positive comments about how cheerful I was and how it seems to rub off on others after a little while. Afterwards, I went about town to complete a few errands and headed home. Dale was finished work and in bed, so I watched a film (Miss Congeniality – he doesn’t like it, but I love this feel-good film!) before waking him up and making dinner.
Despite being woken up by our noisy neighbours at a very early time this morning, I had thought ahead and defrosted some bacon overnight, so I made it a happy morning by bringing bacon butties and hot coffee into the bedroom and we had breakfast in bed. Despite the rainy weather, I took a refreshing walk to the shop around the corner to buy more milk and have watched a film this afternoon that, although isn’t ever going to top any “best ever” lists, amused me and left me smiling. Now I’m at my computer (while Dale is at his) and planning what to make for dinner tonight while looking forward to the Grand Final of Cirque de Celebrite.
So, as you can see, I’ve had a lovely week, and so I’m determined to repeat the experiment next week too!
What have I learnd from this week?
1. When asked “How are you?” don’t reply “Not bad,” as it has negative connotations (it mentions “bad” for a start!) Instead, try replying that you’re “good”, or better yet, “fantastic”.
2. Turn negatives into positives: It might be cold outside, but decide that instead it’s bracing and that a walk will make you feel great! You might have a lot of work to do, but think how satisfied you’ll feel when you’re finished!
3. Smile at yourself in the mirror. We all know smiles are infectious, so start by infecting yourself with a smile first thing in the morning!
4. Don’t let other people’s negative attitudes get you down – instead, try to let your positive attitude rub off on them! Tell them their new shirt looks really good on them, or that the colour really suits them – a compliment will usually cheer them up no end, and you’ll find them smiling for a while afterwards!
5. Tell people you appreciate them (and what they do for you) and, more often than not, they will reciprocate. Not only that, but they will very likely do the same to someone else andit will spread! Please and thank you also helps, so make sure you make them a regular part of your vocabulary!
6. Decide that you ARE HAVING a wonderful day (don’t put it off by saying “I will have a great day today – that implies that it hasn’t yet started!) and you are more likely to face the day with a smile. Thinking that everything is going to go wrong and that you’ll be miserable is a sure-fire way to make it happen! Self-fulfilling prophesies work both ways, so make sure it’s a positive one!
7. Accept that not everything will be perfect, but you can make things pretty near to it and that’s good enough!
8. If you say you can do it, then you’ll find you can do it. If you say you can’t, you’ll prove yourself right!
I am now more detirmined than ever to have a more positive outlook on life and to will myself into being sunny and cheerful, even when there are clouds on the horizon – after all, just imagine how stunning it looks when the sun breaks through!
And I would like to set a challenge to anyone who read this. When you wake up tomorrow morning, decide that it’s a wonderful day and you will have a great time. Follow it through by looking on the brighter side and smiling at people. Do it for the whole week and then look back and see how your week has been. I am positive it will make a wonderful impact! Go on – try it! And have a very happy and positive week!