gray asphalt road surrounded by tall trees

Polarity and Balance

I’ve been thinking about balance and polarity recently – a topic that has stayed with me since I first started tai chi at the age of 16 (just a few years ago *cough*). I realised the other day that a need in us to view certain things as excessively positive might be a strong sign that we are dealing with an excessive negative in another area – we are attempting to find balance. 

Projection is a psychological term for a process where we see outside, what we cannot bear to see or feel inside. Perhaps another aspect of this is needing certain things to be positive enough to balance out a negative we can’t deal with. 

For example, this might look like needing a certain group of people to be above reproach because we have been associated with a different group that was worse than we could handle. And if we have this expectation it will often set us up for disappointment, because people are only human and good and bad are everywhere. 

I touch on this slightly in my chapter on acceptance (in The Art of Coming Home) because in order to be at peace we need to be able to accept positive, negative, joy, pain – the whole experience of life. Not condoning everything – just not fighting against the fact that it does exist. 

This is hard because we are primed to seek out the positive, generally-speaking (although we’re also drawn to the dark in different ways – again – seeking balance). So it can be really difficult to accept certain types of negativity depending on our experience and our personality. 

For example, let’s say we grew up with very angry parents and now we can’t stand that quality at all. We might see signs of it in others and not be able to stomach it, we might feel triggered or want everyone to be above reproach in that respect. We might also need ourselves to be “opposite-of-angry-people” and that might make us act in a way that is slightly false at times, have terrible boundaries or feel resentful. We may need excessive positivity to balance out the negative we experienced, which we have not accepted or processed. 

And processing is tough because even if we’re able to acknowledge everything that happened in our heads, our hearts might still be dragging a sore and painful wound that is not capable of assimilating it at all, or our nervous system may be on a hair trigger that we have not been able to diffuse yet. 

So there are some things I’d like to suggest if you recognise this in yourself:

  • This is something that has helped you in your life, probably a lot 
  • Self-protective mechanisms come from a good place even if their effect is not always desirable now
  • Where there is dark, there is light 
  • Where there is light, there is dark
  • Finding the positive in a negative situation does not mean condoning bad behaviour or glossing over your feelings and needs
  • Just because we carry a wound that is not ready to be completely healed it does not mean we have to let it dictate how we live and relate to others
  • Everyone has some version of this
  • We all have positive and negative within us
  • Polarity is part of life, aiming for 100% positivity is not realistic, limiting ourselves to only expecting the negative is also not realistic
  • Whatever we experience, we can be kind to ourselves.

Can you see the places you put the most emphasis on necessary-positivity? Does it at all feel like an expectation carrying the weight of a wound? How can we work through the negative that is pushing us to grasp so hard for the positive, keeping us off-centre?

Perhaps by simply acknowledging that it is. 

Seeing and understanding the roots of it.

And the fact that sometimes being with our pain is enough to transform it. 

I don’t think it’s possible for us to get away from framing things in terms of positive/ negative – just as the sun rises and sets every day, light and dark are key to orienting us and balancing us in our world. And they are always there. 

I can’t even end this without saying what I think would be a positive way to deal with polarity and our wounding. But what we can do is accept that this polarity will continue to play a part in our lives, that we’re both flawed and inherently perfect, there are people in the world that act in “good” and “bad” ways and that positives and negatives are going to keep coming at us – the only thing that matters it that we strive for what we want while accepting the opposite will happen sometimes and try not to take it personally – because this is simply a natural aspect of life. 

Powerful Goals

It’s that time of year again!

Moving into the new year is a great time to start with a fresh perspective and maybe set some goals to get us closer to the life we want. 

I wrote a comprehensive guide to creating and setting goals and then I used it for myself and today is day #1! I have three different goals set out, 1 personal development, 1 admin and 1 lifestyle change. That even distribution wasn’t on purpose, it’s just what I naturally ended up with after working through the process of seeing what was lacking and where I wanted to go. If you’re interested, there’s a link to a large preview of the goal guide below. 

I realised as I was writing the guide how important it is for our goals to be in line with who we are and our overall goals for our lives. It helps keep us motivated and find our willpower on those difficult/ grey/ blah days when we’d rather stay in bed/ on the phone/ in a food coma perhaps. 

Because I coach people I see some stumbling blocks come up all the time and you can read all about them in the preview, so I won’t repeat myself here. But I do want to let you know about a couple of other ones people often come up against early on in their journey towards their goals. 

  1. Setting a goal that you’ve often set before and often abandoned

This may be a great goal, but if you don’t figure out the sticking point or other reason you gave up the other times, it may be hard to see it through this time. This is not true 100% of the time, sometimes a person has grown more determined, resilient or engaged with their goal and this time they break through. But to make that more likely, take some time to reflect on what you tripped you up last time and see if you can put something in place (i.e. rewards, support, a process) to get you through that tricky stage and on to the delights of new territory – which is intrinsically very rewarding

2. Setting a goal you don’t have much confidence in

Maybe it’s a sensible goal, maybe you don’t think you can do it, or maybe you don’t really want it. Whatever the reason, you are not feeling a lot of conviction in it and maybe you’re even trying to compensate by appearing enthusiastic when you’re not, or spending loads on equipment or other, to try and compensate for your lack of conviction. Maybe take some time to go back to basics and figure out what you want deep down. If you do deeply desire this outcome, find ways to bolster your confidence and feel like you can really achieve it and that you really deserve it too.

3. Working towards a goal you know is right, but that you feel resistant to

We all deserve great things and we also know that they take consistent effort and dedication. However, many of us can: feel undeserving deep down, want to avoid change, want to avoid taking responsibility, fear failure, fear success, fear vulnerability ( perhaps from intimacy or increased visibility) or worry about the things we’ll lose when we gain something new. 

There’s no way around it – when we gain something we usually lose something else. For example – if we gain confidence we lose excuses not to take action and stay in our comfort zone. On the plus side we’re often only losing things that aren’t right for us any more – think how heavy we’d be if we didn’t shed things as we gained new ones. But it’s human nature to get attached to things, so don’t give yourself a hard time. Just know that you’re not losing anything that makes you you, when you gain something that’s right for you. 

Feeling worthy of good things can also be hard. If we weren’t brought up feeling worthwhile then taking action can move us forward, but then our inner state can snap us right back again. Taking small steps, getting the support you need, practicing self-care and celebrating your small wins (which may actually be huge to you) along the way will help you to progress without feeling you’re pretending. At a sustainable level of progress your inner state will be fairly evenly matched with your outer state and achievements. And don’t worry if this isn’t the case yet, it can be a journey for many of us. Just try not to jump out of your inner issues by leaping forward with drastic action that doesn’t align with who you are, as you may feel lost or untethered. Just keep making those small, genuine steps forward towards goals that are as big or small as you can work with.

4. Starting a goal expecting to fail

You’d be surprised how common this is. It can be hard for many of us to leave our comfort zones and for some of us that comfort zone may be a specific idea of where our limits lie. In some people that shows up as never taking action, while for others it looks like appearing to take action but knowing deep down you don’t really want to achieve your goal. Why would we do this? For a while it appeases the part of us that wants to progress, as well as the part that doesn’t. It also gives us something to talk about with others and a temporary diversion. I’ve noticed an underlying feeling of not having the resources to actually change (whether this is courage, intelligence, strength, worth or other). But we all have the resources to achieve the things we are genuinely drawn to – perhaps not always our version of them (i.e. fastest runner in the whole world or most famous actor), but a version of them (i.e. fast runner or talented actor).

I’ve known people to get quite angry when directly challenged about this, as if this cycle has become a part of their personality. Difficult habits are never who we are deep down, so if you relate to this just know that with the right support you can actually make lasting progress towards something that is meaningful to you. I’d recommend it is meaningful first because people with this issue may feel insecure and try to cure that with a win that isn’t necessarily right for them (see the point below).

5. Going after a goal you think will get you something you want (but actually won’t)

Sometimes we have a feeling and rightly let this spur us into action. But sometimes it’s worth taking a moment to make sure we’re taking the right kind of action. Real change is hard and patch fixes can be alluringly simple – they offer the promise of feeling better without having to actually change our thoughts or behavior very much. But in the long-term they are not satisfying and they can contribute to a widening gap between who we really are and how we experience ourselves.

For example, someone who feels bad about themselves may feel very drawn to dating a supermodel. It will help them feel more successful and attractive themselves, according to their reasoning. However, it’s very unlikely that having a transactional kind of relationship or a partner that many other people are drawn is going to be a good long-term solution for low self-esteem, and would probably make it worse. If instead they spend some time figuring out why they feel bad and what kind of support they need, they’ll be able to craft a meaningful goal that leads to feeling good long-term, not just for a few fleeting moments. So do put some time into figuring out what you want deep down and where you want to go.  

I hope you enjoyed these tips, they come from a lot of experience with goal-setting so I hope you’ll find one or two helpful. 

In my guide I walk you through a process of figuring out: what you want deep down, the most meaningful way to get there and a practical plan of action you can use to reach your goals. It has helped people really turbo-charge their new years resolutions and goals all year round. And don’t worry if you’ve already started with your goals, you can still use this guide for fine-tuning or to create some powerful motivations to help you achieve them. 

If you’d like to read a large preview of it, you’ll find a free one on this page of books and guides, click on “Powerful Goals and How to Achieve Them” to get your copy. 

I wish you a lot of success in achieving your goals and a really enjoyable time getting there!

crop woman writing down notes in diary

Personal Annual Review time

It’s that time of year again! One of my most cherished rituals for bringing the year to a meaningful end, a Personal Annual Review is a general term for looking back at the year gone by. Different people do this in different ways and in past years I have set out various tips for doing your own review on my blog, focusing mainly on personal experience rather than career goals.

This year I decided to do something different, however, and I wrote a complete guide to doing your own annual review. I wanted to set all the information out in one place because I know it can be confusing, especially when self-development is not your 9-5 job as it is for me.

I loved creating this guide because I know that so many people have struggled this year, and if there is one thing that can really help us to face difficulty and pain it is to find the meaning and growth in it. Through conducting our own personal review we can look at the challenges we’ve faced, our successes, how we’ve grown and the blessings we’ve received, all at the same time, allowing us to put the year in perspective.

Perspective is very helpful because it is so easy to either focus on the negative, or try to ignore it completely as a way of coping. But in order to thrive, we really need to process what we’ve been through and also respect the fact that we’ve been strong and have grown as people.

There is something very powerful about ending things intentionally and in a meaningful way. In terms of coming to the end of the year, I think this requires us to be open enough with ourselves to admit just how hard the tough bits have been as well as feeling grateful for the kindness of others and the positives we have received along the way. Allowing a pause between an ending and a beginning, in which we can take stock and understand what we need and what we want, can make a new start that much more aligned and fulfilling when we do begin.

Whatever kind of year you’ve had, whatever joys and challenges you’ve encountered, I hope you find time for your own personal annual review and that it brings you meaning and clarity.

More About the Guide

You can pick up your copy here and there is also additional support for the Guide available as a series of emails (which you can sign up to here), to help you get the most out of it.

This 39-page guide has all the info and exercises you need to do your own review and it has printable exercises at the back, so you can return to it year after year. I can vouch for the fact that it is really interesting to look back over past years’ reviews, knowing yourself better and with greater insight. It is an amazing way of seeing your progress through life.

And if you’re not ready to buy the guide but you’d like to do your own review, why not check out my blog articles from previous years for hints about creating your own personal review?

lake and mountain

My 5 Tips to Boost Wellness

I made a little video to help you feel better in 5, with 5 tips you can use to improve your overall wellbeing fast. They are quite eclectic because this is about the our whole self, why not have a try and let me know how you get on!

If you prefer to read my tips instead, here’s the video transcription:

Hi, my name is Suzanne Wylde. And here are my five tips for cultivating total wellness.

1. My first tip is movement, whatever kind of movement you like to engage in, it’s so important for our bodies. In fact, our bodies are designed with movement included. So if you’re not moving your body is not functioning optimally. But it’s not just about looking and feeling good. It’s about thinking clearly, and feeling emotionally well as also, because movement is good for all aspects of ourselves. So whether that’s dancing, having a stretch out, going for a run, going for a walk, try and includes movement in every day. So whether that’s dancing, running, going for a walk, having a stretch out, just generally moving, try to include some form of movement in your day, every day.

2. The next tip is recognising unhelpful thinking patterns. I think we all do this, you know, you get into a groove of worrying about a certain thing, having negative thoughts, or even excessively positive but unrealistic thoughts. And this will usually be a pattern that you’re quite familiar with. Most of us try and fight fire with fire – so when we’re worrying, for example, we try and tell ourselves is nothing to worry about. But when we’re being too optimistic, too positive, it doesn’t really feel real. Instead, try and introduce a positive yet realistic thought. So let’s say you’re worried about going to a party, and feel nervous about socialising. Instead of saying “I’m the most going to be the most popular person at the party”, just say, “I’m going to go, it’s going to be a bit tough, but I’ll meet someone interesting probably, and I’ll find out something interesting. I’ll have an okay time”. Managing your unhelpful thinking patterns this way by interrupting them with a more positive yet realistic thought is a really good thing to do for our mental well being.

3. My third tip is learning to expand your capacity to feel uncomfortable emotions. I didn’t say negative emotions, because a lot of us can even be uncomfortable with joy, excitement, love, for example, depending on the quantities. Our ability to feel emotion dictates our ability to experience ourselves and the world. But this doesn’t mean we want to get thrown into emotions, or wallow in them or let them be completely in control. What it means is when you have a feeling, see if you can just feel it as fully as you can, for as long as you can, before attaching a story to it or trying to argue with it. And this is the same whether it’s emotional pain, or excitement, love, joy or fear. Try and just feel the emotion first, and then get to the root of it by listening to what it has to say. The only emotional state I would not recommend this for is depression, although that’s a different thing than these other pure emotions.

4. Try to be completely honest with yourself. Now I know that we all do things that are a little bit on the edge in terms of our own morality and values. Sometimes maybe we argue with a parking ticket that we know that we deserved, or try to get some free stuff and break a couple of competition rules or something or even maybe worse than that – telling outright lies. Aside from extolling the benefits of being moral, which I believe in and living according to your own values, aside from that, it’s also really important to be honest with ourselves. So let’s say that I told a lie. That would be fairly bad, obviously. But I want to be honest with myself about what I did, I don’t want to lie also to myself. The reason that this is really important for mental well being is it means that you’re quite integrated as a person, it means that you’re not fighting against knowing something all the time or fighting to suppress parts of you that know something. Because when you lie to yourself, you create a divide in yourself with one part that says “I didn’t do anything wrong” and the other part that knows that you did do something wrong. The clearer you can be with yourself in your awareness of your reality and the way that you act and speak and feel, the better.

5. My fifth tip is a really important one. And it’s one that none of us do enough, probably me included. And that is to ground yourself, and be in the present moment fully. This has been talked about a lot and is something that we all need, because the more that we’re looking at screens, and thinking about complex concepts, the less we’re being in our bodies in the present moment. Not many of us are athletes, or, well – I suppose many of us are construction workers. But most of us don’t have physical jobs. And even those of us who do have physical jobs, we are not connected with our body in terms of listening to it, we’re sort of dictating to it: “run really fast, do this, do that, pick up this, pick up that” – but not listening to our bodies.

When we come back into our body, when we really are aware of the sensations it gives us a moment of peace and resting within ourselves. And this moment is really, really important in terms of letting go of stress. Not overthinking, and over-worrying all the time, not pushing ourselves beyond our natural limits in terms of our energy levels. And just for feeling relaxed and happy. So to ground yourself, I have a couple of meditations that you can do, but one really easy visualisation is to picture roots going down through from your feet through down into the earth and drawing up that earth energy into your body. But if that’s not your cup of tea, just going out in nature, gardening and trying to be mindful day to day, things like that can really help you ground yourself.

I hope you enjoyed these five tips for total wellness! For more information and advice and self development and well being just hit subscribe to my YouTube channel, or check out my books, and self development resources.

Tea and Transformation

By now it’s official (irreversible) – I have a full-on love affair with tea. There is probably nothing quite as glorious as a full, fresh pot of tea waiting to be enjoyed, maybe with a book to go with it. However, recently I have noticed a worrying trend (both in the UK and the US), which is that certain places pride themselves on making the “perfect” cup. This translates as letting your tea steep for a set amount of time (timed on a timer) and then giving you only the liquid so it can’t get any stronger. 

The problem with this is that most experienced tea-drinkers like their tea at different strengths. It’s just down to individual taste. 

Another problem is that you remove all the beautiful variation of enjoying the tea at different stages of taste and colour. One of my favourite memories of Beijing was going for  tea ceremonies and spending time enjoying the different fragrances and tastes of each cup, getting a very different experience with every subsequent pour from the pot. 

And then there’s always the joy of feeling really sleepy/ unmotivated and waiting till your tea has the consistency of jam to really get you going. OK maybe not jam.. but definitely up to Northern/ industrial strength!

Now, to reach only slightly awkwardly for a metaphor, self-development is a bit like this too. New realisations, behaviours or recently-discovered parts of ourselves take time to percolate through our system and sink in. Allowing the time and space to let this happen organically means we don’t risk missing out on fully-embracing or integrating an important part of our experience. I have never seen a client or myself trying to rush this bit without skipping over or missing something and just having to circle back later. There’s something genuinely kind about giving yourself the time and space you need without any expectation of the outcome. It leaves room for subtlety and nuance and removes any self-inflicted pressure from notions we may have about being on a particular schedule or moving forward in a specific way.

… Real exploration is open-ended…

So, please enjoy your tea – don’t muzzle it. And maybe try to leave pauses where there should be pauses, honouring yourself with a spacious attitude of self-kindness.  

And now I get to finish my little pot of Yunnan green tea, no timer in sight 😉

Sneak Preview of My New Book Cover

I am super excited to show you the cover to my new book, eta October 2019 [updated eta is April 2020 – I hope you don’t mind waiting a little longer]!

It has been a bit of an epic journey writing the book, and so it is wonderful to have a cover that reflects all the work and passion I put into it. Really looking forward to sharing this work with you.

If you want to stay updated on the book release just sign up to the form below.

The Art of Coming Home by Suzanne Wylde

# 6 Hanging Out With Our Inner Child

Our inner child is the part of us who didn’t grow up, stop playing, dreaming or exploring. He or she is still in there, hoping we will come out and play, listen to them and comfort them. This is one of the exercises from the book, which I really enjoy – I hope you do too.

Speaking to our Inner Child

It can be funny when we start to do this kind of work, imagining a child within us, but then for many of us the memory of how we were as a child returns quite clearly. The clothes we liked, our hairstyle, the way we stood and acted. In the exercise below we are going to call to mind our inner child so that we can speak to him or her and it can be really nice to see them again.

On some days you may connect with yourself at 5 years old, on others at 9 or 16; allow whatever age wants to talk to you to come up. Also, take this exercise at your own pace and above all have the attitude of kindness to yourself and your inner child.

Exercise: Speaking to our Inner Child

a) Start by sitting comfortably, closing your eyes and breathing in a relaxed way.

b) Picture yourself as a child – whichever age comes to mind is fine. Notice their clothes and hair, facial expression and how they are standing.

c) In your mind’s eye say hello to them and then ask them if there is anything they want. Wait for the answer patiently, try not to have any expectations about what you think they “should” say.

d) If they do not want anything, ask if there is anything they would like to say. Again, wait for the response with an open mind. If they did ask for something, you can imagine giving them what they ask for (such as a hug) or even plan to do something in real life with them, if it is practical. 

e) You can talk to your inner child as much as you feel is the right amount, always allowing them as much time to respond to questions as they need, and giving them the opportunity to ask questions.

f) When you feel you have finished it is nice to imagine giving them a warm hug and telling them you appreciate and love them.

How do you feel now you have done that? If they asked to something, you can do it and imagine them there with you. If it is something a little less convenient, you can imagine a substitute that will help them to feel the same way. So, for example, if they wanted to go skydiving you can go on the swings or a rollercoaster, to feel free and excited.

Whether it is colouring, cartoons or exploring, enjoy spending this time with your inner child! After all life is too short to be a grown-up all the time 😉

Personal Year Review

As a side note, you can now get a complete guide to doing a personal annual review here.

Although my book deadline is fast approaching and I probably should be writing, I felt like I wanted to write a quick post on the ritual of intentionally looking back on our year. This week before Christmas feels different to the others, as if a natural lull is descending. Over the holidays many of us take time out of our normal routines and with this natural interruption in the day-to-day comes a great opportunity to reflect on the year just passed.

This isn’t to critically judge our performance in 2018, but rather to take the time to acknowledge our successes as well as the hard times and see how we have grown. There is not a lot of ritual left in modern society, but it is still a deep-seated need that we have – the act of taking a moment to witness ourselves and our lives is very powerful.

So, although it is easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of the holidays, and the dynamics of family, why not take a little downtime for yourself to check in with how things have been for you, how you have been, what you have achieved and where you want to go next. Hopefully we will be able to begin the new year with clear hearts and minds (if not bodies!!).

1. Looking Back

In this exercise we are going to look at the bigger things that have happened, but you might want to look at your calendar to make sure you get all the key ones. Also when doing this is best to be as open and honest as you can and not engage in stories around events (he did this/ she did that because…).

a) Write down the major events of the past year, if you like tables you can draw one like the example below. It does not have to be major in other people’s eyes; just important to you, and it can be good, bad or neutral.

b) Next to each event I would like you to write out all the emotions you experienced around that event (before, during and after as a result of it).

c) Try and identify any main challenges that you faced, whether internal or external, be as detailed as you like.

d) Now write out what you learned from that situation, and how you have grown as a result.

e) In the final column, write how you were successful. We are using this word in the context of doing something that was good for you, which may not seem like success as defined by society’s standards.

My theme:

2. How we did in different areas of lifeIt can be a good idea to look at how happy we have been with different aspects of ourselves and our lives over the last year, so that we can work on improving these in the new year.

Out of 10 mark your level of satisfaction with each of the following (10 being the best). Please note that if you are not travelling much, but are satisfied then it can still be a 10/10 as this is not about anyone else.

Health
Fitness
Eating nutritious food
New experiences
Personal Growth
Friendships
Intimate relationships
Family relationships
Co-worker relationships
Creative expression
Self-expression
Making needed changes
Learning new things
Improving skill or knowledge at work
Making useful connections for work
Doing Exciting things
Having a stable home life
Travel
Taking healthy chances
Examining beliefs and values
Living according to own values

This is not to feel bad about ourselves at all, in fact we should celebrate the areas where we are doing really well, but it is useful to know where we might like to put some more energy next year.

3. Major Successes from last year

Above we looked at events that happened to us, but here we are going to make as complete a list as possible of all the things we are proud of (or should be proud of) from this year. Include even small things if they are significant to you. Sometimes we forget to celebrate what we have done well and move right on to the next problem, but it is important to acknowledge how much we have achieved so we can build on a feeling of satisfaction and success.

Getting that balance between kindness to ourselves and accountability is important for most self development work. But this is easy once we understand that being kind is not letting ourselves off the hook if we know we self-sabotaged or did not try very hard, and remembering that being accountable is not looking for reasons to criticise ourselves, but just taking responsibility for our behaviour and actions (or inaction).

List of successes:

So, I hope you enjoyed doing your personal review. I have found it a great way to think about how I have been, what I have done, what I have avoided doing and what I would like to do in the future. And although this is not about making new years resolutions that may only make it to the second week of January, if you would like to you can set a couple of goals for the next year. Making them quite specific is a good idea, and then you will know if you are achieving them or not and I highly making them realistic. You can look over all the things you have reflected on from the past year, and think about what you would like your next year to look like in general, or maybe what you would like to be writing about this time next year in your personal review.

My goals for next year: 

I hope you found your review useful. Have a great Christmas, Hannukkah, Pancha Ganapati, New Year and Solstice!

Superageing

This term has rocketed to popularity since neurologists have found that we can greatly influence how fast we age mentally. Or rather – how fast we decline  (I do not think the word age should be used interchangeably with words like decline or wane – growing old does not have to mean growing feeble physically or mentally).

How we live has a huge impact on how we can continue to live. And more than use it or lose it, which says if we do not continue doing a thing, we won’t be able to do it – it appears that it is crucial to keep trying new things.

I believe that this should be a theme throughout our lives, not just for our 70s or 80s. By continuing to put ourselves outside of our comfort zones we learn how to learn – how to be bad at something and be OK with that, how to go through the initial stages of trying and failing, learning by experience, building motor skills or mental ones. And gaining the confidence of a new skill, as well as new insight into ourselves. Over time our idea of ourselves can grow staid or rigid. Challenging this with new experiences, situations and friends can keep our relationship with ourselves fresh and real.

And it is not just learning – exercise is a really important part of staying youthful, which makes sense because there’s nothing like a workout to blow the cobwebs away! It has to be fairly high intensity to get the benefits, so I’d choose cardio or strength work over a gentle stroll if that is possible for you.

So, embrace your superpower – superageing! Of course, how perfect is it that the key to staying young is to see the world like a child – a sea of new opportunities and possibility. Enjoy! And remember – with great power comes great responsibility 😉

Check out this article for more information if you are interested: https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthy-aging/what-does-it-take-to-be-a-super-ager

Time in Nature

There is nothing quite so healing, quite so fundamental to our human nature (no pun intended) as spending time in the great outdoors. We were not designed to sit immobile staring at screens for hours on end, we are born explorers and wanderers. Yet there seems to be a variety of obstacles keeping us from running wild outside, and I’d like to take a moment to talk about them as well as ways around them.

If we could be running around breathing fresh air, nature bathing or squirrel-watching, why would we choose to stay inside a box? Here are some of the most common nature-blockers:

1. Rain

Coming from Britain, this is a fairly common occurrence (but not all the time like in the movies). It is not that fun to walk around in wet clothes, unable to warm up and dry off for a long time – especially if we are not used to it. Alfred Wainwright (an inveterate walker) said: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” OK, but maybe you don’t want to invest in all the latest hiking gear, or look like a birdwatcher (sorry twitchers!). Here’s what I recommend instead:

–  Walk close to home so it doesn’t matter

–   Take spare clothes wrapped up in a plastic bag to keep them dry

–   Go for a run – you’ll get sweaty anyway, the rain won’t make a big difference

–   And most of all: enjoy the rain! There is nothing like being out in a storm (but stay safe of course) or a gentle misting of rain. And it is a lot quieter as loads of other people stay indoors!

If you’re going to be wet for a long time in a colder country the thing you’ll probably want most is waterproof shoes, to keep your tootsies warm and dry. From there you can build up a supply of outdoor gear if you want to – but don’t let a lack of gear keep you indoors! There is a playground out there waiting for you.

2. It is Uncomfortable

What do a tree log and a comfy sofa have in common? Not a lot. It is undeniable that the great indoors is a lot more comfortable than out-of-doors, and our soft bottoms have grown accustomed to soft seating. But how uplifted do you feel looking around your house? Even if you have some great art, there is nothing like a sunrise or sunset, birds flying, or trees blowing in the wind to change your state of mind.

There is a different kind of comfort than that of your bottom – the comfort of your mental and emotional state after reconnecting with nature. Expand your spirit, unburden your mind and absorb the goodness around you, by disconnecting from your devices, unplugging bum from sofa and rediscovering your inborn affinity with the natural world. Playing in nature and natural movement are good for the soul.

3. It is Boring

It is true – nature is no amusing cat video! What happens in nature is not usually a 30 second clip, followed by another 30 second clip. It takes time, it unfolds at a pace many of us are unfamiliar with – a realistic, real pace. And slowing down to this pace lets us rediscover our humanity a little bit. There’s nothing wrong with not much happening – in fact it is normal. Things constantly happening give us the adrenals of a 90-year-old.

They say only boring people are bored, take your time – look around, watch some ants. Let your mind heal itself from the barrage of rubbish we take on board every day, by looking at something real unfolding in real time. While that is happening, good things will be working away inside you – restoration, rearranging, maybe some repair work.

4. It is not Addictive

I know, and it removes us from many of our addictions (unless we take them with us). It is not a bar, a TV, a shop, social media, refined carbs etc – it’s the worst! Time we spend in nature is mainly healthy and not giving us the endorphin rushes we are used to. So why bother?

It is nice to rediscover some real gratification – for example, we are rewarded with natural beauty if we put in the physical effort of getting ourselves there. A real effort, rewarded with something we alone (or only a few others) can see. Not millions of people on social media or TV – a real experience you have put in the effort to achieve. Nature is not addictive in the instantaneous, convenient way of many addictions – but is definitely moreish when you get into it! And better for your body and mind.

5. It is Out of The Way

True – we have built over a lot of it, and then put our houses in these built-up bits. Not many of us are living in treehouses these days. So it does take a bit of effort getting to it, more so for some than others. Yet I bet you will find bits of nature like some forgotten outposts, scattered around, silently waiting for a person to come and enjoy them. Looking at a satellite view of a map is an easy way to find these. Incorporating them into your journey to work can change your whole day. Taking your kids to areas like these or even somewhere further away can give you an experience for your family to share and enjoy in real time, away from devices and distractions. Some people even camp out for the night on what Alistair Humphreys calls “Microadventures”. If nature is not right at your doorstep, making the extra effort to seek it out can add a whole other dimension to your life.

6. It is Dirty and Unpredictable and Not Always Friendly

True, true, true – you’ve got me there! You might get muddy, come across creepy crawlies and things that bite. Remember when you were a little kid and the world was your crazy laboratory though? You probably used to be interested in such things, as well as getting as dirty as feasibly possible. I recommend investing in a good quality laundry detergent, a spread-out newspaper at the front door and a renewed sense of enthusiasm for watching bugs. After all, we are walking out in their home too – we are as much in their space as they are in ours, even though we may be very unused to them. If you do live somewhere with dangerous snakes and spiders you might want to familiarise yourself with where they typically hang out and your closest hospital, but for the rest of us, being OK with being outside of a homogenised environment makes us more resilient, more interesting, more balanced. And getting a bit muddy every now and then is really good for us, as well as lots of fun.

7. No time!

I only believe you if you are not watching TV or playing on your devices for hours. If so I veto this reason. If you have no time in daylight hours, head torches and a couple of friends will solve this for you. Nature at night is pretty cool too, as long as you are safe – i.e. don’t run off a cliff.

Well, this is the end of my little attempt to break down any barriers to nature you may have. I sincerely hope you have some fresh air, trees, wild animals and muddy/ dusty shoes in your future!

“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more”

― George Gordon Byron

“Spring is nature’s way of saying, Let’s party!”

― Robin Williams