How To Be Excited

On a coach trip to Seville recently, a young (7-ish year-old) boy clambered up onto to the seat next to me. He asked to sit by the window and then urgently proceeded to rub his nose against it to see what was outside. He was excited. Really excited. With lots of exclamation marks!!! I had no idea why. Maybe he was looking for something. Maybe he was expecting to see his favourite footballer walk by. It doesn’t really matter. It struck me just how excited he was at that moment.

This experience just got me thinking about how we sometimes lose that feeling as we get older. Perhaps inevitably we don’t have as many ‘first-time’ experiences any more, but from time to time we do and most people just don’t seem to get too excited about it. Maybe we just don’t express it as openly as we did as children. We develop more inhibitions over time. Or some people just don’t jump up and down as much when they hear good news. That’s neither good nor bad, it’s just the way it is, but how we express it is not important. We do it the way we do it. But actually experiencing that sense of excitement is my point here. So when was the last time you were really excited? So much that you couldn’t sleep the night before?

And so you know, the boy’s mother was in the seat in front of me on the coach. She told me that she had no idea what he was looking for either but that he just liked looking out of the window when they travelled. So, it looks like he was simply excited about all the possibly amazing things that he could see looking out of a coach window. This could have included his favourite footballer or some sheep. That was it. Looking out of a window. Perhaps, there’s something in that for us all…

Feature image photo by Henrique Ferreira on Unsplash

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What If It Goes Right?

A friend was recently telling me about their plans for setting up their own business. They’d been thinking about it on and off for years and things were such in their life that now seemed like the perfect opportunity to make it happen. But strangely, although she was clearly passionate about this idea, all I could hear her say was ‘But what if it goes wrong?’

What if I start the business and things don’t work out. Businesses go under all the time.

But what if it goes right?

What if I go with this supplier/client and it goes wrong and they end up leaving me in the lurch?

But what if it goes right?

You get the drift.

Of course, we have to be practical and realistic with our dreams and ambitions if we want to make them happen, but how does constantly focusing on the potential negative outcomes help achieve this?

There are no guarantees of course and I do not belong to the cheesy and simplistic ‘positivity is everything’ school of thought, but from a purely practical point of view, how differently could things turn out if we focus on the positive factors of our situation? It takes just as much energy to focus on something positive as it does something negative.

And even if the result is not what we would have wanted, we would have at least spent our time more constructively wanting something good to happen as opposed to expecting something bad to happen.

I know which I would prefer. What about you?

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Permission To Not Be Positive

“Sometimes I want to go home and stay out of sight for a long time”

 

This is a lyric from a song called ‘Van Occupanther’ by one of my favourite bands, Midlake which gets me every time. On listening to it today, it got me thinking especially about how it feels to ‘sometimes want go home and stay out of sight for a long time’.

 

Being online for example can be a wonderful thing and maybe the truth is that some people ‘lie’ about their online presence as they want to put on a ‘happy face’ on Facebook or maybe don’t feel strong enough or that it’s even appropriate to talk about things on their mind and share in such a public way. And of course, this sense of having to put on a brave/happy face can also be  a personal or professional pressure in our everyday lives.

 

The reasons for wanting to stay out of sight for a long time could include depression, loneliness, prospect of conflict or just having a bad day. We’ve all been there to some degree and some more than others. When we feel like this, many people focus on the positive solutions and offer up advice which can be and is certainly meant to be helpful. Statements in the manner of ‘You just have to focus on the positive’ are well-intentioned but like everything in life, the solution to each problem is not always the same. It needs to be flexible depending on the situation.

 

However, sometimes we do just need to ‘go home and stay out of sight’ if not for a long time, then at least for a while. We may come out the other side in a better way or not, but that’s not really the issue here.

 

It’s more about giving ourselves ‘permission’ to occasionally feel okay about setting aside positivity for a time to embrace sadness, which after all is an inevitable part of the human condition of which many people are quite naturally afraid.

 

Once we’ve spent a little more time with ourselves and our own sadness, we may then have gathered the strength to not only not be afraid of dealing with sadness itself, but also anything else which we may face in our lives, including perhaps the ability to be positive.

We can’t be positive all the time, however hard we may try. From time to time, I think we need to give ourselves permission to not be positive.

 

Read a previous post inspired by music Embracing The Melancholy.

 

Watch the video to ‘Van Occupanther’ by Midlake.

 

Nothing Like A Coffee And Some Time

I’m sitting on a lovely, ever-so-slightly battered brown sofa in my favourite bar (Cafe Cyrano) in Almería, my recently adopted ‘big city’, listening to my new favourite album (‘Hey Mr Ferryman’ by Mark Eitzel) with a cortado coffee and an orange juice.

Lovely & slightly battered old sofa

I’ve just put my car in for a service. Not a big deal for most people, but not having owned a car until recently, it feels like a strangely grown up thing to be doing. I dropped the car off at 9.30am and am told it will be 3 hours, so I’ve popped into the city to mooch around and am really enjoying it as it’s not something I can really do in the village where I now live.

I’ve been walking around for a while enjoying the buzzy morning atmosphere of a working day here. As with many cities, there are lots of ‘things to do’ here, some of which I’ve done and others that I will do, but as is often the case, I find myself doing a similar thing ie ‘not very much’ to some people.

But the joy I get from simply sitting in a bar with a coffee, listening to music on headphones, writing, reading and reflecting on nothing in particular is immeasurable.

Some people these days might call this being mindful. I don’t know why doing this works for me and maybe it’s best I don’t know, so in the meantime, I’ll just enjoy the positive and calming energy it gives me.

Hope you’re having a good day too…

Bring It On…

I haven’t posted here for a while. Not for any particular reason. It just kind of happened and maybe we need time away from things or even people to reflect and appreciate them more when they come back. I always wanted this blog to be about rallying against the negativity and cynicism in the world by seeing and appreciating the positive that is in the smallest things. Today I felt the need to post…

 

I can’t believe that given my privileged position that I’m saying this, but I haven’t been happy recently. One of the primary reasons is that I got annoyed and frustrated by something somebody said and after much dwelling on this, it became a thing. Or more to the point, I let it become a thing until it sapped my energy to the point where I couldn’t see anything else for a while. And then over the last couple of days, I have been lucky enough to have been in touch with close friends I have and new friends who I have only known for a short time and the lovely thing is that I have realised that I am happy. And very much so.
 

View from house.JPG

View from my house

There will always be negative people saying negative things in the world and at this moment in time, politically the world is going through some major changes which are worrying. And yet, I feel I’m coming through the other side of this fog through which I’ve been navigating of late to see clearly how lucky we are and how lucky I am. There’s a lot in the world to rally against, but perhaps

 

if we focus more on what positive contribution we can make to the world, then the naysayers and the negative world they live in, can be beaten.

 

I sit writing this in my new studio (aka converted garage) listening to records which I have recently rediscovered and albums which I have always loved. My lovely wife Mrs Cortado and our recently adopted dog Grace are asleep in the warmth of the house next door – it may be the south of Spain, but it still gets chilly at night in November – and I’m listening to Joni Mitchell and reflecting on where we really are today.

 

We moved to the magnificent city of Granada in the south of Spain three years ago and almost six months ago, moved to where we live now, a tiny village in the province of Almeria, still in the south of Spain, which is unquestionably an outstandingly beautiful part of the world. One of the wonderful things about saying that sentence is that I/we always hoped of living ‘abroad’ and after some time in Italy, we chose Spain and love our life here. It’s not perfect. Nothing is. But the good far outweighs the bad. For example, we live in a beautiful place, have met some very kind and friendly people since we came here and are now lucky enough to have some close friends.
 

Grace Standing (1)

Grace

We loved our life in London, but we left at a time that was right for us and now that life seems like such a long time ago. We have worked to have the life that we have and though at times, it can be a challenge, I appreciate the incredible opportunity that this experience is. Some people are not open to change as it can be difficult, however I can now see that some people never want to or are simply too afraid to change and maybe that works for them. However, as a result of recent experiences, I am now reminding myself not to permit others negative filters and perspectives to distort my choices and also to have more faith in my own decisions.

 

I am hugely thankful for our life and every day, we still look at each other as if we have somehow moved into some other parallel time continuum and are living someone else’s life. But as each day passes, I see this is our life now and after nearly three years away from the ‘normality’ of our almost twenty-year old London lives, this is now the new normal and London has become the distant, strange, exotic place which is nice to visit for a few days, but then you want to get back home. In my twenties, I never thought I would say that, but I’m now in my late forties and it feels perfectly natural.

 

We’ve recently had some work done on the house that is coming to an end and the changes have made living here feel quite different and in an incredibly positive way. Perhaps it wouldn’t be that big a deal to many, but they feel more significant. It’s not just that I have my new studio, the whole place has more of a Zen feel with more space and natural light and it’s almost as if we are starting a new chapter of our lives in our ‘new’ house.
 

And so, although over the past few weeks, I have felt somewhat distant from our life here, finding the smallest things frustrating and also missing the urban-ness of the city, reflecting on recent experiences and especially sitting here now listening to the recently released late and incredibly great Leonard Cohen album – which is wonderful – I feel so much stronger to be able to deal with whatever comes my/our way.

 

bruce-lee

 

So now I say, bring on the naysayers and bring on the negativity. Like Bruce Lee said – be like the water. And if it worked for Bruce Lee, I’m happy with that too.

Be Yourself And Loudly

I have always enjoyed reading self-help-type articles including the multitude of lists that comes with them, however, I’ve recently found myself questioning their validity. Of course, the will is good and by all means, read what you feel you need to read, but isn’t every ’10 Ways To Be More Productive Beyond Your Wildest Dreams’ post you read ironically keeping you one step further from getting you to where you want to be while you’re trying to assimilate yet another list into your life? And in truth, how efficient and productive do you really need to be?

What’s stopping you being brave? What’s stopping you giving your own voice the chance to be heard above the white noise of the world? If you’re always reading information about how to do things well, that can be a good thing for a while, but when do you actually start doing the thing you want to do? Whatever your field of interest may be, what’s stopping you daring to have the confidence to follow your own path and contribute something of quality to help the world? It could be music, art, photography, a book, a good day at work, volunteering at a charity, spending time with your family, gardening, cycling or starting a business. It doesn’t matter what it is that you do as long as it’s your thing.

What do you really want to happen after putting yourself out there? Maybe millions will read, listen, appreciate or acknowledge what you have done. And maybe they won’t. Maybe people will love you. And maybe they won’t. But when you look at yourself in the mirror, what do you really need to do or say today? Now even? So much so that it would physically hurt you if you didn’t?

And of course, feel free to think that this is just another post full of white noise. That’s your prerogative. I would much rather you make your own noise. Be yourself. And loudly. Contribute something of quality to help the world. This is one of the ways I do what I need to do. What’s yours?

Feature image by Sebastiao Salgado

The Lost Art Of Being Positive

What are you doing right now?
As opposed to
What are you not doing?

Are you enjoying reading a book and relaxing?
As opposed to
Wasting time when you could be being much more productive?

Are you talking to a friend about an issue you may have with them?
As opposed to
Not doing so and letting any potential issues fester?

Are you focusing on what is actually happening?
As opposed to
What could be, but may not in fact be happening?

How would you prefer to spend your time with the mental and emotional energy you have?

Would you rather focus on the positive elements of any given situation?
As opposed to
Choosing to focus on the negative?

And note, it is a choice.

What is it giving or even costing you focusing on what may go wrong as opposed to what may go right?

Have you not spent time with somebody who does that? If so, how did you feel? Inspired? Or simply much more depressed than you were before you’d seen them?

It may not be easy at times and of course, I’m not saying that we can will things to be good, but wouldn’t it be worth the effort and be better for ourselves and everybody around us to focus on what we can change as opposed to what we can’t? On what good there is or could be in a situation as opposed to what bad there is or could be?

In a world of seemingly fashionable and infinitely easy cynicism and negativity, let’s make a choice together to be brave enough to stand out from the crowd and focus on the good things or even what could just potentially be good as opposed to the negative alternative. It wouldn’t just be better for you, but for everybody around you and that would be a good place to be for all of us, wouldn’t it?

Feature image by Christian Widell/Unsplash