A storm violently buffets our sailing ship. I concentrate on a fixed point to avoid being seasick. Then all of a sudden there is no fixed point on the horizon and my sister-in-law tells me to relax my stomach.
I look at her in disbelief. I’m actually doing my best to hold it in! I don’t want to let it all out.
She looks at me being stubborn and then, with my best interests in mind, she explains to me that my stomach should be allowed to move to the rhythm of the waves. Holding it in just makes it fight back.
I’ve got nothing to lose and I conjure up a mental picture of my digestive tract to locate my stomach. She’s right, it’s totally tense! I’ve contracted it when everything else is moving! I make a huge effort (!) to relax it and instantly feel better.
Since then, I’ve been paying attention to this gauge in the centre of my body. It is like a shortcut that tells me when I am upset or worried well before my head does.
Do you listen to all the gauges that you have at your disposal?
This year, it was best not to be travelling with me. During my week’s sailing holiday in Greece, the Medicane (the Mediterranean version of a hurricane) struck. When I went to Italy to go horse riding, a particularly severe storm had knocked down huge numbers of trees.
On both occasions I grumbled to myself. Both places were known for their clement weather. It wasn’t fair!
Nevertheless, we made the most of it by visiting the Acropolis and the city of Athens. After a whole day of rain in Italy, the sun came out and we were amazed by the light reflected in the rain drops on the leaves. We enjoyed watching the clouds scudding across a perfect blue sky.
Neither of these trips turned out how I was expecting. But these unforeseen events brought out certain highlights that would otherwise have passed by unnoticed.
What about you? What disruptions in your life have led to pleasant surprises?
Kids are generally pretty smart. They quickly learn where to go to get what they want. Pocket money? Off they go to see their godmother. A hug, that’s granny’s department, and a sympathetic and discreet ear is auntie.
Children know how to use their network, but as soon as they get married, they seem to expect everything from their partner. However, people with the combined talents of Scarlett Johansson and Angela Merkel or Batman and Mark Zuckerberg are rare indeed.
Why stop developing and using a whole jigsaw of resources that meet our needs? Why rely on a single person, thus making it impossible for that person to meet our needs? She doesn’t want to scratch your back? Go get a massage, gentlemen! He doesn’t want to go clubbing? Go with a girlfriend, ladies.
What pieces are still missing from your personal jigsaw?
The coach running a team-building session for 50 people asks each participant to write their name on a balloon and let it float up to the ceiling.
At the end of the day, she asks each person to get their balloon back as fast as they can. There follows a free-for-all with everyone jostling to grab any balloon strings within their reach.
Everyone is clearly frustrated and the operation is far from successful.
So, the coach changes her instructions: everyone must grab the balloon closest to them and return it to its owner. Within a few seconds, all the participants have got their balloon back.
The coach explains that this exercise shows the power of positive energy – rather than looking for my own personal balloon, I’m working as a team member.
By helping someone, I create space for another person to help me in turn. All that leads to a doubly positive effect: I’m happy that somebody else is pleased to get their balloon back and then I’m doubly happy to get mine back.
What about you? How would you like to exercise your positive energy?
I am a quick, well-organised person by nature and often finish tasks before other people. That’s nearly always the case when I go horse riding. I groom and prepare my horse energetically without wasting any time. When I turn round, I realise that my friends are lagging behind. So I help them put on a bridle, tighten a girth, clean hooves or untangle a mane.
People thank me profusely for my kindness, when in fact I haven’t done it out of altruism but because I’m impatient to start riding!
I don’t think I’m altruistic at all, but if my friends see it that way, does that mean I am, or does the sense of well-being that I get out of it disqualify me from being thought of as such?
It’s an interesting, but somewhat pointless, debate. Haven’t we all been thanked for actions that originated from a selfish intent?
Aren’t the results what count more than anything?
When was the last time that you were selfishly altruistic?