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Confessions of a Serial Optimist – 6 Insights to a Happy Life

I’ve decided to start a blog “Confessions of a Serial Optimist” and this is my first post – hope you like it (and if you didn’t just pretend you didn’t see it!)

I had a great life until I didn’t. If I had known about The Law of Attraction in the 80’s and 90’s I would have thought I was somewhat of an authority on it – when I wanted something I generally got it – mainly because not getting it didn’t cross my mind – why would it?? Then in 2015 my Dad died and my Mam was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and, for the first time in my life, I was shaken. Things were not as they should be and they were getting worse at an alarmingly fast rate! I’m not going to bore you with it all but trust me, it wasn’t pretty. My trusty optimism and Joie de Vivre had deserted me and I no idea how to get it back. I spent the next 5 years as a serial joiner. Yoga, Mindfulness, Angel classes (thank God for you Bernie and your Angel Room!), retreats (and thank God again for you Pauline you have been a great inspiration), reiki, meditation, religion – I’ve tried them all. I was even a Eucharistic Minister for a time much to the amusement of my family and friends (pack of heathens!) I have read every self-help book there is and now that I have finally reached a point in my life where I am feeling happy in my skin again I would like to share what I have learned. Now I have good news and bad news for you dear readers. The bad news is that there is no quick fix, the good news is that everything you need is inside you! Yes you heard me – FREE!
So here they are – my tips on how to come back from the brink and find yourself without shaving your head and mediating at the top of a mountain (unless you really want to!)

1. GRATITUDE

Be grateful for what you have, find the Brightside in every situation (there always is one). I don’t care who you thank, whether its God, Buddha or your Granny just take time to NOTICE what you have. I challenge you to remain in your pool of self-pity when you start a daily gratitude diary. Items needed: A pen, a piece of paper, 5 minutes out of your pity fest and a commitmenUDt to doing this every day for a week (it’s a start!)

2. YOU HAVE A CHOICE

There is always a choice. I can hear you now! “not in my case” “if she only heard my story” “ easy for her to say”. I didn’t say it would be easy but there is a choice. I cannot stress how much this realisation changed my life. Why? Because I had to accept that everything that was happening to me came as a result of choices I had made. It was MY BAD! While it was a huge revelation, for a long time it was a bit of a bloody nuisance because I had no one else to blame but myself. No matter how much I convinced myself that it WASN’T MY FAULT (and let me tell you now, I was good!), it all came back to choices I had made – bummer. On the plus side, once you understand this – you will stop being a victim and life becomes full of possibility.

3. AWARENESS

How many of us jump up when our alarm goes off, have breakfast, get the kids to school, drive ourselves to work etc etc without once taking some time to wake up and smell the coffee. When is the last time that you asked yourself what is really important to me? Try this little exercise – list your core beliefs and values, then look and see where you can see them in you life. If they are nowhere to be seen – I’m going to go out on a limb and say you have a problem.

4. FORGIVE

This is a big one! The friend who stole your boyfriend, the mother-in-law who enjoys questioning every parenting decision you have ever made, the boss who makes your life a misery (well get a new job and then forgive!) “Why should I” I hear you scream! “That so and so doesn’t deserve my forgiveness”. You are missing the point! Forgiveness is not for them – IT’S FOR YOU!!! The whole point of forgiveness is to leave a bad experience behind and refuse to give it any more of your precious time. I think it was Nelson Mandela (who had, let’s face it, a lot to be resentful about) who said “Resentment is like swallowing poison and expecting the other person to die”. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you are weak, it means that you love yourself enough to completely move on from a bad situation.

5.  LOVE YOURSELF

I’m from Ireland and one of the biggest insults you can throw at a person is “she bloody loves herself that one”. This can be loosely translated as “that girl likes to dress nice”, “that girl has confidence”, “that girl is ambitious and is doing really well for herself”. Loving yourself was as big a crime as murder or voting labour! The saying “if you don’t love yourself you can’t love anyone else” gets thrown around a lot but why? Because if you don’t love your body, you will spend your life trying to look like somebody else and resenting them for their “luck” in being born perfect. If you don’t appreciate your own talents or feel you don’t have any, you will spend your life resenting those who seem to be born with everything. If you can’t forgive your bad decisions, you may spend your life ensuring that your children don’t make the same mistakes as you, this is not love – it’s control. You can see where I going with this!

6. FINALLY! BE YOURSELF

You know that nagging voice who wants to quit your job and become an exotic dancer, or who’s telling you that it’s really not the right time to get married, settle down, have kids etc etc etc. Listen to her/him!! Martha Beck in her amazing book “Finding your own North Star” talks about Essential Self v Social Self. The social self is a great guy to have around to pay the bills and stop us making a fool or ourselves but if let him run the show without ever questioning him, the Essential Self gets lost which is a truly sad state of affairs.

This 6 little insights have changed my life – I hope they can help you too.

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