What is a successful and satisfying life?

We all have our own opinions on what makes someone’s life look like a success from where we see it. But there is a simple definition of a successful life which I like to use, because many people who look like they have it all, are still not happy, not satisfied and do no feel good enough or successful on the inside ( in fact a lot of the time this inner sense of lack is what keeps driving some people to achieve more ). So let’s keep it simple:

  • “A successful life is one which is ENJOYED by the person who lives it”

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How do we get to ENJOY our lives?

Good question – this is something I work on all the time with clients, many of them extremely ‘successful’ yet deeply unhappy.
One of the UK’s foremost ‘happiness’ experts, Professor Richard Layard and his team, have been asking themselves the same question. What factors lead some people to a predisposition to feel happy, satisfied with their lot, and to enjoy an inner sense of success as an adult?
After investigating the factors in a person’s life that can best predict whether they will lead satisfied lives, a team headed by, has come up with an answer that may prove controversial. Any parents reading this may want to take note.
Layard and his colleagues at the Wellbeing research programme at the London School of Economics conclude that a child’s emotional health is far more important to their satisfaction levels as an adult than other factors, such as if they achieve academic success when young, or wealth when older. The authors explain that evaluating the quality of a child’s emotional health is based on analysing a range of internal factors in a person’s early life, including whether they endured unhappiness, sleeplessness, eating disorders, bedwetting, fearfulness or tiredness.
The academics claim that their study, What Predicts a Successful Life? A Life-course Model of Well-being, published in the latest edition of the Economic Journal, offers “a completely new perspective on which factors contribute most to a satisfying life”. The study claims to challenge “the basic assumption of educational policy in recent years – that academic achievement matters more than anything else”. This claim appears to be an implicit criticism of former education secretary Michael Gove, who instructed schools not to focus on “peripheral” issues such as children’s moral, social and cultural development in favour of academic excellence. Gove’s successor, Nicky Morgan, has pledged to reverse this approach.
Many people have assumed income is the most important factor in an adult’s life satisfaction. But the academics say their data makes clear this is far less important than emotional health – both in a child and in an adult. “Income only explains about 1% of the variation in life satisfaction among people in the UK – one sixth of the fraction explained by emotional health,” they note.

Money really can’t buy you happiness…

The findings might be controversial, giving some measurable evidence that education and income are among the least important determinants of adult success, as measured by life satisfaction!
It’s interesting and welcome ( in my opinion ) that the economics of happiness or wellbeing is now a growing and respected discipline within economics that is starting to influence politicians.
David Cameron has even reportedly stated: “It’s time we admitted that there’s more to life than money and it’s time we focused not just on GDP but on GWB – general well-being.”
Imagine the effect of a nation of much more content as satisfied people….I wonder how much less we would spend trying to make ourselves look better, feel better or escape our stresses?….

Neither can academic achievement!

The report boldly concludes:

  • “We find that the intellectual performance of a child is the least important childhood predictor of life-satisfaction as an adult.”

Well the good news is, if your childhood has already happened, and if your adulthood has been plagued by feeling unhappy, fearful, dissatisfied or stuck – the brain is very good at re-wiring, with the right guidance, no matter what your background or childhood history. All is not lost!
Read my client testimonials here:
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Christmas is just one month away, and with all the planning, preparation, shopping, wrapping and deadlines that will fly by.
We are supposed to love Christmas right? Good will to all men yes? Cosy family gatherings filled with love and warmth?…..
Hang on – reality check. Fact: Christmas is the most stressful time of year for many, and often leads to a toxic festive cocktail of fears, fatigue, guilt, comparison and self criticism…An emotional hangover. Not to mention the need for a harsh New Year regime to remedy all those perceived wrongs, shortfalls and excesses.
So here is my guide, or to be more accurate, here is my suggested approach with 5 Top Tips to help you cultivate the best inner environment to make space for some festive joy and Christmas sparkle.

#Gratitude

We focus so much of our thinking, time and energy on to what / who we DON’T like, what we DON’T want, what we DON’T have and what we CAN’T do – Negative mental activity. And this is a major cause of stress, dissatisfaction and a busy mind which just will not slow down or switch off.
So SWITCH your focus, RE-DIRECT your attention to what you are grateful for, and appreciative of. Instead of comparing yourself and your circumstances unfavourably, CHOOSE to nurture and cherish what is good. There is always something to be grateful for. Wake up each morning and fairly early in your routine write 3 things that you are grateful for that day….A car which gets you from A to B – A friend who listens – A warm cardi on a cold day – A smile from a family member – 2 legs which carry you around – A hot shower – A beautifully wrapped pressie – A hot meal on the table……..Anything, large or small.

#Love

For centuries we thought our brain was the body’s command centre, but recent research suggests that the heart has much more influence than we thought. For example, did you know that your heart connects and communicates with other organs not only through blood circulation but also through an electromagnetic field? The heart’s electromagnetic field is 60 times more powerful than the brain’s.
The Institute of Heartmath are a group of dedicated scientists who are researching the heart, and it’s role in emotional and physical wellbeing. Their research has shown that our hearts can help us overcome depression, anxiety, insomnia and many other physical and mental illnesses. And interestingly, we can connect to other human beings by the frequencies sent through our hearts!

  • Direct your attention in to your heart centre ( just like if I asked you to direct your attention to your right foot, you would suddenly be more aware of your right foot, even though it had been there all along )
  • From here, imagine someone you love or who is dear to you, it could be a pet or a person ( just get a sense of them, you don’t have to actually fully visualize them, as some people are not so visual – it is the INTENTION of imagining the person which is the most important. It might help to close your eyes )
  • Allow yourself to notice your sense of connection to that person whilst keeping your attention in your heart centre. Almost like you are observing them from your heart
  • Send your loving intention to them, imagine you can radiate your love for them outwards from your heart
  • Envelop them in this love, and as you do this, notice if this love has a colour
  • Notice what you can be aware of in the other person as they absorb all the love. How do they look?

This tip can help us to produce the feel good hormone Oxytocin, which makes us feel connected and calm and is a great antidote to stress. Oxytocin also opens up our blood capillaries, which reduces blood pressure and inflammation in the body, and in turn boosts the immune system ( ref: David Hamilton PhD’s book ‘Why Kindness is Good For You’ ). Do this daily.
You can also do this with eyes open when you are actually with a person, it can help to strengthen bonds and a mutual sense of connection. It can also help us to accept and be less judgemental if there is something that person does or says which annoys us. In fact, over the festive period, if you anticipate someone will stress you out, you can practice this exercise in advance and it will subtly but powerfully adjust your energetic communication towards them for the better.

#Meditation

Spend 5-10 minutes twice a day practicing this simple meditation to help you still your mind, master your attention and calm your nervous system

  • Direct your attention into your heart centre
  • As you breathe imagine that each breath is coming directly in to your heart centre, and out of it as you breathe out
  • Breathe in fully and slowly
  • Breathe out fully with a long, slow out breath
  • Stay focused on your breathing, you can even make a count of one, each time you finish an out breath
  • If you lose your focus or your mind drifts off into activity again, simply start over again and return your attention to your heart centre and to your breathing
  • Your mind will wander, that’s fine and normal, so there’s no need to berate yourself or get frustrated, just keeping gently returning your focus
  • It is like a mini ‘training programme’ for your attention – each time it wanders off and you have realized, you just guide it back. A little like puppy training for your mind. Gentle guidance

#BeKindToYourself

Become aware of your self-talk. By being more aware and waking up to our inner dialogue, we can become conscious OF what we used to be unconscious TO! We may discover we talk to ourselves in a way we would be ashamed of talking to someone else!!

“What we are aware of we can control. What we are not yet aware of can control us” – Anthony De Mello

  • Take on the role of your own mentor or coach, someone who loves and unconditionally supports you. Maybe a little like how you would be with a younger brother or sister
  • Catch yourself talking or commenting in an unsupportive way and STOP
  • Direct your attention to your heart centre, practice a little slow breathing into your heart centre
  • Allow the coach / mentor / supporter to speak. Be gentle, encouraging and kind

Resolving stress and choosing a calm response is simply about breaking some old patterns, and collapsing down the old neurological pathways which used to run that stress pattern for you unconsciously. With a little intention and commitment this is surprisingly easy, and with regularity and awareness it acts like a re-wiring of the brain, with the new wiring being more supportive and calming.
Be kind to yourself every day as often as you can, when you realize you were about to criticize yourself, compare yourself unfavourably or beat yourself up.

#ChangeChannel

In the same way as we can re-wire old neurological pathways of negative self talk, we can actually learn to have fingertip control of our emotional state. A bit like having a magic remote control, we can change channel and choose which emotional programme we want.

  • Immerse yourself in an emotional state from the past, from a memory – let’s say a time when you were calm, or confident or happy. Really take in the moment through your senses as if it’ s happening right now.
  • Notice what you can see, hear and feel
  • Set an anchor point on your body, maybe squeezing finger and thumb together, or touching your thumb inside the palm of your hand
  • Use this anchor point when you are in the calmest, or most powerful parts of the memory, in the sensations in your body – you will know when that is. Don’t try to figure out how to do it right, just allow your imagination to do what it is designed to do
  • Your brain will make neural connections, it will learn this state of calm or confidence, it does not differentiate between a real event or an imagined one. Neurons in the brain will fire together, and will then wire together ( re-wire ) regardless of whether this event really happened or not. Clever eh?
  • Practice, practice, practice – getting in to these useful imagined states. Practice squeezing your fingers or palm in the same place as you immerse yourself. Within a short space of time, just like Pavlov’s famous dogs who were ‘conditioned’ to salivate at the sound of a bell. You can recreate your useful state just from the squeezing, it sets off a neurological short-cut, just like a button on the remote. Fingertip control!

This will allow you to sail through Christmas, to navigate through New Year with ease. You can choose your emotional state, and any time you need a little boost, a little more calm or confidence, you just get out your remote control, squeeze the buttons and you can simply flood your neurology, and your physiology with more of what you want.
Remember, Christmas is really just your life under the microscope – relationships – deadlines – expectations – money – organization – lifestyle – self  talk……
If you adopt my CALM approach for LIFE, not for just for Christmas, who knows what Christmases of the future may hold….?
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Sometimes in life we just have to jump and build our wings on the way down….
What does this mean? Well we can get stuck in a rut, or even frozen by ‘analysis paralysis’ when we put off making a decision, taking action, making changes or moving on…..And WHY do we do this? We convince ourselves that the perfect moment, circumstances or environment will be just around the corner, and THEN we will make our move.
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If this is a regular pattern for you, the chances are you won’t ever take the actions and you will get locked into a cycle of waiting for the right moment, only for it to pass you by altogether.

The power of intention

There’s a lot to be said for making a commitment, for sending a CLEAR intention out into the universe….In my experience if you boldly go, the universe catches you and throws some support your way to boot.
Once you are broadcasting out the energy of what you want, once you are radiating out what you want to be, you do actually start aligning yourself with that future – consciously and unconsciously – you begin to get stuff done, take opportunities, create opportunities and notice what can help you by seeing the world through a slightly different filter.
David Hamilton PhD is an ex lead scientist from AstraZeneca, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, he spent years creating drugs for cancer and heart disease, and he became intrigued by the ‘placebo effect’ – the power of subconscious belief to produce healing in the body through administering an inert sugar pill in drug trials. David then left to research mind-body science and become an author and world famous speaker. He has written a brilliant book called ‘Is Your Life Mapped Out’, which explores and explains the quantum physics theories of energy and information, and the sophisticated ways which we communicate with others, with our environment and the universe at large. There is science to the Power of Intention!
So, if there’s something you’re sitting on or dithering over…Just do it. Take action. Jump and allow the universe to catch you!
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Do you have some habits you want to be free from?

When clients come in to my clinics to talk about what they want to resolve or change, many of them want to fix an addiction or a dependency which has come to take over their lives and certainly takes over their thoughts. They are in battle, in their heads, daily…This is draining, emotionally and physically.
Whether the specifics are over-eating, chocolate and cake addiction, bingo ge eating, recreational drug use, alcohol dependency or smoking, the individual content is not so relevant, what is common to all is a struggle which the client feels victim to, and too ‘weak’ to beat. Because people feel weak and powerless, they judge themselves very harshly, and compare themselves to all the other ‘perfect’ people out there who seem to be getting it so right, so easily…
This self judgment makes them feel even worse, and locks them into a cycle of feeling even more of the bad and uncomfortable feelings which they feel the need to ‘soothe and comfort’ with alcohol, food or drugs in the first place.
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Is it about strength and willpower?

It’s very interesting that in the first session, when I ask how clients want to think and feel, instead of how they are used to feeling, they always focus on needing strength, control and willpower. If they have a good dollop of that, then they will be fine.
I remind them that the question refers to what they really want for themselves, for the future, for when this issue is FULLY resolved.
I also ask them what does their language imply?
If we need ‘strength, control and willpower’ then surely this implies there is still some sort of a battle to be fought, a struggle to be overcome, that at the very least it is going to be hard.

Resolving issues at the emotional root

On this I speak first hand, as well from what I see with my clients. What appears to be the issue is only a symptom. The habit or dependency is only the way you choose to soothe, comfort or avoid. That which requires comfort and soothing, that unwanted emotion underneath it all is the next layer down.
Somewhere underneath that emotion is where it all started, the scar from the first cut of the original emotional wound.
The wound and what caused it is the emotional root, and this is where we work.

Shedding the skin

Once the real issues are resolved at their root cause, all that is left is a neurological ‘shadow’, a fragile layer of skin waiting for its time to come to the surface.
When the time is right, as it did with me, that layer simply falls away like the most natural process you can imagine.
The definition of ‘shed’: “To lose  by a natural process” – or – “To rid oneself of something not wanted or needed”
At this point, when this cognitive shift takes place, I sometimes ask clients ‘what about all that control and willpower you thought you needed?’……
I offer courses of 4 or 6 sessions in my private clinics in London, Cheshire or over skype, following an initial free consultation.
All courses are a bespoke and integrative blend of therapy and coaching modalities which primarily work throughout a lowered brainwave state, which allows access to the most useful subconscious programming, in the most effective state for deep therapeutic change.
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What is it that allows some people to bounce back, and to remain resourceful, positive and inspired despite the chaos of their circumstances or the stress of those around them?
Have you ever wondered how some people just seem to…..

  • Be able to operate in a happy, confident and resourceful way, even when all around them are having an emotional meltdown?
  • Come across as positive and optimistic whilst still living in the real world and facing into the challenges of life?
  • Be highly effective and attract in more of what they want from life?

We might call these people ‘emotionally resourceful’. If we study their habits and strategies, we can learn a lot. Here are some useful habits to adopt if you feel yourself getting bogged down or stuck in a negative cycle.
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By beginning to take a new perspective, and to consciously adopt some of these habits for yourself, you may be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you notice changes in your own life.

  • 1. Take responsibility – Emotionally resourceful people don’t mope around feeling sorry for themselves, moaning about how others have treated them. Instead, they take responsibility for their role in life and understand that life isn’t always easy or fair, that sometimes they have to accept what they cannot change. We create stress by giving too much focus to what cannot be changed, to what ‘just is’.
  • 2. Understand you have a choice in how you respond – Resourceful individuals don’t have the impression that their emotional experience is controlled by the actions or words of other people. If you notice their language, it will not be passive or in ‘victim mode’ ….eg “My boyfriend takes away my confidence”. They understand that they have control over their own emotions and a choice in how they respond to external events.
  • 3. Embrace change – By welcoming change and being willing to be flexible, we can understand that change is inevitable and believe in our abilities to adapt and to learn life lessons from whatever the universe puts in our path.
  • 4. Choose what gets your attention – We feel what we focus on!! By giving the lost luggage, traffic jams or the annoying colleague our attention we encourage our feelings of anger, frustration or upset. Instead, an emotionally resourceful person will focus on what they can control in their lives. They also recognize that sometimes, the only thing they can really be in command of is their attitude and response to a situation.
  • 5. Be OK with people not liking you – Resourceful types recognize that they don’t need to please everyone all the time. They’re not afraid to say no or speak up when necessary. Whilst setting a clear intention to be kind and fair, they accept other people being upset and are able to form healthy boundaries in relationships which work for them rather than having them feeling used and trampled by the neediness of others.
  • 6. Take risks – Resourceful people are playful, and they realize life is an ongoing experiment from which we can keep learning lessons. When we lose our ‘over-attachment’ to ‘getting it right’, we free ourselves up from that old paralyzing analysis of what might go wrong. By taking risks, we take more action. By taking action we learn more and make more impact on our lives and others.
  • 7. Live in the present – The present is the only moment that you can experience anything directly. The mind, where we do our thinking, is only a ‘thinking about’ tool. By dwelling on past regrets or mistakes, or predicting the future, we sometimes become lost in thinking, and one step removed from the present moment. Emotionally resourceful people show up in the moment, take it in through their senses, and take part. Through showing up for the full experience of the present moment, we also remember and recall more.
  • 8. Do something different – If emotionally resourceful people are not getting the results they want, they dare to take a new action…”If you keep on doing what you’ve been doing – you will keep getting what you’ve been getting”. By accepting responsibility for our behavior and learning from past mistakes, we are less likely to keep repeating those mistakes over and over. Instead we can move on more freely and make better decisions and choices in the future.
  • 9. Teach people how to treat you – The resourceful person will teach others how to treat them. We are unconsciously teaching people how to treat us all the time – through what we stop, what we allow and what we reinforce. We can begin to be more conscious and intentional with what we are stopping and allowing, and gradually we form new dynamics and healthy boundaries with those around us.
  • 10. Know there’s no such thing as failure – What is failure? Look at all those examples of highly successful people who ‘failed’ many, many times before they hit their formula for success. Resourceful people do not view failure as a reason to give up. Instead, they use what some might term ‘failure’ as simply feedback.  Through allowing and accepting feedback in all it’s forms, we can expand our opportunities to learn, grow and improve. We can adopt a more innocent approach from which we continue to have ideas, make plans and take actions until we find our groove and our own personal recipe for success.
  • 11. Enjoy your own company – Resourceful people are just as happy alone as they are with a group. They embrace silence and stillness and use downtime to be productive. By enjoying our own company, we are less dependent on the companionship and entertainment from others to ‘make’ us feel good. Instead we become emotionally self-sufficient and independent.
  • 12. Know the world doesn’t owe you a favour – Emotionally resourceful people don’t feel entitled to things in life, they don’t adopt that mentality that others should take care of them or that the world owes them. If we begin looking for opportunities based on our own merits we can feel perfectly OK and satisfied with less expectation of others. This can free us up from eternal frustration and disappointment.

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