Curiosity ... the name of the latest Mars exploration rover– a wonderful name for an extraordinary piece of equipment.  Because more than anything it explains why it’s up there!   We’re curious – endlessly– about planets, about space and our place in the Universe, about what other life may exist somewhere and about what our eventual future might be.
  
Curiosity, more than anything else, has been the engine of human development – look at how children learn – the endless why, how, what, when questions that can drive any parent to distraction, especially as the child’s expectation is that the parent should know all the answers!  Think about the inventions we all take for granted bread, cotton, penicillin, plastic – the inventor may have been looking for the answer to a problem, but the curiosity was there – ‘I wonder what would happen if .....’


So why should we stay curious as we age?                 
Looking at the world with a sense of curiosity makes a real difference.  Remember what is was like to be a child when you wanted to know absolutely everything about everything – how happy and exciting life was then when everything seemed new.  Sadly a lot of us lose that sense as the years go by, but you can re-create it. For instance, it’s great to take a curious attitude in your relationships with people  - instead of being angry or complaining about someone’s behaviour, ask questions - ‘I wonder what is happening for him to make him behave that way?’, ‘what would have to be happening for me to behave that way?’  You may find it gives you new insight and helps you to react more  sympathetically and be less stressed by how others behave. 
  

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 Staying curious about what’s going on in the world, new inventions, new artists, new books, new music, new technology adds a real freshness to life. At my age,  it seems to be a popular habit to moan or adopt peers’ opinions, writing things off without making an effort to understand them.  I have found that the more you retain your curiosity the broader your interests will be, the more‘alive’ you will stay as you get older, the more interesting and active a person you will be and the easier you will find it to relate to your children and grandchildren. 


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The idea for this blog came to me following a recent coaching session with a client.  I  carried out a ‘values hierarchy’ (as described in Sarah’s blog of 14/5/2012) and, as is often the case it took quite a long time and was quite a mental struggle for this client to identify his values – it doesn’t tend to  be something we think about.  Among others, one that finally came out was ‘making other people happy’. 
 
‘What a lovely person’, I thought.  Most of the rest of the session concentrated on some common omission from the values hierarchy and we didn’t come back to this in the session.  However, a few days later I received an email from the client. He told me that he had done something nice for some friends he was meeting and they had been very complimentary and obviously enjoyed what he had done. Initially he had told himself that he only did it for the praise he would receive and felt bad about this.  However, given a bit more thought about the sort of things we have been dealing with in his sessions he eventually changed his mind. He realised that when he gets thanks for doing something for someone else it actually isn’t the praise which is the motivating factor, it’s that the praise is a sign that the thing he had done had brought pleasure to somebody else.  This insight made him feel a lot more cheerful – he was living to his values.  If you are not living to your values, then you are unlikely to be happy.



Accepting compliments comes hard to some people
Many people suffering from low self esteem find it very difficult  to accept compliments and praise – they feel they don’t deserve it or, as in this case, manage to find a way to turn round a generous and pleasant gesture into something selfish. 
  
We all need to feel appreciated – it’s what helps us to feel valued, and valuable. That’s why it’s unusual for small children to suffer from low self esteem – as they start to learn to walk and speak and do all the 101 other things they need to do, they get loads of encouragement and praise from Mum and Dad and everyone else.  When a baby stands up to try walking, and then bumps down on his bottom we still tell   
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him what a clever boy he is, we wouldn’t dream of letting him think he was a failure because he didn’t make it across the room.  But then somewhere along the line – probably around 7 or 8 – things change. 


Pressure and criticism tend to take the place of encouragement – the ‘could do better’ style of parenting and school reporting come into play and suddenly the child starts to believe that he’s a disappointment, not living up to people’s expectations. And unless we’re very careful as parents this feeling can carry on into adulthood and low self esteem can become chronic.  But, even if this is where you are now – it’s still quite possible to change it.  If you feel you are inclined to view yourself negatively, here are a few tips which might help:
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- Listen out for your internal voice – are the things it is saying fair? Try imagining a friend saying those things, or distorting the voice into another character.·        
- Create a book for your achievements – we often focus way too heavily on our weaknesses or failings. ·        
- Stretch  your comfort zone frequently with a ‘10% new’ attitude – start small and work up – a new route to work, have your lunch somewhere else etc. ·        
- Be curious about other people – it takes the focus off yourself and stops you worrying about how you are performing.

If low self esteem is holding you back– then NLP coaching can help you improve it.  



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A lot is expected of of people today, and due to the demands of a pressured career, health is often something that gets overlooked. 

In general life coaching sessions, when I first meet a client, I ask them to make a values hierarchy. In NLP a value is a feeling – either of something we want more of, or something we want to move away from, e.g. less stress, more stability etc. People are at their happiest when they are living to their own personal values. I play a game with my clients saying that if the client could only have one of these feelings what would it be?...and then another, and so on until we have a list of about ten. Then, nine times out of ten, I say ‘what about feeling healthy’ or ‘not feeling unwell’. ‘Oh yea! I forgot!’. The exercise is often repeated and health often comes very close to the top, if not at the top. Because the truth is, if you don’t feel well, it’s almost impossible to enjoy all of the other values. 



Do we take our health for granted?
So why does health so often get left off the list? One reason is that many people have negative beliefs about exercise – often formed at school – ‘I don’t do exercise’, ‘it’s just not me’. These statements become part of your identity and can go unquestioned for years, rearing their heads whenever the topic comes up – these rules become an easy alternative to thinking things through and coming to reasoned decisions. If you ‘don’t do exercise’, you have the perfect answer to any exercise related question without ever having to think about it! Ask yourself – are those beliefs really relevant today? Would I not enjoy any type of exercise, ever? Often, with a bit of loosening, you realise that it’s a belief formed very early in life that has held you back ever since. 

What else? Another reason is that health in our society has become synonymous with looks and weight. This can be very off-putting for some people, particularly if you’re not into starving yourself, or dying your skin another colour, or being injected with potent poisons. However, if you think of it in terms of a value, feeling healthy, it can often change your mind.

Anything else?  Perhaps the most important reason we tend to ignore our health is we don’t really notice it till it’s gone – subconsciously we think we’ve got all the time in the world, and can certainly get away with those bad habits for a few more years.


Gradually declining health can be very subtle, and before you know it, you’ve got a struggle on your hands. However, there are signs. Ill   
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health will affect your working life and performance in your career because your body and your mind work in harmony – they are all 
part of the same system. Exercise is actually a perfect way to switch off your brain for a while and recharge. 

Things to watch out for – poor concentration, feeling sluggish and tired all the time, loss of appetite or ‘comfort eating’, frequent mild headaches, aches and pains in your back, shoulders and neck, unexplained tearfulness, irritability – there are lots more, but you get the picture.

So what? If you know that feeling healthy, or not feeling unhealthy is one of your values, you will be happier if you work towards that in your life. This needn’t involve massive change – you don’t need to run a marathon next month, you can do small things to bring more healthy feelings into your life.

TOP TIPS
  • Check your values - is feeling healthy, or not feeling unhealthy one of them? If so, what are you doing every day to fulfil that value?
  • What do you believe about yourself and exercise? How long have you been believing this? Is it still relevant today?
  • Watch out for the warning signs – poor concentration, feeling sluggish and tired all the time, loss of appetite or ‘comfort eating’, frequent mild headaches, aches and pains in your back, shoulders and neck, unexplained tearfulness, irritability.
  • Take small steps and get quick wins. Walk two stops instead of getting the tube, start the day with some fruit, join the gym at work and do 20mins in your lunch break a couple of times a week, walk around the block at lunch (and if you don’t feel you can go out, look hard at your values again. What really matters to you?!), go out dancing etc.



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