Make a Positive Difference in Your Life

two ladies stand near coffee making machine in office talking smiling
by Anne McKeown

I was introduced to this idea a number of years ago. It immediately appealed to me because it only required a short period of time, I needed structure in my day and I could see that it would make a difference to not only me, but also those around me.

I implemented the routine immediately and the results were instant. I felt a sense of peace as soon as I pressed the pause button in my mind; three minutes seemed like a long time once I stopped and became aware of what I was doing and thinking. I was then able to make a choice and that felt liberating. People were saying that I looked different, obviously my features and body shape had not altered, but something in my physiology was sending out a new message. Maybe they sensed my calm, maybe the lines of tension had lifted from my brow, maybe my gait was lighter or my voice brighter. I’m not entirely sure, but I felt an inner shift and people around me obviously felt or saw it too. The things I did (and still do) to make a difference are great fun and for me it is now a game that I love to play, here are some examples:

– A chocolate biscuit left on a colleague’s desk when he wasn’t there. It was so funny to watch his confused look when he returned.

– Offering my neighbour a ride to the local shops when I saw her walking.

– Buying a small bunch of flowers for myself to fill my home with sweet scent.

– Tidying the bathroom without complaining.

– Dropping some money into a friend’s letterbox (her husband had lost his job).

– Thanking the bin men for clearing away all my rubbish.

– Offering a short prayer or meditation for someone in need.

What amazed me about these small gestures was the ripple effect they created.

The man who received the chocolate biscuit, brought a cake for everyone to share the next day. My neighbour organized a catch-up and invited not only me but other women who live in our street. My kids now think to buy me flowers.

It is incredible the impact our behaviour can have on others, which of course can be positive or negative. What shocked me more was that people were aware of my state, even when I was not – we give out signals every second with our actions, language, expressions. What is your body saying about you today?

Also Take 3 minutes, 3 times a day, to find 3 things that you are grateful for.

We’ve just said that our behaviour can have an effect on others, but did you know that your thoughts have a huge effect on you? Taking three minutes to appreciate what is good in life, not only gives the mind a moment to pause and reflect but also to fill with positive images, which create positive emotions and lead to a more positive outlook. I know you may be saying “I’ve heard all this positive stuff before and she doesn’t know what my life is like!” I am not saying anyone should ignore their problems or pretend that life is a bed of roses, because I am fully aware that it is not, in fact I KNOW life is difficult. However, it is equally easy to stay in a negative frame of mind and find it impossible to shift. So, I challenge you to try this exercise for one month and keep a diary of what you are grateful for each day and how that makes you feel. I’d love to hear your results and what steps you took along the way.

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