Realise that you are ‘response-able’
You are in fact responsible for how you respond to things. It may not feel like it sometimes, but if you can find a way to stay in control of your reactions you’ll allow the thinking space to find a way through. As the old saying goes, ‘You can’t change everything, but you can change how you react to it!’ This is a habitual thinking process for me. I avoid saying to myself things like, “It’s not fair,” or, “Why me?” and instead say something like, “It is what it is, so what can we do?” This helps me stay in emotional control. It avoids me thinking while in a fear or threat mode, which we all know has taken hundreds of thousands of years to evolve, to protect us physically, but isn’t particularly useful if we want to think logically.
See failures and setbacks as part of the process
I once read that Thomas Edison failed thousands of times to find the correct compound for the filament of the light bulb. While some people at the time were calling him a failure, his mindset was that he had successfully found many ways that didn’t work and so could exclude them from his experiments. What he went on to achieve changed the world and brought light (literally) to most corners of it. This has really influenced my thinking. I often find myself thinking and saying things like, “Now we know what doesn’t work, what might we try?” and, “That didn’t go so well, so what were we supposed to learn?” Setbacks along the way are pretty inevitable, so it’s how you deal with them that makes the difference. A child who can walk didn’t learn to do so without falling over numerous times in order to perfect the process.
See tough times as temporary
The last six to eight months have been tough for most of us in all sorts of different ways. At times it’s felt like it was going to be never-ending. During this time and generally, if I’m having a tough time (I’m too busy at work or not feeling particularly well for some reason), I focus on what will happen when I’m through it. What I will do, how it will be, what I will have learned and how things will be easier as a result. I even apply it to really short-term things. If I’m having a bad morning, I focus on how much better the afternoon will be; a bad week and I start to think about some of the things I’m going to do at the weekend with my family. If you’re having a tough time or feeling like you’re bogged down, try focusing on what will happen at the end of that. It keeps your mind in ‘possibility mode’ and it also makes the tough bits easier to get through.
Be kind to people
Neuroscientists will tell you about the chemical, hormonal kicks that we feel when we smile, when we’re kind to people and when we’re part of a supportive group. Quite frankly, I get high on these chemicals because however difficult things are, you can always raise a smile… there’s always someone who you can help… there’s always a team who are in it with you. When the UK went into lockdown, at Rambutan we decided to formalise kindness into our goals. We offered our advice and support completely free of charge; without any hint of wanting anything back. We’ve had amazing feedback and so many notes and emails of gratitude about what we did. This is lovely in itself. But there was definitely something perversely selfish in our acts; helping other people in their time of need helped us immeasurably. Why not try extra smiling and double kindness as you go through 2021 and enjoy the chemical rush it gives you?