Tag Archives: gratitude

Life’s little miracles

A few days ago one of life’s little miracles turned up after a 9 month wait:

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As a result this blog will be on a short break after which I’ll be back, but for a little period of time the posts will probably be fewer and further between.

Stay up to date on blog activity and the occasional inspirational meme via facebook, instagram, twitter and pinterest.

Life’s little miracles come in many shapes and sizes. I realise that this one of mine is one of the more obvious ones. However, sometimes life’s miracles come in disguise, so keep your eye out for them; Chances are, you have more of them around than you are aware of.

Enjoy your summer – I know I will enjoy mine!

Gem

Why you should trust the timing of your life

It’s so easy to manipulate these days – so easy to move things forward. We’re part of a culture where boredom is rare and options are all over the place. Settling or remaining calm becomes increasingly difficult because ‘what if’ something better comes along? ‘What if’ it never happens if you don’t force it? ‘What if’ you don’t do it now – will it ever happen?

I’m all for putting yourself out there. Pursuing happiness and doing everything you can to reach goals is admirable in my opinion – something I strive to do myself on a daily basis. However, there’s a fine line between the above and manipulating or forcing results before they (or you, for that matter) are ready.

Here’s one of my favourite examples for you:
I had been struggling with being single for YEARS and as all my friends were moving in with their partners, getting married, having children and completing the ‘dream’ I eventually forced myself into a relationship I was never whole heartedly a part of. He was lovely and I’m sure he’s making someone else incredibly happy this very moment, but we were not compatible and I tried changing pretty much everything about him every single day. It was awful – for both of us. It became a very stressful relationship and eventually the whole thing blew up on us in a rather dramatic manner. Life had been whispering to me (and probably to him too) for so long, but I ignored it due to a slight panic that if I didn’t go along with this relationship, I would never get what everyone else had. Oh, dear… We all know that trap. My intuition even screamed at me (I know this from my diary); Do you want what everyone else has no matter what the price? I stayed. I was stubborn. And, worst of all, I did this because I had absolutely NO idea what I was worth. I truly believed that if I couldn’t make it work with this guy, I wouldn’t be able to make it work with anyone. Who would ever want me? If we had stayed in this relationship one of us (if not both of us) would have become severely ill, I’m sure – mentally or physically. Personally, I was heading down this path, and it wasn’t a pretty picture.

So, after a few years the relationship ended and I was on my own. Again. I was exhausted and frightened. Was I going to be alone for the rest of my life? Would kids ever be an option? At this point I had met Lis (read about her here) and she spent the coming 6 months guiding me to self-love, gratitude and happiness (a process that I had already started years before, but had let go of during this relationship). I started letting go. I started trusting life. I took chances. I met a ton of different interesting men, but, for once, I was completely relaxed about it. I didn’t force myself into anything that didn’t feel right. I finally knew what I was worth – I knew my value, and, most importantly, I knew what inner peace and happiness felt like. No way would I ever compromise again.

I ended up moving to London – city of singles and pursuing careers. This move didn’t connect with my dream still being to meet ‘the one’ and start a family, but it felt right. Besides, I kept reminding myself that I could always go back to Copenhagen or travel somewhere else. Life was a clean sheet and I could do exactly what I wanted with it. Nothing was tying me down. No strings attached anywhere. Life had never been more exciting! I let go. I let life guide me for once. Sure, I had days full of tears. I had days where I doubted literally everything. Days where I I was close to giving up. But I stayed and I kept pursuing the goal I had set; To find a job and create some sort of life in London. This part was about me. Love would join in when the time was right.

One month in I went to a London networking event where I met a guy I could tell was younger than myself (turns out I had no idea just how much younger!). He was slightly mysterious and didn’t talk much, but when he did his intelligence revealed wisdom far beyond his years and I was intrigued. Believe me when I say we had absolutely everything against us ever becoming an item! There was no logic to it at all and my mind was very much against it. Especially one of my otherwise very supportive friends was shaking her head and reminding me of my age along with the fact that I wanted children. But I took no notice. The whole thing was out of my control – I had surrendered. The timing of my life was very much guiding me and I mean it with every part of my body and soul when I say the following; Letting go and pursuing a life with him turned out to be the absolute best thing I have ever done for myself. More than three years in I am still incredibly in love with him and my heart skips a beat when I think of all the incredible years we have ahead. I look forward to him walking through the front door every day and the thought of life without him makes no sense to me.

If I had met Morten before I knew what I was worth, I’m not sure we would have been where we are today. I had found my own inner balance prior to meeting him, so I dared take the chance knowing that life would catch me if I fell.
We were very different places in life when we met, but I purposely never pressured him into anything he wasn’t ready for. We communicated with honesty and respect from day 1 and we’ve had our fair share of challenges, but the trust and the depth of our love has carried us through all of them. I can honestly say that I am grateful every single day for waking up next to him.

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So, trust the timing of your life
I believe there’s a flow to life and that everything will happen the way it’s supposed to in it’s own due time. As you have just read, I’ve tried forcing results and I’ve tried letting go – believe me when I say that forced results are very rarely worth it (especially as you run the risk of reaching a result that isn’t actually good for you). If you let go of control and let things happen the way they are supposed to, it might turn out that a completely different option will show up. An option that’s a lot better for you and your happiness.

Pursue your goals – go all in on your dreams, but trust the timing of your life while doing so. Don’t force results. Trust that the best results will appear when you are ready.

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When you lose someone you love

Regardless of whether you lose someone you love to death, to another country, by choice, as part of a break up (or maybe even while still in the relationship) or to  a disease, the process of grief, anger, hurt, sorrow, frustration and pain is somewhat the same and never easy. It takes time no matter how we twist and turn reality, before we finally reach a stage of acceptance. It can take weeks, months – even years. And some losses we never recover completely.

It can seem strange how life goes on even when you feel like it has stopped; You look out the window and see how people still go to work, pick up their children, go jogging, talk on the phone, laugh and smile. The seasons change, the roses bloom, the grass grows and yet here you are feeling like everything should stop functioning for a while. The void is staring at you and there’s nothing you can’t do to change what has happened. Turning back time is not an option.

Maybe you head down the more destructive route* and start blaming yourself; If only you had been a better partner. If only you had made that call. If only you had been home more. If only you had seen her more. If only you had lost weight. If only you had a better body. If only you had stayed in the country instead of pursuing your dreams. But the fact remains the same; You have lost someone close to you, and as the old saying tends to remind us ‘time will heal your wounds’ (Even though all wounds are not always healed completely.. Sometimes time will simply teach you how to live with them).
*A little note on heading down the destructive route: Please stop! You are exactly as you should be and you did exactly as you should have done. No matter how painful, whatever happened was meant to happen this way. Nothing you could have said or done would have changed it.

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So what can you do to get yourself through it?

First of all, when dealing with sorrow (regardless of the circumstances) try to remind yourself that things could always be worse (read this if you don’t believe me).

When I deal with difficultues I think of three specific people; I think of my grandfather, I think of Lis (read about her here) and last, but not least, I think of a very good friend of mine who gave me excellent advice in my early twenties that has stayed with me ever since.

My grandfather asked me on the day of my confirmation (literally right after returning from church) whether I believed in God. Gotta love his timing! In truth, I wasn’t quite sure, and I think he knew this, so he continued ‘It doesn’t matter what you believe in – as long as you believe in something. Life will be easier on you if you manage to do so‘.
My grandfather was a fantastic man – I loved him dearly. He was also a very religious man, so the surprise of these words have stayed with me ever since. I honestly never thought he would be the one to encourage me to believe in whatever I wanted to believe in. I would have thought that to him there was only one right way of believing. I guess I was wrong.

Perhaps as a direct result of our conversation, I, today, believe in a lot of different things and so I have a hard time putting a specific label on my beliefs. I’ve chosen my favourite parts of a few different religions and mixed them up, added a bit of spirituality (this is where Lis comes in) and know deep down in my gut that my grandparents, who are unfortunately not physically with me any longer, are very much with me every day in spirit – watching over me and making sure that everything happens the way it is supposed to. I believe that everything happens for a reason and I trust that life wants only what is best for me. In other words, I believe that there are no rules when it comes to believing, but I do believe that believing in something bigger than yourself is important – so I do.
If you don’t believe, everything becomes your own responsibility (even the worst things in life), which can severely weigh you down. Although we should always own up to our responsibilities, some things are not meant to land on our shoulders alone. So let it go. If you’re not into religion and don’t wish to be that’s absolutely fine. Just trust that there’s a higher meaning with what happened and that you are being taken care of no matter how painful the process you are going through.

And while you do find yourself going through the pain, anger, sorrow and frustration, take this piece of advice that my good friend gave me several years ago; Make sure you have one great thing to look forward to every single day. It’s a rather simple task, but it’s got a very important purpose; It’s to keep you active and to make certain that you have something good to think about especially right before you go to bed. Going to bed on a positive note heightens your likeliness of waking up with a positive mindset.
It doesn’t matter what this great thing is – as long as it feels good to you. It could be going for a walk in the park. It could be reading a good book. Having coffee with a friend. Going to the zoo. Going for a run. Attending a dance class. Having a drink with someone you haven’t seen for a long time. Visiting a relative. Signing up for an online dating site. Heck – going on a date. Starting up your kitchen garden. Having your hair cut, your nails done – you name it. The important part is that it’s a positive thing to you and that it’s in your calendar (I’m serious – write it down in your calendar). Never go to bed with no plans for the next day. Your plans don’t need to be huge – they just need to be there. At least one great thing a day.

Last, but not least; Focus on the positive – always. Be grateful for what you had and cherish the memories. Time will take care of the rest one way or the other and the sun will rise again, I promise.

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3 reasons why you should ask for a doggy bag

Bringing up the subject of a doggy bag on this blog can seem odd, but believe me when I say that a doggy bag can contribute to so much happiness, gratitude and – who would have thought – it can even enhance your mental health! Read on, my friend..

Recently my boyfriend and I were out with friends for what ended up as a very late dinner at a fantastic pizza place in central London. It was one of those evenings where everyone laughs a lot and you leave uplifted and slightly high on life (in addition to being so full that you feel somewhat sick).
This particular pizza place serves massive pizzas. Seriously huge! So even though especially the guys hardly ever say no to an extra slice, we still had a few rather large slices left over. Now, we could have just left the pizza there, as so many people unfortunately choose to do these days, however, we decided to ask for a doggy bag.

For a while now I’ve been working on an online project that will hopefully contribute to less food waste in the world once it goes live (did you know that roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year – approximately 1.3 billion tonnes – gets lost or wasted*? In the UK almost 50% of food waste comes from households. 7 million tonnes of food and beverages are wasted this way even though roughly half of it could have been eaten**!), so I generally have a hard time leaving food behind in restaurants where I know the employees (in most cases) have specific orders to throw it away.

Long story short, we brought the wrapped up pizza with us and, on our way home, gave it to a homeless man who was more than thrilled and incredibly grateful to get a warm meal. Think about this for a second. If we had left the pizza in the restaurant it would have gone straight to the trash and this man might not have had anything to eat that night. In other words, what you might perceive as trash could, quite literally, be another man’s treasure.

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Now, why am I telling you this? Why is asking for a doggy bag so important? Three reasons:

  1. Obviously, as you can tell from the above, eliminating food waste is a subject that’s very close to my heart and as it’s also a worldwide issue I urge you to always think twice before you throw food away. Keep an eye on expiration dates at home so you manage to eat what you’ve bought before it goes bad (you’ll save money this way too). If the food has passed the expiration date, make sure the food has actually gone bad before getting rid of it – quite often you’ll find it is still perfectly fine. If you’re going away for a few weeks and food won’t keep, give it to your neighbours, your friends or someone less fortunate. Last, but not least, if you’re having dinner out, ask for a doggy bag if there’s any food left over. For some reason a lot of people have a hard time doing this. Maybe it makes them feel cheap? If you are one of these people, please put those silly thoughts aside..  It’s ok to ask for a doggy bag. You paid for the food after all.
  2. When you ask for a doggy bag you have two options;
    a) You can decide to bring the food home and eat it the following day. This way you won’t need to cook and you have saved the money you would have otherwise spent buying groceries.
    b) Or you can decide to give the food to someone less fortunate and hereby do some good. Think about it. With this very simple gesture, you are contributing to someone else’s well being and brightening this person’s day at the same time.
  3. If you go for option b, there’s a part of the equation that works out really well for yourself; Research shows that acts of kindness towards friends and strangers alike lower your stress levels and contribute to your enhanced mental health! (Read more about this here) What’s not to love?!

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What you choose to do with your food is obviously your business. This is me urging you to think twice. And, for goodness sake, don’t be afraid of asking for that doggy bag. Do it with pride! So many restaurants throw away crazy amounts of food daily. Don’t let perfectly good food go to waste. Bring it home instead and enjoy it tomorrow or, better yet, be the reason someone smiles today <3

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* 2015, United Nations Environment Programme – www.unep.org
** 2015, Love Food Hate Waste, www.lovefoodhatewaste.com

How much worse could things be?

When we’re caught up in misery and pain, everything somehow becomes all about ourselves in the darkness – nothing else matters. Everything is just black, awful, unimportant, cold and there seems to be no prospect of anything ever getting any better. But what if things could get better? And what if they could get better by thinking ‘How much worse could things be?’

During her commencement speech at Berkeley on Saturday, COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, brought up the subject of gratitude several times in several different ways. Throughout an extremely touching, honest and truly inspirational speech she shared her hard core and heart breaking story publicly for the first time since the sudden loss of her husband a little over a year ago. Several times, she came close to letting her emotions take over and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one truly in awe of her strength as she stood there and shared her life’s biggest struggle with everyone.
Sheryl Sandberg touched base on so many incredibly important and very interesting subjects during her speech, but there was one subject in particular that caught my attention; Her ability to find gratitude during the absolute darkest hours of her life.
She managed to find gratitude with help from her friend and therapist, Adam Grant, who, one day, suggested she think about how much worse things could be.

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Sheryl Sandberg tragically lost her husband, Dave Goldberg, due to a cardiac arrhythmia that the doctors had not yet discovered he had. In an instant she lost the love of her life and became a single parent to two children, yet she, like so many others who are suddenly faced with severe sorrows in life, managed to make life work regardless of tremendous heartbreak and pain. So when Sheryl Sandberg was asked to consider how much worse things could be, her reply was ‘Worse?! Are you crazy?! How could things be worse?!’ Adam Grant replied: ‘Dave could have had that same cardiac arrhythmia driving your children’. And just like that the situation was put into perspective. A perspective that made her realise how much she had to be grateful for.

Now, Sheryl Sandberg’s example is obviously rather hard core, but maybe that’s what makes the point so clear; that gratitude can always be found. Always. Regardless of what happens, you’ll always be able to find something to be grateful for in the light of a scenario that’s worse than the one you’re in.  And that little grain of gratitude can end up being the star that shines and leads the way on your otherwise dark road. The trick is to then add more stars to the sky and eventually you will have enough light to recognize the beauty that surrounds you.

I have formerly brought up exercises that can help you increase your gratefulness (and thereby also your happiness). Sheryl Sandberg actually mentions this one in her speech and another one can be found here. You might not be able to feel the effects of these exercises immediately, but I promise you that if you repeat them every day, you will feel it eventually, as what you put your attention to grows stronger. Put your attention towards the positives – always.

If you’d like to see Sheryl Sandberg’s commencement speech, which I highly recommend, this can be found below. You might think it’s slightly long, but trust me – it’s worth every minute and will stay with you for quite some time if you really let it sink in.

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I love you

I have now been blogging for a month! To celebrate, I hereby give you one of my most ‘wacky’ meetings with spirituality, but also one of my absolutely most important ones.
I love telling this story to people who know me well, as they always end up laughing several times through it and yet they actually get the point once I reach the end. Hopefully you will do the same.

In my early twenties I was severely heartbroken. To a degree where I actually think I went a bit crazy for a little while. You see, I had built my life around a boyfriend and truly believed we would get married, have children and all of the things connected to that picture. It started out as a beautiful love story. The kind where you’re so much in love that you can hardly breathe. I specifically remember telling my mother about him (about a week in), while spreading my arms out and float-flying around the kitchen in my childhood home. I was struck. Big time. And, to my big surprise, so was he.

As you have probably figured out by now our love didn’t last forever. One day I came home from college and there he was, on the couch, pretty much in the same spot I had left him during our morning fight. He was crying and, bless him, he had tried to paint his feelings in order for me to understand exactly what was going on inside him. Bottom line was that he wasn’t ready for all of it and I was – he felt trapped. Looking back, I really can’t blame him. I was so incredibly dependent on him that I have to say I’m quite impressed he didn’t leave sooner. I actually planned my week according to his schedule. Yes, it was that bad.

Nevertheless, he left me, and my life froze completely. Nothing functioned and I spent most of my time crying and wondering whether life was really worth living. With time though I did become rather good at socialising and partying especially, but when I was alone I was devastated and life made no sense to me. I remember I actually found partying to be a great escape from it all, right till the next morning when my feelings caught up with me and the hangover somehow made everything even worse. I lost a lot of weight, smoked way to many cigarettes and I was miserable!

One day a friend of mine told me about a man she knew called Dan. A healer. This was the first time I heard of one such and I found the whole thing fascinating (also, I had no better idea as to how I was to leave my own pity party). Apparently this guy had just opened up a place close to where I lived – an event space / studio / healer spot (oh yes, many hats) and my friend had been hired to play the piano at a Christian Healing Ceremony that was to take place in the large event space (as she’s an Atheist, I’m still not quite sure what that was all about).  She asked whether I’d like to come along that night, so I could meet Dan and speak to him about potential healing. Besides, she wasn’t really sure what she had gotten herself involved in so as I had nothing better to do I decided to be a good friend and off we went.

It was Wednesday evening and we laughed all the way there, prepared for a whole lot of ‘Hallelujah’ and talk of God (can I just say that none of us have anything against religion, I’m just not particularly religious myself and my friend is, as mentioned, an Atheist). However, I swear, nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to experience…

The Christian Healing Ceremony itself was surreal to say the least. I have no doubt, that if this is your thing, these ladies would be your heroes. However, as Dan’s huge event space was completely new the Healing Ceremony was the first of its kind and the audience was very limited. As in, we were 4 people in the audience. 2 of them were Dan and me, who weren’t supposed to be there in the first place – the other two were a couple of siblings who had apparently both experienced quite severe drama in their lives recently. To say that the place felt rather empty would be an understatement, but they went ahead with it anyway and the siblings took turns going to the stage to receive healing. Yes, there was quite a lot of Hallelujah going on, and I just sat there, stunned and unsure of what I was seeing.
Towards the end of the ceremony one of the healers turned to me and asked me whether I wanted to receive healing. She specifically said ‘I know you’re reluctant, and that’s completely ok. However, you need it and would be doing yourself a favour’. Aha. Right. Well, what did I have to lose?  If you’re in doubt – say yes, right? So I went up there. Besides, saying no would have been rude at this point.
The very nice lady asked me whether I believed in Jesus. ‘Uhm… Undecided’, I replied. I could hardly tell her that I was only there to meet Dan now, could I? She told me that Jesus loved me anyway and that he was there for me. This is the last of our conversation I remember. Suddenly tears were streaming down my face and I felt weightless. My legs seemed to somewhat dissapear beneath me and I sort of blacked out (although, as it turns out, I was standing straight all along). The whole thing felt like it lasted a matter of seconds, but it definitely lasted a lot longer than that.
I eventually turned around to walk back to my seat only to find that Dan stood right behind me! For some reason, this seemed natural at the time, but as he wasn’t part of the ‘show’ he really had no business on that stage. He told me later, that he could tell that the other healer needed help up there. That he had never seen so much negative energy escape a person before and so he had run up on stage to help her remove it. Alrighty then.

So, this was my first healing experience. My second healing experience came to me the same night, straight after the first one. The healer in question this time was Dan. It was rather late (10pm) yet he asked me whether I would like to have a session immediately – and so I followed him to his healer room and we had a chat. The next thing I know I’m crying like a baby on his healer table while struggling to say the following words to myself: ‘I love you, Katrine’. I just couldn’t get the words out. I tried and tried, but something was blocked.

Here’s a little background info for you: All through my childhood I was reminded daily that I wasn’t good enough. I was constantly criticized and never completely accepted in my home, which I guess taught me to look for love everywhere else but within (something I have forgiven a long time ago, but these were the facts I was faced with and the challenges I needed to overcome). I was always sad and cried a lot – until I found my freedom outside the house. When I was with friends it all seemed easier. My friends became family. Generally speaking I was a peoples person, and I found myself ‘there’ for pretty much anyone whenever needed. I could easily relate to pain, and I felt love and acceptance when I was helping them. Basically, I lived for everybody but myself. I was a people pleaser and did everything in my power to make my surroundings like me. So, when my rock-star of a first real love left me I felt absolutely worthless. I was 22 years old and hated my own guts. Everything I had been told during my childhood had come true – of course he didn’t want me! I believed I would never ever be happy again and I was literally unable to say those three basic and ever so important words to myself; ‘I love you’.

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Back to the story: The healing session was over and I found myself on my bike heading home a little past midnight. Copenhagen was silent and I was alone in the darkness. I had spent 2 hours on Dan’s healing table and the only thing I could remember from this session was the fact that I had cried from start to finish and was unable to say ‘I love you, Katrine’.
I could hardly recognise myself in the mirror when I came home. My face was swollen, my eyes were red and puffy – I looked awful. And I didn’t care. I went straight to bed and fell asleep before my head even hit the pillow.

Next day, Thursday, I was a complete zombie. I felt like I was surrounded by fog and that I was moving in slow motion. I went to classes and spoke to people, but when I came home I didn’t remember a thing. My body was heavy, exhausted and completely drained. I have no recollection of what else happened that day, apart from this; I repeated Dan’s ‘I love you’ exercise right before I went to bed. I had promised him to do so every night before I fell asleep and he had promised me that I would be able to complete it one day.

Friday I woke up in a better mood than I had ever in my life experienced before. I was high! I was flying! Huge amounts of weight had been lifted off my shoulders and life was smiling at me. I remember standing on the balcony in the sun, breathing deeply with a huge smile on my face. I was on my way – I would get there one day. I was learning to love myself.
Believe me when I say, that this was the beginning of a true and amazing love story. My own love story. A love story that no one can mess with and a love story I continue to work on every single day.

The thing about life is that the only person you know will always be with you is yourself. Some people find this fact sad, others find it reassuring. Regardless, this means that the one place you should always be able to find love is from within yourself.
We all need love – no matter what we’ve been through. So, if you haven’t done this already, how about starting up your own gorgeous love story right now? Dan’s recipe can be found below, but feel free to create your own or see a healer, a therapist or anyone else who will be able to help you find your way.

The recipe for Dan’s ‘I love you’ exercise (min. 30 minutes required):

  1. Get comfortable. Lie on a bed, a couch, the floor – you decide. What’s important is that you’re on your back and not bothered by any sounds or things around you. Close your eyes. Place your right hand on your belly – solar plexus, to be precise. Place your left hand over your heart. Relax.
  2. Take deep, slow breaths and let your body get heavy. Concentrate on one body part at a time; Relax your toes (one at a time), your heels, your feet, your ankles, your calves, your knees, your thighs, your abdomen, your hips, your belly, your chest, your shoulders, your upper arms, your elbows, your lower arms, your palms, your fingers (one at a time), your neck, your jaw, your lips, your nose, your cheeks, your eyes, your forehead, your ears, your scalp.
  3. Now, imagine that you are standing inside your head. That you are standing right behind your forehead waiting for an elevator to arrive. It’s up to you to decide what you are wearing and what the elevator looks like. What’s important here is that you wait for the elevator – it will get to you eventually.
  4. Once the elevator reaches you, step inside and push ‘down’. Now imagine how this elevator slides down your forehead, your nose, your lips, your chin, your neck, your collarbone, your chest, and eventually stops at your heart.
  5. Once you reach your heart the elevator doors will open and you can step out. Look at your heart; see it beating – so beautiful and full of life. Now, in your own time, say ‘I love you (your name)’. Repeat. Tell yourself again and again, till you feel you have truly understood the message. Hug your heart if you like – nurture it.
  6. When you’re ready, step back into the elevator, let the doors close and push ‘up’. Now feel how you’re journey back to your head takes you via your chest, your collarbone, your neck, your chin, your lips, your nose and eventually stops in your head.
  7. Step out of the elevator and let yourself slowly come back to your senses.

I was instructed to do this exercise right before I fell asleep each night, but if you find there’s a better time during the day for you to do this, go for it.

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Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn

Surely I don’t believe that? Oh, but I do. It’s another way of saying there is always good to be found in all situations.

When an athlete plays football and the team doesn’t win, what does the coach do?  You can be perfectly sure the coach will have analysed everything for the next time the players are back in the field – making sure what was once a weakness becomes a strength. The coach will strive to make his / her athletes better at their game and eventually make them go as far as they possibly can go.

Obviously we don’t all have a coach by our side in everything we do, but why would this scenario be any different in general life, love or work? When something doesn’t work out as you had planned it’s time to analyse and get back in that field with a new and better strategy based on your learnings. Be your own coach!

There’s no such thing as losing. Your partner left you? Give it a little time and you’ll probably find that this person did you a massive favour. You got fired? Chances are the job wasn’t right for you – something better is out there. Didn’t get the pay raise? Now you know your current approach doesn’t work with your boss. Study the subject and come up with a new and even better approach for next time. Your blind date turned out to not be the one? Get back out there! Didn’t get the house / apartment you were hoping for? Count your blessings! It was probably full of mould – there’s a fantastic place waiting to greet you right around the corner. Every ‘no’ takes you closer to a ‘yes’! Don’t give up!

You either win or you learn. Keep this in mind next time you’re disappointed or beating yourself up for one reason or another. You did the best you could have done – now take home what you have learned and find a new tactic for next time.

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You can do it!

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Let it go

About a year ago I had a call with a prospective client while I was enjoying some down time with a close friend of mine and her children in their holiday home. I had left the living room and placed myself in the garden for this call – nice and professional, away from the noise. Half way through the call, my friend’s 4-year-old daughter decided to make her way to the garden in order to pitch in with a little background music. So there she went (extremely loud and slightly off-key) ‘Let it gooooo, let it goooo’. Elsa had joined the party and I suddenly found myself discussing Frozen during a business call. #thingsIthoughtwouldneverhappen
To be fair though, Disney does have a point with those lyrics.

There are several ways to let go. Disney’s version above, where you don’t hold back is one of them. Another way we often need to let go is when obsessing with unfortunate situations. Random example: You’ve accidentally said something inappropriate during a mind wonder and it’s too late to take it back.
Quite often no one else remembers this situation 30 minutes later, but you hold on to the shame, the guilt and the need to do something about it.

Let’s be honest. This happens. And these scenarios are typically the smaller, less important parts of life. But somehow these small things can grow really big and we end up beating ourselves up about it. I have especially one friend who does this. A lot. She’s the ‘think out loud’ kind of person we all know so well – and she will almost always call me up the day after we’ve seen each other to apologise for something she said to me or tell me how upset she is about something she said to someone else in the room. I honestly rarely remember the situation she refers to. I do know the devastating feeling though.

A few years ago I said something really silly at a job interview. My heart wasn’t really in it and all of a sudden it was too late to take back what had come out. It bothered me to a degree that I found myself twisting and turning the whole situation again and agaian trying to figure out how I could have handled it differently. I’m quite sure I even had sleepless nights about it. I eventually spoke to my older sister about it and this was what she had to say about it: ‘Remember that you’re not the centre of the universe’.

I found my sister’s remark rather harsh at first. After all, I had been obsessing about this ever since it happened. But after a while, what she had said made perfect sense; People have problems and worries of their own. Sure, they might register your silly remark, action or tone, but by the end of the day they will forget it pretty much as fast as it happened. They will move on to the next thing on their list. Several things will probably be more important to them. Who knows? They might be going through a divorce, be really exited about an upcoming holiday or be trying to make it home to their kids in time for dinner. In other words, you should let it go just as easy as they probably did.
As one of the experts in the new documentary, The Abundance Factor, put it: ‘The world forgives and forgets. Only you remember.’ I wasn’t the centre of the universe. I didn’t get the job either – which turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me.

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Personally I have always found the exercise of letting go very difficult. Although I am a lot better at it now, it has taken me years to work out a way to handle the prospect of someone not liking me or thinking bad things about me.

When faced with this battle I find the following to be a really good exercise. It’s all about reminding yourself that you are just a tiny piece in a massive puzzle. My thoughts go something like this:
‘I am Kat. I come from a little town north of Copenhagen. Denmark. Scandinavia. Europe. The World. The Universe.’
All of a sudden you become so incredibly small in the bigger picture, which makes something you have said or done on a random day even smaller than it probably already was.
I also remind myself that my time on earth is so limited that really what does it matter if a former colleague thought I handled something the wrong way or I said something that was meant nicely, but was misinterpreted?
Life is too short. Move on. Focus on something great instead and let it go. You can’t change the past anyway so really, what does it matter now? You didn’t get the job? You scared somebody off? Keep this in mind:

luck

You might be the centre of your own universe. But you are not the centre of the universe. Remember this with a big smile on your face next time something small and unimportant has turned big and scary. Let it go and be grateful for all the good that surrounds you.

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Dancing in the rain

I had lunch with a girl today that I hadn’t seen for a few years. She was actually one of my first acquaintances after coming to London – a brilliant artist with a stunning personality. Meeting her during my first time in London was a gift. However, for some reason we lost contact (although in this day in age you never really lose contact with anyone due to social media).

After starting this blog and sharing the news I have been blessed with hearing from old and new friends, but especially people I haven’t spoken to for years. It has been such a fantastic experience and everyone has been so incredibly positive about this little venture of mine – so thank you! The friend I met up with today was one of these people.

It turns out that during these last years she has gone through quite a lot of pain and suffering. She got married to a lovely man that turned out to be struggling with challenges bigger than what he has been capable of handling. As a result, she has put up with daily negativity and rejection adding to which she has been the victim of heart breaking stories. Recently she left her husband and has consciously taken life into own hands. She is crashing at a friend’s place at the moment and is trying to figure out where to go from here. She is starting over.
Seeing her today – so strong, brave and full of positive energy while telling her story – reminded me of my own adventure and especially of my first few months in London.

I moved to London about 3,5 years ago as a result of a nasty breakup and the urge to get away from the settled life I desperately wanted to live, but  found I had never been further away from achieving. I had been the spectator of my life falling apart for quite a few months at the time, so the chance I took by moving countries didn’t actually seem that crazy or even that challenging (although everyone seemed incredibly impressed by my decision). Yes, I was worried about the outcome, but in the end I just did it. Little did I know that this move would end up changing everything.

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When I first came to London I stayed with my older sister and her family in a gorgeous little town about a 40-minute train ride from the city centre. I would get up in the morning, buy my train & tube ticket and spend the rest of the day roaming the streets of London, trying to figure out how everything was connected, which parts of the city I liked more and hanging out with Mr. Google during meals to find a job and some sort of living arrangement for myself.
I’m not going to lie – these weeks were hard-core! First of all it dawned on me that rent was going to gobble up pretty much all the money I had for survival each month. Secondly, I realised that getting a job in London was extremely up hill when London is not already on your resume and you have no contacts that can help you out. Last, but not least, I often felt that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.
Every night I would come back to my sister’s place and either catch up with her and her husband in the kitchen or sneak straight into bed (the bottom bunk of my 7-year-old nieces bunk bed to be precise), ready for what the next day had to offer.

About a week into my struggles I came home rather late one night and snuck into bed, conscious that I shouldn’t wake up my niece while doing so. As I lay there under the duvet it suddenly hit me that I couldn’t stay in this bottom bunk forever. My situation was unexpectedly very clear to me: I was 31, single, homeless, jobless and planning a life that would have me pretty much broke by the beginning of each month. Things could hardly get any worse.
Then I started laughing. I laughed and laughed to a degree that I was sure I would end up waking up my niece. Tears were streaming down my face.  I was happy! Never had life been more exciting. Never before had I had so many options. I felt so alive! I was dancing in the rain.

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That night was my turning point. I had successfully managed to switch my way of thinking – I was focusing on the positive and could feel deep down inside that this move was going to be one of the the best things I had ever done for myself.

Truth be told, several times after this night I had the feeling of everything seeming hopeless, but then I would remind myself of how far I had come and how lucky I was. Suddenly all the pieces started falling into place and I have not looked back since.

One of my best exercies during this time, was reminding myself of what I had to be grateful for: Every night before I closed my eyes, I would write down a minimum of three things I was grateful for. It didn’t have to be massive things. It could be something as simple as:

  1. A stranger smiled at me in the supermarket
  2. The sun was shining today
  3. My favourite song played on the radio

Try it. It might seem silly at first (maybe even hard), but one day you will find this exercise easier and you might come up with five things, seven things or even ten things you are grateful for. All of a sudden you will notice positives all through the day and the times of darkness will seem far away. Trust me.

If you’d like to know more about what positive thoughts can do for you, have a look at this post: Positivity vs. Negativity

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Positivity vs Negativity

As much as I have no doubt most people wish to be happy 24 hours a day, this simply isn’t achievable. It wouldn’t be natural either in my opinion. Imagine being around people who constantly smile, even through the worst tragedies in life – I wouldn’t trust it. Frankly, I would be worried. It doesn’t connect to reality. That said I wouldn’t want to spend too much time with someone who’s constantly negative either.

According to the American Psychology Professor, Barbara Fredrickson (known for her extensive work within positive psychology), living by a positivity ratio of 3:1 is ideal. Basically this means that in order to properly thrive we need to have three heartfelt positive emotional experiences for every devastating negative one. Newer research suggests the ratio to be more along the lines of 7:1, but regardless of which you choose to go with, the bottom line is that you can’t have one without the other.
Personally I believe that going through negative emotions makes us enjoy the positive emotions much more, which I guess would be another way of putting it. What’s important though is, that the positives outnumber the negatives.

During my late teens and early 20’s I was all about the negative. I had lots of fun, but emotionally I saw the glass as half empty and focused on the impossible instead of the possible. The most impressive part of this picture is, that I wasn’t even aware of it – this was simply my perception of life. Sure, I knew I was unhappy (I even told everyone about it too), but I honestly never thought I could feel otherwise. I hoped I could and dreamt about the happy Hollywood ending, but I never truly believed this could happen to me.
It turns out I was far from alone on this one. Shawn Achor, American Happiness Researcher, has found through thorough research that humans are always striving for something better. ‘When I get my dream job I’ll be happy’, ‘As soon as school is finished, I’ll make the money I need, meet the partner of my dreams and life will be a bliss’. However, once we reach these goals, we’ve usually set new ones and we never fully enjoy the process. Focusing on the negative has been and continues to be a challenge in society – we’re simply used to focusing on the negative and are programmed to believe that we need to work hard at it (sometimes for years) in order to achieve any sort of happiness. Apparently as late as 1998 the entire field of psychology focused almost only on the negative. This means that the negative and how to get rid of it has been the dominating approach within the industry till less than 20 years ago! Then came along the President of the American Psychological Association and claimed it was time to shift the traditional approach. It was time to look at what works (i.e. positive psychology) – not just what doesn’t. Maybe we should do the same in our everyday lives?

People who are close to me will confirm that my outlook on life has changed dramatically. I still have bad days like any other, but I will always try to find the positive in why something has happened the way it has. Finding the positives can take a while, but so far I have managed and I sincerely believe that I will keep finding them no matter what happens to me.
I believe that everything happens for a reason and that nothing is so bad that it isn’t good for something else. However, this doesn’t mean I walk around with my head in a pink cloud. We need to react when the less positive parts of life show up. We need to go through the motions and process the hurt. Simply ignoring heartache and pain will only make matters worse and one day your body will scream what it has been trying to whisper to you for years. Been there, tried that – it wasn’t pleasant.

The challenge with negativity, I find, is that it tends to be such a natural part of the human mind that most of the time people don’t realise how negative their thoughts are. Let’s test it: When was the last time you thought ‘I hate my job!’ or ‘I wish my relationship was more like my neighbour’s – my partner is such a bore!’. Chances are, you don’t even notice these thoughts any longer. They have become a natural part of your daily routine. The danger here is, that what our minds are full of tend to grow stronger.

So, you find you are in a dull relationship? Focus on it and it will get even worse. Your workplace didn’t turn out to be what you had hoped for? Focus on it and you’ll probably end up having no responsibility what so ever resulting in the fact that your colleagues won’t even notice you’re there.
Now try turning the table. Next time you get to the office, notice the fresh flowers on the table at the reception desk. Who do you think put them there? Why do you think he / she did this? My guess would be the receptionist did it and that this person placed the flowers there in the hope that it would brighten your day (amongst others). I bet if you tell the receptionist you noticed it, you will brighten his / her day right back. And let’s say you really don’t like the job you’re in – maybe it’s time you look for a new one? One where you can make the most of all your passion and talent. One where you’ll wake up daily with a smile on your face because you know your day is full of fantastic, rewarding challenges. I appreciate switching jobs isn’t always as straightforward as it can sound. So you are a banker dreaming of joining the circus? Maybe start by finding an evening or weekend course where you can work on those juggling skills and make sure this is the right switch for you before you go for it full time.
Instead of focusing on your neighbours amazing love life, how about taking matters into your own hands when you come home tonight. Stop your partner in doing whatever he / she is doing, have a hug and seal it with ‘you look great / beautiful’. Who knows, maybe this tiny action will trigger a great story about what happened today or a suggestion that the two of you go out tonight (dressed up and all) – just like you used to.

Changing a thought pattern takes time. Once negativity has become a habit you need to make a conscious effort to change it. Anyone who has ever tried to get rid of a bad habit will know that it takes devotion and you need to be quite stubborn about it. Start by noticing your thoughts in the first place – on the tube, in the shower, while cooking, in the car, on the bike – what are they like? Maybe change one thought a day to begin with. Turn what was negative into a positive and try to notice how your body relaxes when you do so. Sometimes finding the positive can be a challenge, but I’m certain it can be done.
Stuck in the tube with thousands of others? Instead of criticising your fellow commuters in your mind, try this little game: Who’s got the best hair today? Prettiest face? Funky style?

As Shawn Achor’s TEDx talk below will vouch for, if you can train your mind consciously to focus on the positives in life, only more positive will come. Give it a go – what have you got to lose?

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