I stepped into the lift at the end of the week, only Lift#1 was working (Lift #2 — broken cable). Yes! — Friday was finally here. I smiled at my lift companion and he immediately said “how are you?” As he exited the lift a floor below my floor my lift companion smiled and said “have a good Friday and a great weekend” — my response was “you too”.
And I smiled.
#1 In Gear
Why smile? Apart from the health benefits we regularly read about, there is so much positive energy in a smile — and let’s face it these days you never know who’s watching — gotcha! Smiling changes your whole body language — it elevates your mood, draws people in and puts everyone at ease. As a parent you can’t wait for your baby to smile, then to laugh — it is infectious.
In this highly competitive world in which we live, only a point of difference is what makes us stand out. How many books have been published — children’s books, fiction, non-fiction — what makes your book different — YOU.
The power of the smile. Smiling makes you stand out, makes you memorable, gives you a point of difference — like bees to the honeypot. As a writer and author our writing also needs to smile.
Close your eyes — you have a parcel in your hands from your publisher — your first published book — how do you feel? I feel the way a child does on Christmas morning — the anticipation and excitement almost too much to bear. And I smile.
I feel my book — curiously I unwrap it. And I laugh.
I look at the front cover of my book, I see the name of the author, I open the pages. And I cry.
I am truly happy.
And I smile.
Dr Lee Berk, an associate professor at Loma Linda University in California, studied the aftershocks of a good laugh for nearly three decades and showed that:
laughter seems to induce “gamma” frequencies — the type of brain waves observed among experienced meditators. These gamma waves improve the “synchronization” of your neuronal activity, which bolsters recall and memory
When was the last time you had a real belly aching laugh — it feels so good — and it’s infectious. If you want a good laugh, watch Carl Barron (comedian) — he is funny.
Belly aching laughter ripples through our brain and entire body. When we laugh we are in a good and happy place.
We also need to be able to laugh at ourselves.
laughter is the yin to stress’s yang
Laughing at ourselves is crucial — “the link between humour and humility”. You’ve spent the last six years writing a book and you receive word from Publisher #20 — they like your book — the story — the concept.
(Note to self: Smiley face)
In order for this publisher to publish your book, they request you to re-write it! Do you laugh or cry? — it’s a bit like “would you like the good news or the bad news?”
It’s a pain in the arse — a good pain in the arse! And a pain in the arse you’d prefer to have than not.
I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious (Albert Einstein)
Lewis Carroll wrote:
“Curiouser and curiouser!” Cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English).”
When we are curious our powers of observation are heightened. As an exercise I set the team some homework — while commuting to/from work — put away your iPhones and iPads for one week and observe — observe people, places and things — at our next team meeting share what you observed.
- the most interesting person you see on the bus, train, ferry
- the most interesting piece of street art
- gargoyles on buildings
- the driver, commuters, street signs —
- things you’ve never noticed before
One of the most interesting observations a member of our team shared was — she caught the same train every day, sat in the same carriage — as did a “unique” stranger. They both recognised they shared this daily ritual — yet they had never spoken.
When we are curious, we see things differently; we use our powers of observation more fully. We sense what is happening in the present moment, taking note of what is, regardless of what it looked like before or what we might have expected it to be.
I set myself the same task — the most interesting thing I observed was a woman (a mother) who spent the entire journey into the city on her iPhone — she never looked up once. Her two children (a boy and girl) tried without success to get their mother’s attention, wanting to share with her what they were observing out the window of the bus.
(Note to self: Our children are on loan to us for such a short time — nurture the curious mind and nurture its development.)
A curious and inquiring mind creates thoughts — thoughts create our reality.
When we have an enquiring mind “we feel alive and engaged, more capable of embracing opportunities, making connections, and experiencing moments of insight and meaning — all of which provide the foundation for a rich, aware and satisfying life experience.”
- I find others inspiring — others find me inspiring. What is it about me that inspires others?
- There are so many books on the shelves — what makes people buy and read my book?
- Engagement — we need to engage our team, our audience, our readers — we need to smile.
The mentor says to set yourself time each day to write — write about anything — just write “one word at a time” — a minimum of 500 words.
Writing becomes pleasantly addictive like a gym junkie the writer needs their fix — you enter a world that becomes limitless, a world which opens doors (just like in Alice in Wonderland) to new experiences.
Create a new habit — focus on transition — and on change. Embrace change — adapt to new situations, new environments, and new people. Changes allow us to re-evaluate our lives and see things from a different view — a new perspective.
#4 Exceed the Limit
500 words/day becomes 1,000 words/day — the more you write the more you think — the more you think the more you write.
A daily writing habit gives you regular time to sweep your mind for forgotten tasks and ideas that have been fermenting in the back of your head without your knowledge.
And then there’s your daily shower (or a walk around the block)— my office for creative thought — new concepts — crystalisation of ideas.
Writing takes you down alleyways that take you down other alleyways that lead you to new alleyways — Venice is one of those places.
(Note to self: When living in Beijing for 15 months, I walked with a group each week to a new and interesting part of the city — I would always walk at the back of the group with my trusty camera. When showing photos taken on our walk to fellow walkers, they would frequently say “I didn’t see that!” — after the group had moved through I would stop and observe down a hutong laneway and click the camera. Enjoy the journey — we don’t always have to keep pace with the pack.)
A sample of photos taken whilst living in Beijing (below):
Embrace change — expected and unexpected alike, for if you resist it change will enter your life regardless. Initiate the change and see where it takes you.
When leaving London, having lived a pretty cushy life in Richmond (Note to self: Yes, Mick Jagger was the first celebrity I saw, and yes his ex-wife Jerry Hall was the first celebrity to enter the high-end Richmond fashion boutique where I worked), one of the owners of the boutique quipped on learning I was moving to Beijing “I’ll bet you’re disappointed to be moving to the bling of Chinese fashion after London” — “not at all” I responded, “I can’t wait”. We were expats seeking adventure — change, why would we not want to experience something different and embrace the change — if not we might as well return home.
If you do not create change, change will create you
Along the way we encounter bends — allowing our out-of-control lives to slow us down — breathe. Savour each moment and hold it in your heart.
While we are motoring along, we still need to allow ourselves time to smell the fresh scent of nature and to listen to the fir trees sing.
Enjoy the journey whatever that journey may be — enjoy the self discovery along the way. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
To strive is to excel.
Stay engaged — do not lose sight of the human element.
And smile — make someone’s else’s day.
Are YOU focused and in gear?
Do YOU resist or embrace change?
Thank you for taking the time to read my Blog and for being part of my journey
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