It was Dr John Gottman who coined the phrase the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and related it to negative behaviours within relationships. We can take this model and equate the Four Horsemen of – Monotony, Tiredness, Complexity and News to having an impact upon our perception of wellbeing and happiness. According to Andy Cope, author of The Art of Being Brilliant each of these areas add a bit more stress and negativity to our lives. Monotony Although at times we can do with a quiet life, going through the same routines, eating the same food, doing the same work with the same people can reduce our experiences and sense of living and enjoyment. Monotony can limit our potential and we may never find out what we are truly capable of doing and being until we step out of our routines. Tiredness There is a huge array of research on the importance of sleep and most of the time it may not be of concern but when we become tired and struggle to replenish our energy we can become increasingly more stressed and irritable. This in turn can impact upon the people around us and may lead to conflict. Focus and concentration are affected along with our sense of humour and capacity for tolerance. Complexity We may think that life is never simple but sometimes we are our own worst enemy and make things more complex than they really are. How easy is it to get fixated and hung up on small stuff that in reality really doesn’t matter? With our truly wonderful minds and belief systems we can “make a mountain out of a molehill”, we can make assumptions or jump to conclusions thus increasing the complexity of a situation. News In today’s world we are bombarded with constant information and have access to world news 24 hours a day. It is good to be informed but remember that the news we hear is already being filtered, someone else is choosing what we hear or read or in some cases making it all up. News can be depressing and therefore can affect our mood and wellbeing.
So what can we do to get ourselves away from these Four Horsemen of Negativity?
Change habits, do something different, become mindful of what you are doing and give yourself choices.
Listen to your body clock, go to sleep when you are tired and get up at a regular time.
Reduce the complexity of situations by deciding whether you can change them or need to accept them or are able to let them go because in the long run they are not that important. “Don’t sweat the small stuff”!
Turn off the news at least three times a week, avoid listening to it or buying a paper and do something else that is rewarding and enjoyable.
Ride away from negativity and reclaim you health and wellbeing!
I came upon this article recently in the Boots health magazine talking about how it is so easy to make judgements of others in comparison to ourselves and how we can lessen that impact.
We know that our thoughts have a huge impact upon are emotions, mood and ultimately our behaviour. What we say to ourselves, how we perceive situations can be beneficial or destructive.
Just changing a thought to a more positive one is definitely not as easy as it sounds and sometimes it doesn’t ring true for us. We can certainly challenge our thoughts and check out the reality of them or the evidence that supports them but then we still need to replace them.
We can help take the power out of thoughts by first recognising it and then choosing to “turn down” the impact of it by thinking about something else. If you have a constant inner critic step aside from the thought and consider what makes you unique, what makes you special and different, because we all are! Ask yourself if others were to identify my strengths, attributes and good points what would they say?
If you find yourself comparing yourself against others is this helpful or motivating? If it is not helpful– no point doing it! Neutralise the thoughts by acknowledge what the other person may have without judging it as good or better eg “She is so slim” to “She is slim” – just one word has taken away the judgement. If you see others as being “cleverer” than you, neutralise the thought by saying something like “she can do maths” or “he understands ....... “ – try to leave out the judgement and the comparison.
If you are critical about your body, appreciate it for what it does for you. Do your legs get you from A to B? Are your arms able to hug others? Does your mouth smile? By taking away the judgement we are neutralising the thoughts which makes them less powerful over our mood and self –esteem. So why not first thing in the morning wake up and thank your kidneys, heart, lungs, muscles, brain etc for working and being there with you for another day!
If you ever watch children you will notice how spontaneous they are in how they make themselves feel good – through doing a cartwheel, making up games or just skipping and jumping just because they can! Having fun is so important to our wellbeing but how often do we experience it? Do we have a moral responsibility to be happy? I think we do and bringing fun into our lives increases our chances of feeling happy. Realistically we have to work, be responsible adults (at times) and cope with everyday chores and stresses but can we squeeze in a bit more fun? Research is showing that having fun in your life contributes greatly to overall health and wellbeing. Fun activities can increase bonding and closeness with others, release endorphins, increase longevity and lower stress. Animals use fun and play for not only developmental growth but to increase a sense of belonging and explore their abilities and possibilities in their world. Lack of fun and play, for a child, can lead to deprivation and under development of social and cognitive skills. As adults we can choose how much fun to bring into our lives, we can choose our attitude and we can decide whether to live our lives fast or well! Often the best things in life are experiences so fun doesn’t have to cost much. Remember the fun things you did as a child, did that cost much money? My childhood was often playing in the woods, rope over a stream or cycling with friends. It may be board games that you played whilst on holiday with your family or dressing up and playing “pretend”. Just rolling down a grassy slope or picking flowers to press were all part of fun, enjoyable times. You may not be physically able to roll down a grassy slope now, (it may be worth trying!), but you can still do activities that make you smile, laugh, enjoy company of others or just for the sake of it be really silly. All you need is your attitude, intent and willingness to let go and enjoy. Remember that on average we have 4,000 weeks do we want those weeks to be of mediocrity or fun? So why not for the rest of the year, whatever the weather, bring some fun, laughter and joy into your life.
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing” George Bernard Shaw.