If there is one thing that seems to be missing from life today it is the ability to stop and think. Whether it be politicians working the system, bankers following profit, business leaders seeking endless growth, NHS staff pursuing targets, teachers focusing on league tables, academics ego-driven to publish rather than teach, gang leaders stuck on pride, parents trying to be all things to all people, there would appear to be a lack of ‘observation’ of self. I don’t think that many people intended wrong. But what was happening that people were so busy ‘doing’ that they only woke up after the event? What stopped them taking the time to reflect? Explanations such as “within the rules” demonstrate that there was little individual thought, just a following of the herd.
Perhaps, as the writer AE Houseman suggested, “Three minutes’ thought would suffice to find this out; but thought is irksome and three minutes is a long time.” So thinking is just too much trouble and we perceive we don’t have time for it. And yet without it we are lost, for there is a need to consider:
· The consequences of one’s actions
· The way others might perceive your actions
· The balance of risk to self and others
· Whether following targets may actually prejudice the wellbeing of others
· Whether it is better to follow targets than human kindness and consideration
· Whether actions reflect the things you say you stand for and believe in
· The ideal world that we seek to create rather than the fear-driven image conjured up by the media
Without consideration we act in a fog, unable to determine what is good or evil, what we want and what we don’t. Most of all we lose the oft-spoken-of ‘moral compass’. So how to set the course for a more mindful future?
First things first: make time to stop and reflect on life and on your thoughts about how you want it to be. In these moments don’t read a book, watch tv, take a telephone call, surf the net, wonder what your BlackBerry might have waiting for you. Just stop. We get so little opportunity for silence. The sounds of traffic, planes and people interrupt and if you aren’t listening to your own Ipod there is often someone next to you on the bus who is! So be calm, watch the sky, listen to the birds, or just acclimatize to silence. Be there, wherever you are, and call in your senses so that you feel a part of the larger whole. This allows the stillness you need for clear thinking.
In this time consider:
· What you agree with and what you don’t
· The values and ethics that you stand for and expect and desire others to stand for
· Whether you have got things out of perspective – are too negative or too positive, are seeing everything in generalisations such as ‘no-one, nothing, everything, always, never’ or are able to be specific and rational about what you are talking about.
· Whether you are making assumptions that your own voice won’t make a difference.
· Whether you are throwing stones at others when actually you may be equally fallible.
· How others might be interpreting your behaviours.
· Whether you fear alienation if you say something contrary to popular or peer opinion
· What actions you might take to lead a life that reflects your beliefs
I do have some suggested methods to offer you in my latest book COGNITIVE-BEHAVIOURAL COACHING TECHNIQUES FOR DUMMIES. Although there are a couple of chapters that are specifically written for coaches the book provides tools and techniques for anyone to develop the thinking skills necessary to check whether you are approaching situations in a rational, constructive and mindful way. Thinking models are relevant to all age groups. The link from Amazon is: http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_ss_b_0_30?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=cognitive+behavioural+coaching+techniques+for+dummies&sprefix=cOGNITIVE+BEHAVIOURAL+COACHING
So far comments have been
“I really loved the way you put the exercises together”….. “I already have put your book in my bathroom to read, I am sure it will be helpful to certain people we know”… “It is so full of useful information and tips that I have marked almost every page. It has also made me think about myself in a way I hadn’t done before – about my views, beliefs, prejudices”… “The CBC book is very good. I am halfway through, and that’s because I have been trying to prise it away from my wife” … “It is a major achievement, there is so much information there – it is really impressive “I hope that you enjoy it and find it useful.