Saturday, 30 March 2013

Your moments of brilliance

"We all have our moments of brilliance and glory and this was mine." Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl writes this when recalling a childhood incident in his book, Boy: Tales of Childhood. He is absolutely right, of course. Everybody has moments when their genius shines through. You probably won't believe me (or Dahl). Maybe you think that it's true of other people, and not you. I've certainly found it hard to believe in the past, however, I'm teaching myself to recognise my qualities.

One of my favourite moments of brilliance was on a rugby pitch. I was never a great player, but I had my moments. This moment was in a practice game, on a water logged pitch in front of a handful of spectators. I found myself in a bit of space with four men in front of me. Without thinking (I assure you that had I been thinking I wouldn't have attempted such an audacious move) and with my left hand I threw the ball behind my back, to the right. I was then promptly pummelled by a wall of defenders.

A illustration for Roald Dahl by Quentin Blake

When I raised my head to survey the damage, I was amazed to see that my miracle pass had found a team mate's hands. It seemed that everybody else was as shocked as me since that player ran a fair distance before  being tackled. One of my coaches stood there in a stunned silence, the other was frantically shouting my name. They were obviously as surprised as I was.

I went on to tell all that would listen, and added to my story how intentional the move had been. I knew what I was doing all along.

I attempted to repeat the move on many occasions.  Never once was it successful again. In fact, it was always disastrous. I could always hold on, however, to the memory of the one time it went right.

This is an example of a moment of glory which I would include in my Achievements Book. It's a small, silly and insignificant event, however, these are the moments which I want to learn to savour. If I don't learn how to recognise the small times of brilliance and achievement, I will never be able to replicate it to do something truly great. I know that many of you reading will have similar memories you can call back on. Or indeed, will live many moments of greater brilliance.

I want to hear about your moments of brilliance. Please use the comments box below to tell us all about those small moments when you've been absolutely amazing. 

Monday, 25 March 2013

Recognising Achievements

Recognising your own achievements is an important step in achieving a healthy state of mind and recognising the direction your life is going. In the past, I have been guilty of forgetting what I've achieved. This has had a serious impact on my mental health. This is why achievements are the first topic of conversation for this blog.   If I fail to recognise what I achieve on a daily basis, I will never be able to sustain a life where I am both happy and consistently growing.

What constitutes an achievement though? Maybe it's getting a raise in work, finishing a qualification, or running that marathon. All of these things are great and should be celebrated, but what about the small achievements? Learning to cook a new dish, or making a small lifestyle change for the better, do you celebrate these smaller achievements? I certainly didn't used to. I would only consider the big things an achievement. The problem is that the big things don't come around very often. I was left in a place where I only considered myself to have achieved something once, maybe twice, a year.

You need to recognise the small achievements, in the same way as you need to learn to appreciate small pleasures that make you happy. It's not always easy to do. I had to literally force myself to do it, until it became more natural.  

The next step was to make sure I didn't forget about my achievements. Once I was asked what I had achieved in the last 3 months. I sat there, thought about it, and came up with nothing. It wasn't because I hadn't achieved anything in that time, far from it in fact. I simply couldn't remember what I'd done. The same problem manifests when I am struggling with mental health issues. When that nasty voice in my mind told me that I was useless, I agreed with it because I wasn't able to call on examples where I had achieved something.

Thankfully, I found a way to help me value my small achievements and remember them indefinitely. I started to write an achievements book. This book is now full things, from university grades to remembering to put the rubbish out on the right day, and it is always being added to. A lot of the achievements in it might sound ridiculous to somebody else but they were achievements for me at that time of my life. That is what's important.

I'd encourage you to make a book for yourself, they are a fantastic tool to refer back to whenever you feel like you need reminding of how great you are. They are also a good exercise in forcing yourself to appreciate the small, daily, achievements that you have.