FeelGooder Asks: What’s Made Your Day?

Over the last year, I’ve had—and taken—more opportunities to honestly say “You’ve made my day!” than ever before.

It’s a great feeling to make someone’s day—on par, in my books, with having someone else make my day. Also, the more often I recognize that someone’s made my day, the more likely I am to have that feeling.

What’s made your day?

Today, FeelGooder author Peter Sinclair sent me a link to an article he’s just published, called 27 Champion Influencers of 2011. And he’d mentioned me in his list!

You guessed it: this made my day. For those of us who work independently or online, the relationships we build with those we’re dealing with are valuable. They have real meaning. But regardless of the circumstances, to get a thank you like this would boost anyone’s mood! This kind of thing makes me feel that what I do is worthwhile, and that I’m actually making a difference for someone. That’s a pretty great feeling—it’s rewarding, but it’s also extremely motivating.

Of course, it’s not always people that make our day—sometimes it’s events, or a general sense of good fortune. What’s made your day in the recent past?

FeelGooder Asks: What’s Your Poison?

Temptation. We all succumb once in a while, and although each of us is subject to many desires, I’m curious to know if, for each of us, there’s one major temptation that ensnares us every time.

What’s your poison?

It’s a tough call, but I think my poison is beauty—in all its forms. “Beauty” is really a feeling that I get. A place can be beautiful. A personality can be beautiful. A song can be beautiful. A sense—gleeful anticipation, for example—can be beautiful. If I believe that something’s beautiful, I’ll sacrifice all manner of things to have it.

Beautiful armchair

I paid more to repair this beautiful chair than it would have cost to buy a new one.

Looking back I can see I’ve spent much of my life pursuing what I feel is beautiful. Sometimes, that pursuit has come at a cost that, ultimately, is difficult to justify. Like paying to rent a three-bedroom apartment when I lived on my own. Or foregoing the opportunity to build a clear-cut career so I could indulge endlessly in the beauty that is freedom of choice. Or forfeiting a few hours’ paid work so I could go biking along scenic country roads instead. Couldn’t I have done the work first, and biked later? Oh, but the weather that morning was irresistible.

Beauty can blind us, and while that’s a reality, it’s one that I find difficult to wake up to sometimes. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing; I’m just saying it’s not always practical, or sensible.

Wait, did I just admit that?! Woah. Okay. So beauty is my poison. What’s yours?

FeelGooder Asks: Who’s Been In Your Thoughts this Week?

As we near the business end of the year, many of us start to think about impending holidays, and how—and with whom—we’ll spend them. So I’m curious to know:

Who’s been in your thoughts this week?

Japan

Copyright Naomi Hasegawa - Fotolia.com

A close friend of mine has been in my thoughts this week. She’s a young single mum, and she’s taking her two young boys on a six-week working holiday to Japan.

One of her boys has Asperger Syndrome, and the other is in pre-school, so she’ll have to balance work with looking after him during the day. I also know she was feeling a bit daunted as the departure date drew near. They’d all been learning Japanese and getting prepared for months, but still, actually getting on the plane is a world apart from studying maps and reading Japanese histories.

She was so busy before she left that we didn’t get a chance to speak, so this week, in particular, she’s been in my thoughts: a determined woman, and a capable one, setting off on an adventure with her gorgeous sons.

What about you? Who have you been thinking of this week?

FeelGooder Asks: What Are You Doing That You Never Expected?

Recently I saw an old colleague from overseas. After a few years in Australia, he’d left the company, and the country, to return home to the UK to be with his family.

That was a few years ago. He recently found himself out of work and, conveniently, an opportunity had opened up at the company we used to work for. Now he’s working for the old team again, but from his home country.

It’s funny how things work out: life is unpredictable. His return made me wonder:

What are you doing now that you never expected?

Many of us like to play down our own unpredictability, implying that our lives are dull and lack adventure. But I’ll bet you’re doing something right now that you’d never have expected.

Freelancing

Freelancing: my remote "office"

For me, it’s freelancing. I always thought I’d make a terrible freelancer—all that looking for work all the time, and having to manage clients. Bah! Who needed it when you could sit in a nice office, have the work fed to you, and get paid leave?

Freelancing was something to be done on the side, but not as a single source of income. No way.

Yet here I am, a self-supporting freelancer. How did that happen?

A combination of factors brought this about: restlessness, interest, dissatisfaction, and the appearance of gaps in aspects of my life that had previously been consistent. A number of small changes conspired until the best—if not only—way I could see to live the way I wanted to was to freelance.

The things that had put me off freelancing started to pale in comparison to the monotony of doing the same kind of work all the time. The challenges of job sourcing and client management provided a diversity of interaction that I loved. And then there was the freedom. Somehow, the thing I’d never expected to do seemed like a no-brainer.

What about you? What are you doing that you never expected?

FeelGooder Asks: How Will You Stave Off Cold and Flu this Fall?

With the changing seasons, it’s all too easy to pick up bugs and get sick. I don’t know about you, but I often seem to forget that the weather’s cooler, and try to get around in my summer clothes as long as possible. Not smart. Inevitably I wind up sniveling on the couch with red eyes, a headache, and a dearth of vitamin C tablets.

So we asked our lovely FeelGooder followers:

How will you stave off cold an flu this fall?

We got some intriguing ideas.

Cold and flu

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AnJuli advised, “The moment I start to feel ill or sense illness coming on I switch to a diet of fruit and water. All those antioxidants must be good for something.”

It’s a good point: often we “sense” an illness coming on before there are any major symptoms. When you start to feel run down, AnJuli’s advice might just help you out.

Reader Leigh, on the other hand, is a picture of health. “I hardly ever get colds! Maybe three total in 35 years,” she boasted! Lucky lady. She recommends this article from Scientific American, which details research that shows how populations in different regions have differently shaped noses.

My favorite quote from the article comes from Nathan Holton at the University of Iowa, who says “Proper heating and humidification of air in colder climates are important for respiratory health.” Keep that in mind, northeners!

When I get a sore throat I rely on ginger tea—root ginger boiled in water for around five minutes, then sipped—to sooth the situation. What’s your secret cold and flu remedy? Share it with us in the comments!

How to Help Out—and Feel Good!—This Fall

Cooler weather often makes us want to batten down the hatches and hibernate. But this is a great time of year to get involved in some of the global initiatives that are likely to be recognized somehow in your local area.

Help out

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There’s a very full list on Wikipedia, but these are our favorites.

International literacy day: September 8

This UN-endorsed initiative aims to promote literacy around the world. Ask at your local library (or even bookstore!) to find out how you can help celebrate.

Suicide prevention day: September 10

This year’s theme for the WHO-endorsed Suicide Prevention Day is Preventing Suicide in Multicultural Societies. The Wikipedia page provides a wealth of ideas for those who want to help raise awareness of—and help prevent—suicide. Perhaps you could put one of these into action in your community?

International talk like a pirate day: September 19

Who doesn’t get a kick out of talking like a pirate?! Talk like a pirate day is a good excuse to throw a party, wear an eye patch, and address strangers as “me hearties”. Also: studies have shown that talking like a pirate makes you feel good. Okay, maybe we made that up. But this is still one to mark in the diary.

World habitat day: October 3

This UN-supported day recognizes the importance of habitat globally. This year’s theme is Cities and Climate Change, so if you live in a city, you may have a Habitat Day event on your doorstep! Check with your local council or environment groups for details.

World animal day: October 4

World animal day is a great opportunity for animal lovers to come together to celebrate animals. The initiative’s website has a handy search that will tell you about registered events happening in your area—and lets you add your own!

International men’s day: November 19

This event aims to “promote positive aspects of male identity based on the premise that ‘males of all ages respond more energetically to positive role models than they do to negative gender stereotyping.’” Accordingly, the 2011 theme is Giving Boys the Best Possible Start in Life. Get involved! Your local council, schools, or community groups will likely have information on events in your area.

World hello day: November 21

“Greet ten people for peace,” says World Hello Day, which has been going for 39 years. This is one celebration that’s easy to participate in: the aim is to greet ten people on this day, in recognition of the importance of communication in achieving peace. Don’t be shy: say hello!

Don’t forget to check out the complete list—there are plenty of days of recognition, so whatever your passion, there’s bound to be something you can get behind.

Have you thought about getting more involved in your community—local or global—this Fall? Share your plans in the comments.

FeelGooder Asks: What Are Your Plans this Fall?

Down here in the southern hemisphere, we’re now enjoying a few warmer days as Spring hints at its own arrival. Hooray!

Fall

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But for those in northern climes, the picture’s looking a little cooler. Fall is fast approaching, and with the change in season comes a chance to refresh, repair, and reinvigorate … that is, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Here at FeelGooder, we most certainly are! Next week, we’re falling head over heels for Fall: every day, we’ll look at a different aspect of life through Fall-colored spectacles, and hopefully inspire you with a few ways to make the most of the season. Think: Fall recipes, a winter holiday savings plan … even a fresh Fall fitness regime!

But first, we’re curious: what do you have on the cards this Fall? Any plans? Adventures? Hopes? Ambitions? Let us know how your Fall’s looking in the comments!

FeelGooder Asks: What’s Your Philosophy of Change?

Yesterday it was announced that Apple CEO Steve Jobs had resigned. For lovers of technology, the announcement raised many questions: What would this mean? Was Jobs okay? Where was Apple headed now? Remember when you bought your first Newton?

These are the kinds of questions most of us ask when we’re faced with big and unexpected change: we might panic, worry, hypothesize, and reminisce about the good things we believe the change has brought an end to.

change

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But aside from these responses, we all have our own ways of handling change. So I thought I’d ask you…

What’s your philosophy of change?

In a nutshell, I think I’d sum up my philosophy as “go with it.” To my mind, we can’t unchange something, so we might as well start looking at what’s new—at what the change has left us with, and offers—with as much of an open mind as we can muster.

Some changes are easier to deal with than others, and whether it takes a moment or months, we all need time to get our heads around changes in our lives. But in the process of understanding even negative changes, I find that positive aspects usually appear. Maybe they’re just aspects that my brain chooses to view positively, but in any case, they make change easier to run with.

Once I was made redundant in a mass-layoff situation. The woman sitting beside me in the staff meeting started to cry. But I was smiling. I’d just lost the best-paid job I’d ever had. I’d have to find a new way to pay my rent. I liked my colleagues, and the company was a prestigious one. But I hadn’t exactly loved working there, and now I was free. The world was my oyster. What would I do next? Not knowing was part of the adventure…

This philosophy also makes it very easy to initiate change myself, rather than waiting for it to be kicked off by external forces. If change is the hallmark of adventure, how can I possibly say no to it?

What’s your philosophy of change? I’d love to hear how you handle it in the comments.

FeelGooder Asks: How Do You Stay Positive?

It’s been a wild few weeks. Between the US economy’s rollercoaster ride, Britain’s riots, and ongoing unrest in other countries, I can’t be the only one to wonder if the world’s gone mad.

How do you stay positive?

When we’re faced with—or living through—such difficult news, it can be hard to stay positive. We might be worried about newly laid-off friends, or fearing for the safety of loved ones caught up in the mayhem. We might log onto a news site and feel instantly overwhelmed. We might wonder where in heck things are heading.

UNHCR

The UNHCR homepage

Sometimes a balanced approach is a good way to handle those feelings. I try not to get too caught up in the news reports, the phone-cam-videos and real-time, on-the-ground reports—I reason that once I know what’s going on, there’s no real need to pore over every detail of the turmoil.

I also try to focus on the good I can do here and now, for the people I care about. That can help stave off the feelings of helplessness, and remind me not to take friends and family for granted. If I can, I’ll usually give to an appeal, like the UN Refugee agency’s Libya appeal, in the hopes that it might help someone I don’t know. We’re publishing a post next week that will discuss these kind of contributions in detail—keep an eye out for it.

Do you do similar things to stay positive in the face of such terrible news? I’d love to hear about your approach in the comments.

FeelGooder Asks: What Makes You Nervous?

I’m always surprised by the number of articles—and writers—who focus on fear. It’s not that I’m not fearful; it’s just that I’m surprised that so many of us have fears we know about, yet struggle—really struggle—to overcome. To me, fear seems like part of the human condition. And the only answer to fear is to take the plunge—something which, for many of us, is untenable.

All this made me wonder how you feel about fear.

What makes you nervous? And how do you handle it?

offices

Am I welcome here? Who knows?!

Something that makes me nervous is meeting a new group that I have to work with. As a freelancer, I often have new clients—and that’s no problem. But when I have to go on site and fit in with a team, I get nervous. Even though I love doing it. Weird.

The ways I “handle” it are at once typical—nail-biting, the racing heart, etc.—and a little less likely.

I don’t really get past the nervousness until I feel like I fit in, and to do that, I need to have colleagues I can joke around with—people who appreciate my sense of humor. I’ll be honest: there are places where my sense of humor simply does not fly. And I’ve worked in them.

So I spend my first few days at a new location trying my humor on with people, until I work out who gets it (whence hilarity ensues) and who doesn’t. Once that’s settled, I can ditch the nervousness because I know that, at least in some quarters, I belong.

That’s me. So what makes you nervous? And how do you handle or manage that nervousness? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments.