Anne Hartley
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anne Hartley

Anne Hartley is the founder and CEO of Hart Life Coaching Anne is also the author of several books including Financially Free, Love the Life You Live, Love Your Money - Love Your Life and Life Lessons. www.hartlifecoaching.com.au

Imagine

What if you woke up one morning and decided to view the world through different filters, how different would your life be?

Imagine experiencing a major disappointment as number 1 ranking tennis player Ash Barty did after losing at Wimbledon and saying, “Today wasn’t my day it isn’t the end of the world”.

Imagine the world is conspiring to support you to live your dreams as Louise Hay did, she went on to build Hay House.

Imagine questioning if your perception is accurate, that there might be a better way to view what’s happened to you, as Byron Katie did. Byron not only ended her cycle of depression, she found inexplicable joy which she says she still experiences today.

Imagine choosing to believe that everyone loves you, as I’ve recently done. I can’t tell you how much happier it makes me feel and how much easier life flows.

The ultimate freedom we all share, regardless of our circumstances, is the way we view the world, and that is one freedom no-one can take that away from us. It doesn’t matter if you live in one of the poorest parts of the world, how smart you are, or if you have no-one to support you. You and only you have control over what goes on in your mind.

Denis Waitley says, “If you believe you can, you probably can. If you believe you won’t, you most assuredly won’t. Belief is the ignition switch that gets you off the launching pad.” But belief isn’t a feeling, it’s taking action. Repeated action towards a goal, or lifestyle, creates a neural pathway in our brains that supports the creation of that outcome.

When I first became interested in personal growth we didn’t know about the brain’s ability to rewire itself, or the power of heart intelligence. We simply acted on faith and that decision enabled me to create a life and achieve goals that many said were impossible.

The only person who lives in your mind is you. You can choose to procrastinate until you are perfect, and it will only slow you down. You can choose to worry about what other people think of you, it will only make you doubt yourself. You can beat yourself up when you make a mistake or blame someone for why your life is the way it is, and you’ll give away your freedom.

Or, you can choose to believe that disappointment is only temporary. That the world is conspiring to support you. That everyone loves you. And that you can have everything you want. Just imagine what a difference you could make with your life if you chose to believe in you, and your dreams?

 

 

Understanding Your Why

When I was younger my big dream was to own a home of my own.  I never had any money left over to put towards saving for a home. I wasn’t a high income earner and I already worked more than one job, so I couldn’t take on extra work. I knew the only way I was going to make enough money and have more freedom was to go into business for myself, but I didn’t know the first thing about business, or know anyone in business to ask, but what I had was a good brain and a compelling reason. More than anything in this world I wanted to give my children a great life and to be available for school functions and holidays. Having a compelling reason to create my dream gave me the motivation to look for different ways to attain my goals, and to persist when things didn’t go the way I planned.

In the early 1900s Samuel Pierpont Langley set out to be the first man to fly an airplane. He was highly educated and ambitious and had friends in high places who funded his efforts, so he was able to use only the best materials. He also had a dream team of talent to help him achieve his goal.

Wilbur and Orville Wright’s passion for aeronautics and flying started when their father brought home a model helicopter made of cork, bamboo and paper that was powered by a rubber band. When they started working on their own flying machine they didn’t have any money or funding, and they didn’t have any college degrees. They had people helping them but no-one on their team had any advanced training. Yet, despite the odds against them the Wright Brothers beat Samuel Pierpont Langley to become the first people to fly an airplane. Why?

Langley had a goal, the Wright Brothers had a dream. Goals can be great, but they don’t motivate us as much as a dreams do. Dreams come from our heart and soul, they inspire us to be more, do more. Understanding your why is one of the most important discoveries you can make.

Why do You Want it?

The most important question you can ask yourself is, “Why do I want it?”

I ask this question in coaching often and one of the answers I often hear is, “I want to make a difference”.

But why do you want to make a difference?

We rarely get the real answer with just one question. If you asked that question followed by, “And what else?”, and you wrote your answers down each time you would get closer to what your deepest motivation is.

If you want a goal because your mind worked out that this is the best way for you to achieve your dreams, then it won’t motivate you enough. Most people give up easily when they don’t see results but people with a compelling ‘why’ often persist even when the odds are against them.

As my children grew and became independent, I needed a new ‘why’. If you had asked me all those years ago why I pushed myself to overcome my fear of public speaking and putting myself out there with my opinion, I most likely would have said, “I want to help people”. And that would be true, because it’s what I’ve always wanted, but I could have volunteered, or performed acts of kindness without pushing myself through my fears. My real motivation was that I wanted to be heard and I love to share. I didn’t feel heard growing up, I felt my opinions were always rubbished and that may have just been the way I perceived things back then, but it was a powerful motivator for me.

Curiosity is one of my gifts. Learning, researching, exploring, understanding and then sharing is what makes me feel alive. It keeps me young. My why nowadays is still learning and sharing and that’s because this make me happier than anything else I do, it’s that simple.

Imagine someone asking you why they should do business with you, why they should support you, or why they should employ you. When you know your why, you inspire confidence. People trust you. When we have a compelling why, we wake up each day eager to start again. We find the time. We overcome our fears.

When you know your why, create a daily routine that supports you, and take steps at least five days a week to turn your dream into reality, you can forget how it will manifest. The how is less important than the why, as it often takes care of itself.

 

 

When obstacles keep dropping in your path

When I was 11 years old my class went on a school excursion to the movies. We travelled by train. On the way home my girlfriend said to me, “Why go back to school, all we’ll do is get back on the bus to come back to where we are at now”. Her suggestion made sense to me, so we hid in the toilets until everyone from our class had left the station. We expected to go back to school and no one would have missed us, just like we did when we avoided sport each week, but this time we weren’t so lucky. Our teacher was fuming and put us on detention during lunch hour for a week and we were told to stay in the classroom. What was supposed to be a punishment turned into one of the best weeks. I was with my best friend, we both loved drawing, so we took over the blackboard and had fun while we talked to our heart’s content.

There can be times in life when we feel as if obstacles just keep dropping in our path, but as I learnt when I was 11, what might at first appear to be something awful, can turn into one of the best things that ever happened to you.

I’ve lived through a lot of tough times, but this year I have felt as if I’ve faced one obstacle after another. For the past 20 plus years I’ve asked questions during tough times and I’ve discovered that the guidance and answers I receive are dependent upon the type of questions I ask. I’ve never been a ‘why me?’ person. To me it’s a total pointless question, but I must admit for a very short while when I had compassion fatigue and I started feeling confused I did think ‘why am I back here again?’  And for a few weeks I felt irritated by everyone and everything. So, I started asking, ‘What am I going to do with the rest of my life?’ Another question that didn’t give me the answer I needed. Answers come quickly so if you don’t get an answer to your question within a week change the question.

I can’t tell you how many times when I’ve faced obstacles I have wished I could just hear a voice from the sky saying, ‘Anne this is what you should do…’, but as you know that doesn’t happen. But our personality can guide us to the right questions as well.

Although I am more inclined towards optimism than pessimism, I have trained myself to be an optimist by what I continually feed into my mind. So whenever I get discouraged I don’t stay down for long because I get sick of myself, so I changed my question to, ‘What’s the best way for me to serve for the remainder of my life?’ because I know my purpose is to serve others. For me that was the perfect question. The words that kept popping into my mind were ‘serene’ and ‘peaceful’, and I knew this was who I wanted to be. That led me to ask, ‘How can I work in a way that supports me to be serene and peaceful?’ Another question that ruled out a lot of options I was considering. By asking this question, I realised that I wanted to continue doing what I’ve done for the last 20 years and that is train life coaches, I love coaching, I love empowering people. I just needed to change things around a little. I decided to change my target market and work with smaller groups of people who are committed to doing the work on themselves. I saw the opportunity for me to let go of control by having others teach the majority of my course. I am aware that I am not as good as I once was. I could restructure assessments, so I didn’t have to mark assignments and we could assess purely on coaching ability, making it easier for everyone. In fact I realised that everything that irritated me was fixable.

The questions you ask depend upon the problem and your personality, they need to be ones that take you forward, that guide you an answer that improves the quality and flow of of your life. At times I’ve asked, ‘How can I be happy and calm where I am right now?’ Because sometimes we need to stop resisting what is in order to recognise the gift that’s in our current situation. When I’ve felt stuck being grateful and focusing on performing acts of kindness made me feel good and so I could ask the next question, that would give me the guidance I was looking for.

When we only want an answer that is going to give us what we want, in the way that we want it, we set ourselves up to suffer. When we relax, flow with life and what is, do simple things that make us feel good, and have a daily routine that supports us, life gets so much easier.

Life is always conspiring to support you

Did you get that? It’s not out to get you, punish you, or remind you you’re not good enough. Life is always on our side. Your current circumstances might be giving you an opportunity to master aspects of yourself that are preventing you from creating the life you long for. You may be being redirected down a different path that will help you attain what you want, in a better way for you. It may be bringing people into your life that you didn’t know how to meet. I once had a job I hated and I spent 6 months applying for other jobs with no success, until one day I realised that I had made more friends in that job than I had anywhere else. Once I started valuing the friendships instead of focusing on what annoyed me that job became quite enjoyable. And those friendships lasted long after the job ended.

Life always supports us. By accepting what is, looking for a way to make the best of it and focusing on being the best you, you can be rather than finding a way to control what is, life has a way of taking you to exactly where you need to be.

 

 

 

How Mindfulness can Change Your Stress Response

Mindfulness is re-training the mind to respond in a different way and this is something we all need to learn as stress affects us all.

Psychologists used to say that the most common causes of stress were major life events such as: the loss of a job, major financial problems, marriage break down, moving house and so on. Today, those events can still cause stress but something really simple can trigger a stress response because we have been hardwired to feel stress by the way we live our lives.

In 1969, 36 per cent of women reported being stressed. In 2009 that figure has more than doubled to 75 per cent. In 1969 washing machines and TVs were just becoming affordable, now the are considered standard items along with dishwashers, microwaves, mobile phones, tablets and computers, adding to the cost of living. Household debt is now four times more than it was in 1988. And in 1969 the average person slept an average of eight hours. In 2009 30% of people get less than seven hours of sleep a night.

Now some interesting research has shown that individuals exposed to stress on a regular basis may build resilience, but people living a more affluent life may not have developed the same coping skills and may be more susceptible.

The stress response

There are differing opinions as to what causes stress today and the information age is definitely a factor. Change is no longer something that happens once in a while, it is a regular occurrence and the speed at which we are expected to learn new skills is greater than ever before.

Positive thinking alone is not enough to change the stress response

Hans Selye divided our stress response into three different stages: alarm, resistance and exhaustion. We don’t always experience all three stages. During the alarm stage your nervous system goes into fight or flight mode. If the stress doesn’t end you move on to the next stage of resistance where your body tries to get your nervous system back to normal as hormones released during this stressful period can damage your cells, the more stress you have experienced your body will automatically move into the exhaustion stage. The problem for many of us is that our stress response never really switches off and our bodies are constantly being bombarded with stress hormones.

Positive thinking alone will not change your stress response. We need to change the way we act.

Relaxation techniques, such as breathing exercises work in the moment. Meditation helps to change our response to stress, but that takes time. The most effective technique to use at any time is mindfulness, and it can be done anywhere.

Mini-Mindfulness exercise

As soon as you notice yourself reacting step out of automatic pilot.

  • Pause.
  • Breathe deeply.
  • In your mind see yourself stepping out of your emotions.
  • Focus on your breathing. Breathe in to the count of four, breathe out to the count of four.
  • Observe how your body responds to your breathing.
  • Observe the world around you. Take note of colours and patterns, shapes and sizes. Do all of this without judgement.
  • Continue to do this for a few minutes, then return to what you were doing previously.

Mindfulness is the practice of observing yourself, your emotions and the way you respond. It is standing outside yourself and being the observer, not the judge.

Mindfulness is re-training the mind to respond in a different way.

Practice is what we do when we need to learn a new skill. When you learn to drive a car, play a sport, or learn to paint you do it repeatedly until you feel you have mastered the skill. Mindfulness is much the same. For it to become an automatic response you need to practice being mindful in different situations, on a daily basis.

You could see this practice as one more thing you have to do, so change the way you think about it, link it to something pleasurable, such as enjoying a cup of coffee. Practice being mindful while drinking coffee, savour every sip, really taste and feel the coffee on your tongue, the feeling of relaxation. Step outside your body and observe yourself drinking coffee. It’s an easy way to establish a positive habit and once you find you do this on a regular basis, you can then add another mindful practice into your daily life, such as being mindful when walking.

Don’t let the simplicity of mindfulness fool you, simple changes can lead to a defining moment, one you will most likely miss if you react. Every time you are present in this moment you reinforce an automatic response that will benefit you for years to come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Meditation Changed My Life

Meditation has changed my life profoundly, and a part of my calling is to teach others how to practise and grow with mindfulness and meditation.

Why I trust in the healing power of meditation

Meditation is something I’ve practised since the early eighties. In the year following my son’s death I did a number of courses and every one included meditation, this is how I got started and it helped enormously during that difficult time.

By 1985 I started using meditation to help me attain my goals. Every day when I arrived at work the first thing I would do was lock my office door, sit on the floor and meditate for 20 minutes, then I’d start my work day. I can’t say I’ve never missed a day, but my meditation practice has been consistent and I credit it with enabling me to cope with the many challenges I’ve faced in my life.

At 16, my youngest daughter Laura, was admitted to a psychiatric clinic with major depression. Over the following years she was hospitalised a number of times whenever she was at risk of suicide. Meditation got me through that time, and it helped Laura to turn her state around and manage what can be a crippling illness. Because of this Laura has been able to overcome so many fears as she backpacked around the world and had some amazing experiences such as the time spent in the Amazon, searching for the northern lights in Norway and sleeping on the Afghanistan border protected by Turkmenistan army as the Taliban were camped nearby (as a mother I can’t say I was crazy about that one).

More recently my daughter Lisa had a liver transplant and there were times when she was close to death, and whenever I need guidance or my spirits lifted I meditated. I cannot recommend it highly enough because if you practice it consistently it changes your response to stress, and that’s something I can personally attest to.

ask-recieve
Ask and receive

Many years ago I established the habit of asking questions, as a way of seeking guidance, before every meditation and all of my work has evolved from the answers I’ve received.

Some people say, I asked, but I didn’t get an answer. We always get an answer, it’s just that we don’t always listen, or the answer comes in a shape or form we don’t expect or like, and we ignore it. We all know that life doesn’t always go the way we plan but when you stay open and willing life can be so much easier.

How meditation can help you

When we meditate consistently we increase our tolerance to stress. The difference between meditation and relaxation techniques is that meditation changes the structure of our brain and over time the way we respond to stress, whereas relaxation is a more immediate tool that can be used to manage and release stress. There is a place for both.

Mindfulness is a state of experiencing pure awareness.  It helps us to separate our thoughts from who we are. It encourages us to become the observer, which in turn enables us to release negative thoughts and emotions.

MRI Scans show that after eight weeks of mindfulness and/or meditation practice our fight or flight response weakens, while our attention and concentration gets stronger. How much this occurs depends upon how much time we dedicate to this practice. You don’t have to spend hours meditating, 20 minutes a day is enough, but if you can only meditate for 10 minutes, it’s still beneficial.

Meditation is such a simple, easy practice that can be done by anyone. If you don’t know how simply go to YouTube and search for a guided meditation you can listen to, there are hundreds, if not thousands freely available. My favourite is, I am that I am, by Wayne Dyer, and I listen to this most days. Marianne Williamson has some lovely meditations as well.

Mindfulness and meditation aren’t about changing anything, they are tools that allow us to experience inner peace even during the most stressful times. But there is so much more we can gain from using them. Mindfulness and meditation enhance our intuition. I listen to my intuition every day and ask for guidance on simple things from looking for a parking spot to major life decisions. I trust my intuition implicitly to always guide me to the right choice and I can only do that because I am so in tune with it.

The sooner you start using these valuable tools you’ll not only enrich your own life, but you will also become a role model for others, particularly if you have children.

How mindfulness can help children and teens

Like many people’ I’ve been saddened by teen suicide and I wanted to write a course to help prevent this, yet when I did my research I found that what would help children and teenagers most was to learn mindfulness, and that’s how my mindfulness teacher course came about.

Teen suicide is usually something that is an impulsive action when feelings get too much to bear. I even made a half-hearted attempt myself when I was 18 and broken-hearted.  As 95% of all behaviour is habitual, teaching children and teens to develop the habit of pausing and observing before taking any action could save a life. It will also help them to grow up to be better-balanced adults.

Mindfulness is also known to build resilience. It can help us manage pain, make wiser financial choices, communicate better and enjoy life more.

By meditating regularly, and being more mindful we enrich our lives.

Make Your Life Matter

I started Hart Life Coaching in 1999. We are a boutique school that doesn’t rely on hard selling or hype, but instead, we want to make a real difference in the lives of everyone who trains with us. We offer courses to train meditation and mindfulness teachers, but our courses are open to anyone who wants to make their lives better. Contact us, or schedule a free call.

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Why We Need to Connect More

When I moved into my first home, with a 3-year-old, it was scary and a little lonely at first. What helped enormously were the wonderful neighbours I had. I often had coffee, a meal or a chat with one lot of neighbours, while my adjoining neighbours, a young married couple with a daughter the same age as Lisa, were a Godsend. That neighbour often brought my washing in if it looked like it was going to rain, checked up on me if she hadn’t seen me for a few days, and cooked for us when I was sick. We also minded each other’s children for short periods when necessary. That was my first real taste of what is was like to live in a supportive community.

Several years later I moved into another rented home in Lugarno, where I also had two wonderful neighbours. One had a pool which we were invited us to use any time. I often had coffee and a chat in my neighbour’s kitchen on a Saturday afternoon. The other neighbour would ask if I needed anything taken to the tip and told me to call on him if I ever needed any help. When my mother had her first heart attack my father contacted my neighbour who picked up Lisa from school and looked after her so I could go to the hospital. Every Christmas, for six years, we had breakfast at either one of our neighbour’s home, whilst another neighbour, who was a member of the Salvation Army, sang carols outside. I only moved out of that home because the owners, who had been living overseas, decided to return home, otherwise I suspect I’d still be there today. Since then I’ve lived in houses where most of the time I don’t even see my neighbours, let alone talk to them.

I found this statistic interesting. Sarah Pressman, from the University of California discovered that: obesity reduces longevity by 20%, drinking by 30%, smoking by 50% and loneliness by 70%. Social connection is something we are losing and it’s one of the most important ingredients for health and happiness.

Why we’ve lost our connection

A lot of people say we have lost our connection because we are too busy, and while some of that may be true, I don’t believe it’s the only reason. I know that when I lived at Lugarno my career was really taking off and I worked incredibly hard, but I always had time for a coffee and chat, or even to help out my neighbours.

The leading cause of death in Australia, and increasingly throughout the Western world, is heart disease. Of course, a lot of that can be attributed to our diet and way of living, but it can also indicate the impact this lack of connection is having on us. Just look at these statistics:

  •  Depression is the leading cause of disability world wide and an estimated 45% of people will experience a mental health condition (According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics).
  • Between 2011 and 2014 1 in 9 Americans took antidepressants, whereas 30 years ago that number was 1 in 50 (Center for Disease Control and Prevention).
  • Suicide statistics have increased over the past ten years and are now at the highest levels ever.

What’s coincided with these alarming statistics is the introduction of technology. I’m a lover of technology and I run a business that uses a lot of technology, so I am not knocking it, but what we all need to think about is the impact technology has had on the way we connect with others.

The reason we are not connecting the way we once did, in my opinion, is that we fear rejection. When we used to ring people not everyone had time to talk, and we accepted that, we didn’t take those rejections personally. We would knock on the door of a new neighbour. We would walk up to a stranger and start a conversation, and sometimes people would look at us strangely but we survived. Now we take the easier route, we message, text and connect over social media and in doing so a vital skill that once  developed naturally, has gotten weaker.

If we want the world to change, we have to be willing to put ourselves out there. We need to stop worrying about what other people think of us. We need to be prepared to reach out and fail, then pick ourselves up and try again. We need to smile at strangers more. Take a chance and join a group or do something new. And don’t wait for people to talk to you, be the one to start the conversation. Not everyone you meet is going to be someone you’ll want to be friends with, but it’s the act of being open that tends to draw people to us.

I believe that one of the major contributors to depression is a loss of  hope. When we don’t believe that anything will change what is there to look forward to. Hope gives us the courage and is something we all need to hold onto, because without hope we will never develop, or maintain, resilience, the two are inextricably intertwined.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.