The Art of Strengths Coaching

B is for Doing Your Best Because You Believe Every Day Is A Bonus

There are many ways to live life. One approach is to do your best because you believe every day is a bonus. You may then aim to enjoy life, encourage other people and make the best of each day.

Different people adopt this philosophy for different reasons. Some of the most common include the following.

They have a big shock

They may fall ill, suffer a loss or have a life-changing experience. Vulnerability is a great teacher. It can lead to a person focusing on what is really important in life. They may then choose to see each day as a blessing and a bonus.

They have a sense of gratitude

They feel thankful and appreciate life. They count their blessings rather than their burdens. They choose to build on what they have got – such as their personal and professional assets – rather than worry about what they have not got. 

They have a sense of purpose

They see each day as a chance to serve something greater than themselves. They may aim to follow a spiritual faith, a vocation or a sense of mission. They then do their best to pursue this sense of purpose during their time on the planet.

Looking back, have you ever pursued your version of believing every day being a bonus? Alternatively, you may have adopted a similar approach when being given a second chance in your personal or professional life.

Looking back, what did you do right in the situation? You may have bought time to take stock, readjust and then focus on the future. What did you see as the potential options going forward? What did you then do to make the most of the opportunity?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation in the past when you followed your version of believing every day – or being given another chance – was a bonus.

Describe the specific things you did then to do your best. 

Describe the specific things that happened as a result of taking these steps.

 

As mentioned earlier, different people choose to take this approach for different reasons. Let’s explore some of these themes.

A big shock

We are told that near death experiences focus the mind. Vulnerability is also a great teacher.

Sometimes we learn valuable lessons when we are vulnerable. Sometimes wisdom seeps into our bones and we apply the lessons in our daily lives. Other times we forget the messages.

Can you think of a time when you felt vulnerable? You may have suffered a debilitating illness, lost someone close, experienced an unexpected setback or whatever.

Suddenly you felt out of control. You felt unable to shape everything in your world. Certainly you aimed to control the controllables, but many levers lay beyond your reach.

What did you do next? After a while you may have begun to reflect, go deeper and listen to your soul. We are told that:

Everything is temporary, nothing is permanent.

But it is when we feel vulnerable that this lesson strikes home. We have chance to consider what is important on life. One person explained this in the following way.

My wife suffered a serious illness. Then, to make matters worse, my job came under threat, so our income was threatened.

My first reaction was to simply want everything to be like it was before. But then I realised that things had changed forever. We could give up or learn to manage the new reality.

Starting to research her illness, we scoured the web for information and met with patient groups. This paid dividends. She eventually chose a specific form of treatment with a fine doctor.

We also took stock of our assets – our finances, relationships, professional contacts and other resources. We soon realised how wealthy we were in real terms.   

We explored the possibility of downshifting. This would mean moving to another part of the country, perhaps near my partner’s parents, and starting a different kind of life.  

My wife recovered and the job survived. But we also heeded the lessons. One year later we moved closer to my partner’s parents. She returned to part time teaching, which she loves, and I set up my own business.  

Our daughter likes living in the country and has started doing part time work at a stable. Our son changed his chosen subjects at university. Rediscovering his youthful idealism, he plans to become an environmental journalist. 

Zach Sobiech was somebody whose attitude to life inspired many people around the world. When he was 17 he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.

With only months to live, Zach turned to music to say goodbye. Here is the introduction to a video about him.

“Every teenager believes they are invincible,” said Zach.

“It’s not the kind of invincible like Superman; it’s the kind of invincible like, ‘I’ll see you in five months.'”

Zach didn’t have five months. He died of cancer on 20 May 2013, shortly after his 18th birthday.

This film gives us a glimpse of Zack’s indomitable spirit, enormous capacity for love, and quiet courage as he approached the end of his life – and the profound impact of his empathy and grace on those he was about to leave behind.

A sense of gratitude

Some people choose to develop a sense of gratitude. They count their blessings rather than their burdens. They see each day as a chance to appreciate life and give to others.

Today there are many books that focus on gratitude. These often mention the life and work of Brother David Steindl-Rast. You can discover more about this approach on the following site.

https://gratefulness.org/

Brother David encourages people to focus on what is really important in life. Writing in Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer, he says:

What we really want is joy. We don’t want things.

Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands, because if we are not grateful, then no matter how much we have we will not be happy – because we will always want to have something else or something more. 

Everything is a gift. The degree to which we are awake to this truth is a measure of our gratefulness, and gratefulness is a measure of our aliveness.

Robert Emmons underlines this point in his book Thanks. Working with colleagues, he found that those people who cultivated their sense of gratitude increased their sense of happiness.

This reinforces the belief that: “What you focus on, you become.” Robert writes

Gratitude enriches human life. It elevates, energizes, inspires and transforms. People are moved, opened and humbled through expressions of gratitude.

As mentioned earlier, some people develop a sense of gratitude by appreciating their assets. They then aim to build on what they do have rather than worry about what they don’t have. 

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to focus on how you can build on your personal and professional assets.

Your personal assets go beyond having any money in the bank. They may include your relationships, children and health. They may also include your positive attitude, personal strengths, drive, imagination and ability to overcome setbacks.

Your professional assets may include your professional strengths, successful style of working and network. They may also include your reputation, knowledge and the desire to help others to reach their goals.

How can you build on your assets? How can you use them to help other people? How can you pass on your knowledge in a way that encourages both present and future generations?

Here is the exercise. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe your personal assets.

Describe your professional assets. 

Describe the specific things you can do to build on your personal and professional assets.

A sense of purpose

Some people see each day as a chance to pursue something they believe in. They may aim to serve their loved ones. Beyond that, they may also choose:

To serve a spiritual faith, life philosophy or certain values.

To serve a purpose, vocation or creative drive.

To serve a mission, cause or project.  

Looking back on your life, can you recall a situation when you gained strength by serving something? You may have felt this when working as a volunteer, nursing people, restoring a house, solving a complex problem, fighting for justice or whatever.

What did you feel like when you got up each day? Did you look ahead to plan what you wanted to achieve? What did you do to enjoy the journey? What did you learn along the way?

Many people have the desire to serve something greater than themselves. This holds true, even if they may be not around to see the fruits of their labours.

Ellen MacArthur is somebody who has found something to serve. She is dedicated to implementing the Circular Economy.

She became famous for her participation in single-handed round-the-world yacht races. During these voyages she felt fully alive and yet also aware of the fragility of life.

Here are some extracts from the diary Ellen kept when breaking the record to sail solo, non-stop around the world. These were published in the Guardian and you can discover more via the following link.

Guardian Ellen’s Diary

It’s rough, boat speed not too bad, been getting thrown around a lot. we’ve just got to try and get through this.

I’ve been stressed all night, so stressed – I’ve got a cracking headache, hardly had any sleep and I’ve been so stressed my tongue’s come out in ulcers. We’re okay, we’re okay – we’re hanging in there. 

The last three days of sailing have been undoubtedly the worst of my career. Never before have I experienced winds more unstable, more aggressive, more unpredictable. 

It feels like it’s [the weather] trying to break the boat to pieces – we are falling off every third or fourth wave.  

It’s hard, the whole boat is shaking, it’s just terrible, it’s terrible. I’ve tried speeding up, I’ve tried everything, but the fact is it seems we’ve got mountains heading towards us.

Everything is creaking and groaning and smashing and grinding … it’s just terrible, and you go over three waves and you close your eyes and hope it’s okay, then the fourth one … whack.  

I’m sure something is going to break.

Ellen’s experiences on the oceans increased her awareness of environmental challenges. She focused on the need to live within our limited resources and cut out waste. This led to her taking steps to implement the Circular Economy.

Here is a short introduction to this approach that is taken from her Foundation’s web site. This is followed by a video in which Ellen explains the Circular Economy. You can discover more via the following link.

https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation works with education and business to accelerate the transition to a Circular Economy.

Looking beyond the current “take, make and dispose” extractive industrial model, the circular economy is restorative and regenerative by design.  

Relying on system-wide innovation, it aims to redefine products and services to design waste out, while minimising negative impacts. 

Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural and social capital.

Different people have different motivations for seeing each day as a bonus. Some also adopt this philosophy when making the most of second chances.

Looking ahead, can you think of a situation where you may want to take this approach? This could be in your personal or professional life.

You may want to do your best to encourage a person, build a relationship or maintain your health. You may want to pursue a passion, do a creative project, travel the world, pass on knowledge or do another activity.

Looking ahead to the situation, what can you do to see each day as a bonus? How can you have a sense of gratitude? How can you enjoy life? How can you encourage people? How can you do your best during your time on the planet?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation in the future when you may want to follow your version of believing every day – or being given another chance – is a bonus.  

Describe the specific things you can do then to do your best. 

Describe the specific things that may happen as a result of taking these steps.

Share

    Leave a Reply

    You can use these HTML tags

    <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>