Laughter and the little finger....


Today concludes the handful of ways to improve our health and wellbeing following our new year quiz... and today we are looking at laughter and the little finger. For clarification the little finger or pinky finger is the smallest finger...

This little piggy went to market, This little piggy stayed home, This little piggy had roast beef This little piggy had none, And this little piggy cried wee wee wee all the way home

Wigglying and tickling my children’s little fingers and toes to this nursery rhyme resulted in hours of laughter in our house when my kids were babies, as we ran through the nursery rhyme in huge anticipation of getting to the little finger or toe, and the tickles that followed.

Laughter brings the gift of cheerful heart…

Although we had fun times and times of laughter including these, I didn’t really appreciate quite how much laughter is REALLY beneficial for all aspects of our health and wellbeing!

Here’s how..

Laughter jiggles the organs in our body, which releases hormones that relieve physical tension and stress. Laughter also releases our natural feel good Endorphin hormones that promote pain relief and feelings of wellbeing.

Laughter boosts the immune system by decreasing the stress hormones and increasing the production of immune cells and infection fighting antibodies, which improves our natural resistance to infection and disease.

Laughter increases the blood flow to the heart, not enough to be a complete replacement for physical activity, but enough that if you laugh often and regularly enough, you could prevent some heart disease and burn a few extra calories. There are studies that report people who laugh more live longer!

Laughing helps relaxation, reduces stress and increases energy, meaning it is a great way to help recharge, focus and improve our mood.

The benefits and good feelings remain long after we stop laughing. It is difficult to remain angry, anxious or sad when you are laughing, so laughter can really help us navigate through sadness, challenges or losses.

Laughter helps us keep a more positive perspective. This helps us see our circumstances from a more realistic and manageable viewpoint, meaning we can think clearer, and can help us overcome and manage any negative or distressing emotions that overwhelm.

Laughter can help us navigate through difficult circumstances, helping us find courage and strength by enabling us to overcome being overwhelmed and rise above the fight or flight responses.

Laughter strengthens relationships and brings us closer together, which is great for all aspects of our health and wellbeing.

Laughter is contagious - Laughing on our own isn’t half as much fun as sharing what has made us laugh, and laughing can bring us closer to others by increasing emotional connections.

It is also a powerful tool for reducing tensions when emotions are running high, and can help us manage conflict or overcome disagreements It is probably worth remembering that what makes us laugh might not be the same as what makes someone else laugh! And that’s ok! We are all amazingly and uniquely different.

Quick wins for getting us all laughing more….

  1. Smile more and keep our palms up. Smiling towards others costs nothing but can really make a difference to someone's day - and our day too, it even pre-disposes us to looking for opportunities for laughter.
  2. Adopt a posture of gratitude and make a list of to be thankful for.
  3. Join with others in laughing, by sharing our funny moments with friends or finding others who laugh easily and hang out with them.
  4. Create, share and seek out opportunities and other people to enjoy a laugh with.
  5. Learn to laugh at ourselves and don’t go a day without at least one laugh.

The only little health warning here is that it's not good to laugh at someone else’s expense or in a private joke, whilst others spectate... this can cause the opposite effect for many.

Laughing is good for everyone, of every age, shape, size, gender, race, religion, colour or creed...

In laughing more, we can all improve so many aspects of our health and well being, adding both years to our life, and life to our years…

So … this little piggy…

If you want to start on your journey towards being more intentional about your health then why not download our FREE Intentional Health journey workbook by clicking the picture below, to help start your journey to living a healthier, happier life.

And as always, if you found this post helpful or inspiring, please share it so others can benefit too! and we'd love you to get in touch and share with us about how you love to laugh ..

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The 'Wedding Ring' finger


As we continue with our handful of ideas series, this week we refer to our wedding ‘ring' finger!…

Just for clarity, I'm referring to the 4th finger that we would traditionally wear a wedding or engagement ring on.

This finger is known as the 'wedding ring’ finger because a long time ago, before scientist William Harvey [1578-1657] discovered how the circulation system actually worked, people generally believed that a vein connected the left hand directly to the heart. They viewed the physical heart as being closely connected to the this finger, and the emotion of love.

Back then they might not have fully known as we do today how the hearts biology and physiology worked, but they did recognised that our physical and emotional ‘parts’ are holistically connected.

Today, UCLA scientists are discovering that loneliness and isolation is toxic. Living with out meaningful relationships is literally breaking our hearts because it is associated with higher blood pressure and heart disease, which increase our risk of dying.

Researchers are trying to understand exactly how loneliness causes disease at the cellular level. Scientists are also finding that loneliness is far more than a psychological pain — it’s a biological wound that wreaks havoc on our cells.

Having deep and meaningful relationships is therefore good and healthy for our mind, body and soul.

That shouldn’t be a surprise because we were created to be in relationship and community and weren’t designed to be on our own. I’m not just referring to romantic or family relationships here - being in any supportive and edifying relationship is good.

But if that is the case, I wonder why do some people end up socially isolated and why don’t we spend more time in community and connecting with others?

Here are a few possible reasons ...

Our life circumstances may change and we suddenly find ourselves having no connected family, or friends.

We don’t have any natural opportunities to meet new friends - it require lots of courage to overcome that daunting feeling of potential rejection to go out on our own and meet new people.

Because there are times when being in relationship with someone, anyone, can just be hard.

Meeting others who might have different viewpoints, experiences and values to us can result in us unintentionally being offended or offending others. In our hurt we can allow our pride to take over and shut down, or withdraw, to avoid being hurt again.

Sometimes meaningful relationships can just feel like hard work, they require so much give and take, and cost so much energy. We can tell ourselves the lie that we'd be better off on our own and simply give up on trying.

I find it helpful to remember the “big picture” when bumping into people who see the world differently than I do.

The big picture is that we are better in relationship.

It helps me to think about and celebrate those things that we do have in common, and it’s also healthy to accept differences. When I keep an open heart I am often surprised about how much I can learn from some else’s experience and view points!

Perhaps today’s research could help us remember and motivate us to not give up on relationships and friendships. Perhaps it can help us to forgive others when they hurt us, not necessarily because they deserve it, but because it is better for our own health and wellbeing.

There is an uncomfortable and well known quote that says; 

un-forgiveness is like drinking poison yourself and waiting for the other person to die."

That is probably because un-forgiveness kills our meaningful relationships, eats away at our soul and leads to isolation and loneliness.

So this week, rather than believe the lie that it would just be easier or we’d be better off on our own than in a relationship, why not instead be brave and think

“how can I be brave about meeting new people?" or "is there a new way I could meet people?” "are there any relationships that could be restored with a little forgiveness on my part?" "am I holding a grudge I need to let go of?"

If you are already in healthy meaningful relationships ask;

“how can I invest more into my meaningful relationships?” or even “can I give a hand to someone I know who might be feeling isolated?”

If we can do any of these, we could also be subsequently investing into our own holistically healthy heart.

If you're thinking about starting a journey to improve your health and wellbeing and want to invest in some meaningful relationships, then why not join almost 200 others and download our FREE Intentional Health journey workbook Click on the picture below to help get you started on your journey towards living a healthier, happier life..

And as always, thanks to those who take the time to email and let me know how much the posts bless you and share it and if you've noticed any ways you are connected, we'd love to hear about it!

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The Middle Finger!

This week we continue with our handful of ideas to improve our health and wellbeing... although we might need to be a little careful today as we move along and think about our 'middle' finger!…

(just for clarity again, I'm referring to the tallest finger that stands right in the middle alongside all of our other fingers)

I’m hoping this doesn’t happen often to you, and assuming that you wouldn’t dream of doing that to anyone else either, but if someone has ever stuck their 'middle finger' up at you - how did it make you feel?

Or, have you ever noticed how…

Trying to bend our middle finger (in towards the palm of the hand whilst keeping the actual finger straight) impacts on adjacent fingers and causes them to bend too?
Or how your fists clench when you are angry?
Or if you sit with your palms facing up it is much harder to be cross with someone? 

If you’ve ever noticed any of these, you'll probably appreciate that we are affected by others, and that we ourselves are connected.

Noticing we are connected is all well and good, but what does it have to do with our health and wellbeing?

Being connected means that if we focus excessively on one aspect of our mind body or soul, it can be at the expense of another.

Taking even the healthiest of behaviours to the extreme could leave us vulnerable to becoming obsessed or addicted by the behaviour itself, or can even set us up for failure.  For example focusing excessively on eating only healthy foods, could end up compromising our ability to be flexible, cope with circumstances where we have no control, and negatively affect our sanity, or emotional wellbeing.

If your January intentions are not quite working out as you had hoped or thought, do you see it as a failure or a reason to give up? If so, why not try and be compassionate with yourself, because you’ll probably find yourself in a better position to keep going or try again if you do.

If on the other hand you live the rest of the week condemning yourself, or just giving up, you are much more likely to find yourself reverting right back to the comfort habits you were probably trying to change in the first place.

Something we use as a rule of thumb on our Intentional Health community programme, is to ask ourselves "how might we help a friend through a similar situation"?

So in referring back to our handful of ways this week - try and avoid any extreme thinking, especially the kind of exclusive “middle finger” extreme thinking that leads us to offend others!

Instead remember that we are whole person beings, designed to be in relationships, standing alongside others but each also interconnected and amazingly created, and that every part of our health and wellbeing benefits from being given a 'manicure' of grace and compassion once in a while!

If you want to take ownership and start on your journey towards being more intentional about your health then why not download our FREE Intentional Health journey workbook by clicking the picture below, to help start your journey to living a healthier, happier life.

And as always, if you found this post helpful, please share it so others can benefit too!

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The 'Pointy' finger!


Last week we started looking at a handful of ways to be healthy and started with the thumb.

This week we are moving on to the pointy finger!

For clarification - I’m referring to the pointy finger as the finger we use to point towards others.

It can seem like we are pointing to others when we look to them and expect them to help fix, or do something for us. It can also apply when we think it is entirely their fault that we are in this situation. And whilst there may be a degree of truth in that at times, we can easily forget that when we point, there are at least three fingers pointing back at us!

The truth is that there are often 3 versions of the same situation;

  • My version,
  • Their version
  • The truth (often a combination of bits of both of the above)

Pointing, blaming, or expecting others to do something that we are meant to be owning or taking at least part responsibility for ourselves, can result in disappointment, frustration, mixed emotions, confusion, and a genuinely poor level of health and wellbeing.

Here are some examples (taken from the new year quiz!) of when you might be pointing the finger expecting others to do something.  See if you can identify with any of these* situations and fill in your blanks…..

*Someone/something else…..

  • …..  never puts the lid back on and it makes me cross.
  • The …..  never makes it easy for me to spend more time in the garden so I never get round to planting my herbs.
  • ….. needs to make a phone call before I can…..
  • The….. washing/ironing/cleaning/cooking/phone calls/kids/….. needs doing before I can make time to …..
  • He left the….. And I couldn’t…..
  • When  …..   then I’ll be able to …..
  • The temptation to …..  is always there and I can't resist.

OK, so those are just a few scenarios that you may or may not be able to relate to, and whilst they may even be truth, it might be helpful in reducing your stresses and improving your wellbeing to look at the three fingers pointing back at us when we are pointing the finger at others or our circumstances.

Owning what's in our responsibility rather than looking to others to fix us is key to making changes, and is a critical part of our emotional health and wellbeing.

No matter how much we want other people to help us along our journey, or help us solve our problems we are never going to make any change unless we start with looking in the mirror.

Change or transformation starts only when we acknowledge the need for change. 

And that also applies to those we see who we believe need to change, but don’t see it in themselves.

You can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

Understanding what our responsibility is and what it is not, what is in our control and not someone elses responsibility, and then excepting that and owning that, is the key to being emotionally healthy.

Admittedly, this is hard and requires humility.

In pointing to others we need to also look at the 3 fingers pointing back to us, and be open to the fact that we might not always be right, that our way might not be the only way of thinking, or that we might even be wrong.

This is hard, requires vulnerability and not something many of us are used to or encouraged to do. However, from someone who is learning to be more open to this, I have learned it is incredibility liberating to not have to always be in control, my relationships with others improve and it’s great for my health and wellbeing.

So this week if you find yourself getting annoyed because nobody understands you, take responsibility for your part in that, and try and explain again in a different way.

Or take a moment and try and understand what it is they don't understand so you can explain it again from a different perspective if it seems really obvious to you.

Accept that whilst others can help us, it is only when we take responsibility and take the first step of our own lives that we can begin to see transformation.

God has given us all a living body and we are better in community when we have support and encouragement. But we can’t expect that to happen until after we have taken ownership.

Next time you find yourself looking to someone else, are frustrated that someone else isn’t getting it try and remember that as you point the finger at them, there are at least 3 pointing back at you!

Serenity prayer.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.

whether you believe in God or not, excepting what you can change and surrendering what you can’t,  and having wisdom to understand the difference is incredibly helpful for your emotional health well-being.

If you want to take ownership and start on your journey towards being more intentional about your health then why not download our FREE Intentional Health journey workbook by clicking the picture below to help get you started on your journey to living a healthier, happier life.

And as always, if you found this post helpful, please share it so others can benefit too!

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