Happiness, the harp and the hospital

In the past, I have run an interactive session in which I shared with attendees a gratitude exercise called ‘three good things’; followed by a mindful eating exercise, involving giant chocolate buttons and strawberries.

Three good things is all about noticing what already exists in our lives; the daily things like taking 10 minutes to yourself to enjoy a cup of tea, noticing the sunshine or the blue sky, receiving a compliment, sharing a smile with someone while waiting in a queue. For one week, write down ‘three good things’ every day. For each good thing, think about what made it good, what part did you play in it, and how it made you feel. Doing this exercise regularly is beneficial to your happiness because it trains your brain to look for the positives you have in your life and to appreciate them, plus you can look back over your notes to bring back positive memories. Whilst you may find this hard at first, the more you practise, the easier it gets. It may also help you to anchor the activity to a routine such as brushing your teeth, eating dinner or writing in your journal.  

The mindful eating exercise encouraged participants to ground themselves in the present moment and pause; to look, smell and touch their strawberry or chocolate button before putting it in their mouth to taste it. People noticed colour, smell, texture. One participant commented that eating the single chocolate button in this mindful way, meant that after only one piece, she felt satisfied and enjoyed it more than if she’d mindlessly eaten a few!

The ‘be present’ pebble

The purpose of the session was to give people first-hand experience of these two exercises because they have helped me to slow down, be present and cherish moments in my life that would previously have passed me by unnoticed.

At the end of the session I gifted each attendee a coloured glass pebble to act as a reminder to be mindful of things that they’re grateful for; to ‘pause’ and ‘be present’; I also took one for myself and popped it into my pocket.

Expect the unexpected

That afternoon I had a hospital appointment. After my appointment, rather than walking straight down the stairs the same way I’d come in; I unintentionally took a different route to walk back to the main entrance and the car park. I heard some beautiful music floating through the corridor; I must admit it rather took me by surprise. The sound was so captivating that I turned around and followed it. The music led me into a waiting room, where I sat down to listen, even though I didn’t have an appointment there. It turned out a harpist was playing in the waiting room of one of the outpatient departments. Not something you'd expect to find in a hospital waiting room on a Wednesday afternoon.  

I chose to take 10 minutes for myself, to become absorbed in the music and watch the harpist pluck away at the strings. I noticed that there are foot pedals on a harp. I recognised ‘The Music of the Night’ from Phantom of the Opera and ‘Hero’ by Enrique Iglesias. It was a truly heart-warming experience.

Feeling grateful  

To express my gratitude to the harpist for her beautiful music and skilful playing, I gifted her my glass pebble and left it with a handwritten note. I also made a mental note that this would be one of my ‘3 good things’ for today. That evening I received a message from Margaret, the harpist. “I was so touched. Your ‘present moment’ pebble is now nestled in my harp string bag so it will literally be present whenever and wherever I play!”

The gratitude was mutual. I replied to Margaret that we’d had a harpist playing at our wedding 20 years ago and that listening to her playing her harp so beautifully that afternoon had evoked joyful memories of our happy day.

Cherish the moment

Not only had I shared two useful tools that help to bring happiness; I’d also been able to put them into practise the same day and brought happiness to myself and to others. In the morning I’d cherished the opportunity to speak to a room full of inspiring and supportive women at a networking event. Then in the afternoon, I’d been able to take a moment to mindfully sit, listen to and watch a harpist which evoked special and happy memories.

It’s important to slow down from time to time, to notice these things and to choose to act upon them in the moment so that you can appreciate life more and experience happiness even in the unlikeliest of circumstances.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this blog and would like to know more about Happy Heart Coaching, please do connect me. If you’re curious to find out more about my approach to coaching, contact me to arrange a free, no-obligation, 30-minute call. You can also search Life Coach Directory's database to find a qualified life coach that resonates with you.

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Written by Bev Tighe Personal Development Coach

Bev describes herself as a ‘happiness advocate’; she loves helping women and men to discover their own uniqueness, recognise their strengths and to explore how to love and to be themselves. Bev is a Personal Development Coach with a Diploma in Transformational Life Coaching. Bev is also a volunteer for Action for Happiness.… Read more

Written by Bev Tighe Personal Development Coach

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