Fear Less in Love

Motivational Monthly

When coaching clients come to me saying it is the Love area of their life that they want fixing, I tell them that I’m not a love coach. I’m not a dating agent. I’m not qualified to fire from Cupid’s Bow. And I don’t have a magic wand. What I can do is help them learn to love themselves and then all else will follow.

Believe in yourself

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

 

 

If you don’t love yourself first, how can you expect anyone else to? When you stop telling yourself you’re not good enough, you will become less fearful in Love. When you stop listening to your inner bully, when you create a healthy lifestyle both physically, mentally and mindfully, when you heal old wounds, when you treat yourself like you would your best friend, when you enforce strong boundaries to protect yourself from others overstepping the mark, you will Fear less in Love.

 

 

 

You can’t do anything about anyone else. You can’t make them love you, you can’t change them into a more lovable person, you can’t fix their demons, you can’t stop them hurting you, or disappointing you or walking away from you. You can’t prevent some disaster or Act of God befalling the love of your life. You can just focus on yourself, change yourself, learn to meet your own needs and expectations. You can start to live in the moment, appreciate the good things you do have, enjoy your own company, live by your own values, and make a positive difference in the lives of those around you.

spread-the-love

 

 

It’s like the saying ‘smile and the world smiles with you’; when you are living the life that makes you happy, you open the door to all those who share your values, who respect your boundaries, who complement your contribution, who are equal to you and love you for who you are because you have found a way to be all that you can be.

 

 

 

 

You will have no time for losers and layabouts, manipulators and cheaters, bullies and paranoids. Those people will drift from your life because you give them no space to create havoc around you. You will not attract the Bad ‘Uns because they will recognize that you are wholesome, with no chinks for them to jam open and fill with their toxic waste.

 

You won’t be perfect when you have done the work on yourself, but you will be self-accepting and confident. Your self-esteem will be high and your ego will be quiet. You will fear less and be more. You will give yourself every chance for happiness and you will be capable of taking the rough times with equanimity and the ability to learn from whatever comes your way. When you honestly love yourself, you will be lovable and you will be loving. This is the truest and strongest Love Triangle that you can build at the very core of your being. When love is lost through death or desertion your Love Triangle will be bruised but it will not buckle. When you truly, deeply, madly own your internal love, you will survive and thrive and you will rise again.

love-yourself-happy-valentines-day

 

 

Learn to love yourself with a Life Coach. Email to arrange a free consultation to find out more Lou@createlab.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

Please come to the Private View of my Solo Show “Freeze-Frame”. Large abstract landscape paintings, they capture a moment in time, a moment to pause and reflect, a moment for calm and contemplation. Thursday 9th March 6.30-8.30pm at The Farm Post-Production HQ. RSVP for details & to go on the Guest List. Lou@createlab.co.uk

10% of the painting sales profit to go to Amnesty International who my partner Paul Lang is running for in the London Marathon 2017. If you would like to sponsor him in aid of global Human Rights please go to his Just Giving site.

Illustrations by Lou Hamilton who has drawn the inspirational book Brave New Girl- How to Be Fearless published by Orion Spring. Available in major bookstores and online.

 

FEARLESS FESTIVITIES

7 Ways to bravely reclaim Christmas

1.No more People Pleasing. Be brave and reclaim Christmas as your own. It’s lovely to make other people happy but not at the expense of your emotional wellbeing. If pleasing others cripples you financially you’re on a hiding to nothing but anxiety and stress-related illness somewhere down the line. Showering your toddlers with an entire cuddly toy department or your teens with every new techno gadget out this year is not going to make you a better parent. Taking the brunt of the cooking is not going to make your family love you more. Driving the length and breadth of the country in order to visit every relative in hierarchical order of importance will not get you gold stars. There will be someone, somewhere at some point who will take offence. No matter how hard you’ve tried or how much you’ve spent. Take it easy. Visualize what would make you happy at Christmas and start with that. Which doesn’t include Catastrophizing.

2.Catastrophizing. When you find yourself imagining in August Cataclysmic Christmas Crises in a family remake of Apocalypse Now, you know you need to get a grip. Present buying for instance. How much ‘stuff’ do we actually need? How about going for experiences? My partner and his family bought his 90 yr old Grandma a hot air balloon ride one Christmas. She loved it. There’s only so many lavender bags and talcum powder an old lady can use. Another year we shot an exercise video ‘Wrinkly Workout’ starring Grandma as Rocky, as a present for the whole family. She’s no longer with us but her video is on Youtube, forever more.

3.Procrastination. I used to work in a woman’s boutique and on Christmas Eve it was amusing to see boyfriends and husbands running in wild eyed, darting from rail to rail desperately seeking something. Anything. Fear was palpable. It’s got to be right, whatever IT is. Of course they’ve procrastinated out of fear of getting it wrong. But 4pm on Christmas Eve, you’re cutting it fine. Of course we’d step in to help. They’d develop Tourette’s as they stuttered through their panic “Anything white, she likes white, I think. Or did she say, anything as long as it’s not white?” “Candle! Can’t go wrong with a candle. Or did I give that to her last year? Did I come in here last Christmas, can you remember what I got her?” That sort of thing. Give yourself time to think about the person you’re buying for. So you can avoid blunders. Last minute decisions can be disastrous. Practical is rarely good. One friend’s husband gave her a de-humidifier. Another friend received anti-cellulite cream from her mother-in-law…

4.Compare and Despair. When everyone’s gone to bed and you’re frozen in sheer exhaustion on the sofa with a faintly mad look in your eye, as you sit amongst the debris of disguarded wrapping paper, empty chocolate boxes, a mountain of washing up, and you switch on the TV only to see the movie classic White Christmas playing with all its crooning, smiles and nostalgia, turn it off. Remember Movies aren’t Real. Probably the only person able to provide the perfect Tinseltown Christmas is the Queen because she lives in a palace and has diamonds and servants. She doesn’t have to do it all herself. And neither do you. Declare your household a communist enclave where all is equal including the present buying, wrapping, cooking and clearing up.

5.Breaking bad beliefs. How many times have you blown your budget because you’ve gone overboard in Asda on Turkey and literally ‘all the trimmings’. Or find yourself ‘doing Christmas’ for the tenth year in a row because you believe that you personally are responsible for keeping the entire family happy even though you have a two up two down and you’re working full-time until the day before and you’re still paying off the debts from last year’s bloat-fest. One friend actually broke a shopping trolley not just her bank account in her desperate attempt to purchase enough provisions for the feeding of the five thousand. Break the belief that the world will end if you strip-down the festivities to what your emotional and financial constraints can withstand.

6.Get Creative. With so many fractured and re-integrated families you could do what we do and make your Ex-mas a fancy dress theme. So far we’ve had Mex-mas (Mexican), Tex-Mas (Cowboys) and SFX-mas (science fiction). This year is to be Brex-mas. (We love Europe & I may come as a Eurovision Song Contestant).  Because our extended family now resembles the legs of an octopus, we can’t possibly fit everyone in on The Day. So we have Ex-mas Day a week before. Changing the date for the big day lowers skyscraper expectations. We relax, we have fun, we take it in turns to host it year on year. Christmas is what you want it to be, not just a date in the calendar. Some people go help Charities by giving Christmas dinner to the Homeless. Some escape the entire thing by heading to the hills/Barbados/Isle of White/Timbuktu. Some invite in waifs and strays. One year we invited a guy who ran our local chocolate shop, to join us as he was going to be on his own. As my partner, my ex and myself struggled with the turkey (it was the first time we’d hosted Christmas) Chocolate Man stepped in, announced we had it upside down, told us that he’d been trained as a chef at the Ritz and asked if we’d like him to take over. Invite in random people, you never know what they might bring to the table.

7.Healthy Habits. In Denmark they love a tradition. And they are reputedly one of the happiest nations in the world. Tradition plays a big part in that happiness. As a child my best friend had a Danish mother so I witnessed tradition at the coalface. In the weeks leading up to the 24th I joined in with the making of paper decorations. White and red woven strips that we turned into hearts and hung on the tree. We helped make little (Danish) pastries and treats. My friend and her siblings received little gifts each day throughout December, and on Christmas Eve they danced around the Christmas tree emblazoned with real candles, had their main pressies and gave thanks. As much as we Brits are attempting to embrace all things Hygge, we don’t have to take on the full Danish Christmas, elf like dances and all, but we can start our own traditions. Why not dream up your own healthy huggy Hygge habits? Be Brave and create a fantastic fearless festive season this year and for every year to come.

BRAVE NEW GIRL front cover

Lou is an artist, author, filmmaker & creative life coach. Her gift book of inspirational illustrations ‘Brave New Girl- How to be Fearless’ is published by Orion Spring and is in all major bookshops and available on Amazon

BNG will be at W4 Love Books Chiswick for her Book Signing Event on Tuesday 13th. Doors open at 7pm

10% off Lou’s Life Coaching Package if you sign up before December 31st for a Brave New You in 2017 Code: BNGXMAS

 

 

merry-christmas

 

 

Lou’s One Woman Show of Paintings “Freeze Frame” opens in January at The Farm Post-Production Facilities in Soho London. If you would like to be on the Guest List for the Launch Party please email: Lou@createlab.co.uk

This painting “Arctic Plain” 3ft x 3ft is to be exhibited at The Discerner Magazine Christmas Exhibition at their HQ in Mayfair from 7th December. Please CONTACT Celine for details

Creative Wellbeing

Motivational Monthly

prepare-for-the-fallOctober days are heavy with the last rays of summer before the leaves turn and call in Autumn and the longer, darker evenings. There is something old-fashioned about this time of year, with its harvest festivals, bonfire nights and sweet-smelling roasted chestnuts; something that reminds us of homemade jams and thick needles clicking and clacking on new winter woollies.

The blustery weather seems to blow in echoes of the adage “the devil makes light work of idle hands”, but in these times of round the clock treadmill technology when do we swap our smart phones and stress inducing schedules for a spot of tapestry or carpentry? We’re more likely to be checking emails while watching telly than putting the flourishing touches to our latest clothes peg doll.

In the olden days knitting and cross-stitch, crochet, sewing, flower arranging, playing the fiddle or singing at the piano were past on one generation to the next. In Scandinavia, children would whittle rough wooden toys like the Dala horse with no expectation of brilliance. It was just creativity as an activity that kept hands and minds busy in the evenings after work and school, done over candlelight in the embrace of family and friends and warmed by the fire.

Brave New Girl

Gift yourself or loved ones with Lou’s new book

The tradition of handmade and homegrown, is exemplified in the Danish concept of Hygge – to live well in creative contentment and simplicity. And those vintage wooden toys are now collectors’ items, not because they are masterful but because they are hewn in a heartfelt way by the small hands of curious children.

With the comeback of craft and baking and colouring in, we can all indulge our spare time in creating and de-stressing. Past generations understood that life was hard and that respite came through the routine of winding down with thread, wool, paint and wood. Now you can buy a meditation colouring book and a pack of felt tips and as an adult, sit down and do what you did as a six year old, and know that it’s good for your spirit. And you don’t have to be Van Gogh or Damian Hirst to enjoy a bit of me-time in the rainbow world of crayons or a Pinterest image mood board.

Disarm yourself of the thought that creativity is for the artistic. Artists do their own thing but history has always encouraged everyone to turn their hand and their eye to crafts that simply take a bit of enthusiasm, practice and pause in the day. Just as surely as you take the time to check your phone, you can doodle on your commute, or in a cafe in your lunch break, or in the playground while your kids run around with their friends.

And instead of feeling tied to your daily concerns you’ll feel the worries of the world float away as your hands get to work and your mind drifts off into imaginative daydream and mindful meditation. For the full article read the September/October issue of The Best You magazine

Want to make your life more happy & creative? Then work with me, your creative Life Coach. Contact me for a FREE 30 minute consultation to find out more

Lou Hamilton is a an Artist, Author & Life Coach who founded CREATELAB in her mission to use creativity to inspire others to lead happier & more fulfilling lives. Follow her on Twitter: @createlab Instagram: brave_newgirl Facebook: Lou Hamilton Artist

BRAVE – Motivational Monthly Blog

Fear is what you feel, BRAVE is what you do about it. Fear is when a soldier loses her limbs and faces a life of disability. Brave is when she decides to learn how to use prosthetic limbs and compete as a runner. Fear is when bombs rain down on your city threatening your family’s lives. Brave is when you decide to take your family on the treacherous journey across seas to find sanctuary in another land and rebuild life from scratch elsewhere. Fear is when you worry about your child’s safety and well being. Brave is when you stand up for her and help her to make the changes that will make her life better.

explore-greatly

Flipping fear into bravery is a life skill we can all learn, and we don’t have to wait until disaster strikes in order to learn it. It requires unearthing your limiting beliefs, breaking bad habits and building new ones, and it demands the strengthening of your creative muscle by harnessing your imagination for useful not fearful projected thoughts. Brave is a shift in mindset. You can practice it on a daily basis, and the more you do the better you get at it. Then when bad stuff happens, which it inevitably does at some point, you are well-rehearsed in grabbing your bravery first aid kit and preparing to do what it takes to make the situation better for yourself.

throw-fairy-dust-at-dark-forces

 

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”Winnie the Pooh

 

Learning to be brave is not easy, it takes hard work and commitment. It takes the willingness to create a vision for yourself, set the goals to make that vision happen, to take the steps, to build your will power, a positive belief system and a set of healthy habits. Bravery is persistence in the face of adversity, it is patience when there seems to be no end in sight, it is failing over and over again and being able to pick yourself up and keep going.

Most of us need support in learning to be Brave. Here’s how I can support you:

Other resources for learning fearlessness, that have happened with me this month

School’s out for Summer

Summer slows everything down, people are away, there’s a sense of school holidays even if you’re not a kid and don’t have kids, the evenings are long and light and when you can you’re lapping up your year’s supply of Vitamin D.

Life is ebb and flow, there’s time for speed and a time to slow down. Think of a garden; you don’t plant a seed and expect to see a tree the next day. The art of patience allows for a natural pace, the need for speed forces artificial pressure on a creative process. Think of Genetically Modified Foods. They grow quick and taste of nothing. In the film industry we use the three pronged model: quick, cheap, good. You can only have two of the three. Quick and cheap, but not good. Quick and good, but not cheap. Cheap and good but not quick.

Have dreams

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Even instant gratification takes too long” Carrie Fisher is quoted as saying. But she has Bipolar Disorder. “I would get really impatient. I was going faster than everything else around me, and it drove me crazy. You feel out of step with the world” She has achieved a lot, being talented and manic. Her 1987 book Postcards from the Edge hit the New York Times bestseller list and won her the Los Angeles Pen Award for Best First Novel; and she’s published three bestsellers since. More recently she’s turned her memoir Wishful Drinking into a one-woman play, as well as an HBO special.

But you don’t need to be Manic to achieve a lot. I’m from the School of Plod, you do a little and often and you can incrementally produce a large body of work. The art is in consistent application. It’s like saving money. You put in 3% of your wages and over time you have built up a substantial nest-egg. It’s called Compound Interest. Day one you put in £1, Day 2 you put in another £1 and you’ve already doubled your money. Day 4 you’ve quadrupled your initial deposit. The same with writing a book; two hours a day or 1000 words and in 80 days you’ve got your first draft.

where's your hideaway

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Carl Honore wrote In praise of Slowness, a book on the need to slow down. He speaks of how we have added speed to everything; speed-reading, speed-walking, speed-dating. He even passed a gym in New York offering speed-yoga. We believe ourselves to be time poor, so pack more in, we run faster and we feel like we have even less time than ever. We do nothing properly, we leap frog from one task to another. Marinade, savour, mull, languish, ponder, wander, contemplate, peruse, explore, lie fallow, are words we have ejected from our vocabulary and left to curl and wither under the heat of our soles pounding tarmac.

When you slow down you simply do things better. Eating, sleeping, making love, creating, inventing, designing all become better when slowness is your modus operandi. Understanding this has created the international Slow Movement, which started in Italy but has slowly spread around the world. Slow Food, growing, consuming in an organic sustainable way that celebrates pleasure and health. Slow Cities where people slow down, smell the roses and connect with one another; slowing traffic, putting in places for people to sit, read, take a breather and decompress, green spaces, art works for contemplation, poetry on the underground.

The Scandanavian countries are showing that you don’t need to work at the speed of light in order to have a kick-ass economy. They work reasonable hours and they are now among the top six most competitive nations on earth. They understand that in order to be more productive people need to be able to work fewer hours, to unplug, to sit in a quiet room. In order to be creative we need to switch off and re-charge on a regular basis.

So take timeout over Summer, use it as an opportunity to kick back and let your creative mind take over. Day dream, chill out and enjoy the view. Then in September you can come back to life and hit the ground running.

If the thought of September scares you, if you are wanting to get out of the rat race but don’t know how, I can work with you to find another way. Lou@createlab.co.uk

If you are coach and want to take your practice to the next level join us on our Quantum Coaching Bootcamp workshop. Warning: It’s not for the faint-hearted

Motivational Mondays: Building New Beliefs

We create a tapestry of beliefs in our lives, some that help us, some that hinder. We build them on the back of childhood experiences, learned behaviours, difficult setbacks, and proven successes. However, it turns out, we have much more control over what we believe than we give ourselves credit for, and when we do pull rank on our cranky belief systems, we find that we can create much happier lives for ourselves.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

“Belief has been a most powerful component of human nature that has somewhat been neglected,” says Peter Halligan, a psychologist at Cardiff University. “But it has been capitalised on by marketing agents, politics and religion for the best part of two millennia.”

But that is changing. Now in the new field of social neuroscience, focus has landed on our beliefs systems; how we develop our beliefs and how we view those of other people. It shapes how we live our lives, how we interact with others, how we feel, how well we perform, how productive and happy we are.

“In the West, most of our physical needs are provided for. We have a level of luxury and civilisation that is pretty much unparalleled,” says Kathleen Taylor, a neuroscientist at Oxford University. “That leaves us with a lot more leisure and more space in our heads for thinking.” Beliefs and ideas therefore become our currency, says Taylor. Society is no longer a question of simple survival; it is about choice of companions and views, pressures, ideas, options and preferences.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Cognitive neuroscientist Rebecca Saxe tells us in her TED talk ‘How we read each other’s minds’ that there is a region of the brain geared especially for understanding our own and other people’s thoughts, knowledge, beliefs, desires and emotions. It’s called the Right Temporo-Parietal Junction (rTPJ) and is located above and behind your right ear. It’s not hugely developed in children who find it very hard to comprehend that other people have beliefs that are different from their own.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

As we progress to adulthood we are more able to understand, and go on to make moral judgments on, what people believe and think by observing their behaviours, emotions and actions. However people with autism find it very difficult to understand other people’s beliefs, although those who are higher-functioning are often able to develop compensation mechanisms to bridge the shortfall. Indeed we probably all know people who seem to lack a degree of empathy when it comes to understanding us, and it could be that this area of the brain is under-developed.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Being able to step into someone else’s shoes works in two ways: The capacity of sharing and recognising an other’s emotion has been described as emotional empathy (Shamay-Tsoory,2011). The term cognitive empathy refers to empathy as a cognitive role-taking ability, or the capacity to engage in the cognitive process of adopting another’s psychological point of view (Frith and Singer 2008). Either forms of empathy require the use of imagination; the creation of images in our own mind that represent what we believe to be going on in someone else’s mind. In fact when neuroscientists observe the brain of someone asked to imagine someone else’s beliefs, they witness the rTPJ firing up.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

“And yet, what are we to do about this terribly significant business of other people? So ill equipped are we all, to envision one another’s interior workings and invisible aims.” Phillip Roth

Well, the scientists at MIT are now looking at ways to disrupt or scramble the rTPJ in order to change our entrenched beliefs or judgments and improve our ability to empathise with the beliefs of others. There is of course a moral dilemma associated with this, when it comes to Big Brother telling us what to believe or not.  We can all benefit from having a highly tuned radar for the plight of others: especially as coaches, teachers, aid-workers, politicians, novelists and parents, but most of us don’t need the interference of a scrambling machine to disrupt our own harmful beliefs and create new beneficial ones. The more we can develop and build up the muscle of our imaginations, the more we can empathise with the people in the world around us, and the less we will make divisions between ourselves and others.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

As Frank Borman, commander of the Apollo 8 mission, put it, “When you’re finally up at the moon looking back on Earth, all those differences and nationalistic traits are pretty well going to blend, and you’re going to get a concept that maybe this really is one world, and why the hell can’t we learn to live together like decent people?”

It is equally important to be able to have insight into our own belief system, because it has an enormous impact on our mental state and well-being. It is our foundation. We view and interpret the world through our belief system. When we harbour false beliefs that cause us harm, they stop us doing things we might otherwise succeed at, we judge others through a warped lens, we rush to conclusions without pause for thought. When we believe we can’t do something, we don’t try and we shrink wrap our experiences. Those that believe that there is nothing to be lost by giving something a go, naturally have a greater chance of making it happen. Beliefs are an extension of memory. When we have succeeded before, we bring that experience to our assessment of the present problem or challenge. When we have failed, we draw on that memory to undermine our current perceptions.

Peter Halligan says “A belief is a mental architecture of how we interpret the world […] We have lots of fluid things moving by – perceptions and so forth – but at the level of who our friends are and so on, those things are consolidated in crystallised knowledge units. If we did not have those, every time we woke up, how would we know who we are?”

 Beliefs are building blocks; they are the structure by which we understand our existence. They are handed down to us by our families, culture, and communities; they become entrenched, built up over time, like plaque, hardened and immutable. People’s beliefs can be manipulated through brain-washing, new messages repeated over and over in a stressful and emotionally charged environment. But equally they can also be disassembled and rebuilt in a way that is healthy and valuable, to create a more positive outlook. When harmful beliefs have become a bad habit we need to flip them over into helpful ones.

“Beliefs are mental objects in the sense that they are embedded in the brain. If you challenge them by contradiction, or just by cutting them off from the stimuli that make you think about them, then they are going to weaken slightly. If that is combined with very strong reinforcement of new beliefs, then you’re going to get a shift in emphasis from one to the other.” Kathleen Taylor, Oxford University.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Harvard Psychologist and author of Stumbling on Happiness, Dan Gilbert describes in his TED talk The Surprising Science of Happiness how our beliefs can be misplaced. When he showed the audience pictures of a lottery winner and of a paraplegic and asked who they believed to be the happier, the majority replied that the lottery winner would be happier. They imagined what it would be like to win a $million and equally what it would be like to be injured and left to live in a wheelchair. Their overwhelming belief was that it has got to be better to win the money. However Gilbert reveals that when lottery winners and paraplegics were tested one year after the happening of their fortune or misfortune, they were at equal levels of happiness. The audience’s belief and perception of imagined scenarios involving sudden wealth or disability were thrown upside down. The reality is that:

“Tis nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so” William Shakespeare

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Our beliefs influence our behaviour, effect our bodies and minds and can have a profound impact on others. With determination we can create beliefs that serve us well and give our lives the best chance of happiness. They are not rigid nor inflexible, we can challenge them and turn them around. We can synthesize them to work for us and not against us.

Work with Accredited Coach Lou Hamilton to bash down your false beliefs and create new beneficial ones. Lou@createlab.co.uk

Follow my daily Inspirational Illustrations on Twitter @createlab and Instagram create_lab

Motivational Mondays: There’s always Hope

Hope requires stepping out from the past and looking to the future. It’s about imagining a better tomorrow and being prepared to do what it takes to make it so. It’s about creating a vision and taking affirmative action. It makes the difference between success and failure, triumph or defeat, confidence or fearfulness. Hope is in our hands.

Brave New Girl by Lou Hamilton

Brave New Girl by Lou Hamilton

Hope is “the belief that the future will be better than the present, along with the belief that you have the power to make it so.” according to Dr. Shane Lopez, senior scientist at Gallup, who also wants us to know how useful hope can be. “Hope is the leading indicator of success in relationships, academics, career, and business—as well as of a healthier, happier life,” he says.

Brave New Girl by Lou Hamilton

Brave New Girl by Lou Hamilton

Dr. Lopez is spearheading new research showing that not only is hope good for your wellbeing, but it’s a measurable quality that can be increased with practice. His new book, Making Hope Happen, discusses the science behind hope and describes practical ways to improve your wellbeing by nurturing a positive, active approach to life. He believes that by increasing the element of hope in our approach, we can lead happier and more productive lives. Once again it is our creative brain that is harnessed to till the soil ready to plant the seeds of hope. Without the proactive approach of constructive and creative endeavour, the belief that tomorrow will be better than today is merely an optimistic attitude. When we actually do something about making the future a better place then we are living in the real definition of hope. Being hopeful also helps us achieve more and to do so more quickly. Dr Lopez’s studies show that we are in fact 14% more productive at work when we believe that we are going to be successful in our outcomes.

Brave New Girl by Lou Hamilton

Brave New Girl by Lou Hamilton

Hopeful people understand that we need to have no more than two or three meaningful goals to work towards. Trying to juggle a chaotic life makes it hard to focus so we need to edit down our goals to what we know to be achievable by making them clear, specific and easily imaginable. They must also reflect our purpose and the values that have meaning for us. They must make us feel excited and motivated. We have to decide what matters to us most and concentrate our efforts on that. If we feel heavily invested in something we are more likely to feel hopeful about accomplishing it. Wishful thinking doesn’t get us where we want to be, hard work in the right direction does. In order to sustain the forward thrust we need to come with creative plans to keep our brains interested and engaged. To remain hopeful we must anticipate that it isn’t going to be easy so that we be responsive to the tripwires, shift our position, reframe our plans and come at the problems from another angle. We need to keep our creative minds agile rather than fixed, in order to keep hopeful.

Jerry Groopman, MD, in his ground-breaking book, The Anatomy of Hope: “Hope differs from optimism. Hope does not arise from being told to ‘think positively,’ or from hearing an overly rosy forecast. Hope, unlike optimism, is rooted in unalloyed reality. Hope is the elevating feeling we experience when we see – in the mind’s eye – a path to a better future. Hope acknowledges the significant obstacles and deep pitfalls along the path. True hope has no room for delusion.

Clear-eyed, hope gives the courage to confront our circumstances and the capacity to surmount them. For all my patients, hope, true hope, has proved as important as any medication I might prescribe or any procedure I might perform.

Hope can arrive only when we recognize that there are real options and that you have genuine choices. Hope can flourish only when you believe that what you do can make a difference, that your actions can bring a future different from the present. To have hope then, is to acquire a belief in your ability to have some control over your circumstances. You are no longer entirely at the mercy of forces outside yourself.”

Hopeful people are realists. They know the path is peppered with obstacles to be overcome. As Dr Lopez has discovered, they are also not shy to reach out and ask for support and help when they are faced with something that is insurmountable on their own. Surrounding ourselves with other hopeful people will help us sustain our energy and inspire us to keep devising new ways to reach our goals. However sometimes the rocks being hurled at us along the way turn into an avalanche of opposition and at that point the hopeful know to stop and reassess. They are not afraid to acknowledge when the pursuit of a goal is no longer working for them and they clear the road and begin again. It takes courage to recognize when a goal has become toxic but when we are hopeful we are also open, and that mental state allows for the creative brain to get working again on a new strategy. It takes resilience, vulnerability and curiosity to build and sustain the hope muscle.

Brave New Girl by Lou Hamilton

Brave New Girl by Lou Hamilton

If ever there was a story of hope triumphing over adversity it is that of Malala Yousafzai. She was born on 12 July 1997 in Mingora, a town in the Swat District of north-west Pakistan. Her father Ziauhddin ran a school in Swat near the family home. Pakistan has the highest number of children out of school and in 2009 the Taliban’s efforts to encourage this by restricting education and attempting to stop girls going to school, were sharply increased. But Malala loved learning and going to school. She began writing a blog for the BBC Urdu service under a pseudonym, about fears that her school would be attacked and the increasing military activity in Swat. Television and music were banned, women were prevented from going shopping and then Ziauddin was told that his school had to close. But Malala and her father both continued to speak out for the right to education. In 2011 she received Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize and was nominated by Archbishop Desmond Tutu for the International Children’s Peace Prize. Her public profile and popularity enraged the Taliban leaders and they voted to kill her. On 9 October, 2012, as Malala and her friends were travelling home from school, a masked gunman entered their school bus and asked for Malala by name. She was shot with a single bullet which went through her head, neck and shoulder. Two of her friends were also injured in the attack.

Brave New Girl by Lou Hamilton

Brave New Girl by Lou Hamilton

Malala survived the attack, but was critically injured. She was taken to Birmingham hospital in UK and not released until January 2013 when she was joined by her family. The Taliban’s attempt to kill Malala received worldwide condemnation and led to protests across Pakistan. In the weeks after the attack, over 2 million people signed a right to education petition, and the National Assembly swiftly ratified Pakistan’s first Right To Free and Compulsory Education Bill. Malala became a global advocate for the millions of girls being denied a formal education because of social, economic, legal and political factors. Malala accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 2014 with Kailash Satyarthi. She started the Malala Fund to raise awareness about the social and economic impact of girls’ education and to empower girls to speak out, to work to their potential, and to demand change. Throughout her trials Malala remained undefeated. She trusted in hope, she stood firm to her beliefs, she defied those trying to stop her and still today continues to use her voice to share hope with others.

“Dear brothers and sisters, do remember one thing. Malala day is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights. There are hundreds of Human rights activists and social workers who are not only speaking for human rights, but who are struggling to achieve their goals of education, peace and equality. Thousands of people have been killed by the terrorists and millions have been injured. I am just one of them.

So here I stand… one girl among many. I speak – not for myself, but for all girls and boys. I raise up my voice – not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard. Those who have fought for their rights:

Their right to live in peace. Their right to be treated with dignity. Their right to equality of opportunity. Their right to be educated.

Dear Friends, on the 9th of October 2012, the Taliban shot me on the left side of my forehead. They shot my friends too. They thought that the bullets would silence us. But they failed. And then, out of that silence came, thousands of voices. The terrorists thought that they would change our aims and stop our ambitions but nothing changed in my life except this: Weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.  I am the same Malala. My ambitions are the same. My hopes are the same. My dreams are the same.” 

Brave New Girl by Lou Hamilton

Brave New Girl by Lou Hamilton

Hope has the capacity for healing in many ways. Since the 1960’s scientists have revealed the effect of positive mental attitude on our bodies. Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) is the scientific study of our mind, body and overall health. Specifically it is the study of “the interaction between psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems of the human body.” It doesn’t rely on disingenuous wishful thinking. It promotes a hopeful attitude to health through the practical uptake of anti-inflammatory foods and a decrease in stressors. Inflammation in the body causes many of the diseases that kill 70% of the American population, so it makes sense to concentrate on eating foods that reduce inflammation: whole grains, fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds, oily fish, cold-pressed oils, legumes, and ensure the right levels of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Ensuring that we reduce the stress in our lives also has a dramatic impact on our bodies. The vagus nerve is involved in digestion, absorption, and metabolism of nutrients. Unhealthy food, stress, and depression have negative effects on vagal activation. This shows that there is a direct correlation between your brain and gut because stress hinders your guts essential actions. Stress also influences your food choices, and increases  insulin resistance. Stress increases maladaptive metabolic responses to unhealthy meals, which affects mood and proinflammatory responses to stressors. Avoid or reducing our stress at home and in the workplace helps us to get the most from the nutrients in our food. To be hopeful about our health we have to take the right action.

Brave New Girl by Lou Hamilton

Brave New Girl by Lou Hamilton

To create a hopeful attitude we must use our imaginations to envision positive outcomes, we must develop a plan of action and we must take the necessary steps. Even in our dying days we can create a hopeful legacy; we can pass on our approach, teach others to dream and to fulfill their potential. Nelson Mandela left us hope by living his life with courage, determination, wisdom and belief. He proved that when all else fails, hope triumphs. He never stopped working towards what he believed could happen, against all the odds. He dreamed and he made a difference.

Brave New Girl by Lou Hamilton

Brave New Girl by Lou Hamilton

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” Nelson Mandela 18th May 2002.

Work with me to build a hopeful approach to life. Find out more with a free 30 minute trial consultation Lou@createlab.co.uk

Follow my Brave New Girl Inspirational Illustrations on Twitter @createlab or Instagram create_lab or keep updated on her developments on bravenewgirl.co.uk