Let’s face it, so far 2020 has been a shocker. Covid-19 continues to turn our lives upside down, things we took for granted and looked forward to seem to be slipping away. But it’s not all bad. We sat down with author Sid Madge to talk about how neuroscience, sociology, and education can help us achieve extraordinary lives during these extraordinary times.
“I’m a great believer in the power of micro-moments,” explains Madge, founder of Meee (My Education Employment Enterprise) which has been credited to changing over 20,000 lives from leaders of PLCs and SMEs to parents, teachers, students, carers, the unemployed and prison inmates.
“It’s the tiny interventions and shifts in life that can point us in a new, more constructive and positive direction.” We are here to talk about his book, “Mee in a Minute” which offer some constructive ways to make an uncontrollable situation, as we face this year, into a more controllable plan.
“Research shows that taking the time to consciously appreciate what we are grateful for, as little as once a week makes us happier, healthier, and more satisfied with life – even in the middle of a global pandemic.
Take a minute, every morning to consider what you are grateful for and repeat the exercise at night. You’ll be amazed at how this simple exercise can change your outlook and foster optimism and positivity that lifts your spirits.”
Tackle problems when they are small
“When Antoine Yates decided to buy a gorgeous little ball of fluff called Ming and raise him in his Harlem apartment, he obviously didn’t appreciate how small things can become big,” laughs Madge, outlining an anecdote he describes in his book.
“Before long Ming was a 400-pound Bengal tiger, upsetting the neighbours and forcing Yates out of his home. Take a minute to consider if you have any Ming’s in your life. In other words, always deal with issues when they are small.”
“We need the courage to change the story”
Create a better story
Are you really good at talking about and understanding your problems – big and small?
Author Alberto Villoldo argues that although this may make you more self-aware there are unintended consequences. Madge agrees. “You may spend too much time re-hashing, dissecting, and worrying about those problems – rather than focusing on what you want to create in their place. We need the courage to change the story.
Take a minute to decide which you prefer – the life you want, or to feel comfortable with the excuses you make about why you can’t have that life.”
There has never been a better time for such sharp reflection. Don’t let this moment pass you by.
Identify your strengths
Most of us fall into a career (or end up taking what we can get) rather than really focusing on what we want to do or are best suited to. With so much time spent at home lately, perhaps now is the time to re-discover our strengths.
“Take a minute to consider your strengths and weaknesses and write them down. You might try an online strength-finder such as the CliftonStrengths Assessment. Consider how you can use these strengths in all areas of your life for greater fulfillment, for the rest of 2020 and beyond.
Tea with TED
TED Talks believe in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives, and ultimately the world. Limited to just 18 minutes long, they offer bite-sized insights into a huge range of subjects. And they are free. Sid Madge has done a TEDx talk on the Meee programme.
“Next time you take a break with a cup of tea, visit Ted.com and see what sparks your curiosity. Or use their ‘Surprise me’ feature where TED will randomly select a presentation for you to watch. Watch a different TED Talk every day, or listen to them as you go for a walk.”
You might have a bit more time on your hands than usual. So rather than spending time on more social media or binge-watching Netflix, why not use it more constructively? Sid suggests seeking out MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) where are everywhere now.
“Take a minute to visit futurelearn.com or google ‘Online courses’. Browse the course categories and sign up to something that interests you. You will always benefit from learning something, anything new. And that curiosity can spark a new path.”
Get off the Couch
OK, you might not be able to go to the gym yet, and the idea of pounding the pavements may not be that appealing, but you do need to move.
“Go for a walk,” Hippocrates said, “and if you are in a bad mood go for a walk. If you are still in a bad mood go for another walk.”
But the point is, try to begin today. “Ten brisk minutes three times a week is a great start. Or look at some of the Apps that are available. The down-Dog yoga App is awesome too.”
“Is there something you want to do but are scared that it won’t work out? Perhaps you want to write a book or change your career. If ever there was a time to explore this – it’s now. Maybe you just want to lose weight and get fitter by the time 2021 rolls around.
Take a minute to consider what you are putting off – and begin it now. Your future self will thank you for taking that step.”
Don’t miss the little beauties that make up our world
Slow down and smell the coffee
“At 8am on a cold January morning a busker took up a position at a Washington DC subway,” Madge tells us. “He played the violin for 40 minutes. 1097 people passed him – all rushing to get somewhere else. Only 27 people stopped to listen and he raised $32.17.
The busker was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest violinists in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces of music ever written, on a violin worth $3.5 million. And only 27 people noticed.
What are you missing? Slow down. To be honest, most of us don’t have a choice right now, so embrace slowing down and enjoy it.”
Don’t miss the little beauties that make up our world.
Do more of what makes you happy
As we’ve discovered in 2020, life is not one long party with dancing unicorns and rainbows. Happiness is found in so much more than grand experiences or amazing achievements.
Happiness is actually easier to find in the little moments: spending time with family, meeting friends (socially distanced of course), reading, listening to music, enjoying nice food or a good coffee. If Covid-19 has taught us anything, it’s to relish in the simple things.
“Take a minute to write down a list of 10 things that make you happy. And do more of those things. Sounds over-simplistic? You’d be surprised how effective this list becomes once you see it in front of you on paper.
According to a recent poll, only 8% of respondents want to go back to life as it was before the pandemic. Choose something better and make the rest of 2020 sing.”
Read more: How running changed my life
Read more: ‘I can’t change the world. But I can change how I see it’