Stephanie Dowrick on 10 days to greater calm

Dr Stephanie Dowrick offers you a 10-day program to greater calm. These practical, fail-safe ideas give you a chance to contribute to a friendlier, kinder, better humoured world – and to become delightful company for everyone who knows you. You can find many more ideas in Dr Dowrick’s books Choosing Happiness and Everyday Kindness. Feel free to respond to this program and report your successes on “Official Stephanie Dowrick” FB page. We welcome your comments! (Remember “calm” can include enthusiasm, delight, awe, engagement, tolerance, appreciation…but excludes tiresome, miserable irritations, eruptions and negativity.)

Day 1  Claim – and exercise – your POWER TO CHOOSE your responses, even in tense situations. Know what presses your “buttons”. Know what “throws you off your perch”. You will be far more reactive and far less calm (and wise) when you are tired, hungry, self-pitying, depressed or angry. Take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Most crucially, take seriously your chance to be someone others can rely on. This can be your highest ambition: to make your world calmer, kinder and far more joyful.

Day 2  Check where you are making most effort: in “controlling” other people – or your own moods and reactions. When you are safely “in charge” of your own responses, behaviour and attitudes, you will be far more accepting and supporting of others. You will be calmer. You will also be far more loveable. And when things go wrong? Apologise. Never blame others. Re-group. And move on.

Day 3   Move your attention away from yourself. Check how your choices and attitudes are affecting other people. Watch. And listen. Even ask. Are you EASY to be around? Do you know how to put others at their ease? How to reassure them…support them…thank and encourage them?  Make it your business to bring calm to others. This will always, always help you to calm yourself. (And life will instantly be far more interesting.)

Day 4  Wherever you are, you affect the emotional atmosphere before you say a single word. Those thoughts brewing in your head literally shift the atmosphere for better or worse. Let yourself be a beacon of calm and good humour. Make it easy for other people to trust you and feel safe around you. Cultivate good humour, openness and patience – even when you are NOT getting your own way. Take it for granted that others have a right to their views, their agenda. This is maturity. This is freedom. 

Day 5  Rediscover PATIENCE. And practise it on a daily basis. This means: taking the time needed rather than the time available; giving others the time they need; not over-scheduling; pausing, looking around, “chilling”; overlooking small set-backs…remaining cheerful, even stoic in more serious moments; moving at others’ pace; letting your mind rest; checking what a situation needs, rather than what you are imposing. All of this withdraws much of the sting in contemporary life. And what a gift to other people! Patient people are a delight to be around. They contribute to a kinder, calmer world. It’s that simple.

Day 6  Take it for granted things will sometimes go wrong. And people won’t do exactly what you want when you want. So what? Very few events justify a fuss – or are helped by them. When problems arise (and they will), simply ask: “What’s needed here?” And move on. See yourself as some who solves problems rather than creates them; who minimises “fusses”; who can clearly see the difference between a mountain and a molehill and can respond like a grown up.
(For some of you this may be the most helpful day of all.)

Day 7  Be brave enough to NOTICE when you need to regain your precious self-control. Don’t look for anyone or anything to blame. It’s up to you to change the inner and outer atmosphere. Use slow, conscious breathing. For as long as it takes. Or go for a long, fast walk. Remove yourself from agitating triggers and NEVER react (condemn, explode, accuse) when your emotions are running high. Your thinking is least coherent at those times and most dangerous. Making these changes is a mighty gift to yourself and others. You will grow in self-confidence and happiness. Everyone benefits.

Day 8   Know what lifts your spirits. And do much more of it. (Put it at the TOP of your list – for everyone’s sake.) When you are enjoying life – and spreading joy far and wide – you are far less likely to fall into negativity, self-pity or global gloom. With inner stability comes energy, optimism, hope and care. All priceless treasures! And yours for the taking.

Day 9  Dare to be spiritually ambitious! Be the loving presence who routinely reassures, calms and comforts others, who forgives and doesn’t blame, and who can gracefully receive comfort and care when it is offered. Such blessings and joy will follow. And when you fail or fall down? Get up and start again. It’s not the falling that matters; it’s the rising.

Day 10  See your world and yourself through the eyes of APPRECIATION. Always. Banish criticism. Lavish praise (gratitude, interest, kindness). And not just for what people do – appreciate and rejoice in who they are. No change in perspective and behaviour brings greater blessings, ease and happiness. Every day can be a good day. 

Dr Stephanie Dowrick is the author of a number of life-changing books that include The Universal Heart, Choosing Happiness, Seeking the Sacred and Forgiveness and Other Acts of Love. They are available from bookstores internationally, in both e-book and paper editions, and also from the discounted on-line Stephanie Dowrick Bookstore, administered by Collins/Seek.  For greater calm, Stephanie Dowrick also recommends her meditation CD, Peaceful Mind.