Podcast

Ep 121 How to be hopeful with Bernadette Russell

September 7, 2020

Welcome to the Calmer You podcast This week on the Calmer You podcast, Bernadette Russell joins me for a welcome, insightful and hopeful episode. Bernadette is an expert on hope and kindness, as well as a writer, performer and activist who plants a lot of trees – and helps others do the same. She is […]

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Welcome to the Calmer You podcast

This week on the Calmer You podcast, Bernadette Russell joins me for a welcome, insightful and hopeful episode.

Bernadette is an expert on hope and kindness, as well as a writer, performer and activist who plants a lot of trees – and helps others do the same. She is author of The Little Book of Kindness and The Little Book of Wonder, both published by Orion and in multiple foreign editions around the world.

More about Bernadette

Since 2012, she has toured the US and UK speaking about the importance and life-changing experience of practicing kindness, including for BBC Radio 4 Saturday Live, Action for Happiness, Birmingham School of Philosophy, People United’s Kindness Symposium, The Roundhouse, Tate Britain, Turner Contemporary, Sunday Assembly and the Southbank Centre, where she was nominated as one of sixty-seven change-makers for her project 366 Days of Kindness. Since 2018 she has worked with the Royal Albert Hall, producing performances with kindness and creativity at their heart. 

We discuss:

  • Acts of kindness and how it transformed Bernadette’s life
  • How to be hopeful in today’s world 
  • The importance of our support network 
  • Positivity bias and how we can cultivate it

Chloe Brotheridge: Hello and welcome to the Calmer You podcast. This is your host, Chloe Brotheridge. I’m a coach and hypnotherapist and I’m the author of The Anxiety Solution and Brave New Girl. And this podcast is all about helping you to become your calmest, happiest and most confident self.

Welcome to today’s episode

Thank you so much for listening today. My guest is Bernadette Russell, who is an expert on being hopeful and kindness as well as a writer, performer and activist who plants a lot of trees and helps others do the same.

She is the author of The Little Book of kindness and the Little Book of Wonder, and her latest book, How to be Hopeful is out on the 10th of September 2020.

She gave me hope

This episode honestly couldn’t have come at a better time for me. On the day of recording this episode with her I had had a bit of a strange day and honestly was feeling a bit hopeless. Speaking to her was like a balm for the soul.

Acts of kindness

I really hope you’re gonna enjoy this episode we talked about her experience of doing acts of kindness. Now she’s been on a real journey with this. She did a whole year of daily acts of kindness, and she shares about the impact that has had on her life and the sorts of things that she did. It is super inspiring and hopeful.

How to be hopeful

We talk about how to be hopeful in today’s world where I mean, no one’s going to blame you if you’re feeling hopeless, or despairing or worried or anxious considering everything that’s going on in the world in 2020.

Cultivating positivity bias

We talked about the importance of our support network, and we get into the idea of positivity bias. Now, you might have heard of a negativity bias, which is what we all have as human beings kind of wired into us. We notice negative things because when we were evolving, it would have helped to keep us safe. We’re going to talk about a positivity bias and how we can cultivate that instead.

So I hope you love this episode. As always, if you want to come over to my website, www.calmer-you.com, you’ll find the video of Bernadette and I talking, and you’ll also find the transcript. So, if you will, and if your loved ones prefer to read instead of listening to a podcast and you can head over to Calmer You and check that out.

Go to the website for freebies

And I’ve got loads of freebies, on my websites resources for anxiety and confidence. So if you want to head on over to, again, www.calmer-you.com, you’re going to find ways to enter your email address and get those freebies so that I can support you in different ways.

I hope you enjoy this episode with Bernadette Russell. Can you just tell the listeners a bit about who you are, what you do and how you, you know got to where you are today?

Meet Bernadette

Bernadette: Yeah, so my name is Bernadette Russell. I started as a theatre maker. That sort of performer and maker theatre. Then back in 2011, which feels like the olden days now, because so much has happened since then, I was it at the Edinburgh Festival and during that time I don’t know if anyone remembers but the riots started in England. I think the impact it had on me as I’d already been thinking about it in quite a gloomy way about all the troubles of the world.

hopeful

One small thing to make a difference

There’s oil shortages and exploitation and famine and war, constant war and all the rest of it. I wasn’t thinking about it all the time. But it was a background anxiety and then the riots were very upsetting and it directly affected a lot of my friends and the response to the riots. I came back to London feeling a bit down. I needed to become more hopeful.

And then I went into the post office and there was a boy in front of me of the queue. And he was trying to send in his driving license application, but he thought it was fre post. Anyway, I gave him 50 p for a stamp. And he was immensely grateful, like disproportionately grateful. I was kind of a bit taken aback. And on the bus on the way home, I thought that was kind of a definite thing that made a difference, a little bit of a difference.

50p well spent

Then I got home and I said to my partner. And I said, I’m gonna do that every day, for a stranger, every day for a year and see what happens in this really reckless way. There was no planning, and I didn’t sort of do it on January the first like a sensible person. It was August the 11th. And I did it and it changed absolutely everything for me. It changed my life and has coloured everything I’ve done.

It changed my direction. So I started writing a lot more. I still make theatre, but it tends to be about kindness and compassion and connectivity and being hopeful. So yeah, that was their 50 p well spent.

Chloe Brotheridge: I love that story. You know, this conversation for me personally has come up just at the right time. Only yesterday, I managed to get embroiled in a kind of Twitter spat. Whereby someone was posting stuff about refugees, and I sort of weighed in with my other perspective, and then they kind of sent a load of their friends to kind of comment on things I’d written basically. It left me asking Why did I get into that?

Is it still possible to feel hopeful?

So talking about hope, I think is so important for me today and obviously, everything that’s going on in the world. There’s so many reasons why we could feel hopeless, whether it’s racism, climate, economy, pandemic, do you think it is still possible to feel hopeful in these times?

Bernadette: Yes, yes, I do. I’m sorry that happened to you. It’s horrible and unnecessary. I’m going to be bold and say the reason for all of this sort of anger and hate and sort of rage is always about fear.

When fear no longer serves us

Obviously fear is useful sometimes because if you didn’t have any fear, you’d just leap over buildings and you’d probably end up with a few broken legs. Fear is useful sometimes. But the amount of fear messages we receive, you know, refugees are coming in on boats, by the way to refer to your story and you know, they’re bringing COVID with them. I’ve seen these stories. They are told to stoke fear and are overwhelming. Not very hopeful.

So in a way, it’s completely understandable that people respond in a fearful way, which includes despair and sort of hopelessness. But it’s not the only story. So for me, it’s all about storytelling, and it’s just not true. And so it feels like our responsibility to seek out a source for joy and to seek out the other stories and the other people.

There are plenty of good stories

And for some reason, I think a lot not all but a lot of the mainstream media is caught into this kind of negative story. As if that’s intellectually superior to tell the bad side of things. And I would argue that it’s not. And also that even though in previous times it might have served us well, it no longer serves us because it’s feeding people with so much fear and anxiety. It’s resulting in people not doing anything, not making changes, not trying, being scared, looking down, attacking each other. So it no longer serves us.

There is much to be hopeful about

And I feel like there’s a lot of hope in the fact actually what we can do and you do it and your work as well please say, okay, there are all these troubles. But there is also this organisation in Uganda who are helping the local community plant a forest and start their own farm. And there is also this amazing school in Barnsley who were taking out care packages to old people who are nearby. There were also these amazing refugees who’ve contributed brilliantly to the village in Wales where they arrived. That community is getting on amazingly and supporting each other.

It’s about positive stories and just moving away from that foamy, frothy negative space.

Chloe Brotheridge: I’m not sure how I feel about Twitter. I feel like it’s become quite toxic anyway. I need to be searching out those better stories clearly.

Amplify the voices that need to be heard

Bernadette: I think Twitter can be good too. I’m quite ruthless because I think that we’ve got this incredible democratic tool. It’s still a democratic space, I think social media, which we can use to platform stories, amplify voices that need amplifying and support we can do that still.

Don’t follow the negativity

We still have the power to do it. So I would just say you’re going to hear the bad news anyway. Guaranteed. So get rid of them. Don’t follow those accounts that feed that stuff. Feed, recognise what you need, and if what you need are true, you know, not, not kind of fluffy kitten story. So those are lovely as well, but In search of solutions-driven stories. Stories about joy and being hopeful that will feed you because it helps your mental health. But it does also help to heal the world and then share them as well.

Fill your feeds with positivty

All my social media feeds are positive and interesting because I’ve been quite ruthless about that. I just get rid of it. Watch the news for 10 minutes in the morning. So I know the latest horrors happening, but then try and engage with people and organisations who were looking for the answers. And there are so many, I promise you. In fact, after this, I’ll send you some.

Avoid checking the headlines all day

Chloe Brotheridge: That’d be great. So making sure that you’re following things that are sharing more positive stories and perhaps limiting the news consumption to a few minutes a day so that you know what’s happening but not necessarily checking in several times an hour on the latest headlines. Probably not gonna lead you to feel very good.

Bernadette: Yeah, I think so. And some people dismiss that as a sort of, you know, not a very serious way of engaging with the news. But actually that’s all you need to know. Then the rest of it is about making you feel better, helping you to show how you can live a better life and how you can engage positively towards positive change.

Does hope come naturally

Chloe Brotheridge: Are you a naturally positive person? Does hope come easily and naturally to you? Was it something you’ve had to work on?

Bernadette: That’s such a brilliant question. Thank you for asking that. And I think I’ve taught myself. Since 2011 when I went on that journey doing acts of kindness shifted my gaze towards kindness. I was looking at the same view, but from a different window.

Looking out for kindness

So I started to notice people being kind, because I chose to focus on it. I started to look out for hope and lookout for people that were actively trying to make the world a better place. Gradually, that kind of shifts You, you, you start to automatically look out and see those things.

Bright side thinking

That’s not to say some days I feel floored by the bad news or I’ve had a piece of personal bad news that makes me sad, but that’s okay. Because we’re complex and sadness and despair even is part of the human experience. Now I definitely recover better, because I committed to a sort of bright side thinking.

I think it’s possible for anyone to do that. Simply say this is what I need to be happy and to help and focus on it. Yeah, I definitely am more resilient.

Look for reasons to be hopeful

Chloe Brotheridge: Right. So making a commitment to looking out and noticing those reasons to be hopeful. And then that actually trains you to see those things more and to notice them more.

Bernadette: Yeah, and to remind yourself, so if you feel yourself slipping down from the weight of the world ask yourself to notice one beautiful thing today. Find one hopeful story, and to think about a kindness that you’ve received or that you’ve witnessed, and they do work to pull you out of it. If you can’t, you’ll always find something. I don’t know that a day goes by that isn’t full of beauty

Gratitude – it really does work

Chloe Brotheridge: It reminds me of all the research that’s been done into gratitude practices. And it can almost sound a bit kind of fluffy, just be grateful. But actually, there’s been so much. So many studies have found that it really does work and it really can train your mind to be more positive. So looking out for those beautiful things every day is going to mean that you’re able to notice them and discover more beautiful things to recognise. Yeah.

It’s enough

Bernadette: If you’re feeling particularly low on some days, or you’re having a really tough time, gratitude can be hard to reach as well. And that’s okay. And I think on those days, it’s good to think to yourself, okay, well, what did I do today? That was good, and that can be a really small thing, like, I managed to make myself dinner or I managed to make my bed or I managed to get up. It can be really small. Some days, that’s enough, you know, if you’re really flattened, it’s enough that you managed to have your dinner or go out for a walk. Ithink we need to be really gentle with ourselves as well. We’re in challenging times, aren’t we?

The little things count to

Chloe Brotheridge: Yeah, and just those things that we so often discount, you know, we just take them for granted that we can get up and go for a walk that day or have a shower. Somedays even that is challenging.

Bernadette: On those days, it’s amazing that you’ve managed to do that. You know, it’s astounding and also it gives us hope. Even on a really terrible day, to be able to say I still got up is a strength to be recognized. And it’s recognising that strength. That can give us hope. I’ve still been in the world and I’ve achieved things and demonstrate strengths. So I found that really useful because we’ve had a really difficult few months. Everyone in different ways.

Acts of kindness

Chloe Brotheridge: I really wanted to ask you more about the acts of kindness that you did over 366 days. Can you say a bit more about that?

Bernadette: So it’s 366. I do know how long a year is, but it was over a leap year. It started spontaneously. I’m quite shy really. So I was like, gosh, I’ve made myself a right bloomin task here to approach a stranger every day but I’ve really just decided to commit to it. To keep myself interested, I tried to make most days a different thing.

Ideas of kindness

At the beginning, I was doing things like buying stranger’s bunches of flowers and leaving chocolates in my neighbor’s house. Sponsoring anyone that I saw on Facebook that was doing a run. It got really expensive. I thought I’m not sure this is sustainable because it’s expensive. Also, if I’m trying to encourage other people to do it, the money way might not be the most helpful way of doing it. So then I started thinking about paying people compliments, just having conversations with strangers on the train or in the shop.

Bernadette: I wrote letters to strangers asking if they’re okay. A lot of people started to contact me on social media and said, I know someone that’s really lonely. Will you send them a card? So I started doing things like that. There were these twins that my friends told me about so on their birthday I sang Happy Birthday. It’s really good fun, Chloe, it was really good fun and it also sometimes really stressful.

Get outside your comfort zone

I learned a lot on the way. Then I decided I’m going to, I’m going to try and choose somebody who I might be less inclined to talk to. I remember one time I was on this train and there was a posh man speaking incredibly loud. I noticed I had a bias because he had a loud posh voice putting me off. Like, that’s ridiculous. I don’t know this man. So I went over and talked to him. And he and I had such a brilliant conversation. He was amazing.

It didn’t work once, that’s it

There’s only one time in the whole year that it didn’t work out so well, which is pretty good statistically. And that was at Euston station. I think that was just because, to be fair, people are rushing around trying to get to their trains. They probably thought that I was trying to sell them a mobile phone deal or something. And, but it was absolutely delightful.

Chloe Brotheridge: So amazing. I love each one of these examples. It has definitely given me some inspiration to do more of that. And I think especially if you’re somebody that is a bit shy. This could be a really amazing way to challenge yourself in a kind of gentle and positive way. To show yourself that you can go and speak to someone or strike a conversation or move past fears and misconceptions.

Endless ways to be kind

Bernadette: Some days I felt like I haven’t got it in me today to go up and talk to someone. On those days I wrote a letter. When writing the book I thought it was really important to show all the examples. So there are sort of introvert access points as well as extrovert about access points in terms of doing things.

Health benefits of kindness

It’s hugely beneficial to your mental health because you just get this massive hit of serotonin and oxytocin the good mood hormone. You’re constantly on a high and it really counters cortisol, which is a stress hormone that we can suffer with. So it really does offer immediate payback.

Chloe Brotheridge: Thanks. Right. I love it. Yeah. And I had Dr. David Hamilton on the podcast a couple months ago. He talks about the research that kindness is really good for your heart health, it’s really good for lowering inflammation. There’s loads of these physical effects that it has on us, but go beyond just the kind of nice thing to do. It has a real physical impact on us.

Doing something from the goodness of your heart

Bernadette: Yeah, I always say doing something from the goodness of your heart protects your heart. And, I used a lot of his research actually. I realised that there was a whole ecosystem of people working in this area about kindness and self-compassion and being hopeful.

He was one of the people I came across and it was great. It’s just really interesting, beneficial and buoyant. To have to feel that you’re standing on the foundation of researched science. And because the lived experience is valid and really important, as well. But it’s also really nice to feel like, okay, that neuroscientists, of that group of researchers have actually backed up our lived experience with this. So I think that’s really helpful. He’s great, isn’t he?

Chloe Brotheridge: He’s brilliant. In your book, you talk about how children have a positivity bias. And I was really curious if you could explain a bit more about that.

Children can find joy and play wherever they are

Bernadette: That started with a very good friend of mine, Marian Dugan. She worked for an organisation called Clowns Without Borders, who work with refugee children in camps in Calais and in Greece. She was the person that got me interested in it because she spoke about how she noticed that these children even in pretty dire circumstances, would find whatever was available to play. And bits of rubbish, and making them into toys and that she observed and shared with me that she was astonished how the children in the camps found joy and play wherever they were. And I found that really moving but also really inspiring.

Rose-tinted glasses of children

I was like, so what happens to us? You know, why is it harder for us and I came across this work of Janet Waskowski, who’s an associate professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina. And she researched what she saw as children’s rose-tinted glasses and their positivity. Psychologists aren’t entirely sure yet why children have their positivity bias. But she thought that it was partly due to their positive social experiences that most children are lucky to have early in life.

Curiosity is key

There’s also ideas about the need for effects so children are learning and curiosity is important and necessary for them. I was interested in that with regard to the children that Marian saw who you could say, perhaps haven’t had the most positive environment to grow up in. Often they have their families around them and their brothers and sisters, which is great, and that they still have that. So it seems like there’s the beginning of research into why children have this and an investigation into what happens and at what age and why we lose that, although we don’t all lose that.

Regaining our rose-tinted glasses

And I think again, we can train ourselves to get that back. And yeah, she said that children as young as three, and up to around 12 have this positivity bias when. After that things change. And so I just started to think about how we could capture some of that as adults, the things that children have and I thought about the importance of playing and the importance of imagination, and the importance of finding joy in things.

Undoubtedly, it’s harder for us when we have the responsibilities that perhaps most children don’t have. But we can borrow some of the stuff from our younger selves to help us be more positive, put up rose-tinted glasses back on.

Bring on our curiosity

Chloe Brotheridge: Wouldn’t be nice. I think there really is something about trying to tune in to that childlike curiosity for the world again, and openness and exploring. It makes a massive difference to how happy we are or how calm we are as well. And if we see things with curiosity, rather than making a judgement or making an assumption.

Bernadette: Absolutely 100% agree and also curiosity is very important with regard to fear and with regret. To hope as well, because if you choose to be curious, especially if you’re scared of situation, if you choose to be curious about it, and open. And I’m not saying that that’s easy, but to say what’s happening here, what’s good here? What can be done here or what’s interesting here, you’re much more likely to do to overcome your fear, I think.

Play is for grown-ups too

Does that make sense? So I know that I if I try to walk towards things I’m scared of, with curiosity, because children do that, I think. And when you watch children, they do that. I mean, sometimes that’s why we have to protect them. Curiosity is something that we don’t allow ourselves and we don’t allow ourselves to play enough. Play is an expression of curiosity and trying things out, which is why actually I think during COVID the explosive expression of creativity, you know, people being allowed to express themselves creatively and giving themselves permission. For me, I felt a really positive part of that. Curiosity and exploration play is for grownups as well.

Asking for help

Chloe Brotheridge: Amazing. I wanted to move on to talking a bit about our support network. It’s something that perhaps has changed in certain ways to lockdown maybe some in some ways for the better, in some ways, the worst. I know one of the topics that you dig into in the book is around asking for help and the importance of support. Can you tell us a bit about that?

Bernadette: Absolutely. And so, obviously, I mean, this applies to everything. Hopefully I think COVID or lockdown provided an opportunity for some people to say, What do I need? What do I need in order to be happy in order to have a good life? So one, it’s useful to define what good life means to you. And that’s fine, whatever that is. But also, it’s to recognise and I think, our interdependence on each other. Our connectivity was in sharp relief in a beautiful way during lockdown.

Connection

We actually need each other. We are connected, and that’s a beautiful thing. So I think it’s really important in order to support yourself and in order to remain hopeful to think about what you need. Think about who do you go to when you need someone that’s just gonna make you laugh? You know, that person or friend is great, aren’t they? Who are you going to if you need some really honest advice. Someone that’s not going to mollycoddling. If you need to borrow some money, who you’re going to go to, if you need someone to help you with child care or to walk your dog, or you’re going to go to have a really great night out. Who’s that gonna be?

Make a list

I literally wrote it down. Three people are covering a lot of those jobs for you. That’s okay. But I think it’s probably useful to think of a bit of a wider net. It’s okay if you don’t have that yet. Something worth thinking about. I really could do with someone who can perhaps give me some really ruthless advice and looking out for that and sort of inviting that.

Maybe that’s revealed itself a little bit to us over the last few months. Like who that person is, who always makes you laugh. And who that person is who can help you out if you need practical help. It’s courageous to identify what you need and literally keeping a list and then sort of seeking them out. Try to fill in the gaps gently if you need to. I’m a big fan of writing things down. I mean, I hope it doesn’t sound cold, but I just think it’s a really useful way of helping yourself to focus on it.

Ask for help

Chloe Brotheridge: Absolutely, yes, writing it down solidifies it. I’m just going to read a quote from the book. “Every single person in the world will need help at some point in their lives and people who care about you would much rather you ask for their help and suffer alone.”

Bernadette: I believe that to be true. It takes courage to ask for help. And it especially takes courage to ask for help when you feel low, because you’re vulnerable. So it’s useful if preceding that you’ve done yourself the favour of saying, actually, this is the person to go for this particular kind of help.

It’s about love

For example, if my friend Kate was in terrible trouble, would I rather she asked for help? Yes, I would! You just have to trust that if the person can’t help you in the way that you’re asking at that particular time that they’ll be honest and open about that. You can have a conversation. It’s about conquering fear in a way. And it’s about love. It’s about self-love. And it’s about reaching out with love as well.

People feel valued when asked for help

People are eager to help. Look at what we saw during lockdown. The very fact that the appeal for NHS volunteers was oversubscribed by seven times. That’s demonstration that people are eager to help. They’re passionate about helping actually. You could say it’s an act of kindness because it’s offering somebody a purpose and a job. It is a gift actually to say can you help me it’s also recognising someone’s expertise or their worth.

We all need each other

The fact that you respect them and like them, love them. So yeah, ask for help. And we’ll all need it. Everybody will need it. There’s no person that’s ever existed that hasn’t needed help. In fact, really, when you think about that, we need it every day. When we have our dinner, somebody has grown it, packed it, put it on a truck, got it to the shop, sorted it in the shelves, you know, that you could see that as help. Initially, I found asking for help really difficult. I don’t know. I’ve stopped trying to be Hercules.

We are all being helped all the time

Chloe Brotheridge: I love that image of recognising how we are being helped all the time and helping other people in what we do every day without even really realising it. And that reminder of how connected we are and how much we need each other.

Bernadette: We really do. It’s great actually, because it takes the weight off you sort of circling back to this whole thing about trying to make positive change in the world. I think certainly when I began my journey. It’s the superhero complex. If you feel like I’ve got to fix everything, I’ve got to do everything. I can’t ask for help. And I have to change the world on my own.

An ecosystem of humanity

That’s ridiculous and also overwhelming when you realise that you are part of an ecosystem. We’re just part of an ecosystem of humanity. Connecting and each doing our job. It’s a real relief. Because you’re not carrying such a heavy burden. You’re just carrying a little bit. That’s hopeful.

Chloe Brotheridge: My granny has a saying, I don’t know if it’s her saying. She says, Don’t deny people the joy of helping.

Bernadette: I love that. Absolutely.

Bernadette: Bravo to your granny. I think that sums it up, doesn’t it?

Activism

Chloe Brotheridge: You mentioned that about trying to be a superhero. I know activism is important to you. I’ve noticed before a couple of years ago, people didn’t add activisism in their Instagram profile. But now so many more people are kind of stepping into this role and speaking up about things that are important to them. I imagine people want to help more and want to step up in a bigger way. Can you talk about your experience of that and how you how you handle that?

Bernadette: Yes, definitely. I would like to mention a dear friend of mine, Sarah Corbett, who runs an organisation called the Craftivist Collective, who’s been a massively beneficial positive influence on me. And also talks about this really brilliantly. So I’d still recommend connecting with her. We’ve had lots of conversations about it. I’m more hopeful.

Activism doesn’t have to feel cynical

I’m really excited by the fact that people are identifying as activists because actually, you can be cynical about that. But as people say, I want to be in the space, I want to be part of positive change. I think it’s really super important to not try and imagine that you will single-handedly, like Superman, you know, travel three times around the world at lightning speed and stop the comet. You won’t. And also it’s super important in my experience to find an engagement, a way of engaging with positive change, doing something you will enjoy.

You need to find the joy in it because then you’re much more able to keep it up. Why shouldn’t you enjoy it? It can be joyful. Find out the people that share your joy. So that’s another nice little tribe and another connection. You don’t have to be at it all the time, you need to let it go sometimes. I can’t go and plant a forest today because I’m really tired. I think finding pleasure in change is really important. Let’s be honest about it, there’s lots to be done.

Skill-set + what you love

We’re playing whack a mole at the moment putting out fires all over the place. There’s lots of troubles, in a way there always has been. So it’s saying, actually, with my skillset and the things that I love, where could I best be part of this ecosystem of change? For example, for me, I’ve got various different entry points, but I’ve been doing a lot of tree planting recently, which I love because I think it’s kind of creates community cohesion as well as you kind of plant a pop-up forest in a couple of hours, which is extraordinary.

What do you enjoy?

Other people engage in different ways, but I think it’s really hard. To say, I really like this because I love meeting loads of different Londoners. And I really like being outside planting trees. So it’s been easier for me to sustain that because there’s lots of joy and pleasure. And I’ve connected with other people. Be honest with yourself about where you fit, and what skills you could bring to the table.

You should feel good about doing it. It’s okay to feel good and to feel joy and pleasure. It’s not just okay, it’s essential, because then you’re more likely to be able to keep it up. Whereas if you do something that’s makes you sad, or isn’t a good fit for you. I think you’re much likely to give it up and be less hopeful.

Chloe Brotheridge: That makes so much sense. Thank you for sharing. It’s going to be different for everyone, isn’t it and it’s about finding what you enjoy.

What am I good at?

Bernadette: I have a friend of mine who’s a retired teacher, really lovely. She was like, I really want to do something but it’s so overwhelming. She was a teacher for 40 years. So she then joined a refugee organisation, and sort of helping refugee children with improving their English. Of course, they absolutely adore her. She’s hilarious. She’s a really good teacher. It’s a beautiful win win situation. So I think that’s a good lesson as well. It’s like, what am I good at? What do I love? Where can I go to contribute?

Chloe Brotheridge:
I really wanted to ask you this before we finish the podcast. What is your favourite practical tool for being more hopeful?

Practical tools for being more hopeful

Bernadette: I’ve got two things that I do. One long term and one’s a daily practice. I have a little hope collection. Which I literally keep in a box, like a sort of positive Pandora’s box if you like. I put all sorts of things in ti. Sometimes it’s pictures or little scraps of paper.

All the things that make me hopeful. That might be people, it might be a little column from a magazine, it might be a photograph of something that’s made me feel hopeful. When I feel everything’s so hard, I just have a little peek in my positive Pandora’s box. I’d really recommend keeping a hope collection. Because things can slip from our minds, you can forget, especially if you go into a sort of sad place. Having a collection of really good things. You might decide to make a collage or keep a journal, but I think a hope collection is really good.

Look for hopeful stories

Secondly, as a daily practice, every single day, I look for a hopeful story. And interestingly, some days that’s harder than others. But it is never impossible. There will be something astonishing that’s just absolutely boggling amazing.

A big tip in terms of looking out for positive stories as a daily practice. If something’s been troubling you, for example you hate so much plastic waste. If you look there is always a positive and hopeful story about a solution.

A hopeful world

The world is fueled by hope and it’s run on love. And that’s the truth. If you let yourself see that, you see it everywhere, and every moment. Then you can stop having those uncomfortable exchanges with people having arguments with danger on Twitter and live in the beauty of the world and a hope of the world.

Chloe Brotheridge: I feel so much better just talking to you. I’m going to go after this and do some positive news research. Spend a bit of time doing that.

Bernadette: At the end of the book, there’s a list

Where you can find Bernadette

Chloe Brotheridge: Thank you so much for everything you’ve said. It’s been wonderful and uplifting. Where can people find out more about you? Where can they buy your book and that sort of thing.

Bernadette: My book How to be Hopeful is out on the 10th of September. We can pre order it now from all the usual suspects, and it’s published by anyting Thompson. My website is bernadetterussell.com I’m on Twitter, @betterrussell. Instagram, Bernadette Russell, Facebook, Bernadette Russell.

Get in touch with Bernadette

I really like to hear from people. So if anyone wants to challenge me on any of that, or discuss any of that, or just say, help me, that’s absolutely fine. So be really nice here. Probably my website’s easiest because it’s got all the other things.

Chloe Brotheridge: Yeah, and the book is called How to be Hopeful.

Bernadette: The books called How to be Hopeful and it is out on the 10th of September. There is also a podcast with the same name.

Chloe Brotheridge: So good to speak to you. You have been listening to the Calmer You podcast with me Chloe Brotheridge. Don’t forget you can download loads of freebies for anxiety and competence at my website calmer-you.com. You can find out more about me and my one on one sessions.

Where you can find me

Please do subscribe to this podcast in the Apple Podcast App. And if you have enjoyed it or found it helpful, please leave me a review. It makes a massive difference to helping the podcast get discovered by other people and come on over and find me on Instagram. I’m hanging out there every day you can find me at Chloe Brotheridge let me know what you thought of this episode. And please share it with anyone who might need to hear this today. So I’m sending you lots of love and I hope you have a brilliant week ahead

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