Positive perspectives and practices for personal growth.

About Gareth Mitchell

A seemingly obvious thought flitted through my mind just as I was about to publish my first article on this site – one I decided would be best addressed on my ‘About’ page : What qualities and expertise do I have that gives me any right to add to the plethora of information already available on the subject of personal development? (A term I really don’t want to use, but alas, seems to sum up pretty succinctly the broad range of topics I want to hit upon with HelpfulHabits.net).

From your perspective, that question is infinitely more relevant: Why should you take on board a single word I have to say or suggestion I have to make?

Your time and your mental resources are after all, extremely precious – you don’t have a surplus of either to waste entrusting your faith blindly to some anonymous ‘expert’ of whom you have no knowledge and whose sincerity you can’t possibly gauge – particularly when it comes to a subject as important and sensitive as you: your aspirations, your happiness, fulfilling your potential, your life.

After all, as I said above, there’s certainly no shortage of ‘self-help’ advice available. Neither for that matter, is there a shortage of writers in the field with a solid list of credentials to back up their expertise.  Go to Amazon, pick up a copy of Stephen R Covey’s ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ or Neil Fiore’s ‘The Now Habit’ and you’ll have a wealth of information at your fingertips that really can transform your life (if you have the inclination to put it into practice) – and at the same time you’ll also have guessed (at least in part) the inspiration for this website’s title.

I will tell you straight off the bat that I can’t compete with those rare prophets of personal development on credentials. As of the time of writing this ‘About Gareth Mitchell’ page I haven’t published a bestselling book that’s sold countless millions of copies, I don’t have executives of Fortune 500 companies hanging off my every word (neither do I think my philosophies on life will ever make it likely), I don’t have a Doctorate in psychology (or in fact, a single formal qualification in human psychology) and I’ve never had a book critic from a broadsheet extol the ‘life changing’ virtues of my ideas. In fact, I don’t claim to be a prophet at all.

Without any of those meritocratic achievements how then can I possibly talk with any authority or sincerity about how you can achieve a happier life?

In essence, it comes down to this: I am very much a disciple – someone who is all too aware of the life changing potential of ‘changing from the inside’.  I know from experience the immeasurable positive impact that can be derived from having the humility to face up to all that’s wrong in your life (as well as the personality traits that got you there) and having the courage to free yourself from your self-imposed limits – to be inspired to embrace new perspectives and new ways of thinking.

And make no mistake, by ‘life changing’ I mean literally that: multiple fold improvements to your happiness, your productivity, your relationships, your peace of mind – all the things that have the power to make or break your success in life.

What has blessed me with this profound awareness?

Simply my own, often turbulent, often frustrating, but always positive life experiences, which have – based on necessity – continually forced me throughout my adult life to examine on a micro level every last facet of my attitudes, beliefs and perspectives in order to grow (sometimes just to survive) as a human being. They’ve led me to persistently question who I am and to constantly re-evaluate what I can do to more closely align myself with every human’s natural instinct (and inalienable right) to live a fulfilled, contented, worthwhile life. A life not hindered by self-imposed limits but free to live up to one’s true potential.

To be specific, my struggles are borne out of my many innately self-destructive personality traits – traits that tend to be diagnosed under the broad umbrella of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder – conditions that sadly leave many as broken human beings, entirely incapable of functioning in our modern, faced paced world.

Without going into unnecessary detail, these characteristics leave me predisposed to being chaotic, disorganised, inattentive, easily overwhelmed and vulnerable to extremes of anxiety and stress – in all areas of my life. In other words, I have by nature, a personality that encompasses a thesaurus like list of antonyms for every personal quality you’d want to put on your C.V.

(I must quickly point out here as a side note that I abhor such labels as OCD and ADHD – they’re paradoxically unhelpful and damaging. Whilst the broad spectrum of negative thinking patterns underlying those disorders are crippling, they are in my first hand opinion, just amplified variants of ‘normal’ human psychological predispositions. Or to put it simply, the problem is in the extremes of feeling, not the feelings themselves. Labelling innate personality traits as disorders, was for me at least, a recipe for disaster – with years of my early adult life wasted searching in vain for a single ‘cure’ instead of accepting and proactively working with those personality traits). End of side note :-)

Would you know that I innately possessed this heady mix of dysfunctional personality traits if you met me? And more importantly, do those innate disadvantageous personality traits (in the sense of being able to function in our modern fast paced, information overload world) still hold me back?

No!!! And there in a nutshell is my single credential: I have, through a complete overall of my thought processes and perspectives, overcome the strangle hold of a myriad of extremely self-destructive character traits.

But even that is not a good enough reason to give my opinions any consideration – after all, the chances are you suffer from neither OCD or ADHD. But regardless, the important point you should take on board is this:

The debilitating problems that once dominated my life stem from the same innate human weaknesses and frailties that prevent each and every human being on this Earth from fulfilling his or her full potential: anxiety, stress, negative thinking patterns, a propensity towards self-criticism, a lack of direction, focus or sense of priority, a tendency to imagine and dwell on the worst that could happen, depression resulting from the feeling that you’re not in control of your life or the choices you make, being overwhelmed by the pace of life, resentment and frustration for a failure to reach your perceived potential and despair for a life going nowhere.

That’s just the tip of a random list of negative personality traits and perspectives that I could keep on adding to all night – negative traits that whilst amplified in my own personality, are lurking to a greater or lesser degree in the psyches of every human being alive

And that’s the stark, profound reality: If you are prepared to recognise those same human frailties in your own psychological makeup and are then prepared to take positive steps to lessen their grip over your life, then you’ll also achieve greater heights of fulfilment and happiness – to quote a cliché, ‘if I can do it, anyone can’.

I have turned my life around from a tornado of chaos, stress, anxiety and wasted potential to an oasis of calm, where I am increasingly contented in my own skin, optimistic and enthused by the future and driven by a sense of purpose. My life has gone from one long anxious chore, where 40 cigarettes a day and a constant flow of caffeine seemed to provide my only reason for existence, and where even washing and eating often felt like they were getting in the way of more ‘important’ issues (which for some reason still never got done); to a life increasingly shaped by my dreams and aspirations. A life that I now look upon as full of opportunity and purpose; and one in which I embrace every day with renewed and constantly growing enthusiasm, curiosity, excitement and passion. To quote yet another cliché, I really do now feel that ‘it’s good to be alive’ – a positive perspective I have achieved purely through ‘inner change’. I can even say that I don’t even miss the fags or the Coke!

It’s because of the profound improvements I’ve experienced in all aspects of my life that I’m so passionate about this subject. Similarly, it’s because of the innumerable life improvements I know you can accomplish by using the same simple mental tactics, changes of perspectives and life skills that I’ve felt compelled to start this site – something I do enthusiastically and with a simple purpose: to help.

As I am increasingly freed from the necessity of constantly looking inward on myself, I try to embrace fully one of the late, great Dale Carnegie’s core life philosophies:

‘I shall pass this way but once; any good, therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.’

My articles here are my attempt to live up to that principle – to contribute to the wellbeing of others.

I also believe the best person to ask about any particular subject is always someone who lives and breathes that subject – someone whose knowledge is based not on theory, but on first-hand experience and practice. So to reiterate, I have no qualifications in human psychology and I’m most definitely not a ‘self-help guru’. But through my own life trials and tribulations I’ve developed an empirical awareness of, and deep empathy for the negative psychological traits that tend to hold us all back…and more importantly, I’ve learned the hard way how to get the better of them.

As Thomas Jefferson wrote over 200 years ago, ‘Who then can so softly bind up the wound of another as he who has felt the same wound himself.’ The life philosophies you’ll find here on HelpfulHabits.net address and heal the same wounds – the same innate human frailties, negative attitudes and beliefs – that afflict us all.

I live the positive beliefs, attitudes and perspectives I write about here – I don’t just theorise them or put them into half-hearted practice – I live them. I live them because they work; I hope they can help you to get more out of life too.

All the best, Gareth Mitchell