Tag Archives: empowerment


I was preparing a programme the other day, and was looking at things that comfort us as part of it. It suddenly struck me that the original meaning of the word comfort is: things that give us strength, that bring us back to our own power. This puts quite a different slant on what makes us feel comfortable.

For example, we often talk about comfort eating, and it has a derogatory feel to it, yet if you think about it as food that gives us strength, we are more likely to choose to eat a hearty home-made soup or casserole than a packet of biscuits. Similarly, comfortable clothes shift from old clothes we slop abut in to the clothing that makes us feel ready to deal with our day in an empowered way.

Notice that this doesn’t mean that we have to ‘dress up’ or not eat those chocolates: it isn’t another set of rules about what we should do. It just means we ask ourselves what would make me feel more ‘myself’, more at my best. I used to have a neighbour who would shower and put on make-up before she did anything else, every single morning and I never understood it. She would say that she wasn’t comfortable dealing with anyone or anything until she had done that – and she had two small boys, so I thought it was incredible to do all that for yourself before sorting out the kids – what vanity! Now I understand – she was just giving herself a chance to be in her power. My comfort in the morning is my 15 minutes of quiet time, 2 cups of coffee – same effect, different method – and I took years longer than her to realise how important it is!

This definition of comfort has got me thinking about lots of other things in a different way: ‘feel-good’ movies, which comfort me by reminding me of the best of human qualities; music that lifts the spirit; jewellery that represents me being fully me; objects that remind me of times when I was on form.

So what comforts – things that strengthen you – do you have available to you, to use more often? What helps you to feel more you, more in your own power? Look at what you choose to eat, what you choose to wear, because they are affecting you in your day. And when you need that extra something, when you are feeling a bit off, how can you add to your own comfort? What reminds you of the real you that you could use to help yourself?

There are so many ways we can help ourselves to be more comfortable, to be ourselves. So give yourself some lovely comfortable days!


I watched a fascinating documentary this week called ‘I Am’ by Tom Shadyac. It’s about what’s wrong with the world and what can be done about it, featuring some of the great thinkers of our time, and I love its conclusions. On of them is about the power of one – one step, one action, one change in behaviour. ‘Small everyday acts accumulate and create change, personally, socially and culturally.’

It reminded me that change of any sort doesn’t appear out of nowhere. It happens because gradually more and more people think differently, act differently, until there is a critical mass. So each time we do those small everyday acts, we contribute to changing the world for the better.

It is easy to feel powerless in the face of poverty, negativity, ecological destruction, never-ending war. And we are educated into believing that only governments and large corporations can really change things – and they show few signs of wanting to improve our world for all of us. Yet history shows that governments do effect change when there is enough noise from ordinary people to force them not to ignore it, and that those who are considered to be leaders of change for the better – Gandhi, Mandela, Martin Luther King – only emerge when there is already a groundswell of people who believe in and actively want those changes, and who are actively taking some of those small steps to make a difference.

So what can we do?

The principle of the power of one can be applied at every level. So begin by identifying a change for the better you want in your own life. Maybe you want to be fitter, spend more time with those you love, connect with nature more, have more fun…

Now take one small step in that direction, today: go for a walk round the block; phone a friend you haven’t seen for a while and arrange to meet up; go to the local park and look at, maybe even touch, the flowers and trees; play a silly game with your children, your partner (try our top 5 films, books, TV programmes – it’s fascinating!)

Now look at your community, whether that is geographical, the people you work with, or the circle of friends you have. What would be an improvement in that area?

Maybe say hello to neighbours and get to know them a bit more; or talk about something different when you go the pub with mates; or talk face-to-face with work colleagues instead of emailing them; or just take a bag and pick up some of the litter you see on the street.

And more generally? How do we make a positive difference at a global level? As Friends of the Earth have always said, ‘Think global, act local.’

Add your name to petitions for changes. There are lots of them on-line: avaaz; friends of the earth; sum of us; amnesty international; and many more. Give something to the homeless person on the street, or at least say hello. Contribute to a water pump for a village through Oxfam. Stop using pesticides in your garden and encourage friends to do the same.

And above all else, treat everyone you encounter as another valuable human being. Be kind, thoughtful, pleasant, no matter how they are being

So this week, begin to use the power of one more. Let’s make a difference in this world of ours, and change it for the better. One small everyday act is all it takes. Just imagine the difference if we simply all applied this principle!