On Saturday, I went for a walk around Horminam Garden. In any season I found this place resourceful. It’s always nice to wander through the wild trail or along the flowerbeds and finally enjoy the view from the bandstand. But that day, it was actually the World Mental Health Day and different activites promoting positive mental health and well being were taking place in Horminam Garden. Through those activities we could explore the WoW (Wheel of Well-being).
This Wheel of Well-being is divided into six categories : body, mind, spirit, people, place and planet. It’s a guide to help us live well. It shows that the way we think and feel is as important as good food and physcial exercise. Nowaday’s we speak more and more about well-being especially because of the growing number of depressions. But depressed or not, it’s wort working on our well-being. When we feel good we tend to have a stronger immune system, we are more creative and more open to people.
The WoW is here to inspire us so that we can find simple things to do on a daily basis.
”Body” reminds us that physical activity is essential to be physically but also mentally healthy. And even just 30min of exercise a day makes a difference.
”Mind” shows the importance of learning and pursuing our hobbies. Either we start playing scrabble more often or grab the guitar we had put aside, that could be a good beginning.
”Spirit” is about giving and sharing which means saying thank you or spending some time volunteering.
”People” emphasizes the benefits of close relationships and the connection with people in general, importance of the good moments spent with the people sharing our life.
”Space” is about reconnecting to our environment. Which is simply slowing down, contemplating and breathing.
”Planet” symbolizes the connection to nature. which is something we should take care of. So let’s get on our bikes and start recycling.
The London based associations which created this Wheel of Well-being are giving some more tips on their website, have a look : wheelofwellbeing.org
And why not trying to create our own wheel of well-being!
When you have a bad day, feel low or just want to have a good time, some inspirations about what to do can be helpful!
Personally, I sometimes keep doing the same thing and don’t try new activities. I thought that people would be inspiring. I spent a day asking them what do they usually do when they want to feel good… This is what they told me:
A walk on the beach, ”I feel the fresh air and it clears my mind”
To take care of myself, ”I spend time in the bathroom to look after my body or take a warm bath”
To practice cardiac coherence, ”I recently read a book about the cardiac coherence, it’s amazing. So now, I like to take 5 minutes to just breath”
To cook, ”Once I cooked something, I enjoy coming back home and degusting it”
To go slowly, ”I just take my time and it makes me feel really good”
To put the watch away, ”I take off my watch and enjoy a moment without imperative
A time with friends, ”I go and see my friends or I call to have a chat”
To focus on something, ”I watch a film, a serie or a video games. I focus on it and forget all the rest”
When we want to get things done, it’s not just about going fast. Slowness has actually a role to play.
SLOW DOWN TO WORK BETTER
Slowing down at the right moment enables us to work better, learn better and in general to perform better. It’s not because we go slowly that we are unproductive. But in fact, by going slow we could also achieve great things. Some neuroscientists have studied the influence of speed on our brain activity. They observed that slowing down can have benefits on our mental state. When we don’t rush but take the time needed, we are less excited. The result is that we are more concentrated and aware of what we are doing. It improves our performance and work quality .
At a mental level, we can notice a transient hypofrontality which means a temporary reduction of the precortex activity. To understand better the benefits of that deactivation I had a look at Steven Kotler’s work. He explains that it shuts down our sense of self-doubt and our brain’s inner critic which instead boosts confidence and creativity. It is seen as a flow state. This state is found in hippie community but not only there. It is present in every altered state from dreaming and mindfulness to psychedelic trips. By losing the ability to assess past, present, future we are plunged into the deep now and the flow. Scientists start to explore the subject because it can sometimes result in higher efficiency.
Daydreaming is not about working slow but rather about letting your imagination go. Thoughts come and go in our mind. It’s natural, spontaneous and unexpected. Sometimes we don’t even understand the origin of our thoughts, it’s unconscious. One of the most famous daydreamer I heard of his Einstein. He spent hours looking out of the window in silence. And those moments have been source of inspiration and creativity, leading to ingenious ideas. The connotations attached to slowness such as laziness or boredom are not always accurate.
That’s why the idea of constant stimulation is being questioned. We should accept not to be restlessly in movement. Sometimes it’s beneficial to stop moving, to stop thinking and just be. We usually keep in our mind worries, duties, deadlines or homework and we stick to them. Even some kids do that. A study at Harvard revealed a positive impact on children when we give them time and space. It allows them to discover the world by themselves, work on who they are, think, reflect and even get bored. But as the child in us never really dies, it could also be applied to adults.
A SLOW REVOLUTION HAS ALREADY STARTED
The slow food has been popular for a few years now, in reaction to the fast food. But the slow revolution actually goes further. I recently came across a talk about the International Slow Movement and I have been amazed by all the different fields tackled. It goes from hobbies to fashion and from travel to urban design. Some new trendy past time are colouring mandala, jigsaw puzzle or even knitting and slow cities are being developed all around Europe. When even speed yoga classes are being created, it seems that the world is obsess with speed. The slow revolution is a response to that. It promotes an alternative: instead of going even faster, let’s take our time.
Tomorrow is a documentary which has been realized by Cyril Dion and Mélanie Laurent. It has been showcased at the Climate Change conference in 2015 and since then it keeps inspiring people. I had the change to watch it at university as a student had borrow the DVD. That afternoon, I sat down and went on a journey of discovery. I learnt about the environmental challenges but more precisely about some solutions for a better future.
The climate change and the growing population are current-worrying topics. It has been source of inspiration and produced moving dystopian stories taking place in a future where the world has been destroyed and humanity is in grave danger. As exciting as they can be, it can sometimes freak you out and give you a pessimistic vision of the future. This is when we need to talk about and share hopeful solutions.
The documentary shows emerging and alternative ways of growing food in Detroit, of educating children in Finland or also of producing energy in Denmark. We discover solutions at a local and global level. The film is divided into 5 chapter Agriculture, Energy, Economy, Democracy and Education, all giving realistic and practical ideas. If you feel that even though the challenges, the world could flourish enjoy Tomorrow and get inspired!
To give you an idea:
Let me know what you think about it or share your own ideas!
I had the opportunity to ask Pierre Blockelet, a French psychologist based in Normandie, some questions about happiness, more precisely positive psychology.
Q: How would you describe happiness?
P.B: Well, happiness depends on each individual. It’s different for each one of us. There isn’t a precise and concrete definition to it. It’s diverse and personal. We also have different happiness depending on our age. Even for an individual the definition of happiness changes along with time. I would say that happiness is individual and temporal.
Q: As you point out, a general definition of happiness may not be the most relevant. However, as we notice with positive psychology, the question of happiness is a point of concern for many.
P.B: Yes and that’s an interesting observation. Actually people have the freedom to ponder about what is happiness because they already have their physiological needs met. I refer here to Maslow’s pyramid which suggests that our basic needs are satisfied, people don’t have to worry about starvation, thirst or lack of sleep. But then, whether we are aware of it or not, we are still expecting something else to reach a higher state of wellbeing. At the same time, I don’t want to say that expectation of change is negative. I’m currently working with eldery people who don’t have many hopes for the future. The few years they have left does little to raise their expectations of any improvement in their situations. They don’t have future perspectives. For students and younger generations this is generally different. Their lives can get better and knowing this alone can improve levels of happiness.
Q: Do you think happiness is connected with being hopeful?
P.B: We could say that happiness is the possibility to hope for a state of improvement. However to come back to my first point, we tend to keep waiting. And the younger we are, the more we are waiting for something, for love, for a life change, for a material improvement or something else. So happiness and hope go together and at the same time acceptance is necessary in finding balance.
Q: Let’s talk more precisely about positive psychology. It’s a field which seems to have emerged quite recently, isn’t it?
P.B: Yes, when I studied psychology we didn’t talk much about it. In psychology like in medecine, the urgency is to first treat what is ill, what is severe. Then we can think about wellbeing. Even though, people looking for this can aslo have an abnormal behavior. For instance they may fear that their state of happiness won’t last long and constantly feel anxious. In this case it may be a form of General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) where a background stress is permanent which is abnormal and unhealthy. However, it’s not as serious as some other mental disorders.
Q: Could you explain what is positive psychology about exactly?
P.B: It’s about helping people to have a satisfactory life. Being more content with what they have. You have everything to be happy but you may not be aware of it. Happiness is relative. Someone else in your shoes would probably tell you that he would be really fulfilled. Dissatisfaction is complicated when we think of it as depending on living conditions. But the end of the day it’s more of an internal factor, a way of seeing.
Q: Do you have some advice to improve our wellbeing?
P.B: Get to know yourself. It will help you to be more satisfied and appreciate your life. And thinking ‘I’m not happy because I don’t see what I already have‘ instead of thinking ‘I’m not happy because I miss this’.
Q: I would like to come back to living conditions and the insecurity that comes with life. It’s something that generates stress, fear and un-ease. How could we cope with that insecurity?
P.B: There is a theory that illustrates well this insecure aspect of our lives which is the “cork theory”. Like a cork in the ocean, we can’t control everything, hazard is simply part of our future. To appreciate life we should be like this cork following the movements of the waves. It is accepting this part of uncertainty. There is a nice proverb, Buddhist I think, saying ”If your problem has a solution, then why worry about it? If your problem doesn’t have a solution, then why worry about it? You won’t find one’‘. In my work with elderly people this phrase makes so much sense. Either they accept that their time is limited or they remain dissatisfied, fighting against life’s process. Well, I have an other example. If you think about a ginger-haired guy who doesn’t accept his hair colour he may dye it. He’s hiding his issue but the dissatisfaction remains. A more helpful behavior would be to just accept it.
Q: However when we think about injustices in life, acceptance may not always be the best solution. As a final question, I would like to ask you what do you think about this.
P.B: Yes I agree, acceptance doesn’t mean inhibiting our actions. It’s also important to look for improvements otherwise we would never evolve. We can work on things but without confining ourselves to utopia. If we are too far removed from reality, we will end up being disappointed and dissatisfied. I hope this answers your question.
Q: Yes, it does. Thank you very much. It has been a pleasure to discuss with you. It was a really interesting discussion.
P.B: You’re welcome. It has been a pleasure as well.
Hi! That’s my last quote for the 3 Days, 3 Quotes challenge. I thanks despeinadaporloslibros who made me discover this blogger challenge. The quote I share today is about simplicity and acceptation. Hope it will inspire you.
”There’s no magic bullet; there’s no pill that you take that makes everything great and makes you happy all the time. I’m letting go of those expectations, and that’s opening me up to moments of transcendent bliss.”