PERMA and That Hour of Happiness

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The past week has been a little turbulent. It has been a week of feeling vulnerable, after sharing my feelings on here and sharing a little of myself in the support of others. In fact sharing in support of others Is suppose has triggered this blog.

I had no plans to write a blog today. I thought I was spent after sharing my parenting pains yesterday. However when I was out on a run this morning I started thinking about what I had said to a group of new registrants and the end of their first year as Registered Nurses. I was talking to them about the daily stress they encounter in their everyday job as part of a talk I do to Nurses about compassionate reflective practice. The premise of the talk is that to be truly compassionate to others, you have to show compassion to yourself. Part of that compassion is looking after and maintaining your capacity for stress.  Our lives are stressful, that is normal, life has always been stressful and always will be. If didn’t have stress and discomfort we would not have great innovation and creativity. Learning and development come from a place of discomfort. However if not checked and managed that discomfort can turn into distress. Innovation and creativity die in a place of distress. So at this point in the talk (if you ever attend this talk or the day I do on human factors and error management, look interested and intrigued as if you have never heard it before) I drew a bucket and invited them to imagine that the bucket was their capacity for stress. Now every time you experience stress it sits in your bucket. If you don’t pay attention to your bucket it can overflow and that is when you become distressed. I suggested to them that the way to manage their bucket is to attach a tap to the bottom of it, and they can do this by setting aside an hour everyday that is dedicated to their happiness, something that is just for them, or something that just makes them smile or feel good inside. I suggested to them that they may already be taking part in some of these activities but do not label them as part of their hour of happiness. This is quite a powerful proposition and is a way of appreciated, yourself, people around you and your environment.

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This got me thinking about Martin Seligman’s PERMA. In his book Flourish (if you are a Psychologist or a student of Psychology please forgive my clumsiness) and no doubt in earlier publications he suggests that people who mentally healthy have the following characteristics.

Positive Emotion

Engagement

Relationships (supportive/positive)

Meaning

Accomplishment

I suppose that hour of happiness in many ways is doing an inventory and just checking in with your PERMA on a daily basis.

So I invite you to pay attention to your stress bucket, by allocating an hour of happiness in your life. It can be anything that pays attention to your PERMA.

So far today I have gone for a run for 30 minutes, that has given me sense of accomplishment, which in turn has given me a positive emotion at the end of it. I have been writing this blog for about 40 minutes now which has been engaging and will give me a sense of accomplishment, it will also create connections with some of you readers, some of whom I know, so therefore builds our relationship further. Already I am over my hour, however I am not finished with my happiness today (it is Sunday I suppose). I have had 2 short 5 minute conversations with my sons one on the state of modern drama and it’s over reliance on the crime drama, with him stating that nothing useful or original has been said in that genre for the past decade. That made me smile and made me love him that little bit more. I then had a conversation with my youngest and his girlfriend about the programme they were watching, which was a comedy by all accounts, although there appeared to be no laughter in the room. The usual banter occurred as always does ending me gently making fun of his stubble and him telling me I need to grow up. This again made me smile and even laugh out loud and I loved him that little bit more. Thinking about those conversations also makes me feel proud of the young men they have become, so I suppose to 3 minute conversations have shown to me that my PERMA is safely intact and it is not even lunch time.

Even just taking stock of what makes you happy during the day can turn that tap on at the bottom of your bucket. We cannot escape from the stress of our lives, and nor should we. Stress and discomfort are vital for a successful life if managed, and only become a problem if we neglect ourselves and don’t pay attention to how we feel.

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My invitation to you is find and embrace your hour of happiness everyday, you well-being and resilience depends on it.

This forms the first part of my connected living program, if you would like to know more about managing your stress how you can better connect with yourself and others get in touch.

matt@mattycoach71.com

 

Enjoy The Moment

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What a gorgeous weekend it has been. The weather has been truly wonderful.

I was cutting the grass this morning and was looking around my garden and thought to myself how lucky I am to be here right now enjoying the sunshine, listening to the birds singing and smelling freshly cut grass.

We spend so much of our time worrying about what we have and have not done, and planning what we are going to do next that we can miss what is right in front of us. The events of the past few weeks should make us all stop and take stock, as our lives can be snuffed out or changed forever in a blink of an eye. Live every moment, pay attention to what is all around you.

Now planning for the future is important, but it should never be at the expense of the here and now. How do you know what you want if you don’t really know what you have.

I am as guilty as the next person for ruminating on what I have done and what I am going to do. When I find myself doing this (usually in the morning), I start looking around me, I pay attention to my surroundings, what is next to me, what is above me, below me, and in front of. Before I know it I am appreciating what is happening to me now. My mood lifts immediately. I am alive, I can sense what is around me. As my mood lifts I feel more confident and more creative, and therefore more productive.

It is really important to plan and strive for a brighter future, but don’t forget to enjoy the journey.

Write a Letter of Thanks

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Continuing the theme of kindness and looking after your mental health, I thought I would talk about writing a letter of thanks.

This is something I read about in Martin Selligman’s book Flourish. If you have not heard of him Martin Selligman is a Professor of Psychology and one of the originators of Positive Psychology. His website Authentic Happiness is worth a visit. If you do visit have a go at some of the questionnaires, especially the VIA survey of Character Strengths. It is long, but definitely an eye opener.

Anyway back to the point. So this letter of thanks, is an exercise suggested by Martin to improve your level of happiness. As mentioned yesterday, Psychologists have proven that being kind and making others happy, has a profound effect on your own happiness.

This is what you do. Think about all the milestones in your life. Ask yourself, who helped you at that time. What part did they play in your milestone? Was it an action, or was it a word of encouragement? Then do you see them regularly? Do they realise that they played a role in that milestone? Did you ever get chance to say thank you? If you have answered no to the last 3 questions, then why don’t you write a letter of thanks to them.

Start your letter with: ‘I want to thank you for the positive impact you have had on my life. I never got the chance to thank you at the time, so I have decided to take the time to write down what you did for me.’

Once you have written your letter the letter, if you don’t know where they live find out. Now don’t post that letter. Deliver it by hand. Then when you meet them don’t just hand them the letter and walk away before they read it. Tell them you have written a letter to them, and if they don’t mind you would like to read it to them. Then sit down and read it to them. This is the important bit, sharing your appreciation for them, with them face to face is so powerful, you may feel embarrassed at first but that will pass quickly, then you will both be smiling, laughing a crying, remembering those times.

Life is to short to wait for opportunities to let someone now how much we appreciate, we should make the opportunities.

If you feel able try it out. Remember the people we overlook when giving our thanks are those closest to us, we don’t always have to look far to find someone worthy of our appreciation