Have you heard of the New Economic Forum (NEF)? It’s an organisation which promotes social, economic and environmental justice. The NEF has conducted a comprehensive and timely review of the scientific evidence on happiness and wellbeing(1)
The evidence revealed five simple, powerful and practical measures that we can all incorporate into our lives. These have been called the Five Ways to Wellbeing (2):
1. Connect – invest time in developing relationships with those around you, at home, at work, at school, in the community. Take the time to listen to someone’s story. Maybe offer to help someone with a task. A simple smile or hello can make all the difference.
2. Be active – dance, sing, go for a run or play a game. Use the stairs, get off the bus one stop early. Or just get outside the house. Find something that works for you and your level of fitness. Whatever it is, no matter how small, find a way to incorporate it into your life.
3. Take Notice – take time to step back and be aware of things around you and also reflect on your life as you do so. Even just two minutes here and there can make a huge difference to your sense of wellbeing. Notice the clouds, the sky and the trees. Notice your feelings and your breathing. During a conversation, perhaps take the time to really look at the face of the person you are talking to. Or take a different route to work. What have you noticed today? Have you shared what you noticed with other people?
4. Keep learning – Everyone around you knows something you don’t – take the time to listen to them. Learn a new skill, rekindle an old interest, learn a new word, take up a new hobby, join a local group or class in something you are interested in. Even learning the simplest of things can help build a sense of achievement and confidence.
5. Give – What can you do for those around you? It may be volunteering for an organisation, setting up a local event or simple smiling or paying someone a compliment. When was the last time you did a random act of kindness?
Hopefully you can see how these 5 suggestions are interlinked: we often learn when we notice things, and sharing what we notice can be a great way of connecting. Also, through noticing, we may discover new activities we want to do, things we want to learn about, or causes we want to give our time and energy towards. A positive cycle of action, learning and reflection improves our confidence and sense of connection to both ourselves and the people around us.
Do you already incorporate these 5 steps into your life? Which of the 5 steps works for you and which ones are you interested in adopting?
(1) Wellbeing is broadly defined as having two components – feeling good and being able to function well.
Dr Tom Das is a GP with a specialist interest in mental health. He learnt yoga, aikido and meditation at a young age and his spiritual enquiries have led to a deep appreciation and understanding of the teachings from the Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Zen and Taoist traditions. Tom leads meetings in person and on Skype for anyone interested in exploring non-duality and spirituality. To read more about Tom click here
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