The Super Power of Good Mental Health
It boosts wellbeing. It can take under a minute to do. It is free. It can help you overcome set backs. You are more likely to feel connected and compassionate with it. Drum roll needed for this mental health invitation….
Number 7 on our Checklist for Your Mind poster: Think of something you are thankful for. Gratitude, the research is extensive and uplifting. In light of half of all mental health illness beginning before a child turns 14 why not start encouraging the use of this super power to promote good mental health in your family now?
We recently listened to the delightful Hugh van Cuylenburg talk about his story of uncovering the essential ingredients to being resilient. Hugh spent time in a remote community in India, where he watched children with no running water, electricity and at times family, still remain genuinely happy. He wanted to understand what they did to make this happen and he felt a strong urge to help his unwell sister back at home suffering from anorexia nervosa. His conclusion after observations: compassion, mindfulness and wait for it… gratitude. Hugh spotlighted one particularly resilient child who consistently pointed out things he felt thankful for, his shoes, his clothes, a rusty outside roof over his head. Each time affectionately saying “Dis”, #dismoment is now a popular hashtag to mark moments of gratitude.
Listening to Hugh speak made both Tina and I feel excited by the path that Grow Your Mind is on. Our kits are all about fostering compassion, mindfulness and gratitude. Our new game, Weeds and Flowers, exists to build these three essential ingredients and to facilitate connection in the process. When you land on a weed chances are it is because “You complain about all of the things you don’t have” Whereas landing on a flower could be the result of this action box, “You say three things you are thankful for”.
A study from the University of California found that recording things you were thankful for, as opposed to irritations, not only boosted levels of optimism after 10 weeks but also resulted in fewer visits to health professionals.
Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, tested the impact of various positive psychology interventions on 411 people, each compared with a control assignment of writing about early memories. One of their tasks was to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who they had never properly thanked for their kindness. Now while we don’t want to advocate purely for striving to be happy, it is nonetheless a pleasant feeling! Participants doing this particular task did increase in happiness scores. In fact the impact was greater than that from any other intervention, with benefits lasting for a month.
Why not start a gratitude practice?!
Here is the lovely thing: practising gratitude can be as simple as pausing and appreciating a particular moment. Potentially thinking, my goodness I’m lucky to have this home, or (my frequent one) It is a good day to be alive, would you look at that tree, that dog, that ocean etc ?! Or simply telling someone any of the following, thank you… I really appreciate you being here… Doing this parenting gig would be a punish without you…
Happy moment: share it at dinner, what was your happy moment was during the day?
Send a letter or a text: telling someone why you appreciate them and thanking them for being in your life
Pause and breathe: you get to breathe, even that alone is something to feel fairly thankful for. None of us are getting out of here alive, every breath is fairly magical.
3 good things from my day: draw it, write it, keep a jar in the middle of your table to make it a habit.