Here at NOW we believe in building wellbeing together. Chukumeka Maxwell, the founder of Action to Prevent Suicide CIC, is putting this into practice in a big way. Here he shares his reflections on World Mental Health Day – which also happens to coincide with his Birthday!
As I am sitting here writing this blog on my Birthday I am reflecting what lessons I have learned in my 58 years, and wondering what pearls of wisdom I can share for World Mental Health Day 2018. I cannot reinvent the wheel, so my starting point is my African heritage which points to the universal theme of Ubuntu.
What is Ubuntu
A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, and does not feel threatened that others are able and good. This type of person has a self-assurance that comes from knowing that we all belong to a greater whole that is diminished when others are humiliated, suffering or oppressed.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has shed light on the concept, explaining:
“Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity.”
We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas in fact we are all connected. Wellbeing has at the root this understanding of the interconnectedness of all life. In order to care for others we must care for ourselves, and caring for ourselves is also caring for others. One practical approach I find helps me to embody this in my daily life is the 5 (to 7) ways to wellbeing.
5 (or 7) Ways to Wellbeing
One practical approach I find helps me to embody this in my daily life is the 5 (or 7) ways to wellbeing. Everyone faces challenges in life. How big or difficult these challenges are will differ for each of us, but we all know what it is like to struggle to cope. Also, we all make choices all the time, but many of our choices and thoughts are not conscious, and thus we react rather than respond to life.
Fortunately, there are ways to build on our strengths and to increase our resilience in order to meet the challenges we all encounter in life from time to time. And living well is also about going further than coping and surviving. These simple actions can help us to feel happier and more satisfied with their lives.
We can all take small steps to live well, and ‘prevention is better than a cure’.
As the saying goes, ‘you may not be able to stop the waves, but you can learn to surf’.
Years ago I started using the 5 Ways to Wellbeing (pictured above) in my own life, and realised the benefits of practicing these simple actions. Personally, I see the growth of mindfulness as a reflection of the need to live at a more mindful pace of life on our way towards greater wellbeing, so I also add my own additional 2 ways of wellbeing: relaxation and meditation, making 7 in total.
What I love about these 5 (+2) ways towards wellbeing is the accessibility of their message; giving you simple actions which it is possible to put into practice now. So today I will focus on relaxing, meditating, connecting, learning, taking notice, giving and being active in a measured mindful way. In this way I feel I can experience a life of more balance, kindness and mental wellbeing.
For me, there is no better way to celebrate World Mental Health Day. What will you be doing today and every day to nurture your mental health and wellbeing?