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Five Ways to Wellbeing

The use of the term ‘flourishing’ has proliferated in recent years, and can come across as being quite glib.

Many schools use it in their marketing material to attract new parents and their children; however, the truth is that no one school possesses the panacea to deal with all the complexities of human existence, to navigate the uneven surface that growing up often is. The journey is different for each of us. 

The term ‘flourishing’ became popular in the emerging field of Positive Psychology in the very early 2000s, when Martin Seligman and his team at the University of Pennsylvania began using it to describe what they saw as living life to the full. It can be misinterpreted, and critics could argue that it promotes wellbeing as a destination, rather than as a journey. 

And a destination it certainly is not. In this week’s Senior Assembly, we discussed Five Ways to Wellbeing. There are very definite behaviours and disciplines that one needs to instil in one’s life to live in a balanced and healthy manner that may lead to one experiencing a sense of flourishing where we are. Some of these disciplines may include the following: 

Connecting with others is very important. Spending time with friends and loved ones can lower anxiety and depression, assist us to regulate our emotions, and help to improve our self-esteem and increase the amount of empathy we are able to show for others. Another added benefit is that we can improve our immune systems through sustained, meaningful social interaction.  

Staying active 
There is a lot of evidence to prove that physical exercise has the potential to boost our mental wellbeing. Just ten minutes of brisk walking can improve alertness, physical energy and mood. Walking together as a family is a lovely way in which to connect, and exercise at the same time. 

Taking notice
Often we can shift a negative perception of an event that may have tainted our day, by simply taking the time to appreciate something beautiful. Listening to a lovely piece of music, appreciating a strange cloud formation, or simply being grateful for something that someone has done for us, could help us to move out of a place of low mood. 

Keep Learning 
Being curious and maintaining a love of learning can have a very positive impact on one’s mental wellbeing. Developing a keen interest in the world around us, learning about other cultures, acquiring new skills, and displaying a genuine interest in the experiences of others, can go a long way in boosting one’s empathy and understanding of others, and in turn, improving our interpersonal relationships. 

Research shows that acts of kindness and giving to others can improve our mental wellbeing hugely. Expressing gratitude to someone for something they have done for you is a simple act that can often continue to have a positive spin-off long after the fact. Listening empathetically to a friend or family member, and supporting those we know are having a difficult time may help to draw us out of ourselves, and may remind us that we are not alone. Volunteering in one’s community is also a very powerful way to make a meaningful impact, and improve our sense of self-worth. 

The trick is for each us to find what brings us joy, and to live in a way that promotes being present to ourselves and those around us. We then need to be able to pass this on to our children, so that they too may develop the rhythms necessary to flourish where they are. 

Craig Cuyler
Director of Wellbeing
Assistant Deputy Head / Deputy DSL / Assistant Housemaster


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