Posted in Weekly Blog

Inspirational People

-others-inspire-me

In this weeks group we spoke about people in our lives that we had found inspiring.  For some this was personal relationships and for others it was public figures.  Throughout our lives we will find inspiration from many different people at different times.

Of those cited as inspirational, some people were so because they had been through immense times of struggle with mental health and had managed to come to a place of healing and creativity and a way to reach out and encourage others, such as Jo McFarlen 

For others it was the way an individual had accepted a progressive terminal illness but continued to find the joy in life and embrace experiences as much as he could, and as an accomplished mathematician to still search for a mystery equation, which he made significant progress in and contributed to the world of mathematics before he died.

People who stood for a cause were very inspiring to group members, such as the Beatles, who refused to play to segregated audiences when they toured America.  People agreed that they were inspired by rebels with a cause, such as the Suffragettes and other powerful women who had stood up against the injustice and inequalities of their time.

Another person in the group was inspired by academics who challenge established and accepted thinking and who wrote and published papers stating a very different view than all previous and respected thinking. Daring to be different and challenge accepted norms.

Bob Geoldof inspired one member of the group at the time of Live Aid to become active and to do something locally; rather than seeing the whole of the world’s problems as too overwhelming to do anything about, she joined Unicef and got involved in projects and fundraising.

Another group member talked about being inspired by ‘Time Bank‘, essentially an idea which promotes community and the sharing of many varied services by the members of that community by giving an hour of their time to provide a skill that they hold into a ‘bank’.  This could be things like dog walking, or gardening or plumbing.  This allows the community to serve one another and for each person to have a role and be a part of the community, increasing confidence and reducing isolation.

Friends and other group members are really inspiring to us, because we really see the step by step journeys of those close to us, we know the struggles and hardships that have been pushed through which took great courage, trust and a leap of faith. We see the growth and the strength and that inspires us to do likewise.

Posted in Weekly Blog

Laughter is good for you

laughing babylaughing emojilaughing policeman

We have often discussed the benefits of laughter, and in this group people are able to find humour even in the darkest times. We had a focused session on humour this week, really just to feel uplifted, and to share humour with one another.  We started with a few jokes from the ‘really crap jokes’ book.  OK, that didn’t get too many laughs. With a nod to the day before being Valentines we looked at a few cheesy chat up lines overheard by bartenders.

We had a look at a couple of YouTube funnies and then shared personal humourous stories.

You only have to look at the vast amount of comedians who have suffered from depression to see the close link  between laughter and sadness. I’m sure we have heard the saying “If I didn’t laugh I would cry” which people can use while dealing with frustrations. You only have to look at people who have jobs like the emergency services where in between working with the public they can use the release of humour in order to deal with the emotional circumstances they are met with.

In conclusion, While appreciating the benefits that humour can undoubtedly bring, we are very aware that if you are feeling in a very low place it may not be so easy to engage with.   However for others, humour can provide good medicine for the soul.

To see how laughter is good for you on so many levels, click this link.

Posted in Weekly Blog

Words Of Encouragement

kind-words-orlando-espinosa

We did an exercise in the group last week which we have not done for a while whereby each group member will write down positive qualities and skills that they see in each of the others. This is an exercise that from the outset requires trust amongst the group that the relationships are connected enough for this to feel ok.  People were very genuine and truly able to express what they thought about each other.  People then read out their list of strengths if they felt comfortable to do so.  This can feel like a strange thing to do in a culture where saying positive things about yourself can sometimes be seen quite negatively as ‘blowing your own trumpet’.  However, people’s experience of this was that it was actually moving and encouraging, although for some it was quite difficult to hear or accept positive words, but even then there was still somethings uplifting it was for them.  Group members who have done this before have kept the lists of their strengths, and at times have found it really helpful when they have been having a bad day, or are hearing a critical voice, whether that is their own, or somebody elses, to be reminded that these are their strengths and good qualities. Somehow seeing positive feedback written down in black and white can feel easier to believe than relying on our thought processes which can often turn to negative and dismissing the positive

People also found that it was really nice to be able to say how they felt, because again it is a bit alien in our culture so say super nice things to each other!  One comment in this session was that ‘I have never known a group where people are so genuinely encouraging of each others successes’.

 

 

Posted in Weekly Blog

Storytelling

 

open bookEveryone loves a story, whether we read them, watch them, hear them or dance or draw them.  The world is full of stories, the narration of life in the world, or other worlds, or hidden worlds.  We identify with them, learn from them, are moved by them, are horrified, disgusted or terrified by them.  They enable us to feel into somebody else’s life, culture and experiences.  It’s so nice to be told a story.  It’s an intriguing escape to be pulled into a narrative and hope for things like resolution or justice or for love to conquer, to have a mystery revealed and things explained, to experience suspense and relief, or to share a joy or sorrow.

The group has a new book!! Philip Pullman’s ‘Grimm Tales’.  The Grimm brothers wrote down German versions of fairy tales and folklore in the 18th and 19th centuries.  Though the stories themselves are often much older, sometimes thousands of years old.  Passed on through the generations in an oral tradition, they have crossed continents and cultures so that different versions of the same story exist around the world.  We discovered this ourselves in a previous storytelling session where quite by accident we read an English story and a Middle Eastern story and although the setting was different the story and its message were the same.

A Fairy Tale is a very particular genre, it’s centre is not the written text given its oral history and fluctuations through travel and storytellers, we do not get fully developed or even named characters, but find a lot of princesses, stepmothers, frogs, witches, mirrors, elves and dwarfs.  The story is just kind of told without background, history or embellishment [Philip Pullman; 2012]. And the Grimm tales really can be quite grim with grizzly deaths and punishments, unfairness, injustice, beatings, imprisonment and occasional cannibalism.

So to be cheered up we read a tale called ‘The Fisherman and his Wife’.  The tale involves an enchanted prince in the form of a fish who grants the fisherman’s wife everything she wanted.  We enjoyed listening to the story and afterwards reflected on the ambition and greed of the fisherman’s wife and how she was never satisfied and didn’t know when to stop.  We applied this discussion to our present culture and the emptiness sometimes of just having money and things and how relationships come to be about status and prestige and association thereby lacking real connections leaving people feel quite lonely and isolated because they are befriended for their fame or status and not because of a common interest or genuine liking of one another.

Group members really enjoyed the meaning behind the story and the escapism it provided.

Posted in Plans

Group closed to new members

It is a year since we launched ‘A Life Worth Living’.  It has been very successful and we have been pleased to welcome a large number of new members.  ‘A Life Worth Living Group’ has grown so much, that we are temporarily not taking new people into the group.  This change does not affect people who have previously attended.

We will keep contact details of anyone new who is interested in attending this group, or similar provision, in the future, and we will update information when this situation changes.

Posted in Weekly Blog

Do more of what makes you smile

416014-baby-smile

Sometimes when in the middle of difficulties and life’s storms it can be helpful to remember the wee things that make you smile, and can actually change a moment or even your day.  A few people cited how nice it is when a random stranger smiles at you and can really brighten your day.  Dogs can make us smile and make us feel better, its very nice to be met by a waggy tail, and to see how dogs are naturally friendly to one another, or the way they cosy in with us, or how they are just so happy to chase a ball relentlessly all day long. Most people will connect to some kind of animal affectionately, whether that’s thinking a sloth is cute or funny or enjoying YouTube videos of kittens!

For some people getting outside and connecting with nature caused a smile, noticing flowers, birds and sunshine. And when back in the hubbub of people, overhearing snippets of conversation or seeing someone be kind to another makes us smile; or meeting up with and being able to chat to friends.  Children can be very humourous when they just say it as it is with no filter or have us play games and do things their way.  We watched the funny clip from the news last year when the children interrupted a live interview.

Sometimes doing something which feels like an achievement can feel very pleasing to us.  That can be getting through the door of ‘A Life Worth Living’ on days where it just feels really hard to do so, but the benefit of being with others and connecting makes people feel better and leave with a smile.  One person had pushed through a particularly hard time and had taken themselves on a trip and felt so much better for it.

Music and humour are other elements which make us smile…different comedy for different people, and as we certainly discovered last time, people definitely had different musical preferences.  The smiley music cited for this week was the sound of the sixties on Radio 2.

While we are going through tough times we may find it hard to raise a smile, but if we can,  it can act as a stepping stone to making you feel a bit better.