We are living in a time that many of us ‘of a certain age’ are suffering from burnout, our millennials are experiencing extreme anxiety and our kids are committing suicide at younger ages and in increasing numbers. I think it’s safe to say that we are at crisis point when it comes to mental and emotional health.
I find this incredibly disturbing and I can’t just sit back and watch it happen anymore.
Those who know me well, know that I am a very private person, certainly not one to put myself ‘out there’. So what changed? Why have I come out of my self-imposed hiding and faced so many fears? You know the fears. You probably experience them yourself – fear of not being good enough, fear of being ridiculed, fear of making a fool of myself, fear of failure, fear of success…the list goes on.
I thought I’d share a little of my ‘why’ – why I feel so passionate about getting the message out there, even if it means also putting myself out there.
It wasn’t until I undertook my third course at university, at postgraduate level, that I was even aware that there was actually a science of happiness. Who knew? I was totally blown away! Why was I only just finding out these things after so many years of study? I could have really used this stuff years ago! Couldn’t we all? Why aren’t we teaching this in schools?
I’ve always been a bit partial to a bit of woo-woo. I put my crystals out on the full moon and I’m always careful during Mercury retrograde, but some of the science that I was learning was more woo-woo than the woo-woo!
What’s more, some of the world’s brightest minds were responsible for the research, many of them crusty old, grey-haired professors with a stream of letters after their names, spruiking the benefits of meditation and gratitude practices and the like. So cool!
As much as I can do a bit of woo-woo, I actually love geeking out on the science. The thinking girl’s hippy, if you like.
I studied subjects such as positive psychology, mind body wellness and coaching skills. I learnt about thousands of controlled studies, peer-reviewed journal articles and even about the Nobel prizes that had been awarded for amazing insights into stress and emotional regulation. I was in my element!
My most rewarding job
I was then invited to be on the teaching team with the undergraduate students and it was the most rewarding work I have ever done.
The course was called, An Introduction to Mind Body Wellness, and students could take it as an elective, so they came from across all faculties. The idea of the course was to teach the theories, the science and the practice of several mind body techniques, but it was also a requirement of the course that students actually practiced the techniques and reported their experiences and thoughts in a journal. This completed journal was a requirement of the course and marking it was certainly the highlight of my job.
You see, the students were extremely honest and many said that they had taken the course originally thinking it would be an easy pass or a bit of fun. They certainly didn’t expect to receive the results that they did.
Most of the students were between 18 and 22 years of age but there were a few mature-aged ones in there as well. Many of the younger ones were first generation Australians and were dealing with family stress, the stress of study and work, social stress, financial stress and, like all of us, just trying to deal with the everyday stress.
No matter how the students began their journal, their ending was always very similar and every single one could see the benefit of at least one of the practices. A reoccurring comment was ‘life-changing.’
In fact, one very brave and honest young woman spoke about her suicide attempt earlier in the year and how she had learned to deal with her negative emotions and stress in a far more positive way. Life-changing.
Again, I wondered why these kids weren’t given the tools and strategies earlier in life.
So began my mission to spread the word far and wide.
You CAN take more control of your emotional and mental health. You can make decisions and choices and actions to indeed,
Get Your Happy On.