Mental Health Training

Exploring What Matters… By Jane McNeice

Posted by on 19 Mar, 2017 in Mental Health | 0 comments

Exploring What Matters… By Jane McNeice

On 26th January 2017 I began to ‘explore what matters’ though my journey took a different route than I expected…

As a trainer in mental health, in particular Mental Health First Aid courses, I felt like I wanted to widen my knowledge and experience. Of particular interest was the area of positive psychology and the concept that is happiness. Around the same time, I fortuitously made the discovery of a relatively new internationally recognised course developed by Action for Happiness and suitably titled ‘Exploring What Matters’ I learned that this was an 8 week course which anyone could deliver, and in fact a course that Action for Happiness would like as many people to deliver as possible. I soon recognised that whilst this was described as a course, it was in fact something much greater; it was a global movement…

Whilst facilitating this exploration of life and happiness, I met some amazing people, in our case an all-female group, but one wherein we would have preferred men to be present too. Notwithstanding this, we embarked on the 8 weeks journey covering the following happiness themes:

WEEK 1: What really matters in life? Lots of things are important in life, but how should we decide what really matters to us? This session explores whether a greater focus on happiness and wellbeing might be better for all of us.

WEEK 2: What actually makes us happy? We’re told that happiness comes from having more and earning more, but is this really true? Does happiness come from our circumstances or our inner attitudes? And can we learn how to be happier?

WEEK 3: Can we find peace of mind? Life can be highly stressful. In this session we’ll explore how to deal effectively with life’s ups and downs and cope with adversity. And we’ll look at some skills which can help us be more resilient.

WEEK 4: How should we treat others? Our society appears increasingly individualistic and competitive. Is this just human nature or are we naturally altruistic too? How should we behave towards others – and can we learn to be more compassionate?

WEEK 5: What makes for great relationships? We’re a social species and most of us know that our connections with others are vitally important. But what really affects our relationships and are there practical things we can do to enhance them?

WEEK 6: Can we be happier at work? Work is a huge part of our lives, but many of us find our work to be stressful and frustrating. Do happier organisations get better results? What makes us happy at work? And what can we do about it?

WEEK 7: Can we build happier communities? What does it mean to live well together – and why are some communities or societies much happier than others? In this session we’ll explore how to create communities that are more caring, connected and happy.

WEEK 8: How can we create a happier world? This session brings together everything we’ve covered during the course. It aims to inspire each of us to live in a way that contributes to a happier world, not just for ourselves but for others too.

Whilst working to the Exploring What Matters session structure, including professional view points and interesting facts, our group discussions went far and wide – life, work, relationships, our personalities, mental health, communities, our life experiences – with much participant feedback focussed on us wanting each session to be longer than the 3 hour schedule Action for Happiness had allocated. We challenged ourselves with a variety of actions throughout the 8 weeks, including being kinder to the men in our worlds, trying to find at least 3 positives in each day, creating a memory jar, learning more about the work of Brene Brown, not doing to others what you wouldn’t want done to you, and being more mindful in our everyday – spurred on by the range of mindfulness based ‘tuning in’ sessions, and by the professional discussion around being in the shower and appreciating it, rather than being in the shower but thinking about other tasks such as work related ones!

The mix of professional footage was varied, with mixed preferences from the group for each. It seemed however that there was some consensus that Brene Brown on The Power of Vulnerability was a highlight, with her humorous take on life adding delightfully to her case for being vulnerable as part of the path to happiness. The final professional film about a man called Narayanan Krishnan really sent us out with a bang “not a dry eye in the house” as they say, and gave us a real impetus to give to others and to help improve other people’s worlds.

We all learned that happiness and change starts with us, it’s about connectivity with other people, trust, giving, and making a positive difference, and for at least a few of the delegates that might include delivering their own Exploring What Matters course. We celebrated week 8 with a buffet dinner brought together by participants in the movement, and we are all keen to have a future gathering of minds, friendship, and a catch-up on our happiness progress. In the meantime, our group now have a Facebook page where the sharing continues…

I very quickly learned that I wasn’t delivering a course, not in the way my training is usually delivered, but rather we (the co-facilitator and myself) were in fact facilitating a joining of people, minds, and lives, coming together for a better future for others and for ourselves.

If you’d like to find out more about accessing a course, or facilitating a course in your area, you can do so here

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