In addition to presenting 50 Feats @ 50 through my blog, I have been exploring ways of spreading the message of using novel, intentional, personally interesting experiences to positively impact mood. My adventures have been so fulfilling that I feel strongly about sharing with others, especially individuals who, like me, have sometimes struggled with low affect due to mental illness (for me, anxiety and depression).
I was given my first opportunity to sing the joys of 50 Feats recently when I was describing my blog to one of the organizers of the Niagara Talking About Mental Illness (TAMI) program after a TAMI presentation to a high school class in St. Catharines. She suggested that I deliver 50 Feats as a professional development workshop at the next TAMI Speakers’ Meeting. I immediately agreed – particularly since May seemed so far away! And then, it was here, so I spent a Saturday working through the format and creating my PowerPoint slides.
I was able to categorize my feats using Sonja Lyubormirsky’s pillars from The Myth of Happiness: expressing gratitude; cultivating optimism; practicing acts of kindness; nurturing social relationships; developing coping strategies; savouring life’s joys; committing to your goals; and taking care of your mind, body, and spirit. I noted the benefits of each grouping that had been identified through the research and then included the feats completed to date that primarily fit into each category (many were overlapping in possible placement). As the presentation developed, I relived the experiences and reflected on how my feelings of positivity, increased energy, and wellbeing paralleled the research findings; my positive psychology experiment was working!
The true test of the workshop came on a Monday night when I stood in front of my fellow TAMI presenters as well as several Public Health Promoters from the Region. Having never delivered this workshop, I was somewhat nervous about how it would unfold. I had 45 minutes and was unsure of my exact timing, particularly because I have a tendency to wander and expand on themes when I become excited about the topic. I began by talking about positive psychology, the concept behind SilverLiningFrog.com, and the origins of 50 Fabulous Feats before moving into the positive psychology pillars and the feats the that fit within them. I was excited as I described the benefits and my amazing experiences. Before I knew it, 40 minutes had passed and I had to turn the interactive exercise that had participants creating their own list of fabulous feats into a take-home project.
As I took what may have been my first breath in 45 minutes, I concluded the workshop by inviting questions. One of the young women who speaks in the TAMI program commented that she and her mother had attended feat #14 Speaking Out About Mental Health at Brock where I spoke from the perspective of a parent providing support to my young adult son as he dealt with the onset of bipolar disorder. She had tears in her eyes as she told me how affected her mother was by listening to another mother talk about the struggles and challenges. I also experienced a few tears during our exchange; the positive psychology connection was felt once again by both giver and receiver.
The evening concluded with our regular Speakers’ Meeting, but the glow from my presentation lasted well beyond the actual delivery – as I write this, I can feel the warmth all over again.
The next day, I received feedback from two of the Health Promoters in emails celebrating my ‘fabulous and inspiring’ feats and the value of being present in one’s own life. I, in turn, am inspired by them and my fellow TAMI presenters who make a positive difference in the lives of high school students with every presentation they provide and the personal stories of recovery they share.
As I write this, I have just completed my third week as a Recovery Support Worker with Niagara Region Mental Health. In addition, it is Mother’s Day and I am off to have dinner with my two beautiful boys. I continue to experience gratitude for my many blessings, and savour the wonders of my life. Wishing all my family, friends, and community a very Happy Mother’s Day.
Next up: It’s a Fabulous Feats wild card! Stay tuned for more info.