As I approached my 50th birthday, I decided to embark on an adventure to engage in interesting activities that were new to me and blog about them. The research suggested that I could positively impact my own mood through such an exercise and I wanted to put it to the test. Little did I know that 50 Fabulous Feats @ 50 would change my life so profoundly. As I look back, I am incredibly thankful for the opportunities, my ability to share them with my community, and the learning that I experienced from each and every fabulous feat, big and small.
Some people have asked me what my favourite feat has been. It is difficult to choose – they are all special in their own way. I do treasure the matching semi-colon tattoo my older son and I got together; we are united in the hope for tomorrow for those facing mental health challenges. I am proudest of walking the coastal path of the Isle of Wight – 104 km in 6 days! My performance wasn’t pretty, but I did it and, despite being woefully unprepared physically for this adventure, I enjoyed the breathtaking views, the kindness of strangers, and the unexpected moments like passing by a field of grazing llamas.
When I talk about my favourite feats, however, I always add the qualification “so far.” You see, the journey continues. When I presented my project at the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s Supporting the Promotion of Activated Research and Knowledge (SPARK) training, the first thing my mentor said to me was “you need to add a ‘+’ onto 50; this project shouldn’t have an end.” He was right. It is a lifestyle now as each day I look for new opportunities to tap into the 10 Pillars of Wellness: Practicing Gratitude, Cultivating Optimism, Practicing Acts Of Kindness, Nurturing Social Relationships, Developing Coping Strategies, Savouring Life’s Joys, Committing To Your Goals, Taking Care Of Your Body (Physical), Mind (Mindfulness), and Spirit (Spirituality). Sometimes, it is as simple as taking a new trail with my doggie friends when we go for our daily constitutional. Other times it is a big step into the unknown, like recently launching the website for Susan Mifsud Consulting Services or starting my role as the inaugural LinkedIn Pulse Blogger for Healthy Minds Canada focused on workplace wellness (Working On Wellness).
While the experiment itself doesn’t end, the researcher in me desires an evaluation of whether engaging in interesting, novel activities had a positive impact on me. Although my assessment techniques are less than scientific, I can say that I experienced a boost in my energy levels, was motivated to complete goals, gained greater social connection, and experienced an ability to cope with stressful situations with fewer mental and physical health challenges. This past summer I was a juror on an 8+ week criminal trial that changed my routines and exposed me to traumatic circumstances. I ensured that I practiced my pillars including walking during lunch hours, recording those things for which I am grateful, engaging in random acts of kindness, connecting with friends and family, journaling as a coping strategy, and practicing mindful meditation. While no one can emerge unchanged by such a tragedy, I maintained my own wellness and, hopefully, contributed positively to the wellbeing of my fellow jurors. Though anecdotal in nature, I do believe my foray into positive psychology practices have changed me for the better.
In my 50 Feats posts, I ended each blog with “Up Next” which gave a preview of the upcoming adventure the following week. I am thrilled to say that it has become kind of a habit now, hardwiring me to look for those novel, intentional activities that bring joy, satisfaction, peace, kinship, and thankfulness. I continue to share the benefits of practicing positive psychology with others. I look forward to presenting “50 Feats” in a Power Talk at the Niagara Leadership Summit for Women with its theme of Breaking Barriers. I am also in the process of converting my blogs into a book highlighting the Pillars of Wellness and my adventures.
I want to thank everyone who has joined me on my blog travels, both in person and virtually. I hope that I have inspired you to engage in your own “Fabulous Feats” and that you have experienced their positive outcomes. On this Thanksgiving weekend, I know that I am truly blessed and I send thoughts of love and laughter to all of my family and friends for a joyous weekend and fabulous adventures ahead.
Wishing you wellness, Susan