Robert Holden’s Five

Robert Holden, author, positive psychology guru and director of the Happiness Project (as seen in the BBC documentary ‘How To Be Happy’ no less), has been kind enough to send through his five-a-day.

  1. One “I love you.”
  2. One act of kindness.
  3. One “Thank you.”
  4. One act of forgiveness.
  5. One big laugh.

His list so short and manageable even stupidly busy people like me can do it.

Which is a timely reminder to take time out and do something fun for the next five minutes.

So thanks Robert, and thanks to the ever-buoyant Very Happy Phil for telling Robert about the project.


Foresight Five

Bit of press coverage in the UK today about the publication of Foresight’s Mental Capital and Wellbeing Report.

As the Times and the Guardian explain, some 400 scientists have identified the following five activities that we should do every day to be mentally healthy:

  • Connect
    Developing relationships with family, friends, colleagues and neighbours will enrich your life and bring you support
  • Be active
    Sports, hobbies such as gardening or dancing, or just a daily stroll will make you feel good and maintain mobility and fitness
  • Be curious
    Noting the beauty of everyday moments as well as the unusual and reflecting on them helps you to appreciate what matters to you
  • Learn
    Fixing a bike, learning an instrument, cooking – the challenge and satisfaction brings fun and confidence
  • Give
    Helping friends and strangers links your happiness to a wider community and is very rewarding

They’re difficult to argue with, but it does feel a bit general to me. And personally, having nothing in there about being in the natural world is rather surprising. If I have more time I’ll do a bit of digging into how they’ve arrived at the conclusions, particularly whether these are just things which on average helped more people, or if they’re geniunely things which they believe will work for everyone.

What do you think? How do the experts’ suggestions measure up to your five-a-day?


Thinking about vegetables

Richard Gerver has kindly shared his five-a-day. Richard is the former Head of Grange primary school, described as one the most creative schools in the world. Richard in now BIG in creativity in education ……

1. I am a fatalist…what will be will be, stress has never changed the course of history!

2. Running, God you get so tired you have no choice but to sleep well and all you can think about is the pain in your knees!

3. Practice the art of potato thinking…always look beyond a problem and imagine the solution…it is far too easy to stop at the ‘but’ and by doing so you lose your sense of empowerment.

4. Listen to music and plenty of it…often in the dark….there’s nothing like a bit of Morrissey to make you realise that your life’s not so bad!

5. Sharing your issues with others…talking them through and letting them out!

Sponsor a marathon runner and they will tell you anything!

Sir Ken’s New Book


Sir Ken Robinson’s new book, The Element, will be out in February 09. Details have just been released by the London Business Forum for the launch of the book in London, which will be on the 3 February at the IMAX. To book click here.

Richard Gerver, who had the good fortune to read The Element over the summer when he visited Sir Ken in New York described it as ‘one of the most powerful books I have ever read’…. which is as close to an early book review we are going to get at the moment. I can’t wait to read it!

Lovely Richard is running a marathon next year for Help the Hospices ….. Please sponsor him!

It’s a mad world

Thanks to Simeon Brody of for sharing his five-a-day:

For what it’s worth, here are my five a day

– Have a project or try to learn something new
– Regular exercise
– Don’t take things too seriously
– Try to let worries go
– Try to be sociable

Not that I do them every day of course, but I try.

We’re all trying Simeon – good luck with them! And nice to see sociability on the list, I couldn’t agree more.


Dr Liz Miller’s health tips

I was honoured to receive a lovely e-mail from Dr Liz Miller recently about the Mindapples project. Dr Liz was voted Mind Champion of the Year in June and featured in Stephen Fry’s 2007 documentary series the Secret Life of the Manic Depressive. She writes wonderfully about self-management of mental wellbeing, and also practises what…
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Mind Training

I went to see some very helpful people at Mind this morning for their campaign skills training – a marvellous free service they offer to people like me who care about mental health but don’t know what to do about it. It was great to meet people at the sharp end of the spectrum, campaigning at local level for specific support for service users. Very humbling to see how much passion and commitment goes into making even the smallest changes to the ‘system’.

Interestingly, the first ‘icebreaker’ question of the day was “What’s good for your mental health?” – a very Mindapples question if ever there was one. Everyone had at least one thing to say, so, in no particular order, here’s what they said:

  • walks in the open air
  • supporting your football team (when they win)
  • being listened to and respected
  • being taken seriously
  • talking to friends
  • doing something you’re good at
  • chocolate

The idea of being listened to and taken seriously is a big one for me. I’m not sure if it’s something we can always control ourselves though, more like something we need from our environment. That’s why we’re focussing on the simple, practical things we can all DO to care for our minds. But it’s important to acknowledge that what’s good for our mental health is as much about our context as our activities.

Here are some more ideas from Mind on how to improve your mental wellbeing.