We’re asked what five things we do every day (or almost every day) to stay mentally healthy. So here goes…
- Listen to a TED talk. I do this often – or more accurately on those mornings when I answer my daily five o’clock alarm call, which if I’m honest, is about two or three times a week. TED talks typically last 20 minutes and rarely fail to inspire. My all-time favourite is Ken Robinson’s witty and moving rallying call for creating an education system that nurtures creativity. Genius.
- Explore Flickr. I first fell under the spell of the Flickr photo-sharing community in 2004, and in my opinion there is still very little on the web that can match it. Every day I look to see who may have viewed my own photostream and then click through to Flickr Explore. There’s no greater pleasure for me than attempting to capture the beauty of the world around us, and my family in it – even with my little compact camera. We live in a visual world that is becoming more and more visual, and if you’ve yet to experience Flickr, then perhaps this is the perfect place to start.
- Day dream. Whether I’m sitting in a favourite chair, looking out the window of a moving train, or on the seashore, or at the summit of the Tor, daydreaming is my #1 tool for creativity and I although I may not allocate time for it, I do it every day without fail. I cannot really plan for it, although I surround myself at home, around my desk, with physical things, often tiny things, each with a special memory attached to it. For example, take the tiny screw with the now infinitesimal fleck of turquoise paint. Looking at it instantly transports me back to 1991; it had slowly loosened itself over the course of a bumpy 12-hour journey on a ‘chicken bus’ from Guatemala City to Flores. Near our final destination, it had dropped into my lap. I decided to keep it. One day, if I ever write well enough, I might tell the whole story. I was almost daydreaming there for a minute.
I should add that I also daydream on purpose, with a purpose; often to play out positive scenarios that I wish to happen that day, or in the future. In my daydreams I replay good times past, and imagine the good times still to come, when even the world’s injustices may be put right.
- Listen to music – or more particularly, an anthem. Current favourite is Sigur Rós epic Hoppípolla, which packs a real emotional punch, especially now I associate it with a short film I watched at an Action for Children charity event in October.
- Be generous. I’m not certain of it, but I think I’m a pretty generous sort. I never expect anything in return, but it nearly always comes anyway; often when I least expect it, but when I have most reason to be grateful for it. Tools like Twitter make it easy to share and reward you in spades for doing so. And it only takes a minute to reciprcate. I’m reminded of something Guy Kawasaki once said: Eat like a bird; poop like an elephant. Finally… being generous can be as easy as making someone smile, or sharing a laugh.
After finishing this list and glancing back at what I have written, it becomes obvious to me that all of it helps me stay grounded, and to keep my balance and perspective.