Updated: Apr 25
Back in October 2008, the NEF (New Economics Foundation) in England, as part of the Foresight Project on Mental Capital and Wellbeing, came up with five evidence-based public mental health messages aimed at improving the mental health and wellbeing of the whole country's population. They were:
2) Be Active
3) Take Notice
4) Keep Learning
All of these ways to well-being are powerful, more than a decade later, and here at SpringSpot we strive to offer all five to our families through our programming. The first one, Connect, especially resonates with us now since February is the month of Connection.
As parents, when we spend time with our children, often times we go through the motions, transporting our kids from place to place, looking at the clock to be sure we’re on time. We occupy space together, but sometimes miss moments to truly connect with them.
After learning these proven ways of improving well-being, I've started to incorporate them more fully into my life. Recently, I experienced a feeling of connectedness that was undeniable and it brought me so much joy that I wish I could bottle up the feeling and have it with me until I’m 100 years old.
Take the Time
Last week, my youngest son was home sick and I came home early from work to be with him. He just wanted to play together in his room and I fought the urge to think about the long list of things I had to finish for work. Instead, I just focused on the present and being there fully with my son. When I asked him what he wanted to play, he said he wanted to play pretend ice cream shop. He proceeded to flip over the Pottery Barn personalized covered foam chair in his room and the part that was usually his backrest became the table of the shop and he stood behind the make believe countertop.
Instead of pretending to play, I actually played.
I actually imagined that I was an actual customer and asked him what flavors he carried, and he responded with “Salad ice cream” (because he knows I really love a good salad), “Corn ice cream” (because he loves corn), and then barilla ice cream (I didn’t know what that was). As he waited for me to respond with my chosen flavor, I looked deep into his eyes and saw how much he cared and was living in this moment. I responded “Corn ice cream please” and then he asked “In a cup or a cone?” I replied “Cup” and he walked out from behind his counter top, over to his bookshelf and took two books down and said, “here’s your corn ice cream in a cup.”
Live in the Moment
It didn’t matter that the books were flat, rectangular and contained multiple pages. At that moment they were frozen, round and corn flavored. We both were able to see something that wasn’t there. He smiled that magnificent smile of his and I saw every little crease of his dimples. At that moment, there wasn’t anywhere else in the world I wanted to be. We laughed together, played together and though he wasn’t feeling his best, he felt loved. And so did I.
Playing with my son in that moment reminded me how good it feels to really connect with my children to truly see them and be fully present with them. Living in the moment was energizing.
I hope you can find moments like this to truly connect with the important people in your life. Living in the present is truly a gift.
Connect with your Partner
In addition to your kids, how can you connect more deeply with your partner?
Exercise together, or go on a walk together outside. Do date nights with just the two of you. Before you had kids, you were a couple. If exercising is your thing, join one of our online classes.
Meditate for Deeper Connections
One way to help deepen your connections is to practice mindfulness and being more present. We invite you to try one of our new audio morning meditations to start your morning with a clear head. Meditation practice can help you be more present and deepen the connections with those people that matter most to you.