Hello PPMA members and friends

Here’s another great installment of the Action for Happiness pilot series from Lisa Sibley, Employee Engagement Manager, Essex County Council and PPMA Policy Lead for Wellbeing, Job Creation and Worklessness were we’re following her 8 week ‘happiness’ journey. We hope you enjoy it.

Lisa Sibley
Policy Lead for Wellbeing, Job Creation and Worklessness – See more at: http://www.ppma.org.uk/about-us/lead-officer-projects/wellbeing-job-creation-and-worklessness/wellbeing-blog-page/#sthash.mEKwFK9w.dpuf

“Hello there – ooh, this was another great week with much debate and challenge during our group discussions.  A very energising kick start to the week ahead – that said, this week’s session started with a very calming Kindness meditation check this video out.  If like me you struggle with keeping the mind still in order to meditate, you might like this – based on a mantra of:-  may you feel safe; may you feel strong; may you feel content and may you live with ease.  The reasons I particularly like this meditation is that I am a keen believer in the importance of kindness, we need more of it and for me, it felt like it had more of a purpose and that enabled me to focus my mind better, stopped it wandering off onto other stuff.  So, give it a go, let me know what you think.

We moved onto our first debate – how should we treat others, is it right to say ‘treat others as you would like to be treated’ or is it more apt to say’ treat others as they would like to be treated’?  I tend towards the latter and think it’s a case of being mindful and not making assumptions that what works for you will work for others.   We considered and then shared how we like others to treat us – for me, with respect, gently, honestly, supportive and then onto how do we not like to be treated – personally, I can’t bear aggression which is sometimes given that cloak cover up term ‘assertive challenge’, nor can I bear being dictated to or micro-managed, it sure doesn’t get the best out of me.

Karen Armstrong was this week’s Expert View – Karen is a leading expert on religion and the driving force behind the Charter for Compassion launched in 2009, check out the 12 Steps to Compassion.  Karen talked about the Golden Rule: Never treat others as you would not like to be treated yourself and I think this is a really important basic principle that we should encourage everywhere.  Karen reflected  on today’s anxiety being based on status, ranking and constantly being pre-occupied with ourselves – if you can get outside of you, you can be happy and find peace of mind.  The session went on to how do we respond to our enemies and Karen talked about the importance of putting one’s own needs to one side, when someone is really irritating you, look beneath their unpromising exterior, consider what it is that keeps that person awake at night.  Difficult though it can be at times, when you next find yourself being riled by somebody as you pause to think before you speak, maybe ask yourself: am I speaking to punish or to make things good?  You may want to listen to this an amazing lady called Jo Berry, Disarming with Empathy, this was our pre-course viewing and it is both humbling and inspiring.

Some factoids for you:-

We are born to be caring and compassionate, helping others has been found to trigger activity in the same areas of the brain that turn on when people receive rewards or experience pleasure.  Charles Darwin noted that ‘those communities which included the greatest number of the most sympathetic members would flourish best and rear the greatest number of offspring’.

Although our concern for others is innate, our levels of kindness do not appear to be set in stone and recent research has shown that compassion can also be cultivated with training.

People who contribute to others without expecting anything in return very often achieve outstanding results and are more successful than those who simply pursue their own success and take from others

The session concluded with reflection and debate on this question: What wider changes in our society might help to encourage greater empathy and compassion for others?  There were three of us on my mini group and our passionate debate resulted in these main areas that we believe would make a difference:-

Empowerment through schools – instilling greater belief and confidence in children that they are good at something

Find more ways to harness the passion – and the anger – of young people to help others, what channels can we create that would allow society to really tap into what is often wasted energy

Share the love of work and the vital sense of worth and purpose that goes with this – why is the world of work still restricted to so few, why do we persist in long working hours at the exclusion of others?

Harness the wisdom and experience of our growing ageing population rather than ignoring and wasting all that history

We need to find ways that somehow bring together all of these things to once again create strong and thriving communities.  Individually we can contribute to a ripple effect in creating this through being compassionate, kind, empathic – in short, more humane – but collectively in the public sector, wow, what waves we can and must create across the nation –  the PPMA’s Total Talent theme provides the ideal platform .  Are you ready to dive in? Are you already making waves?

And finally my blog wouldn’t be complete without the promised quote so here’s one that is so apt:-  ‘How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world’ – Anne Frank

The next session for the Action for Happiness course isn’t until week 2 September due to the August bank holiday so a bit of a break until the next blog but I will be back.  Meanwhile, I wish everyone a lovely long weekend, a little extra time to disengage, reflect and maybe spread a little happiness and kindness.  Enjoy. Lisa”

Lisa Sibley, Employee Engagement Manager, Essex County Council and PPMA Policy Lead for Wellbeing, Job Creation and Worklessness