Overview: The Good Vibes Experiment is a mental health focused campaign, built by students for students here at Flinders. In this post, I take the basis of that campaign (wellbeing tactics) and discuss them as potentially beneficial principles by which to live one’s life. Looking for some simple shifts to how live your life? This might be for you. Reading time ~ 7 minutes.
We each lead different lives.
We have different responsibilities and backgrounds.
We have different strengths and weaknesses.
We have different needs and desires.
So the idea of laying out a single pathway to a ‘good life’ is difficult to reconcile with those differences.
Does that mean we can’t give generic advice to people about the ingredients of a good life?
In the Good Vibes Experiment, we tackled this problem. We recognised that there are many different science-backed activities that appear to improve the mental health and wellbeing of those that do them. We organised those activities into 20 categories which we called ‘Wellbeing Tactics’. We then built an Activity Book that introduced people to those wellbeing tactics. We encouraged readers to try a few, to ‘experiment’, to see what resonated and consider building those tactics into their everyday life.
Yes, 20 was a lot, but it allowed for people in all different situations to find things that helped them. It allowed individuals to have their own unique combination of tactics, whilst also showing that we do share some of these with others. It allowed us to simultaneously celebrate individuality and diversity but also recognise a core set of therapeutic practices that we share.
The 20 tactics in GVE can also be conceptualised as principles – broad guidelines for how we live our lives. I thought I’d take a crack at re-writing each tactic as a principle. As you read them, observe which principles resonate with you and that you could imagine living your life according to.
See if you can pick a top 5. Then ask yourself, am I living my life according to these principles?
If you are, excellent 🥳
If you aren’t, don’t fret. Just start thinking about simple ways that you might better live according to that principle. For example, say the ‘having fun’ principle resonates with you, but when you think about it, there isn’t much ‘fun’ about your life at the moment. See if you can find just 1 fun thing to do each week as a starting point.
20 GVE Wellbeing Tactics expressed as principles by which to live your life
Face your fears – Repeatedly push yourself to the edge of your ability, beyond your comfort zone.
Gratitude – Regularly take moments to stop and appreciate the things you do have and to communicate to those you care about the value they provide in your life.
Self-understanding – Live an ‘examined life’ in which you seek to gain a better understand of who you are.
Having fun – Purposefully allocate time to play and having fun, separate from the responsibilities of daily life.
Change your thinking – Frequently examine your own thinking and beliefs to see where you might be making incorrect or unhelpful assumptions.
Expressive writing – Use the written word to give form to your thoughts and feelings, hopes and dreams, fears and worries.
Meaning and purpose – Always have a mission or purpose that you are working towards.
Seek help – When you are feeling stuck, reach out to your network and ask for help, even if just in small ways.
Forgiveness – Find ways to let go of past hurts and betrayals.
Productivity – Regularly explore ways to do things more efficiently so you can get more done.
Future orientation – Regularly time travel in your mind to your ideal future and use this to help you make decisions in the present.
Kindness – Take moments throughout the day to improve another person’s day through a simple kind act.
Awe – Seek out and immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, smells of those things that amaze you.
Deliberate practice – Always have something that you are trying to improve at through focused repetition and clear feedback.
Healthy lifestyle – Focus on putting in place the necessary conditions for your body to thrive.
Meditation and mindfulness – Take times throughout the day to look within, non-judgementally, and sit gently with your thoughts, feelings, sensations and memories whatever they are.
Time in nature – Ensure you regularly spend time away from the built environment in the presence of other life forms (plants and animals).
Teaching and learning – Always being open to learning new things, but also sharing what you’ve learned with others.
Connection – Finding ways to get out of your own head for a while and get to know someone else.
Compassion – Being kind to yourself and to others and recognise we will all fall at some point and that vulnerability connects us as humans.
If you are like me, you read this list and many of them stand out as good ways to live one’s life. But you might also feel like I do that it would be hard to be actioning all of them all of the time.
Don’t let the overwhelm of wanting to action all of them get in the way of just starting with actioning a couple.
Maybe just aim to action 1 of them today. Be a little kinder, spend some extra time outdoors, listen to a song that gives you goosebumps.
And then tomorrow you could try another few. As you get a feel for the fact that living according to some of these principles doesn’t necessarily mean wholesale changes in your life, you might feel more confident building them into your day.