Sunday, 12 October 2014

Festival of Well being

Yesterday I went to the Festival of Well being in London. This was the third annual event staged by the Resurgence and Ecologist - The Resurgence Trust.  If you have never come across them -check out

With 15 superb speakers and artists, it was no wonder we came away with a lightness and sense of positivity.  Great to hear of all the positive projects that are going on up and down the country,especially right now in a world that looks so grim,cruel and intolerant.

It seems our sense of well being comes from a greater sense of fairness between us and where the rich/poor divide is the greatest, the sense of well being is low.  It seems we don't feel great by having lots of stuff, if those around us are not in the same situation.  So stuff doesn't make us happy - phew!   can someone please tell those that produce it by the tonne using up the resources future generations might like to have a taste of. I was so happy the other day, to see a small shop that repairs things - hoovers,irons, all manner of electrical goods. Not only is it great we still have people who have skills that can repairs things, we are not all in to the throw away culture and buy new.  The planned obsolescence of so many electrical goods can be beaten! Mark Golding from Oxfam highlighted this inequality aspect that blights all our sense of well being

Our connection with nature was also widely spoken about.  That wonderful activist, Vandana Shiva and Monty Don,both spoke eloquently on the importance of soil and seed and how it continually heals us and nourishes us as long as we don't use the chemicals of war on it.  Nature needs no assistance from Monsanto - she has managed just fine before they arrived on the scene. Nature knows how to adapt the seed to cope with the environment. She doesn't set out to exploit and copyright nor does she make us pay for the water that drops freely.   Monsanto on the other hand might just like to try and I'm sure others out there would consider it also.  If we face a water shortage, then fracking must be one of the biggest waste of water with other effects we can only anticipate.

Sense of community and conversing with each other also featured high as essential for well being. Here we had Leo Johnson,co founder of sustainable finance ltd, speak of the venture he embarked on getting to know his neighbours after being forced to slow his pace down due to in jury. Suddenly he found himself speaking to people in his street and the next thing, there they are helping in the grape supplies and wine making escapade that united the road he lived in.  How many of us know our neighbours. Apparently we have a better chance of this if we live on a quiet cul de sac as opposed to a major road.

Roman Krznaric author of the Empathy Revolution, a book that is designed to start a 'global explosion of empathic thinking and action'   Isn't that just what we need right now. Projects he mentioned included babies helping school children learn empathy. I'm sure we could ramp up the empathy.

With Dame Carol Black discussing the importance of your job. Those who are doing a job they love but also feel they have autonomy within that job have a greater sense of well being.  The job doesn't necessarily have to be a high flying career of a job,but the person doing it must feel valued and listened to.  So Dame Carol's job is to look at well being in the workplace.  Needless to say, those that work for themselves have greater job satisfaction even though they don't have the paid holidays, sick leave, etc etc, they have that all important sense of autonomy.

With Rupert Sheldrake adding his unique stance to the day and reminding us that science has a place but that we need science to be open and 'new science' not just the dogmas it has built itself around.

Topped off with Friends of the Earth reminding us that we can't keep taking from it at the rate we are for short term gain. As Craig Bennett said, Friends of the Earth are often accused of standing in the way of progress, but is it progress to see over half the worlds species disappear, terrains and habitats vanish. Minerals that have taken 1000's of years to form- gone! Polluted seas and rivers, retreating glaciers.  Does that sound like progress?

The heart warming 'Action for Happiness' speaker,Mark Williamson,  enlightened the audience on some of the initiative going on to promote goodness and happiness.  So badly needed in society today where a media feed on misery and worse case scenarios.  You could be forgiven for living in fear as that is what our current system generates and how much better it is if we can resist buying into fear.

With heart felt poetry from Pascale Petit and the beautiful voice of Brina,  It was a day that raised the soul.

If the names above are new to you, google them and see for yourselves the people out there trying hard to make a better, fairer,just and kinder world.  We can all start in a small way, just by speaking to a stranger at the bus stop and getting to know those nearest us. Looking at the job you do and see where you get your enjoyment from or how it can be made better.

The world we live in we have created - keep doing what we do and we keep the status quo - improve what we do and we could all be living a happier,contented life.

Satish Kumar, editor in chief of Resurgence and Ecologist magazine, is a true inspiration. Once a Janus monk that walked the world with nothing other than the human kindness he met on route, his gentle wisdom, humanity and sense of fun exude from him.  His address to the audience was serene.
Again,if you have never read his works or know of him, then change that.

It was lovely to see all ages, race, creed, socio-economic groups all coming together to share a day of well being.