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A warm welcome to Ellie

Exciting news, our team has grown! We are welcoming Ellie to our team and we wanted to take the time to give her a warm welcome and introduction.

 

Hey, I’m Ellie!

I first came across Tribe when Dani hosted TedxPorty here in 2016 and I volunteered to capture the event. I’d recently moved back to Edinburgh after living in London and it was one of the first community events I was involved with and I loved it. Since then I’ve attended other Tribe events and spent some time co-working. The community at Tribe is so welcoming and inviting that when a role came up it felt serendipitous. 

Things that make me smile are a good cup of coffee, spending time with friends and family, hosting Soapbox events, time spent on the beach, dogs in clothes, working at Tribe! I love the community and the environment at Tribe. The way Tribe feels when you come in – everyone is friendly, I really enjoy the art on the walls, it’s a space that breeds belonging and my creativity flows here.

 

My working life & creative practice

Most of my working life has revolved around connecting with people; as a photographer having the opportunity to meet new people and discover what drives them, what their story is and how they express themselves is what I find endlessly fascinating. 

I love, and have spent many seasons, capturing street style at London Fashion Week because I love seeing how people express themselves through personal style. My favourite personal project was one I undertook in 2021 called Love Stories; where I spoke to, and captured, over 100 people about someone, or something, they loved. 

I’m currently in the planning stages of my next personal photography project, which I think will revolve around kitchen tables, dinner parties and portraits.

Creating community

My connection to the creative scene led me to CreativeMornings, where I volunteered with the Edinburgh Chapter for a number of years before starting my own event, called Soapbox, last year. We gather on the last Wednesday of every month to blether and meet like minded folk who freelance and are employed in the creative, cultural, tech and digital industries. It’s so lovely to see people come along who are brand new to the creative scene but also have attendees who have been doing it for 20 years. Everyone has something to offer and are there to connect. 

Knowing how much being part of a community helped both my personal and professional life was the driving factor in starting Soapbox. Bringing other people together and helping them with their own journey is something that brings me a lot of joy.  I’m currently working on the evolution of Soapbox and developing what events, along with our current monthly event, we might host.

I’m really looking forward to hopefully hosting some Soapbox events in collaboration with Tribe, but mostly I’m really happy to be part of Team Tribe and the community that exists here. I really like being part of organisations that are bigger than myself, and that seek to bring community together.

 

A quote that I love:

 

“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”- Brené Brown

 

Thanks for reading,

Ellie

 

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Do good, Feel Good

This January, Tribe Porty has partnered with Vintage Vibes, an award-winning project tackling isolation and loneliness in Edinburgh. Volunteering has enormous benefits to our mental health, our communities and our local economy. 

Why volunteering is good for your health

There’s a common misconception that volunteering is a completely selfless act and that you are some kind of superhero if you volunteer. It might surprise you to know that volunteering has some surprising major health benefits. Volunteering is good for your health and community. So it is something you might want to consider adding into your self-care routine.

Studies show volunteering helps improve your mental health and wellbeing.  Helping other people triggers a release of the hormone oxytocin. This hormone has the effect of boosting your mood and counteracts the effects of cortisol aka the stress hormone in your body. When oxytocin begins to flow, blood pressure decreases, reducing social fears and anxiety. 

Giving an hour or so a week can act as a circuit breaker to the everyday stress of work and home life. It can give you a change of scenery, the opportunity to talk to different people, more structure to your week and allow you to build confidence or learn a new skill. It can also help you reset and appreciate what is important in life by giving you more self-awareness when starting to sweat the small stuff.

 

Vintage Vibes

Nicky Shallcross is the Volunteer Recruiter for Edinburgh based Vintage Vibes, a project working to combat loneliness amongst over 60s by creating 1:1 friendships between volunteers.

Nicky explains her motivation for volunteering…

“After starting my own business in 2022, I started to feel lonely working from home on my own. I’d gone from a busy head office environment to working alone and being all departments. I realised that you don’t have to be elderly or living on your own to feel like this, it’s surprising at how quickly this can happen to anyone. I was familiar with Vintage Vibes and their work from their annual Christmas Card campaign. It made sense to help someone else who was feeling lonely too by becoming a Friendship Volunteer.

I completed my volunteer training, the Vintage Vibes team then set about finding me a “VIP” who had similar interests to me. For the past year I’ve visited my 85 year old friend Sheila every week for an hour or so. We talk about anything and everything and are always giggling. My family live down south so there is something grounding and familiar having someone who is older to talk to. She’s warm, caring and dispenses no nonsense advice just like my Grandparents used to. I always come away from our visits with a sense of calm.

Sheila never ceases to amaze me with her constant curiosity on what’s going on in the world. In the summer she went on a girl’s weekend to Blackpool and enjoyed watching the Glastonbury coverage. Her highlight was Elton John, she said she turned the volume up and had a dance around her living room. Aging is natural part of life; I really hope I’m as sprightly as her when I’m older.

I’ve taken Sheila to local places close to where she lives that she didn’t realise were there. She loves the Edinburgh Printworks and Grow Urban plant cafe. The staff recognise her and chat, it makes her feel seen and included. For Sheila’s 85th birthday we went to Maison De Moggy, sadly she had to give up her beloved cat during the pandemic and misses her dearly. Despite personally not being a big cat lover, we had so much fun! I really felt that feel good feeling seeing her so happy.

Volunteering has personally given me a massive boost to my own mental health and was exactly what I needed. I’ve made a friend and got to meet so many amazing people. It’s even led to a part time job opportunity with the charity so you never know what good things volunteering can lead to.”

 

Fighting isolation

According to a 2021 study conducted by Age Scotland, more than 200,000 older people in Scotland are lonely. This study found that 10% of people over 50 feel lonely all or most of the time. Age UKs follow up 2022 study highlights that right now in Scotland loneliness among older people is at record levels. 100,000 older people say they feel lonely all or most of the time. Two years of Covid lockdowns and living under restrictions which prevented older people seeing family and friends have left countless older people feeling acutely alone.

The Scottish Government have identified that social isolation and loneliness are significant public health concerns in Scotland. Loneliness is linked to increased risk of poor health and reduced life expectancy. A Connected Scotland – a strategy for building stronger social connections and reducing social isolation and loneliness hopes to address this. Volunteering plays a key part in the plan to help achieve this. Volunteering at Vintage Vibes can supports both health and community.

 

Community impact

Government funding cuts to services combined with the cost of living and the fallout from the pandemic mean charities are under more pressure than ever. Charities must now deliver critical community support services that local authorities cannot. Volunteers are pivotal to being able to do this.

In addition to the benefits for individuals, volunteering can also have a positive impact on local communities. According to Volunteer Scotland, volunteers contribute an estimated £2.26 billion to the Scottish economy each year. Volunteering can also help build stronger, more connected communities by bringing people of all generations together.

If you’re interested in varying your week, consider volunteering as way to do this as well as making someone else’s. Volunteer Edinburgh is a great resource for finding volunteer opportunities in your area to fit around your schedule and support organisations that align with your values, more information can be found here. If you’d like to find out more about becoming a Vintage Vibes Friendship Volunteer, please visit their website here.

 

Thanks for reading,

Nicky Shallcross, Volunteering Coordinator at Vintage Vibes.

 

An evening with Vintage Vibes

For our first Tribe Talks of the year we are collaborating with Vintage Vibes. Join us on 25th January from 18:30 for a fun evening hosted by volunteer coordinator, Nicky Shallcross.

Vintage Vibes is an award-winning project tackling isolation and loneliness in Edinburgh. The project, a partnership between LifeCare Edinburgh and Space at the Broomhouse Hub, started in 2015 as a fresh new way to combat isolation and loneliness among over 60s (called VIPs) in Edinburgh.

Vintage Vibes creates long lasting one-to-one friendships offering support, companionship and the opportunity for lonely VIPs to be more socially connected and active in their local community. Vintage Vibes are looking for volunteers of all ages (17+) from across Edinburgh.

This is a great opportunity to break the ice with Vintage Vibes and find out more about their work as well as how to volunteer. Nicky will introduce you to Vintage Vibes and their work and answer any questions about volunteering or how to refer someone who may benifit from their service.

Join us for a tea and a sweet treat, click here for more information and to register.

 


 

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Hitting Pause on Christmas

Christmas is a time where life becomes intensified, days are shorter, money is tighter and you have social gatherings galore. As Christmas draws closer, the need for a pause button grows. 

 

As a fan of Christmas, there are times that it even makes me want to bury my head in the snow (Christmas joke). It can be a difficult time to adjust expectations as we fall into the usual routine of overindulging in every aspect of life. I often reminisce on that weird covid Christmas where we had to remain within our own households. I remember initially feeling sad, like something had been taken away. On reflection, it was probably one of my favourites. Yes, I missed my family but it was lovely to spend the day in my own home, possibly the most relaxed Christmas of them all. Yet, every Christmas since then the intensity comes back in full swing.

It’s not all bad, who doesn’t love the lights, spending time with loved ones and eating your favourite Christmas foods. It’s also a time to reflect and give thanks, especially as the year draws to a close. Team Tribe had an evening of wreath making with artist Jana Middleton at Dook Soap for our Christmas do this year. At the start of the evening, host Jana asked us all to close our eyes and think of a colour that comes to mind when thinking of Christmas. Orange, red, green and white all came up. She also asked us to think of smells that we attach to Christmas, pine, mulled wine, spices and homebaking were mentioned. Lastly, she asked us to close our eyes and write down words or a sentence that come to mind when we think of Christmas. The feedback felt warm and cosy, like a Christmas hug. 

Earlier that day, I had been constructing this blog post. A helpful guide to make the most of Christmas and enjoy the festivities. I came away from the wreath making evening feeling extremely mellow and calm about Christmas. I felt like that simple exercise served as an important reminder as to what is and what makes Christmas. It’s a lot simpler than the panic, gift buying hussle that we find ourselves wrapped in. Christmas isn’t always an easy time of year and it is all too easy to forget that you do in fact have control. As a team, we have gathered some thoughts around Christmas and how to thrive and enjoy this period rather than survive. 

 

Wreath Exercise

Close your eyes and think about the following questions, write these down on a piece of paper. Use this as a guiding force over the Christmas period, these are arguably what you love the most over Christmas and the easiest to forget:

 

Catch some Sun

Christmas is in itself tied up in the winter Solstice. The winter solstice marks a crucial turning point in the year as the sun is at its weakest point. This is a point throughout history where people would hold fests and gather at monuments. It is a time to remember that winter is not forever. 

It is widely known that the sun benefits our body in numerous ways and keeps our circadian rhythms in sync. Being in the sun can tweak our immune and cardiovascular systems as well as causing our blood vessels to relax and widen. When we feel the sun on our skin, we release endorphins which can boost our alertness and energy levels.

Over the winter months, it is so important for us to harness this energy. Next time there’s a cold bright morning or the afternoon sun is peeking through some clouds, try to get outside. The sun being out also makes an excellent motivator to get your family outside over the Christmas period. Here’s a great read on the power of the sun.

 

Take a break!

The busier you are, the greater benefit there is to taking some time alone and finding that pause button. It can take a bit of confidence but take a break when you need to. A 15 minute brain reset in solitude can make a world of difference to both your mood and energy level. Studies show that alone time can increase happiness, better life satisfaction, and improve stress management.

 

Practice Mindfulness

It may not be your top priority over Christmas but daily mindfulness is important at any time of your life. Through mindfulness exercises, such as meditation, breathing exercise and yoga you can become more aware of your thoughts and feelings. This gives you time to both process and manage them rather than becoming overwhelmed. Click here for some easy and quick breathing exercises.

 

Take stock and look to the year ahead

The end of the year is a very natural time to take a moment of reflection. We should all lean into this urge to celebrate our achievements and note our successes. It’s important to refrain from a critical mindset and instead hone in on what has brought you joy this year.

If you are new to this, we’ve gotchu. Keystone have a free online course to help you on your way. This will help you designate the time to reflect, check in and gather yourself for what’s next.

 

Relax and say no.

Ya know you can do that at Christmas right?? Check in with yourself and make the time to chill out and do the things that you like to do. It’s also okay to miss out on things and to say no when your cup is already full.

 

Shop small, gift small. 

The biggest overwhelm and stress can stem from gift giving. It’s always important to reframe what and why you are buying a gift. Especially when you consider that 80% of returned gifts end up in landfill and this year alone 3,088,345 bad Christmas gifts were thrown away. Before buying something, consider the journey this gift will take and what its lifetime value is. Sentiment and gesture is always far more powerful than cost and volume. 

 

Considering all things, seek and stay true to the things that you love about Christmas. Here are some words from Nick Cave on the power of small actions:

 

“The everyday human gesture is always a heartbeat away from the miraculous.

Remember that ultimately we make things happen through our actions, way beyond our understanding or intention; that our seemingly small ordinary human acts have untold consequences; that what we do in this world means something; that we are not nothing; and that our most quotidian human actions by their nature burst the seams of our intent and spill meaningfully and radically through time and space, changing everything.

Our deeds, no matter how insignificant they may feel, are replete with meaning, and of vast consequence, and that they constantly impact upon the unfolding story of the world, whether we know it or not.”- Nick Cave

 

As always, thanks for reading. You can read all of our previous blogs by clicking here. Make sure you’re subscribed to our newsletters by filling out the form below:

 

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Collecting Moments

Moments pass, or rather moments fly by without us even noticing. Should we consciously collect moments to find calmness and fulfillment?

 

In a recent blog post, Controlling Distractions, we explored our relationships with phones and how we can use them in a more meaningful way. Phones are often used to pass time and perhaps lead us to ignoring the world around us. Hannah recently shared a Mary Oliver quote on a post it note and stuck it to reception where it still lives now. The quote is as follows:

 

Instructions for living a life:

Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

Sometimes, Mary Oliver

 

Mary Oliver’s work can teach us how to find comfort in the quiet occurrences of the everyday. In a world where we are surrounded by white noise it’s all too easy to stop paying attention. Days blur by as we fall into the rhythms of life. As a result of this, we forget how to appreciate the small delicate intricacies of living. I can’t help but feel that we have lost our awe in the everyday.  It often feels as though that in a busy world, we try to keep busy and amongst the hustle and that we are tricked into thinking this is how to feel accomplished or satisfied.  

Our obsessions with doing and comparing our productivity and accomplishments to others bares us with a neverending weight of dissatisfaction, eventually we burn ourselves out. We forget to notice the pleasure in the everyday. The pursuit of productivity leaves us feeling unfulfilled, like we’ve never quite done enough with our days, but what’s wrong with enjoying a day for exactly what it is? Start to allow your days to unfold as they are and try to stop with our tendency to constantly optimise our time. Allow our free time to be exactly that, free time and time to rest. I think that collecting moments it’s a nice way to nurture this growth.

 

“Our days don’t need to be optimised, but simply occupied-that is, lived in, tended to, renewed.”- Madeleine Dore, I Didn’t do the thing today.

 

Slowing down, paying attention, collecting moments. 

On our podcast, Working For Progress, we ask our guests for five simple pleasures. We have noticed over time that these simple pleasures are simply that, a collection of small moments. A morning coffee, the falling of cherry blossoms, a bike ride to work. They are never overly complex, nor do they tell an astonishing story. Most of these pleasures may not have been shared with others or spoken aloud. But what they do reflect is the fundamental beauty in the everyday. Free passings of time that we should consciously indulge in more often. 

Let’s practice collecting moments that bring a feeling of joy and focus on them. It’s one thing to keep a log of these small moments privately on your phone but to tell others about it spreads the joy, broadens your attention and ultimately makes us more connected to the world around us. When we look without noticing, we lose our sense of belonging.

It’s time to start to enjoy those moments of nothing… Spend your time noticing the free sounds, sights, tastes of life. I shared this thought with Hannah and Dani, I asked them to collect moments in their days so that we could reflect on them. We invite you to do the same.

 

“A mind narrows when it has too much to bear. Art is not born of unwanted constriction. Art wants formless and spacious quiet, anti-social daydreaming, time away from the consumptive volume of everyday life.”-Kyo Maclear, Birds Art Life: A Year of Observation

We wanted to share some moments our team collected over the past week.

 

Moments Hannah Collected:

Moments Alice Collected:

Moments Dani Collected:

 

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Controlling Distractions

How distracted are you by your phone and is it worth your time?

 

A frequent conversation around the coworking table is the nuisance and distraction that technology, phones and social media brings. This stems from doom scrolling, to issues spurred on from social media and questions on how to ‘correctly’ parent technology. It’s a big multilayered problem and it seems the thread of desire is to find a way to detach. We want to remove ourselves from passive connection and stop being distracted by our phones.

Why have phones become such a distraction?

When we use our phones we are selling only our time, it’s often the moments where we want the time to pass that we fall into the trap. We are always wanting to be busy, we always want to be consuming, maybe it’s time to step back and let yourself be bored. Let yourself day dream and be alone with your thoughts. 

 

“Solitude Deprivation. A state in which you spend close to zero time alone with your own thoughts and free from input from other minds.”Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World

 

So what are the real problems we cause ourselves when we take to our phones for light entertainment or to pass some time? A study in 2007 by Dr Martin Hilbert and Dr Priscila Lopez found that the average person is drowned in 174 newspapers worth of information everyday, across TV, radio and reading. It’s easy to assume that this figure is even greater today. When you consider how much information we receive everytime we pick up our phones you soon realise why it’s so easy to be overwhelmed by the doom and gloom in the world. Or more likely, you feel yourself becoming ever more detached and unresponsive. We have no time to form any true compassion or understanding as we are always onto the next big news story. 

Time to break from the distraction?

Gloria Mark, a professor of informatics, found that on average an adult working in an office stays on a singular task for no more than three minutes before switching tasks. We are tricked into thinking that we are great multitaskers, we are not- we are however very good at getting distracted and losing focus. Mark argues that especially during computer based work, instead of seeing a new tab, email reply or doom scroll as adding a new task, see it as adding a new distraction. This sounds easy but we have already programmed our brains to shift focus constantly, this is why we always are reaching for our phones. 

After 14 years, I deleted my Twitter account and removed the app from my phone. This was spurred on by the change to X, in a weird way the visual change prompted discomfort but also made it easier to delete and let go, so thanks for that Elon! Since then, I notice myself whilst routinely checking Facebook and Instagram my thumb automatically going to tap the Twitter app. My brain is fully in a trance, it’s terrifying! Another thing I noticed, whenever I think of something funny my brain frames the thought as a tweet. It’s like an ingrained desire and need to tweet it, again…terrifying! 

Make it worth your time

I feel like I do not need to delve into the problems around phones too much as we all experience it daily. I did consider counting how many times I picked up my phone whilst writing this piece but I feared it would be too shameful of a number. However, I do not believe that a complete detox, hiatus or banishment is the answer. Nor is blaming or shaming ourselves. I think it’s more important to consider the good things phones and tech can bring to our lives. Think of how much time has been saved through emails, online banking, google and life admin. We just need to be more aware and purposeful of how we use this tech. 

For me, it’s the small impromptu moments of time where picking up my phone is becoming a problem. The automatic reflex to have a quick look always turns into at least ten minutes of scrolling. It is entirely passive consumption and is the definition of needless. I’m really good at misplacing my phone, something I’m weirdly proud of. It means that it’s not constantly on my mind or in my hand. Now when I lose track of it, instead of hunting it down straight away I purposefully question why I need to find it? What do I need it for? Unless the reason is valid, like calling my nan or if there’s a fire that needs tending to, I do not bother looking for it.

Find the balance

 

‘You want to read a book, but you are pulled away by the pings and paranoia of social media. You want to spend a few uninterrupted hours with your child, but you keep anxiously checking your work email. You want to set up a business, but your life dissolves into a blur of facebook posts that only make you feel envious and anxious. Through no fault of your own, there never seems to be enough stillness.’-Johann Hari, Stolen Focus

 

By detaching from our phones, time alone can become more nourishing, remove the need to compare and focus solely on ourselves. Instead of taking to social media for a ‘break’ try out some meditation, a little day dream, a quick stretch or a wee stroll around. Maybe what you’re craving is in fact a quick brain reset! Choose to feast on your own life, instead of small snippets of others. Rember, tech is designed to be addictive but we can choose to have a more purposeful relationship with it.

 

HERE ARE OUR COWORKERS THOUGHTS, TIPS AND TRICKS! 

 

Don’t forget, habit is key and habits are harder to break than they are to form.

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As always, we would love to hear your thoughts, keep in touch by signing up to our newsletter below! You can find our previous blog posts by clicking here.

Thanks for reading,

 Alice.

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Finding Your Ikigai

Is ikigai the ultimate answer?

The Man Who Wanted To See It All

I recently stumbled across a documentary titled, The Man Who Wanted To See It All. It told the story of Heinz Stücke, in 1962 he left Germany and set off on a bike ride touring the world which spanned close to 50 years and covered enough distance to circumnavigate the world 15 times around.

What I found striking about this documentary is that Heinz did not set out to be the best cyclist, or the best photographer and any records that he broke were seemingly a welcomed accident. His soul focus and purpose were set on experience, connection, seeing and being. After leaving his home town in 1962, Heinz decided to not return home as he deemed going home as the end of his adventure. After over 50 years of nomadic living, this is where the documentary found its focus.

The documentary shows Heinz putting his memories in order and sorting through his tens of thousands of photographs, reuniting with family and friends and reflecting on his achievements and sacrifices. Something that has stuck with me since watching this documentary was how his friends spoke of his life journey. Friends from childhood reflected on his journey with great solace, they asked the question “I wonder if he is happy?”. The conversation felt heavy and remorseful. In contrast, the family that grew close with Heinz in Japan spoke of Heinz and his journey with tremendous joy and fascination, they remarked that Heinz had achieved Ikigai. But what is Ikigai and how do you find your ikigai?

 

“I consider myself a treasure trove, what I hope of the day is that it gives me the pleasure of finding something new” – Heinz Stücke: Home is Elsewhere.

 

What is ikigai?

Ikigai roughly translates to, a reason for being. The word itself is composed of two worlds: iki, which means life and gai, which describes value or worth. The word can be used similarly to happiness but ecompasses a deeper nuance. Ikigai is also about discovering your purpose and aligning your actions with this. If you have a clear sense of purpose, you can then align your sense of purpose with your values and goals. 

By thinking of ikigai in relation to Heinz, it’s easy to assume that to achieve it you must do something extraordinary, however the true meaning of ikigai is rooted in the ordinary. Ultimately, this practice allows for moments of happiness in each day, you can find meaning and joy in even the most mundane tasks. 

 

“I found the way of life I enjoy, and what is better than to follow a life which is fulfillment. The journey is my fulfillment.” –Heinz Stücke: Home is Elsewhere.

 

Using ikigai as a tool 

In Western society, ikigai is seen as a tool to achieve a long and happy life. A google search will show you a plethora of venn diagrams on how to achieve it with four overlapping qualities: what you love, what you are good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for.

This Western approach includes work and payment which isn’t necessarily the truest adaptation of the meaning. At its core, ikigai is as simple as finding out what makes you happy each and every day. When you ask yourself questions around the principles of Ikigai it is vital to curate answers about you and your soul, not your work.

Of course I agree that you can align the principles of ikigai with your working life in order to achieve happiness and satisfaction in all meanings of the words. Nevertheless, I think it is wrong to consider your work when asking questions around ikigai. Ikigai is deeper than your work, it is about you, your inner being and how to nourish your soul. Once you have answered these questions honestly, you can then apply these to your work practice.

 

“Japanese people believe that the sum of small joys in everyday life results in more fulfilling life as a whole”- Yukari Mitsuhashi

 

Asking the right questions to find your Ikigai

Your life is not limited to your work. It is only possible to find ikigai in your practice if your work’s values and ethics align to your own, your work must also actively nurture your personal growth and wellbeing. There is nothing wrong with the Western adaptation of ikigai and it can be used as a powerful tool to navigate and curate your working life.

Regardless, I think we should break away from ‘Ikigai in the workplace’ and instead keep it simple. It is far more powerful to get in touch with yourself. If you can find something in the everyday that makes you happy, brings you joy or a sense of awe you too can find ikigai. No matter how big or small.

Write down your answers to these questions and actively incorporate the answers into your everyday life. This is how to find and nurture your Ikigai and lead a happier and fufilled life.

“essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” – Hector Garcia, The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life.

 

Helpful Links

To read more about awe, click here.

Want to find out more about Ikigai, click here.

To find out more about Hans Stücke, click here.

We post new blogs every month. To see more, click here.

Join us for our next Tribe Talks with Rise of Happiness to help create your path to happiness. To book your free ticket, click here.

Share your thoughts and keep in touch by signing up  to our newsletter below!

Thanks for reading,

 Alice.

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Playing With Creativity to Find Fun

Why should we add creative play into our lives to find fun?

playing with creativity to find fun

 

“It is in playing and only in playing that an individual is able to be creative and to use their whole personality, and it is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self.”

Donald Woods Winnicott, Playing and Reality

 

Creativity is unique to each individual, it encapsulates many different forms, processes and connections. Creativity and play can generate an important challenge; embracing fear and your inner critic. We lose interest in hobbies as we grow older, arguably this is as they need to hold a greater meaning than ‘just for fun’. Spending our precious time on something, anything, must produce a worthy outcome and once play is lost from our lives, it is difficult to regain. 

A quick google search of the word ‘play’ will primarily show images of children playing, but it is just as important for adults to play too! The further removed we become from the idea of play, the more troubling the idea becomes. A purposeless activity becomes a concept that is impossible to grasp and often causes feelings of awkwardness. The average person has up to 60,000 thoughts a day and creative play has been shown to help focus the mind. Creative play and finding your flow can reduce anxiety, depression and stress. So why is it so alien to us?

 

Using Creative Play to find Flow

Flow is a state of mind achieved when you are fully engrossed in an activity. When you lose all sense of self and time, that’s flow. It’s been found that repetitive creative tasks can help you find your flow, tasks such as writing, knitting and drawing are great examples of this. Once you have achieved a state of flow, your brain becomes flooded with dopamine, the feel good chemical that helps to motivate you and ultimately will encourage you to repeat your chosen form of play. 

 

“…It is when we act freely, for the sake of the action itself rather than for ulterior motives, that we learn to become more than what we were.”

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Happiness

 

Using Flow to encourage Play

Having fun with creative play is often seen as a nice idea, but we are at a loss as to where to start. For most people, it’s been so long since they last played, they have forgotten altogether how to do it. Whilst it is a nice idea, we are no longer sure what it means to play. In the words of Maya Angelou, creativity is a bottomless pit: ‘The more you use it, the more you have’. Creative play becomes even more important as we age and as our lives get busier. When embracing play, it is important to remember that the act of play must be deemed as being more important than any form of outcome. Most of all, creative play should bring you joy, you should engage in play to immerse yourself in a moment to moment experience. 

 

Life without play is a grinding, mechanical existence organized around doing the things necessary for survival.Play is the vital essence of life. It is what makes life lively.”

Stuart Brown, Play

 

Growing Down to find Fun!

Often, we recognise that people benefit from free spirited play such as dancing, scribbling or writing but cannot see the point in engaging in it ourselves. Art in any form wears a veil of elitist mysticism. If you view yourself as an ‘outsider’ to the culture, it becomes even more difficult to engage with it. Instinctively, we lean into these feelings of imposter syndrome by becoming more concerned with the physical outcome than the positive internal feelings the act brings us. Creative play is not about making great art, or a great piece of writing, it’s about finding your flow and happiness.

I think sometimes we need to grow down, free ourselves from the constraints of what it means to be an adult. Let yourself indulge in silly fun and stop thinking about what is and isn’t possible. Be in the moment, open your mind, find your flow and remember, the act is more important than the outcome.

 

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 Alice.

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Finding flow in 2022

Wait, what year is it?

I think we are all feeling the strangeness of 2021. I accidentally wrote an email out to everyone at Tribe saying we should say good bye to 2020. Many of us are saying last year doesn’t count, but it does.  And most likely in ways we don’t yet understand.

We have somewhat transitioned out of the high alert state and into life with normalised constant threat and high potential of change. Life with both feelings of normalised loss and at the same time, new levels of appreciation of things that used to be taken for granted. The constant stress of playing out the worst case scenarios is exhausting.  With burnout hovering over or perhaps already landed for you, this year has been full and dull.

According to Adam Grant,

“We just felt somewhat joyless and aimless. It turns out there’s a name for that: languishing.  Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.

Psychologists find that one of the best strategies for managing emotions is to name them. Last spring, during the acute anguish of the pandemic, the most viral post in the history of Harvard Business Reviewwas an article describing our collective discomfort as grief. Along with the loss of loved ones, we were mourning the loss of normalcy.”

Simultaneously, I have had countless conversations with people expressing how they have found new levels of awareness  and a better pace for life since Covid. Usually that is quickly followed up with how bad they feel about saying that when they know many people have suffered so greatly.  I have caught myself saying that too. I liken this to hitting rock bottom and the perspective that gives you- the only way is up.

What can we do about it? What to seek in 2022.

I purpose going against the cultural norm of numbing and leaning into meaningful acts.  Adam describes this as flow- that elusive state of absorption in a meaningful challenge or a momentary bond, where your sense of time, place and self melts away. Grant goes on to site a study of flow;

“During the early days of the pandemic, the best predictor of well-being wasn’t optimism or mindfulness — it was flow. People who became more immersed in their projects managed to avoid languishing and maintained their prepandemic happiness.”

Finding flow is becoming increasingly more challenging. We have a million things pulling at our attention all of the time. It takes a huge amount of discipline to stay focused. But a distracted mind is the enemy of flow. 

I have noticed that when I am feeling a bit low, I check my emails more often and I scroll through my social channels in a mindless way.  Now when I catch myself in this state, I take a moment to try and think about what is really bothering me. Sometimes it is easy to figure out, sometimes, all I can do is change my habits. I notice that behaviour now and stop. I find something more focused to do- even if that thing is to sit and do 4 mindful breaths. I disrupts the bad habit, one tiny task at a time.

One characteristic of flow is the act of complete concentration on one task.

This can come in many forms and probably why I crave playing cards or board games from time to time. They create a contained task that my mind can concentrate on.  No need to think about the ever growing to do list or what I forgot to do or what I need to think about putting on my to do list.  Although finding an effortless state and flow are different, it is a good place to start.

More about FLOW

Csikszentmihalyi describes eight characteristics of flow:

  1. Complete concentration on the task;
  2. Clarity of goals and reward in mind and immediate feedback;
  3. Transformation of time (speeding up/slowing down);
  4. The experience is intrinsically rewarding;
  5. Effortlessness and ease;
  6. There is a balance between challenge and skills;
  7. Actions and awareness are merged, losing self-conscious rumination;
  8. There is a feeling of control over the task.

Flow state is losing yourself in the moment; when you find your abilities are well matched to an activity, the world around you quietens and you may find yourself achieving things you only dreamt to be possible.

To me that sounds worth the effort and at least one way of approaching 2022; an antidote to some of 2021’s languishing.

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