The song, “Feeling good”, written by English composers Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse, was made famous when recorded by American singer Nina Simone, helped in no small part by its unmistakeable trumpet and piano backing.
Birds flying high, sun in the sky, breeze driftin’ on by… Dragonfly out in the sun, butterflies all havin’ fun, sleep in peace when the day is done… You know how I feel… and I’m feeling good.
The simple imagery of its lyrics reminds us that nature is the original source of feel-good factor. By spending time in it, listening, observing and feeling it, we can draw from that fount.
I took a local corporate group out into nature last week on a mindful WellWalk. If you haven’t already been to the Carey’s Castle forest recreation area, just outside Clonmel, I’d highly recommend paying it a visit.
Before setting off around the 2km loop, I guided them through a simple mindful practice to come “down out of their heads” and become more present in their bodies. On a Friday evening after work, it’s common to have a head full of all that went on during the week and all that might happen at the weekend.
In a gorgeous forest clearing beside the carpark, with scatterings of blue sky and sunlight through the clouds and the scent of the pine on the air, we spent a few minutes breathing, realigning, resetting.
We then rambled through the broadleaf trees, shrubs, mosses and ferns with occasional breaks in the free-flowing chat for other mindful practices to bring more attention to what was going on inside us and around us as we moved and while we were still. Walking and talking is also a very natural and easy way to develop connections with colleagues and make new friends.
The group noticed that we tread more softly, at a gentler pace with greater intention but less hurry once we became aware of our movements. We found that the rush of the stream became more intense when we listened intently but that the myriad of individual sounds within that commotion could be identified and singled out, with a little focus. The same applies to a busy mind with practice.
We looked for sights of beauty or interest in our surroundings, with each person choosing for themselves what that means. When we pay close attention, we see the world in greater detail and clarity. The photographers eye looks for beauty everywhere, and always finds it.
With distractions of memories past or future plans set briefly aside, we allowed ourselves to become immersed in the experience of the forest, enjoying its sights, sounds and scents and to benefit from moving our bodies through it.
Everyone in the group loved it. They lived or worked relatively close by, but most had never been to that area before, so they enjoyed exploring it and their inner workings in the process. Even those that had been, got to experience it in a different way.
Those who already spent time regularly in nature realised that they were often elsewhere in their heads and now had techniques to get more from their walks. Those who were tired after the working week found themselves energised from the light activity and surroundings.
For my part, it was a pleasure to take people to one of my favourite places, see how openly they engaged with the process, instantly feeling the benefits I’ve been enjoying for years. How well we are inside influences much of how we perform in our roles in work, home and society in general.
When revitalised, calm, contended and present, we are more attentive to each of these roles. Our communication skills, ability to handle challenges and change while finding creative solutions all improve in a person that is functioning well.
I’m thrilled to see organisations embracing wellbeing for staff, individually, collectively and for the organisation as a whole. Personally, and professionally, we do better when we are well. Everybody wins when these activities become the norm.
Means to bring feel-good factor into our lives are plentiful. Social contact, music, art, theatre, books, sport, travel, food, education, skill-development and more. They key being in knowing if the feel-good-factor is short or long-term and if it is outweighed by feel-bad factor.
A 2-day hangover from a few hours socialising, health-issues from over-indulging in food, exhaustion from over-training or financial stresses from funding our hobbies or entertainments all result in a net-loss of feel-good factor.
Some activities give us a boost for a day or two, much like food satisfies our nutritional requirements short-term. We need to eat regularly to be well nourished. Feel-good practices are no different and should supplement our lives on a daily basis.
A client of mine, several years ago, explained her approach, which I have since adopted myself. She said, “Every day, I do something that I like, that makes me feel good”.
“Sometimes it’s a bigger thing like a holiday or going out for a meal or show but most days it’s allowing some half-hour to sit, read, drink tea, go for a walk or whatever takes my fancy”.
Stars when you shine… scent of the pine… oh, freedom is mine… Every morning she has something to look forward to. She gives herself permission to enjoy life, practicing daily. That is such a simple, yet powerful expression of the freedom we have.
It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life and we deserve to feel good…
More on Highest Potential’s guided WellWalks, WellTalks, WellWorks workshops, meditations, books & prints, general health and wellness can be found on www.highestpotential.ie.