Mar 30, 2020
Welcome to episode 31. These are unprecedented and challenging times we’re all going through. There are, however, some comforting thoughts I take from the present situation: We’re all in this together, and we’re seeing daily wonderful examples of communities coming together, of individuals helping others in need, of children displaying rainbows of hope in the windows of their homes. I have never felt more hopeful for humanity than in these past few weeks!
That said, there are of course big challenges for us all. Depending on what stage of lockdown your country is in, you may be allowed to exercise once a day outside, or not at all. You may be going stir-crazy after weeks cooped up inside, or you may be relishing the opportunity to spend more time with your loved ones. You may have lots of time to rest and read, or you may be frenetically re-developing lessons to be delivered remotely. We’re all in this together, but we’re also all going through it in our own way.
One thing is for certain, we all need to look after our mental health during this time, working on our wellbeing more than ever. So, each week, I will share with you some activities, ideas or strategies you can use, either for yourself and your family, or for your pupils - you can share this with them via their parents or in person for those still in school. Many of the suggestions I make over the coming weeks will be applicable to adults and children alike.
Today, I would like to invite you - and your children - to tap into the strength of curiosity by starting interesting conversations. I recently did this activity with a group of students on the Positive Education module when I was teaching them as part of the Anglia Ruskin University Masters in Applied Positive Psychology.
Think of a question you would like to hear the answer to. Make it as bizarre and unusual as you’d like, straying from the usual questions you might hear at social gatherings and networking events. Ask as many people as you can - social media is great for this and doesn’t require physical proximity, but also ask people you live with, ask people you have virtual meetings with. Ask your question of as many people as you can and revel in your curiosity as you hear the answers they give you! Children, particularly younger ones, tend to be much better than we are at asking seemingly random questions, but encourage them to do this anyway and to ask their questions of as many people as possible and listen for the answers with intentional curiosity.
Not only will you be starting some fascinating conversations based on the answers you get and your responses to those answers, but you will be working on the character strength of curiosity, which supports wellbeing in a number of ways:
Curious people are less likely to be aggressive towards others (1) and curiosity promotes positive social interactions (2). Additionally, curiosity has been moderately associated with measures of wellbeing, when used as an exploration, i.e. to seek out new or challenging situations (3). For adolescents, curiosity is also important. Research has shown that very curious adolescents score more highly on wellbeing than those who are less curious, particularly on the wellbeing measures of hope and positive mood (4).
So, I’ll start you off with a question of my own:
When you are on a plane and look outside, do you prefer to see a clear sky or clouds when you look down? Why?
Let me know your answer via @FlourishingED on Twitter, and please do ask me your questions, too! I’m looking forward to having some fascinating conversations with you!
Do also get in touch if you’d like to contribute content to this podcast as a guest, particularly if you’d like to share one or more activities that can help children, parents or other teachers at this difficult time.
Also look out for a special edition longer episode of the For Flourishing’s Sake podcast coming out in the next few days, which is the audio of a virtual panel that I hosted last week.
I look forward to catching up with you next week. Until we speak again, be safe, be well and For Flourishing’s Sake, have as great a week as it’s currently possible to have!