Two years ago, I shared five medicines in the form of candy when I presented my personal interests during the so-called ‘Performatory Talks’. These pills represented my values: happiness, love, appreciation, togetherness, and creativity. My dream was to make people happier. One year ago, I was touched by the consequences people experienced because of performance society. I was shocked by what we do to ourselves and how hard we can make life, ourselves! I decided I wanted to do something with this, so I focussed on the social challenge to improve people’s mental health conditions to incorporate momentarily escapes by using creativity and play. I wanted to create new products and concepts through co-creation, to improve the well-being of employees in organizations. Now, one year further, a lot happened again.
Not finished yet
In this blog, I will reflect on last year, how my professional identity and perspective have changed, and how I see myself working in the future. Before I start, I want to say I have a hard time writing this blog post today. That is because I feel, and I also know my journey has not finished yet. I feel I still want to write about so many more topics. Anyway, as I write in my blog post called ‘Play-reflect-grow’. To grow, it is needed to reflect and give meaning to what you are doing. So that is what I am going to do in this blogpost.
Who am I?
I am someone who likes to bring other perspectives into my story. As a result, I sometimes lose my own story. I prefer to ask rather five people for feedback instead of one. This year, I realized, I should trust more on my own knowledge and talents. Along the way, I have experienced pressure in performance society as well, causes I learned how to deal with this pressure myself as well. I have become aware that life needs more than just adding a playful element. It is more than just being creative. I have learned that there is much more going on around mental health problems. Through this process, I have formulated a professional view, in this blog post you can read how my professional view is formed.
Transition in a change
As I said, one year further, a lot happened again. When I started my graduation project in January, I was closely connected to people who want to change our society to a plant-based society for personal and environmental purposes. I saw how difficult change can be. Especially in our performance society, where it seems like we have to behave based on what others expect from us. This gives pressure to do it ‘the right way’. Besides, in this performance society, a lot is possible, there are many innovations and we are not standing still. This confronts us, almost every day, with changes and therefore, the decision if we want to go along with a change or not. With every change, individuals are going through a transition themselves, which for one might be easier than for someone else. I believe this daily confrontation is influencing people’s health. That is because the motivation for someone to change, often (in this case) comes from environmental pressure, which causes stress, a feeling of not being good enough, and the pressure to perform based on something you are not.
Furthermore, a transition is difficult because of our bad habits that are involved. Habits are strongly connected to our behavior, which causes that people are stuck in a vicious cycle. If someone wants to change behavior or wants to make a transition, I believe it is needed to find out what needs are being satisfied by the habits to discover what alternative behavior could satisfy the need. This makes it possible to slowly incorporate new behavior that leads to long-term satisfaction which also fulfills long term needs.
We make life so hard ourselves
Last year I believed momentarily escapes of play and creativity are important to improve mental health. Now I see that these momentarily escapes not always seem to fit each situation. This is because of my own experience, I explained in the beginning, but also because of my experience with people of the target group of The Green Happiness. Health is really broad and covers many aspects of someone’s life. I realized, if I want to improve people’s health, I have to go to the reason why one’s health has decreased in the first place. I saw that aspects as relationships, self-images, self-love, self-trust, and inner calmness are playing a huge role in how people feel in our current society. I honestly was shocked by how people feel. For example, Marina who said, and I quote: “People see me as a powerful and confident woman, which I might be, but what I do not feel insight”, or Stephanie, who said: “I continuously have those thoughts like: can I do that? Isn’t that too exciting? I think it is a shame that we make life so hard ourselves by living life by these beliefs. That is how I started to understand mental health issues cannot be solved by implementing creative and playful elements, because often when someone copes with mental health issues, more is going on, which is hidden underneath the surface.
Reflect and be mindful
The essence of momentarily escapes is that they help to step back from daily routines to reflect. I realized; I never had focused on reflection that much. Reflection gives people the ability to create meaning in their behavior, attitudes, thoughts; to their life. I realized that as long as we keep on looking to the future, there is nothing you can do to change it, as it has yet to happen. And as long as we keep on looking to the past, to see what we did wrong, nothing happens either. I realized, we have to look at the present, because that is what we can influence. This led me to the power of mindfulness, which has made its entrance in our society lately. What I think is really important with this trend, is that since we have experienced what our life looks like in a performance society, we feel rushed. Mindfulness makes people experience the here and now and the connection with their inner soul, which helps to understand what in our lives contributes to the state of our current mental health.
From ‘how-to’ to motivation
In the last couple of months, I have realized more than ever that if people want to live a healthier lifestyle, more aspects then nutrition and sports have to be incorporated. Besides, I believe that there is not one solution. For one person play and creativity might work, but someone else prefers to reflect and focus on the present by practicing mindfulness. However, what I do think, is that what kind of ‘how-to’ someone prefers in a transition, it is needed to focus on what motivation someone has in order to make the transition. In our current society motivation can be influenced, which means that when someone wants to change, based on external triggers instead of intrinsic motivation, it causes that the change won’t be sustainable and that that person stays in a vicious cycle.
Change in the challenge
Where I first believed that we are living in a performance society, in which the challenge was to help an organization to cope better with the growth of work pressure that causes mental health issues among their employees. I now see, my focus has been more on supporting people in their transitions to cope with changes from external factors to improve their overall health conditions in a way that fits their needs, values, and identity.
I think this has changed because I see that even though, we live in an individualistic society, we now have experienced what this pressure to succeed in performance society gives us. I do not know if COVID-19, has been the main influencer in this, but what I do see is that people feel the need to experience more meaning in their lives.
They need to feel connected with themselves, and to be in the present, it seems like succeeding still is important but that people now search for a balance on how to implement momentarily escapes, to have a balance in their lives. Therefore, my role has changed to someone who wants to help people to cope better with the growth in mental health, to someone who supports people in their transition to live a healthier lifestyle.
My professional identity
So, yes, a lot has happened. Where I first thought that in our individualistic performance society integrating play and creativity could be a good solution in companies to prevent mental health issues, I now also see the importance of reflection, living in present, and discovering intrinsic motivation. It is about knowing yourself. Who are you, what do you want? When are you going too fast? When are you going too slow? And where do you want to go? My professional identity, which contributes to this, is that I do not reach people a solution, but I create an environment or experience in which they create solutions themselves by discovering their personal meanings, which gives new insights. I do this with a positive approach, which gives someone hope, inspiration, and energy. The energy and drive to take action and to start living towards the dreams that person would like to pursue. Besides, as I mentioned in my first blog post, I still incorporate co-creation, creativity, and play but only if it is needed in the situation.
I find out that I am not someone who digs into the past and keeps looking for where something has gone wrong. I look at opportunities and possibilities and have a helicopter view during these kinds of processes. I am aware that everybody has their own truth. In complex challenges it is therefore important to implement new perspectives because the current perspectives do not fit the challenge, there is no match. Every situation is different which means that a different approach required.
As a professional, I want to bring people together and create environments where people look for answers themselves and where people dare to be themselves. Now what? I hope to start working at the department ‘health’ of Albert Heijn, where I can improve overall health elements of employees and customers. For example, by creating a trustful, inspiring, and open environment in which people feel free to be themselves and to grow.
Along the way, I saw that my power is to look, observe and sense what is happening in society, in an organization, and a person, to create change on things I can influence, to create an impact on our society, in the end, the so-called butterfly effect. I am that person, who creates a small, little teensy change, that evokes a tornado in China. I have written about being YOU, I even created an online retreat program for people which is called:
‘Be happy, be free, be YOU’. Now, it is time to live this statement through heart and soul.