By: Joel Bennett
Comfort. Ordinary. Routine.
These three words seemingly go together. We can quickly go from discomfort, to stress, to reactivity, and negative thinking when routines are disrupted.
However, many professions – first responders, uniformed security, military – know unpredictable challenges as routine. Other professions have constant pressure, heavy workloads, and customer service demands. These routines increase fatigue, sleep problems, and burn-out. Unfortunately, sometimes we learn to “settle” for, and become a victim to, our routines.
What if, regardless of our profession, we regularly discerned the ordinary is around us all the time?
By “ordinary” I mean those daily uplifts – often subtle and brief – that linger at the edges of our attention.
The sky. A leaf. The smile of a coworker. A joke. A tasty snack. Chocolate. A compliment. The way the light captures or glints off a passerby. A single drop of rain. The color of a car. The flick of a switch. The lessening shadow of the day. We can often find comfort in the ordinary. This is true when either our routines are unhealthy or when we can no longer rely on them.
Still, human beings need routine. When disruptions become too great – it is essential that we find rest, respite, and comfort to recover our energy and peace of mind. This is why so many spiritual and religious teachers advocate daily meditation and prayer – sometimes to the point of ritual. We all need regular centering and self-compassion practices. We all need to remember the ordinary.
CENTERING AND COMPASSION ARE KEY TO COMFORT… AND RESILIENCE
In our resilience work, we identify Five Cs; Confidence, Commitment, Centering, Compassion, and Community. They are all necessary and each is required at different times. Very often, we tend to think of resilience in the first two areas: perseverance, grit, mental toughness, hanging tough, working through. But when routines are disrupted – especially as a group, a community, a tribe, or a planet – we need to cultivate a taste for the ordinary and find comfort through compassion and community.
THREE FLAVORS (Ice cream is a comfort food)
In this past week, I (along with some great colleagues) was fortunate to share these ideas in three separate and free presentations. You can access each of these through links below. Each presentation tended to focus on one flavor of comfort.
Personal resilience – which can be fostered through health and wellness coaching. Watch this video on coaching personal resilience.
Community resilience – which can be strengthened by getting together with close others, family, and colleagues and sharing ideas, ingenuity, and support. Watch this video on community resilience.
Humanity resilience – which may now be more accessible through sharing at large Internet gatherings where all kinds of perspectives and tools are shared for the greater good. Watch this large gathering.
I was interviewed by Dr. Michael Arloski of Real Balance Global Wellness about how wellness coaches can adapt methods for enhancing resilience. We discussed the importance of becoming familiar with those events or thoughts that “trigger” a negative reaction. We shared a worksheet to walk through: (1) where you get in touch with your own internal resources, (2) understand the benefits of reacting, (3) choose a healthy alternative, and (4) commit to being compassionate with yourself. This cognitive-affective framework is helpful when life disrupts! Watch the recording here. Sign up here to become a resilience coach. (Starts May 6)
In another online event, we held a “forum-inar.” Fifteen resilience practitioners shared ingenious insights about ways of dealing with stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. Talk about a disruption to routines! These practitioners identified five different methods (e.g., see the silver lining, practice responsible health, connect with others, be more health conscious). The audience was encouraged to – and did – respond with their own ideas. The magic of the event was the formation of the community through the forum. You can read a blog about this event and watch a recording of the forum-inar here. Sign up here to become a resilience facilitator.
In another webinar discussion with the National Wellness Institute (Reimagining Wellness), about 150 wellness professionals answered this following question:
As you look around at the people you know and work with, as a whole, to what degree are they reacting versus coping versus thriving on a 7-point scale, where 1=reacting, anxious, fearful; 4=just coping, getting by; and 7=thriving, showing strength. You can see the results below.
The overall tendency was toward the positive side with 37% reporting 5 or higher and 29% reporting 3 or lower. I have asked this question of hundreds of people and the results ALWAYS tend toward the positive. Now, remember these were wellness professionals. So, you might think they tend toward the positive anyway. But, in general, research suggests that human beings tend to look on the bright side. A recent study concluded that “comfortable experience seems to outweigh negative experience for a 60 %-majority.”
In this National Wellness (NWI) webinar, I asked people what actions they think would help people to raise their set-point by only 1 point. Listen/watch here to their answers. The main point was everyone got involved at the same time. These events are happening all the time and you can access the NWI website here.
Joel Bennett, PhD, is President of Organizational Wellness & Learning Systems (OWLS), a consulting firm that specializes in evidence-based wellness and e-learning technologies to promote organizational health and employee well-being. Dr. Bennett first delivered stress management programming in 1985 and OWLS programs have since reached close to 250,000 workers across the United States and abroad.
He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Philosophy from State University of New York (Purchase) and his MA and PhD in Psychology from University of Texas-Austin. Dr. Bennett was previously on the board of the Academy of Management’s “Spirituality and Religion Interest Group (MSR)” and previously served on the Board of Directors for the National Wellness Institute. He provides key-note speaking and continues to train facilitators in team (culture of health) and resilience workshops.