60 in 60: My 2019 Well-being Challenge
In 2019, I turn 60 years old. I’m not really sure how it snuck up on me but for most of this year, I fretted about it. In fact, I was really quite unhappy until I decided that I needed to put everything I have learned about positive psychology, or the science of happiness, flourishing and well-being into practice.* Thus the idea of completing 60 activities in my 60th year was born.**
Happiness is a Choice
The way I saw it was that I had two choices. I can choose to be bummed out and miserable about turning 60 or I could choose happiness. Being happy doesn’t just happen and it can be hard work but the good news is that there are many simple things that we can do to be happier (like practicing gratitude daily). It’s also contagious so why not spread it around? Don’t get me wrong – it’s completely unrealistic to be happy all the time. It’s normal to experience a range of emotions including negative emotions but we can choose the way we respond to the person, event or situation.
So, if I’m going to live another 10-20-30 years (hopefully), do I want to live those years with joy or be a grumpy old lady? I choose joy! Would I rather light up a room when I enter or when I leave? Definitely when I enter the room! Do I want to inspire and positively influence others around me? Yes, of course – the world could certainly use more light and positivity!
Why a 60 in 60 Challenge?
First of all, being active and curious as I pursue 60 activities in my 60th year will be a fun way to learn and experience new things, meet interesting people, stay fit, nourish my head, heart and soul and keep my brain in peak working order. As well, it will also be a way for me to learn more about my new city of Burlington, Ontario, Canada where I moved a few months ago. Lastly, taking part in 60 new activities will be a way for me to use my character strengths – a sure way to increase happiness.***
In the new year, I will leave classroom teaching to focus on creative projects like writing a second book on Teacher Self-Care, provide more workshops on this important topic, and grow my business that promotes happiness at work. Given that I'm an introvert, organizing these kinds of activities will force me to get out and help me get through a long Canadian winter!
My Challenge Criteria
I think it’s important to set some criteria for my challenge to help me plan and stay on track. Planning (which I have started) will be essential if I want to complete at least one activity per week in 2019. The criteria for the 60 activities are as follows:
Finding 60 Activities
Finding 60 new activities will be a challenge in itself but I have started with the public library program guide which lists many free classes and events; Burlington’s Parks and Recreation Guide that includes programs for seniors (yes, I became a senior at 55 and get a discount!); the Tourism Burlington website (why not be a tourist in my own city), and I will also rely on the weekly local newspaper. Another source for ideas and inspiration will come from the Action for Happiness monthly calendars which can be downloaded at http://www.actionforhappiness.org/calendar.
Let the Challenge Begin!
I have already signed up for Qi Gong in January as well as free meditation classes at the local library plus an Excel workshop. I would love to try an Indian head massage, a hot yoga class, and learn how to make sushi and pasta from scratch. Pickle Ball sounds like fun. I attended a presentation last year on forest bathing and it sounds like a very interesting activity (http://www.restorativenatureexperiences.com/forest-therapy). There are free art galleries in my neighbourhood and beautiful pieces of street art and sculptures in the local library that are worth researching and looking at with new eyes. I will be in Miami in March attending the World Happiness Summit so maybe I will try salsa dancing! I plan on taking my son to learn how to make chocolate and volunteer at some local events.
Documenting my Challenge
I love to write so I will blog once a month and include information about the activities (sign up here https://www.patricepalmer.ca/blog to get the posts in your inbox).
If you have any ideas for an activity or two, please let me know. If you would like to start your own challenge, I would be happy to encourage you on your journey. If you happen to live nearby and would like to join me in activities, please email me [email protected]
I wish everyone a healthy and happy 2019!
* Watch this great 5-minute whiteboard video to learn more about the science of positive psychology https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qJvS8v0TTI
** In May 2018, I attended a presentation by Susan Kuz at the Canadian Positive Psychology Conference. Susan decided to start a Vitality challenge when she turned 50 and completed 50 "fitness" activities in a year. Susan was inspired by Olga Kotelko – a 95-year-old athlete and I’m inspired by Susan! https://www.chatelaine.com/health/fitness/olga-kotelko. Learn more about Susan at https://beingpukka.com/about/ and join her My Life Re-Boot group https://www.facebook.com/groups/186350975592974/. Thank you Susan!
*** My top character strengths are Appreciation for Beauty and Excellence, Kindness, Gratitude, Love of Learning and Creativity. Using character strengths every day, and in different ways leads to happiness. Take a free 10-minute survey to discover your character strengths. http://www.viacharacter.org
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