Someone asked me this week why I focus on getting people, especially young people, to play with ideas. It is a key part of my practice because it is a ‘change-maker space’ for building resilience, the capacity to adapt to challenges and continue to move forward in life.
In this space with me, everybody gets to build the ingredients that go into being resilient because everybody gets to play.
Why do I care about kids being resilient?
Because it is an essential part of their wellbeing, as well as the personal life-skills that they need to take action in making positive change happen.
…and we need GenZ to take action more than ever!
Giving them to passion to achieve the SDGs using their creativity, connects to a profound sense of their purpose in their lives.
Take 3 ingredients
Here are three of the ingredients that increase resilience; they are also character strengths that play a role in wellbeing.
> Empathy – Defined as the ability to understand and share other people’s feelings, we connect by exploring their everyday experiences and other people might be experiencing those things too.
> Risk-taking – When we play, we are adventurers and adventurous in our thinking and actions; we take incredible risks, adapting as we go and picking ourselves up when things don’t go to plan.
> Flexible Thinking – We change perspective, choosing new ways to see challenges, making sure that we recognise challenges as events that are ‘specific, external and temporary’ rather than down to who we are.
Play, play, play
And so, we play within our ethical framework: freestyling, iterating, dreaming up the seemingly impossible, saying the simple obvious things too; gently building our resilience, ready to adapt as we go.
We play as equals in our creativity, creating a prism of insights where everyone’s voice matters, because in that ‘space between’ the rules, is exactly where we will find our courage to do something different. And that something different, might be the very thing that changes everything.
To quote Picasso, “I start with an idea and then it becomes something else.”
It is breath-taking to watch the alchemy at work when young people are in this space. I see their joy and it is contagious.
Because of these resilient agents of change, I am hopeful for the world we are in.
 Reivich, K., 2003. The Resilience Factor: Seven Essential Skills for Overcoming Life’s Inevitable Obstacles. Crown Publishing Group.
 Zolli, A., 2013. Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back. Business Plus
Today, choose to shatter the myth you tell yourself, the one where you say, “I’m nothing special! How can I have impact?”
You are unprecedented. You were not born to fit in.
Fitting in means that you have to diminish yourself in some way to conform to someone else’s rules. You belong to the tribe that crosses boundaries to live their purpose.
You move mountains simply by being yourself and by using your unique creativity to find answers.
This is how you make impact in ways that are meaningful to you.
Becoming present to your unique perspective, your brand of magic, tunes you into knowing how to find the answers.
It tunes you into your immense capacity to create solutions. It is an approach to life and taking action.
You own your fulfilment because you are acting from the space of your creativity and also are open to learning more.
Make today, a day of coming home to yourself, which brings me to John O Donohue's poem, To Come Home To Yourself:
"May all that is unforgiven in you
May your fears yield
Their deepest tranquilities.
May all that is unlived in you
Blossom into a future
Graced with love."
Why do I do what I do?
I don’t have a daughter, so instead for my niece and every girl and woman I work with, as the spoken word poet Sarah Kay says, “the first time she realises that Wonder Woman isn’t coming, I’ll make sure that she knows she doesn’t have to wear the cape all by herself…”
That is why I do what I do. Make the playing field level, where we look after each other.
Because I want her to know herself early in life, to know how to be independent and interdependent.
I want her to cherish and know and nurture her own heart and soul in the first instance, rather than seeking that affirmation from someone else who doesn’t know who they are, let alone her.
I want to make a space in the world for her to belong, not to fit in…
A space where she never has the wall beside her head punched by a man in a rage, or is bullied to breaking by a woman boss who is jealous of her untameable spirit.
A space, where she never is grabbed by the throat in a night club and held backwards over a balcony by a guy before he spits in her face, because she stepped on his foot by accident.
Where she gets given a job on her merits, not because the guy wants to find out if she is wearing stockings under her skirt; or doesn’t want to give her the job because she is too pretty and might distract the serious team players.
...and the worse things, I never, never want those to happen to her.
I never want her to settle for someone less than her equal because she doesn’t know herself. I want her to shine like an exploding comet, living full of open hearted delight, dancing everyday like she has tail feathers.
I do what I do, so that the world will be fairer, safer and she will know that all around her are people who are ‘for’ her and there for her.
When she falls, I want her to know it’s a moment in time and that she can pick herself up and move forward.
I want her to know how to trust herself, especially during these tender years ahead, when the voices around her will slice and dice with their judgements.
More than anything, I want her to know how to trust love as a power unequalled in measure by anything else in the Universe, so that when people look in her eyes they fall in when she smiles.
I want her to be all of exactly who she is.
When you feel more awe, one of the ten positive emotions for human wellbeing identified by positive psychologist Dr Barbara Friedrickson, you “open up to new possibilities and ideas.” 
We feel awe when we encounter “beauty or goodness on a grand scale”  or another definition, “Awe is the feeling of being in the presence of something vast that transcends your understanding of the world.”
We can feel awe in everyday life, as well as in the extraordinary.
I experienced it this morning when I was out having a walk. After days of monochrome, it is a jaw-droppingly beautiful, bluebird day. And, I am filled with awe. Breathing in awe. Finding stillness. All my senses opening up to the sunshine.
I wasn’t unhappy when I left the house, but I’m definitely happier as I slow down and allow myself to take in everything around me.
Awe as a Trigger for Sustainable Action
A key trigger for feeling awe is being in nature, exploring it, watching it, learning about it.
Surely then, creating opportunities for young people to feel more awe by connecting to Nature, is a crucial part of empowering them as agents of change, able to take action to solve sustainability challenges.
Why? Because it builds the point of empathy that they are part of an ecosystem, not separate from it. It connects them to their creativity as they explore the phenomenal interconnectedness of the world around them, inspiring them to be problem-solvers.
How can you build more awe?
I create ‘change-maker spaces’ where I get children and young people to play with ideas, taking a challenge from one of the Sustainable Development Goals and exploring how to solve it with them.
As they research, I’m getting them to connect to awe, to be amazed at the elegant solutions that Nature already has in place and getting them to use all of this to inspire their innovative problem-solving.
Experiencing awe then, allows us as individuals to feel more positive emotions. Not least, I think, because using it in the context above also inspires hope – another of the top 10 emotions - that we can take positive, affirmative action for the planet.
Protecting the planet is to be our best as humans and we need to give young people hope that they can and do have a positive impact.
Studies have also shown that experiencing awe, prompts greater kindness and “leads people to cooperate, share resources, and sacrifice for others, all of which are requirements for our collective life.”
When we help others, we feel happier. It is an ingredient in our own fulfilment. Action for Happiness identifies “Do Something For Others” as one of its 10 Steps for Happier Living.
Making awe the lens that you look through, placing each of the unique humans that you are with into the global ecosystem, opens up a sense of vastness and value for their problem-solving creativity.
Are you one of the purpose-people who doesn’t take good care of their wellbeing?
My invitation to you is that you start taking real care of your wellbeing and allow yourself to be truly, without a shadow of a doubt, overflowing with happiness.
Why? Because as an agent of change, you are a role-model of hope, optimism and living a life of fulfilment. Or are you?
If you, as a revolutionary advocating for others to lead flourishing lives and protecting the planet, don’t know how to create that life for yourself then how will you truly lead the way?
Break the rules keeping you stuck
When there is so much going on the world, maybe you’ve made a pact with yourself, “I can’t be truly happy until I’ve saved the world.”
Often, as agents of change, we fall into the trap of expressing our compassion through fear-based actions, staying in jobs, roles and relationships that are long over-due their sell-by date!
Sometimes, we harden our hearts and lose track of living our life values in the everyday. Maybe, we feel compelled to burn-out to show some impact, to demonstrate that we acted.
We act in these disempowering ways with so much positive intent, but we actually limit our capacity to make good change happen around us when we act from this space.
These rules are made to be broken. After all, you are a warrior of light.
You are unprecedented
Or maybe, you lost track of what actually makes you happy? Maybe you never really knew? Maybe you are still thinking that it’s someone else’s responsibility to make you happy, to rescue you?
As a rule-breaker and a change-maker, your first commitment is to know yourself, to own yourself as a whole person, to recognise and celebrate that you are unprecedented.
There has NEVER been anyone like you before this moment and there never will be again. You are a unique blend of you-ness.
For every moment on this planet, be ‘flow in action’ - the pure energy of creating, because your creativity is the gateway to living your life purpose.
Start owning your happiness
It is time to take a new perspective. In the exquisite words of Martha Postlewaite’s poem, Clearing:
“Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to this world so worth
It’s time to create a clearing and discover, perhaps for the first time, what actually makes you happy. Then, ask yourself how you can DO more of that every day.
How happy will you allow yourself to be?
How will you overflow with joy by taking back ownership of your everyday happiness, as your unprecedented self?
Living your flourishing life does not mean that you have abandoned compassion for ‘this world so worth of rescue’ – it’s the door that you open from the inside to make more and lasting change.