I have a caravan in Whitstable, on the Kent coast in England. It is my retreat, my place to write and dream, a place of colour and creativity.
It was there in the spring that I wrote a sentence that changed my mental health life last year — changed it for good.
This was the sentence:
“Good mental health is an art, built on the habit of catching and appreciating very ordinary little moments”
Good mental health is a creative act. Like any creative act, it is built on discipline, the discipline of repeated tiny actions.
The habit is not only to notice the moments, to catch them, but also to appreciate them, to notice them with gratitude. A life built on that will serve your mental health well.
I wrote that sentence, closed the laptop, and went walking in the spring sunshine with my young son down the old railway track to the sea.
So how did that sentence change my life?
Slowly at first. And then it permanently changed my outlook.
I started a group, getting a bunch of people together who care about mental health. We called ourselves the #mentalhealthartists. We have a WhatsApp group, a movement on instagram, and meetups and an online network.
It’s about the practice of catching those moments and living more creatively. At the start of each meeting we wrote our names and #artist on our name tag. We threw pine cones (cheaper than balls) around, we sang and meditated together, we wrote or drew reflections in response to prompts.
And at the start of each meeting we read out the manifesto together.
“Good mental health is an art, built on the habit of catching and appreciating very ordinary little moments.”
Then we added:
“Let’s make some ordinary moments together”.
The power of the ordinary
Together we made moments that were ordinary, that were extraordinary, in the most ordinary of ways. Just by sharing wonder.
That is the final thing about being a mental health artist. Everything is ordinary, perfectly ordinary. Ordinary stuff is the material out of which the whole magic and wonder of life comes.
You can do it too.
Let’s be ordinary together. Let’s live more creatively. Let’s share wonder in the perfectly ordinary.
#mentalhealthartists. Have fun.