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Turning your passion into purpose

You know what you’re passionate about, but how do you translate that into something meaningful you can do every day? You may have figured that out already, or have no idea where to start. Wherever you’re at, this week’s blog helps us do just that and continues our journey to find our Ikigai, or reason for getting out of bed in the morning.

Last week we looked at what we love and what we are good at. The purpose of this was to find or rediscover our passions. You may have realised one passion or multiple ones. This is the first step in finding your Ikigai and knowing your purpose in life. This week we are looking at the next step – exploring what the world needs and what we can get paid for – to help us live each day with more meaning and fulfilment.

How can Ikigai benefit my wellbeing?

Why are we even looking at Ikigai and our purpose in life? Well, Ikigai has been linked with a range of benefits for our wellbeing, including:

  1. Living longer. People with Ikigai have a reduced risk of developing health problems and are more likely to live longer. Residents of Okinawa, Japan, have the highest life expectancy in the world. What do they have in common? Ikigai.
  2. Life satisfaction. Both men and women with Ikigai have been shown to be more satisfied with life and experience fewer symptoms of depression.
  3. A sense of accomplishment and fulfilment. Ikigai is linked with feeling fulfilled and like we have accomplished something. This sense of achievement in turn, further promotes wellbeing.
Image by Forbes

What the world needs and what I can get paid for

When we think about what the world needs, we could come up with a whole host of things – reducing plastic use, equality for all, less crime, more community engagement, better health…the list goes on. This can feel a bit overwhelming and hard for just one of us to address.

For this stage of Ikigai, think about what the world needs in relation to your passion. For example:

  • If you care about the environment and are good at organising events, could you apply your passion to organising group litter picking or cleaning up community events?
  • If you love getting fit and are good at helping others, could you encourage others to do the same to help tackle obesity?
  • If you really care about mental health and are good at writing, could you start a blog to improve others’ wellbeing? (This is how 15 minute wellbeing came about!)

We often think of what the world needs as huge solutions to huge problems. However, it is difficult for one person to have all the answers. However, just one person can make a massive difference by focusing on just one aspect of what the world needs. This is where the ‘what can I get paid for?’ question comes into play.

Using the above example of loving getting fit and being good at helping others, there is no job titled (as far as I’m aware) ‘Obesity Tackler’. However, you could get paid for working as one of the below (among others):

  • Personal trainer
  • Gym manager
  • PE teacher
  • Sports coach

This week’s activity

To help figure out what the world needs and what you can get paid for, try answering the questions below. For all the questions in this week’s activity, you can give more than one answer, so don’t worry if you don’t find your Ikigai straight away – this is completely normal. Spending 15 minutes on these questions can get you in the Ikigai mind set so don’t rush and answer everything honestly.

What does the world need?

  • What are the things my friends and family struggle with in their day-to-day lives?
  • What could be done to benefit my local community?
  • What issues are commonly featured in the news?

What can I get paid for?

  • What roles exist that relate to what I want to achieve?
  • What project(s) could I work on alongside my main source of income? This is known as a ‘side hustle

All the questions are included on this week’s worksheet, so you have somewhere to record your answers. Click the link below to download the worksheet. You can fill it in using the ‘fill and sign’ tool or alternatively print it off and fill it in by hand.

If you enjoyed discovering your Ikigai, or feel that finding your Ikigai has helped improve your wellbeing, please do get in contact and share your story.

I share wellbeing-related research, news and stories on twitter and Instagram in between weekly blog posts so do follow @15minwellbeing on both platforms to keep up to date.

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The Good Deed Directory – 40 ways we can help each other and ourselves

What do you think of when you hear the word volunteering? Going abroad to build a school in a deprived area? Helping out in a charity shop? These are important volunteering roles, but there are so many volunteering options out there, in numerous different fields, that take up different amounts of time. In the UK, it’s National Volunteering Week which aims to promote the diversity of volunteering. To coincide with this celebration of volunteering, this week’s blog post focuses on the multiple different ways we can help each other and improve our wellbeing, by launching the Good Deed Directory.

As we’ve learnt in previous blog posts, volunteering our time and being kind to others can aid our wellbeing in multiple ways. For example, we:

As this blog is called 15 minute wellbeing, you may be thinking that there’s only so much you can do in a short space of time. There’s actually loads of things you can do to help others and improve your wellbeing in the process.

These are all listed in the Good Deed Directory below, categorised by the time it takes to do them – a few seconds; one to five minutes; and 15 minutes. No matter how much time you have, you can help someone else and boost your wellbeing in the process.

Small acts of kindness can make a big difference to people’s lives (as well as our own). I hope this directory inspires and encourages you to do a good deed for someone else.

Good Deeds that take only seconds to do

  • Hold the door open for the person behind you, even if it means waiting a few seconds for them
  • Let someone go in front of you in a queue
  • Give way to another driver when the road is too narrow for two cars to pass
  • If there’s time left on your car parking ticket, offer it to someone entering the car park instead of throwing it away
  • Re-tweet, comment on, or share a friend’s post to help them grow their social media following. Even a simple ‘like’ can make a difference
  • If you’re not scared of creepy crawlies, safely and humanely remove a spider or bee (or other insect) off someone else
  • Offer someone your seat on the bus or train, whether they are pregnant, disabled, elderly or just look tired
  • Smile at everyone you pass
  • Once you’ve read a book, donate it to your local book sharing scheme. A list of train and tube stations where this operates can be found here. You can then enjoy a book that someone else has donated. You could even follow in the footsteps of actress Emma Watson and place books with handwritten notes in your local area
  • Give someone a compliment
  • Share an inspirational quote. If you found it inspiring, chances are someone else will too
  • Sign for a neighbour’s parcel when they are out
  • Tell someone if they have something in their teeth or on their face
  • If a loved one is out, record or download their favourite programme for them

Good Deeds you can do in one to five minutes

  • Help someone with a buggy on the stairs or getting on/off public transport
  • If a friend or colleague is going on holiday to a place you’ve been, give them some tips on things to do, see or places to eat
  • If someone is struggling with their shopping, help them carry it to their car
  • Do the washing up – or stack the dishwasher – after dinner
  • If a friend is looking for a job and you’ve got connections to a suitable company, why not recommend them?
  • Write a review of a good service you’ve received. New and small businesses will really appreciate any positive feedback you can provide
  • Help someone cross the road or off public transport
  • Show your appreciation for someone else by thanking them and explaining why you appreciate them
  • Ask a loved one about their day. Sharing experiences can help us connect and you may even learn something new, which can also help us feel good about ourselves
  • Help someone reach their destination in the quickest possible way by putting their route into a journey planner
  • Make a cup of tea or coffee for someone else
  • Praise a colleague. If someone has done a good job, let them (and others at work) know about it!
  • Sign a petition to help change something you care about. Visit change.org to find a petition or start your own

Good Deeds that can be done in 15 minutes (or longer if you wish)

  • Call someone you haven’t spoken to for a while. If you have an elderly relative why not pick up the phone to them?
  • Pick up litter in your local area. Improving our local environment can help increase our wellbeing. Although I’m not suggesting we all run 300km along the river Thames, take a look at this ‘plogging’ group (picking up rubbish while jogging) who collected 44 bags of landfill waste
  • Help a friend with a problem. This could be a sibling struggling with their homework
  • Make a small gift. This could be a little drawing or a tasty little snack. Knowing that you put your thought and time into it will mean a lot to the recipient
  • Help tidy a room in a friend’s house or tidy part of your workplace. Tidy your bedroom so your parents don’t nag you! After all, decluttering a room can also result in a decluttered mind
  • Offer to check something over for someone. This could be a speech they’ve written for a wedding or an email they are not confident sending.
  • If you’re handy, why not fix something? Perhaps change a light bulb or frame a picture.
  • Organise part of a trip. If you’re going away somewhere soon, why not find a great restaurant to eat at or an activity you and your travel companion(s) can do?
  • If you’re great at doing hair, nails or make up, why not offer to do one of these for a friend before a night out?
  • Donate any unwanted clothes, jewellery or homeware to charity so others can benefit from it. As Marie Kondo says, pass the joy onto someone else
  • If you are able to, donate blood. Find your local blood donation session here
  • Attend a local charity fete or fundraising event. Often, showing your support by just being there is enough
  • Go to the shops or complete a chore for someone who is unwell

If you have any ideas about other activities we can do by giving 15 minutes of our time, please get in touch so they can be shared with everyone. It would be great to keep building the Good Deed Directory so any contributions would be greatly appreciated. Also, if you’ve benefitted from a good deed recently (either giving or receiving), please do share your story so others can be inspired to do the same.

I share wellbeing-related research, news and stories on twitter and Instagram in between weekly blog posts so do follow @15minwellbeing on both platforms to keep up to date.

You can make someone’s day in 15 minutes

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

Sir Winston Churchill

A national survey found that 76% of the UK population feel society was more selfish than 10 years ago and 67% believe that people were less likely to be kind to strangers. Isn’t that sad?

There are numerous examples of people coming together to help each other such as Americans offering refuge to those in New Orleans after the destruction of Hurricane Katrina and residents of Clapham in London cleaning up their local streets following the riots in 2011. However, we shouldn’t wait for a natural disaster or social uprising to happen in order to help each other.

Small acts of kindness can make a huge difference to someone else’s – and our own – lives. Today’s activity focuses on giving 15 minutes of our time, but often doing something to help or be kind to others can take far less time than that. Something small such as:

  • Giving way to a fellow driver;
  • Helping someone carry a buggy down the stairs;
  • Holding the door open for someone;

Can all make a small but positive impact on another person’s day. As we covered in the first giving blog, a secondary benefit of giving is that helping others also helps us and can improve our wellbeing.

Give just 15 minutes to improve your wellbeing

Today’s activity asks you to give 15 minutes of your time to someone or something else. The worksheet provides you with some ideas on how you can give your time, be it helping someone else or your local community. These are just suggestions so if you’d like to give 15 minutes of your time doing something else to help others, then do. There is also space on the worksheet to reflect on how it went and how you felt afterwards.

Click the link below to download the worksheet. You can fill it in using the ‘fill and sign’ tool or alternatively print it off and fill it in by hand.

If you have any ideas about other activities we can do by giving 15 minutes of our time, please get in touch so they can be shared with everyone. I am currently creating a ‘Good Deed Directory’ so any contributions would be greatly appreciated.

Check back here (and @15minwellbeing on Instagram and twitter) tomorrow for the next wellbeing activity as part of Mental Health Awareness Week!

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Give a little, gain a lot

Giving is often associated with gifts or lavish acts that cost a lot of time and money. Although it is nice to give and receive presents, this is rarely the route to long term happiness and positive wellbeing. Research conducted around the world has shown that materialism is linked with low life satisfaction. The giving we are talking about today isn’t about gifting material goods, but gifting our time to support others.

Theme 3: Giving

The next theme that can improve our wellbeing is giving. The type of giving we are focusing on is prosocial behaviours such as volunteering, sharing and cooperating to benefit others. This could range from offering our seat to someone on the train or comforting a friend who is going through a tough time: giving to others does not need to involve spending lots of time or money. Altruistic behaviour such as helping others and sharing can lead to feeling more positive and increased self-worth. Giving back to others and reciprocating kindness can improve wellbeing for people of all ages.

Why giving is good for our wellbeing

When we give to others, the reward areas in our brains are stimulated, which makes us feel good about ourselves. Helping others and sharing can give us a sense of self-worth and purpose. Not only that, giving and sharing can result in developing new, stronger relationships throughout life which are also essential to wellbeing.

In a national survey, 80% of people in the UK said they felt good after being kind, with 87% feeling that being kind to others has a positive effect on their own health. Helping other people can give us a sense of euphoria or a ‘helper’s high’ which can reduce stress and improve our wellbeing. If you’ve seen the episode of ‘Friends’ where Joey and Phoebe argue about whether there is such a thing as a selfless good deed, it looks as if Joey may be right – helping others helps us feel good.

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Small acts of kindness can make a big difference

Whether it’s volunteering or a small act of kindness to someone else, giving is linked with positive wellbeing. Those who are kind to others – including those who commit small acts of kindness – report benefits such as:

Being kind to others does not need to be time consuming: one study asked participants to commit five random acts of kindness each week over six weeks. These acts included visiting a sick relative, helping someone with a problem and donating blood. Wellbeing improved amongst those who carried out these random acts of kindness compared to those who didn’t. Other research has shown that committing just one act of kindness a week over six weeks led to increased wellbeing, compared to those who did not help others.

When giving our time to others, it is important to look after ourselves. If we overly focus on helping others without considering our own needs, we can put ourselves at risk of burnout, feeling guilty and even depression. Therefore it is important not to take on too much and spread ourselves too thinly –spending just 15 minutes of our time giving is enough to not only help others, but benefit us too.

Today’s activity asks you to give 15 minutes of your time to someone or something else. The worksheet provides you with some ideas on how you can give your time, be it helping someone else or your local community. These are just suggestions so if you’d like to give 15 minutes of your time doing something else to help others, then do. There is also space on the worksheet to reflect on how it went and how you felt afterwards.

Click the link below to download the worksheet. You can fill it in using the ‘fill and sign’ tool or alternatively print it off and fill it in by hand.

If you have any ideas about other activities we can do by giving 15 minutes of our time, please get in touch so they can be shared with everyone. It would be great to create a ’15minute giving’ database so any contributions would be greatly appreciated.

I share wellbeing-related research, news and stories on twitter and Instagram inbetween weekly blog posts so do follow @15minwellbeing on both platforms tokeep up to date.