On Monday and Tuesday this week, Martin Heppell from The Resilience Project presented to staff, parents and students across the Preparatory and Senior Schools. His energetic style of presentation allowed him to engage with the students, and his message that life is not one of constant success but one where there will be failures and disappointments, which provide opportunities for us to grow, was well received by all.

His strategy for working through times of failure or disappointment is based on three main actions. Gratitude, Empathy/Kindness and Mindfulness are his three keys for growth and coping when times are tough.

Two Psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, have done much of the research on gratitude. In one study, they asked all participants to write a few sentences each week, focusing on particular topics.

One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative). After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.

A study reported in the Journal of Science shows how simply performing acts of kindness can make us feel happier. Participants were divided in two groups, and each group was given a chunk of money. The first was asked to spend it on themselves, while the other to spend it on gifts for other people. The result from this study was that those who spent the money on others reported an increase in their happiness levels.

Another study for which 3,000 people participated found that 95% of volunteers reported that after helping others, they experienced what Psychologists have termed a “helper’s high” – that is, an increased sense of wellbeing both on a physical and an emotional level, as well as enhanced energy and serenity.

The Black Dog Institute argue that we all have the capacity to be mindful. It simply involves cultivating our ability to pay attention in the present moment and allows us to disengage from mental “clutter” and to have a clear mind. It makes it possible for us to respond rather than react to situations, thus improving our decision-making and potential for physical and mental relaxation.

All the above is being taught and discussed in the Wellbeing@West sessions each week to all Westminster students, as we are using the educational material from The Resilience Project to help our students cope with situations that are difficult.  The feedback from students, particularly those in the senior years, is that they try to put into practice some of these techniques.  A very big thank you to our Head of Wellbeing, Ms Liz Collins for all her work in arranging The Resilience Project visit.

13 Reasons Why – Season 2

You may be aware that Netflix have launched the second season of 13 Reasons Why. Headspace have sent an information sheet to school to help families discuss some of the themes that are dealt with in the show. Please follow the link to download the 13 Reasons Why Headspace Flyer

David Wallage
Head of Senior School