The Science of Well-being

Diary, Mental Health, Theoretical

How Mindy Goose used the work of the New Economic Foundation in her photography.

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I have suffered from depression, on and off since my teens. I only really came to terms with what this meant for me when I hit my 30’s, and by acknowledging that I am wired differently have I been able to cope better. I struggle with motivation at times, which makes me feel like projects take twice as long as they should do. I also find that I can judge myself quite unforgivingly and lose confidence in my abilities as a result, even if my friends tell me I work harder than I think, I never think I work hard enough.

I discovered the ‘five ways to wellbeing’ when I volunteered at the Love Arts Leeds festival in autumn 2011. How can a scientific study quantify and improve your mental state? Is it possible?? I decided to take on board the simple message in Take Notice and produce my own wellbeing book, which will form part of my final degree show at Leeds College of Art in summer 2012.

A simple pocket size book with images of everyday objects, landscapes, journeys and routines photographed in a way that makes them seem unusual, beautiful and unique. The idea is to have something small that can fit in a bag, that I can look at and see the world, my world in a more enriching way, and hopefully to inspire people who see my images to take notice themselves.

For me I have found I have opened my eyes, I see more, I have stopped burying my head in the hope that seasons I don’t like pass me by quicker, I can get motivated by my routine, making more out of what once were tedious tasks and now I notice that there is beauty in even the most mundane of things.

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In 2008, nef (New Economic Foundation) was commissioned by the UK Government’s Foresight Project on Mental Capital and Well-being to review the inter-disciplinary work of over 400 scientists from across the world. The aim was to identify a set of evidence-based actions to improve well-being, which individuals would be encouraged to build into their daily lives.
Evidence suggests that a small improvement in well-being can help to decrease some mental health problems and also help people to flourish. The results of the project are the ‘Five ways to Well-being’.
More information about the project can be found on the nef website: www.nationalaccountsofwellbeing.org