Keep learning ...
Keeping mentally active keeps you happy. Continuing with learning and staying curious and engaged may make us better equipped to deal with life's challenges. Learning new skills also gives people a sense of achievement, which in turn can boost our self-confidence and self-esteem. Again, there are many practical things we can do to keep mentally active. As an academic, I tend to recommend things like the Open University. But formal qualifications are not the only available options. The 'five ways to well-being' suggest we should: ' ... try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Sign up for that course. Take on a different responsibility at work. Fix a bike. Learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food. Set a challenge you enjoy achieving ... ' All of which I believe is excellent advice.
This is the perfect opportunity to mention The Reader Organisation.13 The Reader Organisation is a social enterprise dedicated to literature.
Its members organise reading groups within the health service, the criminal justice system, emergency services, work places, care homes, looked-after children's services and many more. These reading groups are primarily opportunities for people to experience reading together, as a group. People are encouraged to read aloud and discuss together the ways that great literature can affect their mood and perspectives on life. These reading groups, and related activities such as community theatre projects, have been a huge success and are greatly appreciated by participants; perhaps this is because the community-based activities run by the Reader organisation seem to address many of the steps to well-being which are the focus of this chapter.