Dr Jessamy Hibberd, psychologist, author, and commentator shares her thoughts on Snailspace and the importance of putting #BeMoreSnail into practice.
Walking to school with my three children, we noticed something very bright, very colourful and suspiciously snail-like in Hove Park. We soon had the pleasure of meeting Persephone, one of the 50 snails that has popped up around Brighton & Hove for The Snailspace campaign.
We loved the Snowdogs, Brighton’s previous parade of brightly coloured statues. Their arrival in the city had coincided with our move to Hove two years ago and they felt like a personal welcome. It was also a lovely way to learn more about Martlets and the incredible work they do. This time we were ready to jump straight in.
When we found Persephone, it wasn’t just the stunning artwork and bright colours that jumped out at me, the motto #BeMoreSnail also got an immediate reaction. Slowing down and appreciating the things in life that are truly important to us is a message that resonates with me both personally and professionally.
The Foundations of Happiness
As a clinical psychologist, I’ve spent the last few years thinking about the foundations of happiness, and the role that life goals play in making us feel better or worse. I’d always been very goal focused, but my research was prompted by a suspicion that they weren’t really helping me in the way I had presumed.
The key realisation I had was that it’s not reaching your goals that matters, but how you get there that is most important. Rather than living life as a race to do all you can, it is far better approached as an adventure. Or perhaps a meandering snail trail!
In a race you take the quickest route to get where you want to go. In an adventure there is no perfect route, the main aim is to explore. It’s having a daily life that fulfils you rather than waiting for something that never comes.
This is how I try and live my life now. I can’t think of a better way to have an adventure – to enjoy the process rather than the goal – than discovering all 50 snails of the Snailspace.
How to #BeMoreSnail
An adventure should be meaningful and enriching. But that doesn’t mean big changes or grand gestures. And not everyday needs to be a great day, we all have our ups and downs. My motto now is that “what we do every day makes the biggest difference. It’s small steps that lead to the greatest changes.”
These small changes, when put together one-by-one can have a massive impact — like trees in a forest or the bricks in a cathedral.
I’ve made three small changes to my everyday to put my motto into practice.
SLOW DOWN – AKA #BeMoreSnail
I now take each day a little slower. So I can stop to appreciate the richness of my life. If you’re going at 100mph it’s hard to have an adventure. It’s only by slowing down and switching out of autopilot that we can really take things in.
Rather than waiting to achieve a goal, I appreciate what I already have in my life right now, slowing down helps me to do this.
I leave myself some empty time. I don’t want my time so filled that I don’t have a moment to sit back and take it all in. We don’t need to be constantly doing or thinking. Rest and recovery are essential parts of a healthy and happy life.
Empty time allows me to step back, switch off and reflect on where I am and where I’m heading. It gives my mind a chance to wander and come up with new ideas. It allows me to check in with how I’m feeling and to listen to my body and mind.
Taking time for the things I enjoy is my third change. Natural highs are the things that make you feel alive. Your favourite music turned up loud, running, the outdoors, doing well at work, cooking an amazing meal or being part of a performance.
Natural highs are our relationships – loving and being loved. Giving back or being part of something bigger than us.
As Imelda Glackin, CEO of Martlets, said at the launch of the snails: “In this fast-paced city it’s often hard to remember to slow down and appreciate the things in life that make us smile… to take a moment to enjoy the time we have with the people we share our lives with.”
The Snails should act as a daily reminder to all of us of what’s important. I know that I will treasure the time I spent finding them with my family for the rest of my life.
Although my kids will be running from snail to snail, red-cheeked and panting. And I will be running after them. In our heads and hearts, we will truly #BeMoreSnail.
By Dr Jessamy Hibberd BSc, MSc, DClinPsy, PgDip
Chartered Clinical Psychologist