Interestedly, although perhaps unsurprisingly, Calm, the brilliant app by Michael Acton Smith was voted 2017 App of the year, by Apple.
Mental health in the workplace is one of the fastest growing issues in the UK, as evidenced by the amount of innovation and cross-industry attention it’s finally getting. An area in which greater Calm would certainly be of comfort.
Alain De Botton’s brilliant blog The Book Of Life, boldly and accurately suggests that “Calm is one of the distinctive longings of the modern age”
(Visit all the links, by the way. They all deserve your time, and you deserve their message.)
Calm, so it would seem, matters.
My curiosity and study of Calm stems from both a deep fascination with an ancient prophecy, that predicted this current time of accelerated complexity and turbulence. As well as the darker truth that lay behind me getting so sick in 2014. And I’ve wrestled for some time now about how to take my dedication and commitment to Calm forward. In a way that would ultimately help other people.
It has been a jagged and unusual journey. I’m far (faaaar) from academic – which would have been useful given the ambition. Ironically, in pursuit of trying to codify a means of cultivating Calm, I dug up along the way deep reservoirs of its polar opposites; depression, anger, frustration, self-loathing, self-doubt etc. etc.
But (and in danger of slipping carelessly over a cliche) there’s comfortable wisdom in the maxim; ‘before the pleasure we must have the pain’. The things that matter to us most deeply are rarely won without a good bar fight with our own shadows.
“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self. Therefore, trust the physician and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility.” Kahlil G.
Calm is a loaded ambition. Abstract too, since it means different things to different people. Finding and bringing Calm to our lives, through internal and external resources is for some visceral, others intellectual. Whilst most of the Calm inducing solutions available today, either tech-based like Calm and Headspace, or the many sensorial products we buy, provide ephemeral comfort.
That’s not to say they don’t work. To the contrary. I have been using Calm for years and have fine-tuned the art of creating a highly relaxing and calming environment at home (accidental hygge specialist) particularly in times of turbulence. But in truth, they only bring short-term relief from the deeper issues.
I needed to chunk-up a level. Think longer term. Think in terms of cause, plan and mend. Build a system. A process that illuminates the cause of turbulence, and marshalls a plan to bring Calm back into the centre. Make it default. Permanent. An energy and means for sustained happiness and success in its own right, rather than a moment of relief from our conflicts with life.
I used – and still use – Calm to fight back against cancer. I use Calm to fight back against the fear of failure, embarrassment, debt, seniority, confrontation, executing ideas and all my other ridiculous but nonetheless human foibles, that can bring a person to their knees if left unchecked.
It works, and I’ve seen it work for other people too. But the challenge was in the code. The method. Building that framework for cultivating Calm that could be used by anyone from anywhere and for anything.
Turns out I found the solution, for now, hidden in the word itself. Just as the best marketing should always be built into the product, the framework I’ve finally started to work with, in earnest, is built into the very thing I am committed to serving.
So here it is. As a gesture of jumping into a deeper level of commitment, welcome to C.A.L.M Version 1.0.
I’ll break it down across future posts. For now, if you’d like to understand more about the model, how to use it, or (better still) interested to work with me directly with it, then naturally I would be thrilled to hear from you.
It’s is a labour love. And if De Botton was right, its timing might just be perfect.