Mental Health First Aider

About 2 weeks ago, I participated in a training to become a mental health first aider. It is a new initiative among companies in the U.K. to provide “first line” assistance for people in crisis using the successful framework of physical first aid.

I attended the training for two main reasons: First, it was to better equip myself to help. Second, (related to the first one) to reduce my own misunderstanding (bias on mental health).

Mental health like physical health is our well-being. There are good and bad days. It is also a spectrum rather than a binary matter and it can swing between better and worse.

Don’t give advice on mental health unless you are trained professionally (beyond the mental health first aid training). Do provide information for professional help.

Make sure you are safe before helping others. Act sensibly but not on ungrounded fears.

Don’t judge. We don’t know what the person is going through in his/her life. There are many causes of mental health problems which include heredity. Be there to listen and support non-judgmentally.

Cross-Cultural Awareness (5): Have Fun

This won’t be the last blog on this subject, but I think it may be good to write about other topics as well.
My last word on this subject (for now) is to have fun and enjoy the ride.
There will be inadvertently ups and downs along the way, but it is part of the journey.
Don’t get too upset when you are down. Remember there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Celebrate new cultural knowledge and understanding acquired and welcome people of different culture into your circle of friends and family.
Enjoy the melting point of culture:>

Cross-Cultural Awareness (4): Find and Build Connection

One way to enhance your appreciation of another culture is to focus on the aspects that you can connect and relate to personally.
For example, if you love food and wine, you probably enjoy it in France and Italy (not an exhaustive list here).
If you like music, visiting Germany and Austria is probably music to your ears.
If you like fashion, France (in particular Paris) is the good place to be.
At a different level, if you are more individualistic (not passing a judgment here), you may feel more at home in the Anglo-Saxons countries like the U.S.A and U.K.
If you have a non-linear and more flexible mind set with time, the Latin-based cultures such as Spain, France and Italy probably suit you more than Germany or the Netherlands.
There is no perfect match but identifying the link(s) “up close and personal” may help you appreciate more about a different culture and relate to it better.

Cross-Cultural Awareness (3): Hard Work

Hard work is quite needed to get a better handle of a different culture.
It may include reading books, listening to music, watching movies as well as discussing with others about it.
Most important of all, pay attention, observe and ask questions with an open mind.
All these activities require time and effort. It is logical that there is extra work as you did not grow up in that culture.
Like learning all new things, nothing can replace hard work which is a key element of success.

Cross-Cultural Awareness (2): Not Personal

If you come across something unpleasant in a foreign country, stop yourself from taking it personal (though the incident happened to you at a personal level).
A similar incident may happen to most foreigners in that country (not that it would make you feel better). Often time, it may be a matter of miscommunication due to the differences in culture and language.
A few weeks ago, I was in a supermarket in Paris and I lined up on a checkout line in a civilized manner. The cashier starred at me for some reason before it was my turn (well – I am no stranger to being starred, so I did not pick up the hint) and at some point she shouted at me to get off the queue. I got her point that I should not be in that line but I did not know why (Let us say I was “traumatized” as being shouted as it is a stranger to me :>). I departed from the queue promptly and reminded myself not to take it personal. “Out of the blue” (really!) the sign of a line designated for pregnant women and the elderly floated (figuratively) up in the front of me and voila – I was in the wrong being distracted by sales items (still did not make the cashier right to shout me, but at least she did not classify me as an elderly).

Cross-Cultural Awareness (1): Understanding

Recently I have attended a “Cross-cultural Awareness “ workshop and subsequently read 2 books on the same subject.
I would like to share some of the key points.
1) More understanding before judging
Sometimes when we don’t know why people of a different culture act or behave in a completely unexpected way, we have a tendency of making a judgment too fast. We burst out remarks casually such as “Oh, that is horrible.” & “That is unacceptable”. A better approach may be trying to understand (researching or asking the “native”) before reaching a conclusion. In many cases, there are (historical or cultural) reasons why they behave differently. Try to view things from their (cultural) perspective before forming your own opinions.

The “sweet spot” of life?

Last week a thought came to my mind that there may be a “sweet spot” in a one’s life.
What I meant by a “sweet spot” in one’s life is the period that one is more agreeable and considerate of others.
In my humble opinion (every case is different of course), it is approximately between 30 and 60 years old.
When one is young, one tends to be more self-centered and more of “Me Me Me”. The extreme is a baby and there goes the expression of “a crying baby”.
On the other hand, when one gets much older (over 60 for example, not a fixed rule), one may get stuck in one’s own (old) way.
Unfortunately, the aging process also weakens one’s awareness and flexibility.
Like most things, awareness is the first step to improvement and honest feedback from others also help (may hurt at first :>)
La semaine dernière, j’ai eu l’idée qu’il y a peut-être une gamme idéale dans la vie.
C’est-à-dire une période la vie où une personne est plus aimable et considérée.
A mon humble avis (bien sûr – chaque situation est diffèrente), c’est environ entre 30 et 60 ans.
Quand on est jeune, on est plus égoïste et plus « moi moi moi ». Le cas extrême serait un bébé. Il y a d’ailleurs une expression « pleurer comme un bébé »
Au contraire, quand on devient vieux (plus de 60 ans par exemple, mais ce n’est pas une règle fixe), on est plus rigide. Malheureusement, le vieillissement diminue l’attention et la flexibilité.
Comme la plupart des choses, l’attention est la première étape pour s’améliorer et les critiques honnêtes sont aussi importantes (même si elles blessent au début)

Happiness is..

What is happiness? How can we define it?
During last weekend, I had lunch with 2 friends and the topic of happiness came up in our conversation.

I found one interesting and inspiring point: Challenge in life (perhaps difficulty from time to time) is an important element of happiness.

Imagine a life only to enjoy oneself and there is no challenge nor progress. Even in the fairy tales (Disneyland), there are challenges and difficulties before the happy ending. For example, Snow White was poisoned by her step-mother before being saved by her Prince Charming.

Actually “living happily till the end of their days” includes challenges and triumphs during their lives.
Qu’est-ce que le bonheur? Comment peut-on le définir?

Pendant le week-end dernier, j’ai déjeuné avec deux amis et le sujet du bonheur est arrivé dans nos conversations.

Je trouve un point intéressant et inspirant est l’élément important du bonheur qui est le challenge (peut-être la difficulté de temps en temps) dans la vie.

Imaginez une vie seulement faite pour s’amuser sans défis, ni progrès. En effet, dans les histoires pour les enfants (Disneyland), il y a des défis et difficultés avant une fin heureuse! Ainsi Blanche-Neige, qui a été empoisonnée par sa belle-mère et après sauvée par le prince charmant :>

« Ils vécurent heureux jusqu’à la fin de leurs jours » en fait inclut des challenges et des triomphes au cours de leur vie!

Transform an Apparent Weakness into a Charm

Well – it is not the first time that I talk about a difficult subject (won’t be the last time neither). On the advice of my doctor (the same doctor from the previous blog), I went to see a specialist for my allergy (my nose). Mr. Specialist looked at me and said, “You have a slightly-broken nose, but it is part of your charm. I would not worry about it.”
In fact, for a long time (certainly when I was a teenager), I was conscious and embarrassed about my broken nose. Fortunately, like Mr. Specialist said, I finally accepted it and it became part of me (my charm).

I think there are many parallelisms and examples in life. For example, Jane Birkin, the known English actress, keeps her English accent when she speaks French because it is her charm and “signature”. In reality, she can speak French without any accent at all. Another example is Angelina Jolie who did not change her lips even if they look a bit too “strong”.

In summary, I think one lesson for us is when we accept the way we are, we can transform our weakness (physical or not) into our charm and show the world that it is a part of us (perfect or not).
Transformer une faiblesse apparente en un charme
Bon – ce n’est pas la première fois où je parle d’un sujet difficile (ni la dernière fois).
A l’avis de mon médecin (le même médecin que dans mon dernier message), je suis allé chez un spécialiste médicale pour mon problème d’allergie (mon nez).
Monsieur le spécialiste m’a regardé et a dit, « Bon, vous avez un nez légèrement cassé. Mais c’est votre charme et je trouve que ça ne dérange pas ».
En fait, depuis longtemps (certainement quand j’étais adolescent), j’étais conscient et gêné de mon nez cassé. Heureusement comme monsieur le spécialiste a dit, je l’ai finalement accepté et il est devenu une partie de moi (mon charme).

Je pense qu’il y a des parallèles et des exemples dans la vie. Par exemple, Jane Birkin, une actrice anglaise connue, garde son accent anglais quand elle parle français parce que son accent est son charme et sa « signature ». En réalité, Jane peut parler français sans accent. Autre exemple, Angelina Jolie n’ai modifié pas ses lèvres même si elles sont un peu trop voluptueuses.

En résumé, je pense que la leçon pour nous est que si on s’accepte comme on est, on peut transformer notre faiblesse (physique ou non) en notre charme et montrer au monde que c’est une partie de nous, parfaite ou non.

Health Advice

I went for my annual medical check last week. I would like to share some advice that I found useful from that visit.
#1) Do cardiovascular exercises as simple as walking to the office for at least 30 minutes every day.
#2) Drink more water (ideally 2 litres a day).
#3) Avoid too much orange juice for breakfast as it contains a lot of sugar.
#4) Improve your body balance by Yoga or Pilates in particular for people of a certain age.
One common accident (sometimes fatal) among older people is falling (to the ground).
#5) Have sufficient sleep for at least 7 hours to maintain good health.

Good health to all:>
Conseils médicaux
Je suis allé chez le médecin pour mon examen annuel la semaine dernière. Je veux partager les conseils que j’ai trouvé utiles avec vous.
#1) Faire des exercices cardiovasculaire aussi simples que marcher au bureau au moins 30 minutes chaque jour.
#2) Boire plus d’eau (idéalement 2 litres).
#3) Éviter trop de jus d’orange au petit déjeuner parce qu’il a plein de sucre.
#4) Améliorer votre équilibre du corps par le yoga ou le pilate particulièrement pour les personnes âgés. Un accident chez les personnes âgés (souvent fatal) est tomber par terre.
#5) Dormir suffisamment au moins 7 heures pour maintenir une bonne santé

Bonne santé à vous 🙂