Transcript | PPP0097: How to Thrive with Marie McLeod

 

Ellen
0:00:02 - 0:01:59
Hello and welcome to the Potential Psychology Podcast. I'm your host, Ellen Jackson. And it's my mission to share the science of human behaviour in a practical, fun and inspiring way. In each podcast episode, I interview an expert from the fields of Psychology, wellbeing, leadership, parenting or high performance. I pick their brain to uncover what they know about living well, what tips do they have for you and I and I quizzed them about how they apply their expertise in their own life. Join me as we discover simple, science backed ways to live, learn, flourish and fulfil your potential.

Hello and welcome back to the potential psychology podcast, this is episode 97 and we're talking about a very exciting project on the show today. A project that explores the power of positive psychological practises for improving the well being of those struggling with mental ill health. It's very exciting. It's very new, and I'll introduce you to our guests and the powerhouse behind this project, which is a documentary in a moment. But before I do, I want to share my three things with you. Now you might remember if you're a long time or even recent listener, that prior to our last episode, which was my interview with Dr Diana Hill about acceptance and commitment, training or therapy and finding ways to get comfortable and flourished outside of your comfort zone, I'd been regularly sharing my three things, one, something I'd read or watched or listened to, two, something I'd learned and three, something I've bean doing to fulfil my potential. And then we had little podcast break over Easter and for a few weeks, either side and then we returned with Diana's episode, and I forgot all about my three things, and Jaie, our fab producer had to remind me so it's a good thing she's on the ball.

Ellen
0:01:59 - 0:03:54
So I'm back for this episode with my three things, and the first of those three things is something that I've read or listen to technically, as I've become a firm fan of the audio book as a way to listen and learn while I'm either driving or walking. And the book I've been listening to are actually just finished has been Food Isn't Medicine by Dr Joshua Wolrich and if you hang out on Instagram, you might know Dr Joshua where he does a lot of myth busting on health related topics. And I do love a good myth busting social account and myth busting around food forms a good chunk off this book, Food Isn't Medicine, including things like the demonising of carbs, the challenges of a ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting and the many, many myths that link what we eat with cancer. So he busts a whole lot of those midst the things that you might see spooked or circulating, particularly on social media but also in the mainstream media. And that's all fascinating and really good stuff. I really enjoyed it but most interest to me in this book is his discussion of diet, culture and disordered eating and just our relationship with food generally and how messy that can get. And he also includes some helpful tips on intuitive eating, and there's a whole lot of other really thoughtful conversation thought provoking discussion of different topics around food and our relationship with it. So it's definitely worth a read or listen. If particularly you're fascinated, like me about our complicated relationships with food. Next up is something I've learned, and it's something I've learned from several of our wonderful podcast guests particularly recently.

Ellen
0:03:54 - 0:05:41
But even going back to the early days of the podcast, people like Dr Laura Prayed, Eric Winters, Dr Patricia Zurita Oona and, of course, our most recent interview with Dr Diana Hill and the conversations that I've had with each of those individuals about acceptance and making space for fear and uncertainty, but also being curious and being open to trying new things even when they're really scary. And I've been personally putting these ideas and new skills into practise with a number of big projects that I'm working on, including the leadership programme that I run here in our local community in Ballarat. In that programme, we are experimenting with participant lead course content and community projects, and I know that's a challenge for the participants as well as for me. So, we're all in the experimentation zone and the uncomfortable zone together but I'm also stepping into a couple of other collaborative projects behind the scenes here at PP HQ that are new and experimental and exciting, but also kind of terrifying because they're requiring new skills of me and perhaps putting myself out there in a way that I'm not really used to. So, I'm listening and learning and taking action and reminding myself that uncomfortable is OK. In fact, it's good because uncomfortable is where growth and discovery happens. And my third thing for this episode is something that I'm doing to fulfil my potential. And in fact, it's really something I'm doing as my small part to helping us all to fulfil our potential right now. And that's getting my covid vaccine. I had my first shot about 10, 12 days ago with no ill effects and I have my second book for mid June. That's the Pfizer shot which are three weeks apart here in Australia.

Ellen
0:05:41 - 0:07:33
I'm aware that everywhere in the world is doing this slightly differently, so that will be my second shot in mid June, and I'm hoping that everyone listening today who is eligible for vaccination is doing the same or planning to do so as soon as you're able. It's a small thing that we can do for the benefit of all. And while we're talking about taking action, I am thrilled to interviews introduce, introduce my guest for today's show, who along with the team at Beyond Edge, is doing her bit to make a difference in the lives of so many others. Let's listen in.

Ellen
I am so excited to be talking to Marie Macleod Today. Marie is a qualified social worker, adult education and positive psychology expert. Her work blends a deep understanding of positive psychology, neuroscience and appreciative inquiry with extensive experience in community culture change. Marie designs and deliver sustainable wellbeing solutions that individuals and organisations and communities with a focus on activating wellbeing despite adversity. And while there are so many elements of all of that that we could talk about today we're actually focusing on another exciting project, a documentary that she fronts called How To Thrive, in which she takes 10 volunteers with mental health issues to help them learn how to thrive. Welcome Marie


Marie
Thank you so much for having me.

Ellen
You are very welcome it's delightful having you here. And I'm really excited to talk to you about your work and about this documentary in particular, and how it's come to be. I'm going actually read thie promo for How To Thrive just to keep things up to give our listeners a sense of what it is we're talking about and why perhaps we're talking about it. So the promo is this the world of psychology has for far too long studied what goes wrong with the human mind.

Ellen
0:07:33 - 0:08:00
Whilst these have led to important understandings around disorders, there is another side, the science of what is right about the human experience and what makes our life worth living. It's time to progress the conversation, get real about mental health and do something positive and proactive about this massive problem. And that speaks to our mission here at the Potential Psychology Podcast so well. And so I'd love to know before we even get into the docu piece, Marie. How did you come to know about and immerse yourself in positive psychology and the science of thriving?

Marie
0:08:07 - 0:08:49
Well, well, people say that we seek to learn what we most need to know and certainly there has been my experience. So, I grew up in New Zealand in the country, and knew from a very young age that I wanted to do things to help people in the world. Then soon as I could, you know, left home and went to see the world in return to study social work instead about that in child protection and juvenile justice, and then that moving to Australia and so doing that in communities. But when I had children and I had three children and two years, one set of twins, I'm sure the mess on that's obvious but really, I unraveled. You know, the whole everything that I knew professionally
and I had lots of experience I was absolutely fine. When I left home to nanny when I was 17 in London so I shouldn't be well equipped for parenting. But as it turned out, I was in a situation where I was quite isolated from my family. One of my twins has high functioning autism, and what we now know is that they all have a DHD, and so in their teens are all kind of diagnosed and medication every day. But it was a very tumultuous time on reflection, and I went at that time from being the professional helper to the person on the other side of the table, meaning to receive services, and for me that was quite confronting, but I also didn't like the approach that I was on the other end of which I am previously being profound proposing, I suppose, and that was really about
I mean what's wrong in here? You know, to share with me the disorder, the dysfunction, a disability, even. And before I knew it, you know, I was going along to those services to receive help for my son probably particularly, and my husband was in struggling. And then we're in relationship counselling. And before I knew it, you know, the professionals were cheering to me and saying, well, you're displaying a full hand with depressive symptoms and I was like, 'what?' you know.. It was around that time that I heard about positive psychology and someone who lent me the book Flourish. And I just had a bit of time one weekend when my mom was across from you Zealand. And that was the beginning for me on those you know, starting to see that there was a different way of thinking about things. And despite the fact that we might be experiencing dysfunction and disorder, we can flip out our minds and in our leans and that there's a whole realm of science and expertise out there, there comes from a different side of psychology. And so I started to kind of, you know, I just read that book and I said to my husband this personally and professionally will change my life. It's been a real kind of light bulb moment for me. So that was the beginning and I just been started to imply in my own life with my family and then an ever increasing circles outwarde testing what the boundaries might be and certainly the documentary has been the biggest test of all time. Yeah, yeah, that's how this started.

Ellen
They're coming from a real place of lived experience, I suppose, is the phrase we often use not just the academic and multiple layers in there as well. So from your own actual experience of mental health struggle. Not also that piece around that, because it's something I struggle with a little bit to the disability label around things like neuro diversity and how helpful perhaps that is or isn't and I understand that the system's kind of set up around that way, but is that actually the best way for a family to thrive or flourish in those circumstances, or for the kids themselves to thrive or flourish?

Marie
0:11:47 - 0:13:11
So I don't personally, I guess I was in the era of studying social work where that was a big question. Should we diagnose, should we label people, and so I had a strong awareness about them. But to be honest, as a parent, my views are a little different now around that. And I actually really welcome a diagnosis because it helps us to understand more clearly what we need to do about it and you know, on the very people needed this that diagnosis is the difference, not a deficit. That's how it is in my family, you know, you know, because we're reminded me the other day, Mom, when you told Finn that he had autism, you told him, you know, all the other kids in the classroom have got square brains, and yours is a triangle, and there's no difference between them. They just work, a bit you know? So I think that knowing what we're dealing with that I now understand that I probably have ADHD because all my kids do. And you know, and my brother got diagnosed at 40 so it's most likely, so we do have a lot of neuro diversity. And I think that that's okay and that I sit comfortably with diagnosis. And this is certainly not about saying that we shouldn't have traditional psychology and we shouldn't be able. to understand a sort of dysfunction and all of those things. Try to better navigate our lives with those, but I suppose it's about how the most things work in the end.


Ellen
0:13:12 - 0:13:35
That's actually a wonderfully positive nuance, really. Isn't it around that difference not deficit. It's talking to kids and it's something that I do with my kids all the time around the fact that you know, we're just all good at different things in different ways, and none of them are better or worse, or right or wrong. It's just the wonderful diversity that is being a set of unique human individuals isn't it?


Marie
0:13:36 - 0:13:39
That's right. Yeah, I think so.

Ellen
0:13:39 - 0:13:45
So, Marie, with that background and that experience, why a documentary? How did this come about before we go into what it actually looks like.


Marie
Yeah. Do you know what, it's been an interesting set of circumstances and coincidences and the wonderful Chris Mackey, who is the clinical psychologist that runs the clinic in Geelong. He supported me on the documentary he's done a lot of work around synchronicity. I didn't know what that was, but this was so much synchronicity that occurred for me to be part of this documentary. You know those things that just come towards you in life and you don't seek them out but they have a whole series of sliding doors come your way, and that's never been more true than this experience. So just to cut a long story short, Beyond Age, it is the name of the company making the film Dian Andy amazing guys that really interested in making a documentary and to look at the idea or is there is sort a of secret formula to happiness and Dee comes from a refugee background. It's been early years in refugee camps, and he noticed, I guess that some people, having his experience, became resilient and optimistic and could thrive, and others really didn't. And you know, they have succumbed to mental illness and to alcoholism and those kind of things. And he wanted to understand, is this something that helps people to be resilient despite adversity. When he was seeking to make a film like that and he's come across positive psychology, and we're starting to kind of talk to experts around the world. He came across me, we met each other at the World and Positive Psychology Congress on then he

Ellen
Wonderful conference.

Marie
0:15:23 - 0:16:38
Exactly. Amazing. So Rachel, full with all new things, plus psych related. And so I told him that at that point in time, I was running a programme with headspace. So you've been to a health service here in Australia and that it was applying positive psychology with young people experiencing struggle, amidst illness. And he was very fascinated intrigued by that. And then we sort of had another alliance where I'm someone I was coaching was interested in document debated making, but he came to listen to the young people have been on that programme and afterwards he said to me, that's the documentary I want to make. And I said, well, you can't because because young people are not interested in being on camera, thanks very much. And so anyway, when they begin the conversation and there was a number of different ideas about the way we look at this but we look at junior doctors who have so much struggle and high rates of mental illness and workplaces and young people, and we were going to split across kind of three areas. But in the end we got some good advice from other filmmakers and to simple how about if you just go out and engage ordinary Australians experiencing struggle and apply, you know what you've been doing and see what happens. So that was the beginning of all that.

Ellen
0:16:39 - 0:16:47
So this was based on a programme, and we'll get into the kind of the nuts and bolts may be a little of what is it you're actuall doing with these individuals to help to deal with the struggle on the adversity that they're facing?

Marie
Yes, As I said, I have been running their programme headspace and previous to that, it had all started with one of the large community health services and they knew about some other work that I have been doing that invulnerability. So, you know, I guess a lot of people in positive psychology come from backgrounds of corporate or maybe education or various different fields. But my particular area of interest in expertise is vulnerability. And having worked in 12 section and having worked with disadvantaged communities around Victoria, I was particularly interested in how do we apply positive psychology where there is struggle. And so this community house service approached me and said, we don't think we're dealing with our clients with mental health issues in ways that evolved enough and they're making enough difference. And we wondered whether, you know, with your experience and working with people who are vulnerable and positive psychology, would you consider making a programme? And I was. I was in the barber shop with my kids and I remember that call so clearly. You know, one of those defining moments when I was an equal proportions delighted and terrified by the idea. And I, so of course I said yes and jump in thinking, well, how can we take the science of well being that is so often applied when people are functioning and idea is then moving them from functioning to flourishing? What would happen if we talk all of those, all of that research and skills and springs and apply it when people's wellbeing have become sort of not. And so, you know, I think it's important for us to sort of understand that if we have a continuum of our well being and zero is on fine and then there's zero to plus ten, my objective is I want to be better than fine I want to think about what can help me move from that functioning, being okay to flourishing but then the zero to minus ten, which is down to surviving and that range from zero to minus 10 where people are depressed and they're anxious and they have OCD and they have eating disorders.
And traditionally they would go with psychologist who would say, well, let's try and help those issues you haven't get you then to fine. And I guess what, this director of the Human Health Service were saying what's better than that? Because it doesn't seem to be working so well. And we're working 1 to 1 with people and where we're having them coming backto us for years and it just doesn't. So we decided to create a group programme, that programme was called alive to thrive, and we began to offer it to their highest with mental health issues and, you know, fairly standard positive psychology tools that we were delivering the whole kind of pivot was I might that land on you if you are experiencing isolation and mental illness or grief or you know that those kind of things, and so how can we sort of you know, nuance these things around their vulnerability. And how can we sort of say to people, your mental illness does not need to confine and define you. We want to explore their capacity of being able to dance in the rain, being able to thrive despite struggle. And that's, you know, I got fairly very excited about that idea and that question, and so that's what it was. It was a six week programme, two hours a time, and it was extraordinarily successful and moving people who had tried everything else and have been around in the traps trying to deal with mental illness for a long time. And so then there started to be people sort of nothing at my heels, saying you need to do more of this because if I had have had this when I was in school, it would have changed the trajectory of my life and so there was some brief associated with the part of I not know this because my life could have been different. I could have been more. Defining moment in my career, I suppose, and then we started to take some of those people and ask them to co-facilitate so that we have people with that lived experience sitting alongside me. And again another beautiful moment was when there was no longer funds. Is always seems to happen for me to continue to deliver there. I was able to hand it over to one of the earliest participants of the programme, and she could run it with a member of that community health service and the results that they got were even better than when I was there. And I love that, yeah.

Ellen
21:36:86-------------------------------------------------------------------
Yeah, so many fascinating things going on. They're not only obviously that real experience and that feedback that you were getting from these participants, that this was making such a really difference in their lives, even though that's tied up with that little bit of brief that lost opportunity, I suppose, for them. And hopefully it means that that opportunity is there for future participants, future generations even. But then, from a psychological point of view, being able to take a research body, I suppose that's really has largely concentrated on moving people from that zero to plus 10 or even the plus five to plus 10. And that I come from a coaching background and that's where we kind of operate as, it's about not necessarily the tools and techniques were applying the same tools and techniques. We're just applying them to a different population so that research and being around that but then bring out right back full circle and taking that research and those applications and sort of overlaying the mental health struggle with the flourishing. I hope I'm making sense

Marie
0:22:41 - 0:22:43
Yeah makes sense.

Ellen
0:22:43 - 0:23:06
I have a visual in my head that perhaps I'll try and write, you know, pull together for our listeners so that they can see it in the show notes but we do. As you said, we have this mental health spectrum, and traditionally we've sort of drawn up with people struggling with mental ill health at one end and then the flourishing at the other. And it's always been a challenge, I suppose to be actually describe that in a way that says, just because you have the mental ill health doesn't mean you can't flourish.

Ellen
0:23:07 - 0:23:16
It's not an either, or it can be both, but traditionally we haven't actually had the mechanisms for doing that. So that's exactly what you're doing here, isn't it?

Marie
0:23:17 - 0:24:29
Yeah, absolutely. And I think it's not just mental health struggle. There are other kinds of struggle that might be a physical health struggle. It might be deep grief. It might be relationship difficulties and might be parenting difficulties. You know, there is just so much struggles and you know that. I suppose I was fearing my starting journey, you know, that I sat and struggled for so long, and I just think myself how different things might have been had I known. And even just some of the smallest things, to tweak my mindset and my daily routines and the difference that they might have made for me and for my children. And I looked back a little bit as well, with some regressions and grief going on, you know. But that's life, isn't it? And I sincerely believe that the silver lining for me around there is that, I honestly could not do what I do now as well as I do. If I hadn't have set and struggle so deep for so long. I don't know if you could resonate with that, but I think sometimes you have to have sat and acknowledged and really felt your own hard times.

Ellen
0:24:30 - 0:24:46
I suppose it it creates that connection and a deeper sense of empathy, to have actually been there and done it and to have a really good understanding, a real understanding of how others might feel as best we ever can when it comes to trying to be in somebody else's head.

Marie
0:24:47 - 0:24:49
Yes, yes.

Ellen
0:24:49 - 0:25:12
Can you tell me then, tell all of us a little about some of the tools and techniques that you've used both in that programme. And now in this documentary, the sorts of things that people will see participants participating in to make a difference. And I guess, what you'll be telling us will be also the things that might have made the biggest difference for you if you've been able to put them into place back in those days of struggle.

Marie
0:25:12 - 0:27:01
So I guess since the time when I first started this, as always happens, my thinking has evolved and, you know, we sort of get sharper and better, and sometimes we may be over creation, get too much and have to kind of bring it back down. But since the alive to thrive days, when I was sort of doing this stuff and trying to figure out one of the things that I realised was that many of us are using PERMA, which is the frame of the positive psychology, and that Professor Martin Seligman, the founder of one of psychology put forward. For me, I guess I've found that that was not really always hitting the mark, and it was quite individualistic. And as I said, there was very much designed around, you're already fine, and this will help you to be maybe well, then, well, we might think about. And so I wanted to bring something, it's a framework that was memorable that have metaphor and but also scaled a little bit more that kind of me to we spectrum. And so I have created from the cold beacon. And obviously the metaphor around that is that we want to begin to shine our brightest for ourselves, but also for others and that if we if we have a place for your workplace or a family or a school, then we can think about their system and that place shining us brighter, this framework works equally well in that way. So BEACON stands for Belonging, Engagement, Accountability, Compassion, Optimism and Nurture. So I might just go through a little bit. What's under each of those. And I suppose the trick is then also we have found great benefit in group programmes and people being and creating a tribe and a community and knowing that they're not alone, but also where we can to have that one to one coaching where people so that you can have an individualised conversation with them.

Marie
0:27:01 - 0:28:53
So the first Beacon beam is belonging and so in there we are thinking about the fact that you know one of the most important things in terms of our thriving is having close connections with other people. The nuance around that is that when people are struggling, if this struggle has been deep or long, many of them are often feeling very like isolated. So, if you tell people who were struggling that the most important thing for their well being is to be close connected, that can feel really tough and so great thing, I guess is, at least about the research is around positively resonance means that yes, we want to over that over time, have close connections and enduring connections with people, and to have a thrive drive around us but before we get there, we can make small investments in our well being, but a spine micro moments of connection with people that we come across as we move around the day. So, it was an important swim to be able to make, so that, you know, if you don't have any family or friends at this moment, that you can begin to, you know, as you go for a walk or you buy your coffee or your groceries. That's more catching the eyes of the person in front of you, to share a positive emotion of some kind, maybe a joke or a compliment or a warm smile or a comment about the weather. And when we do that, we get a release of oxytocin. That would be a micro moment, where eyes connect when we come into a bubble with someone else. Now the reality is that many of us even when we're quite quite well are moving too fast for those tiny moments to occur and so big, reminding people to prioritise that with strangers as much as loved ones because we also need to invest in those relationships with loved ones because they don't just sit there like spoon.

Marie
0:28:53 - 0:30:41
You know they need to be remade, and remade and the way that they are remade is those little, micro moments, that's one part of belonging. The other part sort of stretching out from that is to think about. Who do you have in your tribe and really getting people to understand that they could be more intentional about that? Oftentimes, when people are in struggle they have people who are a bit toxic in their lives and they haven't been setting boundaries around that they haven't been particularly selective about people who help them go where they want to go. And so we have a blue pencil belonging, which is called KNOCK the metaphor of thinking about the old days that you kind of have to knock sometimes, you know, on the door of the metaphorical join and moving away from social media, you know, we want to kind of get back to real time connections and so KNOCK is an acronym. Then we have pieces under under all of that, but I won't go all through now. There is like stretching out from just the traditional psychology, a lot of thinking about how do we find the tribe of the group of people that really serve us to thrive despite struggle and how can we begin to be more in to go about our vulnerability. The next piece is Engagement and the that's really about thinking about how do we move towards feeling more purpose and meaning in our lives. How do we begin to wake up each day and thinking that I am contributing to a world larger than myself? How do I have a sense of knowing what I'm good at and love doing, and I'm able to apply my strength in just right ways in my life. And so, under that BEACON beam we will have people take their VIA Strength Survey and that is very instructional for me as a coach and for them as we look at how struggle may have affected their strength.

Marie
0:30:42 - 0:30:41
So, you know, there's a lot to talk about under there but for example, if someone's been depressed for a while, you know we might find things and their bottom five around clothes, gratitude, zest, love, which is so important to our life satisfaction and may have been part of who they were before they were in struggle. And so, technically speaking, a positive psychologist cultural practitioner might not think about the Strength Survey in that way, but we need to kind of have a more nuanced understanding that what we get may have been reflected in that experience of struggle.

Ellen
0:31:16 - 0:31:37
Yeah, I used the VIA quite a lot myself, and I think it is around a little bit of that nuance of being able to know. And I also to know the research around which of the strengths that we do need to make sure were engaging, whether they come naturally to us or not, that do make a difference to our psychological, emotional well being and the ability to thrive.

Marie
0:31:37 - 0:32:03
That's right. And so, knowing that whilst you know, we might use that survey and it's fantastic, you know, like a survey that took 53 social times, took three years to develop that's freely available that really make a mean dev but there's a lot of devil in the detail and so I think that's been you know, a really useful way for people to begin to understand themselves more. And for some people in deep struggle, it's just about understanding. They have strengths and to wear that like a coat that isn't scratching and to kind of begin to observe them for all of us, how those strengths serve us and how sometimes we've got turned up too high or turned down too low. And so as much as we want them to discover those strengths and apply, and we also want them to tune them in ways that serves them. And so there's lots of conversations about that. You know, the classic examples of kindness too much to others and not to self or humour in the wrong places or honesty that becomes tactless, or people who were doing kind of those temporary strength that hadn't before, because of perseverance, so those are very useful things. The next beam is something a bit unusual I think is in this space is and its accountability and accountability, I guess, is sort of overacting important umbrella here because what I've experienced and working with people is that if people do the work, they may change if they don't, they don't. You know, kind of simple but some accountability is its whole being that now, and that's because we'll say to people, thriving is not a spectator sport. And we know and acknowledge in our struggle that sometimes showing up is enough about you will need to begin to hold yourself and others around you and your world accountable, thriving. And so we have this beautiful piece of finding the balance between grit and grace. And how do you know you need to dig in the deep and make yourself full stop or sometimes pull back with self compassion and know that today this is all you've got to give. So under accountability, with time on vision goals and what kind of growth mindset, you know what kind of mindset are you bringing here. So very briefly, that's what under there. Compassion is the next one. And that is a combination of kindness as a well being super power.


Marie
0:33:57 - 0:35:49
And all the beautiful research around how incredibly powerful it is to do acts of kindness to others but of course, having boundaries and self-protective boundaries around there. Like, you know, protect and grounds work and given take. And so we were kind of squadron to get people thinking about where they sit there and where they might need to move to, to have some boundaries around some of that. But perhaps one of the most important things in this whole framework has been self compassion and people beginning to notice that their own struggle and notice that it's not just them, that it's human to struggle and to begin to learn to suit themselves. And so that's incredibly important kind of piece. And then under Optimism, that really, when we look, you know, probably one of the most traditional psychological positive psychology pieces around, understanding that our brains are wired to be at their best when we feel positive and positive emotion, so that when we feel joy or hope, pride, love, serenity that we open up and we see morally connect better. And we bounce through difficult times and so understanding that the wiring out of our brain is actually against that and how we rewire it and getting people going on those expertise. But also beyond the positive psychology a little bit using some CDB around the stories we tell ourselves, and how do we better navigate negative emotions because that's life, right? You know, we can give ourselves tricks and tools and things to go out into the weather and to better protect ourselves but we can't stop the storms from coming. And so have we better navigate those when they do come. And then finally, Nurture is about physical health, eating, moving, sleeping and making time for mindfulness comes on under there.

Ellen
0:35:50 - 0:37:02
It's fascinating, and I know for me personally one of the complexities often of one of the challenges of communicating the science, the work that's been done and the impact that it can have is around distilling it down into a way that it becomes understandable and tangible and what you have there. What you've been able to describe for me anyway is just a wonderful metaphor and series of metaphors that sit underneath there. The idea of the BEACON, the beams that come from each of those, the acronym and the ability, then to remember all of those explanations and the way you've beautifully put each of those, it does, it just take something that is big and wide and deep and has many, many parts and kind of pulls it together into something really tangible. So I can fully understand, even just from listening to you, Marie, how even that could have a huge impact on a participant or on somebody learning that that this is stuff you can use its tangible and translatable and doable, which is wonderful and also wonderful for us as practitioners. I think you too. You know there's people who can pull it but not in such a succinct way because it's not the easiest thing in the world to do. I know because I've tried it.

Ellen
0:37:09 - 0:37:31
So great that gives us a wonderful sense of the framework and also the depths of the evidence that sits behind this framework that you're using in the documentary that you're actually taking these participants through. But that sort of sits in the background. I'm guessing with perhaps the stories of these individuals being at the forefront, am I correct? Well just from the promo I've seen, that we will put in the show notes so that people can have a look.

Marie
0:37:31 - 0:39:22
Yeah, look, the filmmakers are doing a very good job of trying to blend those things and we're having, they have more, more recently having conversations with people that create graphics. And, you know, I think one of the things that's very important for us with this documentary is that we go past awareness raising. Know there have been very many documentaries about mental health that raise awareness. We know it's a problem but what we don't know so much is what do we do about it? And if what we have been doing about it is not quite enough yet and please I don't, I definitely don't want to say that what's happening at the moment in terms of our clinical mental health services is not fantastic, because it is. But I guess I'm saying, is this another piece of the puzzle? And could we collaboratively offer this? So I had a beautiful experience recently training clinicians from Headspace. So a group of people who are social workers, OTs, exercise physiologists at Psychologist Centre Managers Community Outreach people. So, they already have their own toolboxes, and they are already qualified. But I guess you know, we can never have enough tools in a toolbox. We've been able to train those clinicians and Beacon and then they've been able to go away and apply that with young people. And we're looking at them beginning to run groups as well, in the same sort of way that I have. And that's very important, right, because what we don't want to happen is, well, we see Marie and this documentary, and you know she did that. But that her been, it isn't like that, you know, you start taking along a long, long time, and they're all my sort of worldly wisdom now that I'm over Fifty. My worldly wisdom and also my qualifications and deep reading and positive psychology. That's about translating that, and I am a conduit.

Marie
0:39:23 - 0:41:01
But what's important to me is that I begin to be a conduit to others who could be conduit. You know the BEACON. So we could have more people who can spread this. So, yes, the stories are incredibly important because if you just hear the science, it's boring. If you just hear their stories, you just read or raise awareness, you know? So how do we take good storytelling and blend together something that is entertaining enough, engaging enough but also educating enough to shift the dial and get people immediately some things that get them thinking about that doesn't sound difficult. I could write down three things that would welcome a day or I could start making eye contact with a stranger and just have a little micro moment of connection or I could focus a little bit more on getting some exercise or bit asleep or anything about having compassion towards myself. And so the challenge for us now in the next little part of the documentaries and its final stages is to make sure that there are things that people can catch, you know, because positive psychology needs to be both taught and caught and we can teach this and we can teach it to people when they're well, and they might be able to catch those things like a pro, baseball or something like that but when you're struggling your capacity to catch what's being thrown towards you is compromised. And so that is the sort of trick is how do we make these things bite sized enough, but also have this minimum effective dose that can start to shift the dial for people

Ellen
0:41:03 - 0:41:56
And am I right Marie in thinking that one of the I supposed benefits of operating in this space traditionally with psychology, at least with what we haven't waited but it's been perhaps a downfall of the profession that people have succumbed to struggle, and then they seek the help. And that's when psychologists are there to help and support obviously could make a huge difference. But I know I'm personally interested in these ways in which we can kind of scale up some of that learning and perhaps position it so that whilst in this case it's absolutely going to be of enormous benefit, that understanding even that hope around knowing that there's something that you can do if you are in a state of struggle, in some domain in your life, there's also a big preventative piece to this as well. Isn't there? Am I right in thinking that's been quite an intention around the documentary in the work you're doing?


Marie
0:41:57 - 0:42:27
Yes, that's right. So I think what we've probably done is go to the really hard end of the continuum to prove that it works, you know, and with some sort of laughs about the clinical psyches on the problem with us assess to me frequently, the people who you have taken on this documentary are struggling significantly more than people that walk through my clinic every day and have the last 25 years. I think we and then we have a pandemic and right in the middle of a marathon. It's like being in a marathon and then someone throwing a brick in the back. Yes, I think that what we are very interested in is how do we catch people before they have fall into the river and they're downstream drowning? How do we catch them before these were falling in. And how do we prevent this swiftly build their wellbeing literacy and get things in there. And they're walks until about that they can pull out when things start to kind of and it might be that they have started to struggle, but they haven't yet fallen so far. It's kind of, you know, that early preventive stages and I think that, you know, positive psychology and, for example, workplace wellbeing, which I'm sure you're involved in doing such important work in their space, Ellen and that is preventative and it is providing these things to people when they're when they're doing fine. I suppose one of the things that I'm very interested in is what happens when people just start to feel like everything is not quite as it should be. You know those moments where people around you start to say, oh, maybe you need to see somebody. Maybe, you know, this is sort of not, and they might not need to see a psychologist, and they might feel that there's a stereotype around that they might just need a coach to get alongside them or someone who's been up skilled, a leader or a teacher or a social worker or a family member and you know you could then equip them before they. I mean, I'm very interested in the space and certainly, you know, if there are people in your community who are in organisations or are practitioners that are interested in having the conversation about this or being able to use this work and their work. I think one of the things and I'm very open to a conversation with you about this Ellen coz I sort of bow down to your greater knowledge.

Marie
0:44:22 - 0:44:36
I think in workplaces, for example, like if you think about our society and our community and we know how many people are in struggle but one of the biggest institutions in our society is workplaces and schools. You know, many people are in those places. And so where do we catch them? Where we do we catch them in a way that they can learn this. And I think that workplaces right now they're they're doing some great work and this worplace of their state and there's some workplace wellbeing stuff but when people start to struggle, when the only option is AIP. I'm not sure that it is good enough anymore. And I'm going out on a limb here but I am just suggesting that what is beyond AIP? What is the more evolved, intelligent AIP? And how can we better equip leaders and others that are the beacons in whatever role they're in health care and human services and education to be those beacons so that when they observed their people starting to knock the form, not be as productive, not being as passionate, starting to kind of become less than their best selves rather than being frightened and feeling ill equipped and under resourced, how can we support them firstly, as the sort of first one to call, then maybe have another parallel kind of offering. So that's something I'm very interested in. The terms of how we create impact off the back of the documentary.

Ellen
0:45:50 - 0:46:04
Yeah, and I think I'd probably take that even a step further, Marie, from my own experience and my own kind of personal passion and the work that I do in workplaces, which is around, how do you actually even help the leaders to understand this stuff for themselves first, because they have lived the
experience that ability to then be able to pass that on that is so much more meaningful. And I've spent a long time talking to leaders in workplaces, around mental health and well being and detect the signs and symptoms and what do you do and how do you have the conversation but I'm not sure it's ever quite as powerful as you know. How do you actually implement this stuff in your own life? And then they become much more, you know, they experience the transformation that they then become, I'm not sure that evangelical is quite the right word but certainly proponents becomes embedded in the way because so much of the sorts of things you're talking about here, their thoughts of work that I do, that you do with individuals, makes the better leaders. It makes them better people and never before leaders and then for we can actually have that thriving entire workplace environment you know it all just play ever so beautifully that that becomes a culture that is supportive and I suppose creates a vibe of preventative ritual health stuff if you know what I mean?

Marie
Yes

Ellen
It's their fantastic opportunity, and I think it's kind of work that really lights a fire for me, having brought because I, yes also fully agree that we have these institutions like workplaces. In fact, I think Matt Seligman, when he first started working this area, talked about not just the individual approach, but how do we harness education and our various systems, including our workplaces, to make this stuff livable and the everyday. So you that's because of my own background in corporate, it just made sense that that would be where I would operate and having the tools to be able to do that, to be able to do it really effectively, using the stuff that you're talking about. That's where it can start to really make a big difference.


Marie
0:47:53 - 0:48:07
Yes, I absolutely agree with you, Ellen that each and every one of us needs to do the work. You know, I'm probably yet to meet someone who's never struggled in their life.

Ellen
Not really human


Marie
0:48:10 - 0:50:04
That's right. Are they robot? And Susan James has got some beautiful quotes around this but, you know, if you if you're not experiencing struggle, sometimes you're not leaning into life enough, I would say. And you know that really, if you're not struggling, then you're, you're dead or you're sort of just, what we are designed to live a life that has sometimes then experiencing struggle. If we love and we live and we leave then we will struggle. And so I think that to enable a leader to find that and to, I have to work on that first, that's always my starting point. And you're right, it sort of came out through Geelong Grammar which really started the positive psychology movement in Australia and they look about learn, lived, teach, bit and certainly in my work, always there's a duality around you need to learn it, live it, lead it, or sometimes I'll use the language that you learn and you lift your own life, you gift it to others and then you shift the place because there is that three layer, you know, for self and then thinking about how do I move that through to the system because, like seed and soil, you know I can put all the work into one person in that workplace and give them all a tips and tools. If they are seeds sitting in toxic soil then it's very, very hard for them to grow, let alone to thrive and flourish. And so it is a responsibility really to think about in workplaces. How do we move through from that self to system and that everybody is accountable for that. And so, I think leaders are attracted to that part of the Beacon model as well, that accountability is there because it is a fine line between showing compassion for people and struggle and holding them accountable for what doing what they can, the bigger their self.

Ellen
Look so many incredible opportunities there. So we will continue that conversation absolutely. I'm interested as we come to the tail end of this conversation sadly, in where the documentary itself is at at the moment, do you have a sense of when it will hit thie airwaves available for our listeners to watch and what needs to happen between now and then?

Marie
0:50:29 - 0:51:20
Oh, my goodness, this has totally opened out my eyes to how extraordinarily difficult it is to make a documentary in this country. There is so many loopholes. The guys have been incredibly persevert, and we have been lucky enough to secure funding from both Screen Australia and Film Victoria and to have some distribution deals on the table. Having said that, there is quite a lot of dynamics and things to work through from legal perspective, to financial procedures. We've also been lucky enough to get a large amount of funding from philanthropy and have some amazing diners who remained incredibly supportive and a part of our kind of extended family. When we think about the impact that we want to create, because making a documentary is one part right. But then you need to be thinking about how you use that to maximize the opportunity to changes lives.

Ellen
0:51:20 - 0:51:22
Yeah, it's the vehicle, isn't it?

Marie
0:51:22 - 0:52:29 That's right. So Q1 2022 most likely. And at the moment there is eidtors and people that do graphics and people that do music and do stuff that I don't really understand. And there's also a small amount of filming still to go, because obviously we had to film in a pandemic. So you know, and the guys coming out filming with me and my family and the next couple of weeks and back around to participants to do some things that are a bit more cinematic and a bit more interesting because without a lot of you know zoom and diary cam. So yeah, we've got a small funding gap that we are still talking to some people about and going around looking for sponsorship from corporates that may wanna align. Dr Peggy Kern from the University of Melbourne has been involved with us in terms of valuation, and our intention is to provide a free tool there will be available for everyone who watches the docummentary that they can, you know, do a QR code like, you know, like a code when you check-in and that they could do a QR code

Ellen
Yeah that we all know how to do that.

Marie
0:52:29 - 0:52:57
That's right, there's many benefits. They can do a quick measure for themself against the beacons star or the beacon..And then be given that sort of like a support, like a simple level off what we've been doing. And then people want more where they come through to Thriveability, which is the business, that I'm just rebranding, to. And that will sort of set the side of this and continue to support people and hopefully scale it out and share it out into the world.

Ellen
0:52:57 - 0:53:01
Wonderful and you must have learned so much yourself through this experience.

Marie
0:53:02 - 0:54:24
Oh my goodness. Just so so much and so much personally for me going through that from home with my three children in the house and sometimes working with some people with very, very dramatic mental illness and just thinking if people are experiencing bulimia or they're cutting or the suicidal or whatever I'm just thinking, what do I know and then just working through there and watching what happens to have a whole thing. And you know, I guess this one last thing that I would want to add in terms of that as a learning and a reflection is that the content is just the content and, of course, is a way of pulling it together and and things like that but more than the content, there is the way that it is delivered. And we talked about, you know, being taught in court. But one of the things that makes a difference around there is how we deliver it and having a relationship for and how we create for us creating that group into a tribe and up to this day remain incredibly. They were together yesterday, and one of the just one's mother died the day before yesterday, and that tribe of people who were diverse, struggling Australians who are now tight knit because they have a foundation of shared vulnerability
meant that I have kind of gone out on the limb around love. You know that, it's a little bit frowned upon, maybe, and you have to keep in cheque your boundaries. But we need to if we go into it with people and struggle and that even if we've got the best tools in the world, we need to think about how we create their sense of psychological safety that enables people to.

Ellen
0:54:49 - 0:55:02
Yeah, the sense of community and connection that, as you said right at the beginning of the Beacon model, is so critical to us

Marie
To belong

Ellen
And our ability to, yeah not just survive, but also to thrive.

Marie
0:55:03 - 0:55:18
Thankfully, we took the other participants away on wilderness weekend before Covid hit, so they could actually be in the same room together and get some of that before Covid kind of came along. So that was a very lucky thing that happened.

Ellen
Great, thank you so much for not just sharing with us, the work that you're doing, the work that you have done, the very exciting project that is how to thrive the documentary, but also for the work that you are doing for us as a profession for our community because it is. And I suppose, well, I like to think that I can appreciate the complexity only because I tried to do it myself, and I know how hard it is. So you know, to been able to forge ahead and produce this body of work, especially during a global pandemic with your children at home is just extraordinary. And I want to thank you on behalf of all of us listening in for that work.

Marie
0:56:02 - 0:56:30
Look, thank you, Ellen, and it's been an absolute blessing and a pleasure for me I feel so much gratitude and it's been hard to me this year actually to be without that, to be honest, like, you know, kind of come down because it was a ordinarily challenging and challenge me out of my own skin but what a most magnificent experience to have had and to be a part of those people's lives and see them transforming the way that they have is just truly a dream.

Ellen
0:56:31 - 0:57:05
We'll be very excited to see what's next once, of course, this documentary's out into the world, and we will put all of the details of it and where to find out more, including the link to the trailer that you can watch in the show notes for today's episode. Thank you again, Marie, for everything, for being a wonderful guest for the conversation and the insights. We really do appreciate it. And I think you've given us all a greater sense of the role that perhaps we can play in helping others around us to thrive, which I think is a wonderful gift.


Marie
0:57:05 - 0:57:08
No worries at all, it's been a pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me.

Ellen
0:57:10 - 0:58:38
Thank you so much for sharing that conversation with Marie McLeod with me. I'm really excited to see the full documentary when it's released, but in the meantime, we can all watch a trailer for How to Thrive, A Practical Guide to Happiness online. We've included a link in the show notes with this episode that you'll find either in your podcast player or potential.com.au. We've also included thinks to Marie's brand new website called Thriveability and the social accounts for her work so that you can learn more and make contact with her if you like. A couple of little behind the scenes notes that I'd like to make to today before I leave you until our next episode. First up, if you're enjoying the podcast and you have a particular interest in how fulfilling your potential as a person helps you to fulfil your potential as a leader, whether that's in the workplace, at home or within your community, then I recommend you join up as a Potential Psychology subscriber. We've put the links to subscribe in the show notes for today's episode, and subscribers are notified as soon as a new podcast episode is released. You also get tips on becoming an authentic, effective individual and leader and links to other fascinating and healthful resources that I come across in my work as workplace psychologist and the other thing I wanted to mention is that Potential Psychology Podcast. The Potential Psychology Podcast is now on YouTube. You can now see us
as well as hear us, and by us I mean my guests and I as we get deep in discussion. It is a lot of fun having a visual as well as an audio, and it really gives our conversations a whole new dimension. So you can search Potential Psychology on YouTube or follow the links in our shownotes and that's it for me today. We will be back with Episode 98. Getting very close to that 100th episode. We'll be back in mid June. We'll be with the new guest, a new conversation and new strategies for becoming your best self and fulfilling your potential. I'll see you then.