Was that really me?

I was startled when I caught sight of myself in a shop window reflection last weekend. More of that in a moment.

But first, after a rainy few weeks, California has suddenly gone all Spring-like.

For now, at least, the sun’s shining, the blossom’s blooming, and the sky is a happy shade of blue.

Sorry if the weather’s not doing exactly the same where you are, but I’ll try and attach some sunshine to today’s post.

There’s a fair bit to share with you, including the outcome of some morale-building self-experimentation I’ve been doing, as well as feedback from last week’s survey in which we looked for alternatives to the word “morale.”

First, that survey form.

You’ll probably recall that I was keen to explore which of a list of 18 possible replacements for “morale” would come through strongest in a vote.

My thinking was that morale might be a term that people connect to teams (and perhaps the military) more than they do to individuals.

Actually, morale itself did pretty well in the vote, coming in at No. 2, so perhaps it’s not as community-focused as I’d worried.

Top of the list, however, was “spirit,” which 40% of our 153 voters included in their top three.

The five leading choices, with their percentages, were:

1. Spirit (40.1%)
2. Morale (28.6%)
3. Resilience (24.5%)
4. Well-being (21.8%)
5. Outlook (19.7%)

A big thank you to everyone who voted. It therefore seems we can safely use either the word “spirit” or morale itself to describe this slightly elusive quality we’re hoping to measure and ideally boost.

So, back to that experimental work I’ve been doing, and an explanation of why my reflection took me aback.

Those who’ve known me for a while will be aware that I’ve had a long fascination for designing tools of various kinds based on playing cards.

Moodscope, of course, still uses the cards we originally devised ten years ago that enable people to give themselves a score for their overall mood.

Then, a few years back, I experimented with packs of hexagonal playing cards, that I called WellBee, designed to self-rate overall well-being.

But rather than enabling the calculations of scores, this latest work explores the use of a playing-card-like mechanism to provide actual advice and actionable prompts.

I’ve created a prototype deck of 60 cards which I’m using to experiment on myself.

On each card is printed a simple action: something I can easily do that day to help keep myself on track.

And since the cards are wallet-sized, I can choose one at random, then carry it with me as a reminder.

The cards’ actions are based on twelve dimensions I’ve extracted from past studies into demoralisation that have been carried out by psychiatrists and psychologists.

For example, since someone who’s demoralised is likely to feel isolated, one of my dimensions is “connectedness” – the actions suggesting easy ways to reach out to other people. Other dimensions are “resilience” (which of course appeared in our voting results), and “self-respect.”

Back to that shop window, though.

Last Sunday, my random card came from the “self-confidence” dimension, and it suggested: “At every opportunity today, remind myself to walk taller and straighter.”

This old but effective trick can have a great impact on self-confidence.

I’d been for a coffee and was walking back to the car when, as I said, I happened to catch a glimpse of myself in the window of the dry-cleaners.

Or, rather, I happened to catch a glimpse of someone who looked a bit like me, except he was a hunchback.


This was me?

This is how I walk when nobody’s looking?


As I said, it was a shock, and I can tell you, it suddenly made me stand up a whole lot straighter for the rest of the day.

Every time I opened my wallet, there was that reminder again.

What’s more, simply standing straighter really did make me feel better.

This action is one of sixty, so there’s a lot more for me to work through.

Where does the experiment go next?

Well, I’m not entirely sure, but I will of course keep you in touch with what happens. I’m definitely doing this with the firm intention of creating something we can all use in due course.

Perhaps it will help us all if we stand up, or sit up, a little straighter.

23 thoughts on “Was that really me?

  1. What a great idea Jon. I would pay for a pack of these, especially at the moment as I’m going through bit of a rough patch and so being reminded at random of little things I can try, would be good. You know what it’s like, you know what to do, but it can be tricky to do it!

    Your cards put me in mind of something similar we have distributed at work amongst colleagues to help them to be mindful- with keyring cards based on these
    More info here: http://neweconomics.org/2008/10/five-ways-to-wellbeing-the-evidence/

    We got permission to reproduce the statements as sadly NEF no longer make the postcards, which is a real pity.

    1. I love the idea of your keyring cards, Kate. I do remember those NEF statements, although can’t believe that they were first published ten years ago. Gosh, where foes the time go?

      Hope things ease up a bit for you soon…

  2. Hi Jon
    I have used a similar system for myself and also for my son who suffers with anxiety/depression. I compiled my own list of post it notes with sayings and affirmations . These prove very useful when dealing with negative thoughts and overthinking. That immediate visual stimulation pops into the mind and diverts my thoughts to something far more pleasing and beneficial . Your cards look great Jon, another brilliant tool for anyone’s mental health ‘toolbox’ .

  3. A superb idea, Jon, once again!
    I hate it when I catch a glimpse of me in a shop window…I tend to do a double-take and thall night ‘oh that old woman looks like my mum…!’ And then I realise I am my mum!!

  4. Another great post! I love the idea of the cards as I am a pretty visual person!
    I have something similar – a box of cards with Buddists quotes- you choose one and reflect on that quote during the day. I think your idea sounds very helpful!
    I had to smile about your reaction to your reflection! 😊 I have always had good posture – as I’m short I think I stand a little taller so that I can see in a crowd! I have however caught my reflection and noticed a sad look on my face when that’s not how I’m feeling at all. It reminds me to relax my face and smile!
    Thanks for all that you do!

    1. Thanks Judy. You’re so lucky to have good posture… Interesting about spotting the sad look on your face when you’re not actually sad. This has happened to me, too!

  5. The cards look amazing, Jon. I can already think of lots of people I know who would love them. Keep us posted on when they become available!

  6. As with everyone else, I’m loving the idea. Anything that helps, I’ll take it, thanks Jon. Looking forward to seeing these develop.

    1. Thanks Mary. More good progress made today. Usefully, today’s random card was “make a schedule and stick to it,” which has helped me no end with the work.

  7. Love the idea of the cards – and thanks for sharing, I have done that so many times and you do feel better when you walk tall!

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