An evening filled with Eudaimonia! ideas

Here's what happened at our very first Eudaimonia! event
14 October 2016
Eudaimonia Event London 2016
Eudaimonia! event London 2016

It was not just a normal Thursday night at the Central YMCA Club, it was an evening filled with questions, musings, ideas and excitement as a 400-strong audience were entertained by a host of speakers including Alain de Botton and Charlie Leadbeater discussing what being well in London really looks like.

Eudaimonia - why now?

The event and wider Eudaimonia! movement was started by our CEO Rosi Prescott to look at wellbeing in the 21st century. We’re interested in helping people to improve in mind, body and spirit, but how do we fulfill this in today’s world? What does being well actually mean to people and how can Central YMCA continue in its mission to help people be healthier, happier and more fulfilled?

We’re interested in helping people to improve in mind, body and spirit, but how do we fulfill this in today’s world?

Charlie opened the show as the evening’s host, and continued to ask the speakers probing questions throughout the evening. After inviting Rosi to the stage as the first speaker, we were reminded that the whole movement was happening only because of Rosi’s relentless quest to discover Central YMCA’s true purpose in the 21st century. 

The poetry of being well

The evening was interspersed with poems read out by young people on their thoughts about being young and being well. Jack O’Bosci was the first up this with a rap and later we heard from Antosh Wojcik, who entertained with moving poem about his sister and Millie O’Lionsigh-Bailey, who really made us question what being well means to us.

Alain de Botton

A highlight of the evening was, of course, Alain de Botton who went from Plato and Socrates to social media in the space of a few minutes. He asked us to consider taking time to reflect and go inside ourselves without the fear of ‘self indulgence’. He warned against those that claimed to be totally sane and urged that we should make friends with the word mad. He spoke about taking the time to train our minds as we would our bodies and not being ashamed of that. We don’t think twice about putting in a regimented logical workout for a certain part of our body, so why would we not do the same for our minds? He also asked us to take time to process our thoughts, however uncomfortable, as he believed not doing so was the major cause of insomnia.

We don’t think twice about putting in a regimented logical workout for a certain part of our body, so why would we not do the same for our minds?

There were a number of questions from the audience and polls led by Charlie throughout the event - one of which seemed to indicated that only 20% of us felt comfortable enough to be ourselves whilst at work.

Anthony Painter was next to the stage, discussing the financial aspect of our wellbeing - something we can’t ignore. Universal Basic Income was a concept up for discussion along with the impact that  powerlessness and a sense of no control can have on our overall mental health.

There were moments throughout the evening when we took a few minutes to relax, to stretch (literally) and even run around giving each other high fives. This was thanks to Georgie Okell and our very own Hamit Buhara who gave us the chance to reset and recharge.

Panel debates

The panel events were another highlight of the evening  the first of which included Robert Rowland Smith, Natalie Nahai and Andre Spicer. Interesting ideas were raised including a ‘digital detox’ - suggested by Natalie who takes Friday as a day off from emails - and even ‘wellbeing fascism’, raised by Andre who drew our attention to those places which were enforcing perceived ‘wellbeing’ on their employees with negative results.

20% of us felt comfortable enough to be ourselves whilst at work.

Innovations in wellbeing

Next up, a range of some the most innovative wellbeing schemes we’ve seen, including Dr Sam Everington OBE on his pioneering health centre in Bromley-by-Bow, Shift - a company taking a new approach with product design, as discussed by Nick Stanhope, Good Gym, started by Ivo Gormley and how it’s encouraging people to give back to their communities and finally Muslim Girls Fence, an initiative discussed by Raheel Mohammed and Latifa Akay to encourage muslim girls to feel empowered.

Final panel discussion

A final panel saw Matthew Taylor discuss how we should be diversifying our social circles, Kieran Boyle questioning why tube signs say ‘stand on the right’ and not ‘walk on the left’ and Rosi returned to the stage to talk a little bit more about our quest to become something much more than a gym. To which Indy Johar also asked us to collectively aim for the stars.

The brilliant evening ended with the announcement of Central YMCA’s incubator project and the encouragement to get involved with Eudaimonia. This is just the beginning - join the movement here!

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