My Manifesto

Why I Work

Lack of wellness has become the most important issue of our day

We seem to be surrounded with more knowledge, tools and connectedness than ever. And yet, we fail to find meaning in work. We fail to find joy in the ordinary moments of daily life. We feel disconnected from ourselves, from each other, and from the Earth.

Depression and suicide have become leading causes of death. One out of five of us will develop traumatic stress. Scientists are discovering by the day how even the seemingly physiological illnesses like cancer or Alzheimer’s may have psychological roots.

We don’t feel good.

We have forgotten how to feel good. Maybe we know what to do, but we don’t quite know how to do it. We have forgotten how to care for ourselves. We have forgotten how to care for others too.

Unwell individuals create global disasters, and vice versa

Lack of wellness is a closed feedback loop; it reinforces itself. The unwell individuals create global disasters, and the global disasters create more unwell individuals.

Look at the past. Even if we could find a few hundred people behind most wars, broken democracies, and crashing economies, the resulting poverty and traumas make way to racism, violence, global warming, endangered species, and more, spreading the harmful effect beyond our imagination. These global disasters make more of us unwell in return.

Now look at the future. Just like we don’t design our individual lives for wellness, we don’t design for wellness as a global society either. By 2050, 75% of the 10bn people living on Earth will be living in cities, enduring the stresses of crowded urban life. And yet we are designing cities for efficiency and growth, not wellness. We design ground breaking technologies much in the same way, without a real concern for wellness. We get people used to clicking, commenting, sharing, hashing out, judging, comparing before they even think.

It has become impossible to tell which is the chicken and which is the egg.

But one thing is clear.

We have to start with the individuals

We all know individuals have an extreme amount of power. One individual can change an entire family system. One individual can change the entire global agenda.

The individual who is not able to sustain herself won’t be able to take on the responsibility of sustaining her environment, community or democracy. Generosity comes only from a place of abundance. A person in a scarcity mindset cannot give back.

If we could help each individual feel 20% better, we would solve 80% of the problems in the world. Because those individuals with the incremental wellness would now collectively have so much more to give. They would have less violence and more compassion, less impatience and more understanding, less silence and more communication. They would participate actively in the solution of global problems, instead of contributing to the problems.

We are surrounded by many people on grand missions to change the world. But our mission to change the world for the better has to start with ourselves. We first have to bring more support, meaning and healing into our own lives, or we won’t have the necessary grounds from which we can solve other big problems.

In other words, if we don’t feel good, we won’t do anyone or anything any good either.

How I Work

Belonging to supportive communities

We are mammals; we exist together. The single most important thing we need to increase our wellness is to be belong to supportive relationships and communities. We need to be nurtured.Wellness can’t be found in isolation. We need others to care for our wellness, to support us on our journey, to give us tools or knowledge we need.

We go further quicker if we connect and belong. If others are there for us viscerally. If we can hear, see, touch them. If we have the stories of others to learn from, to hold us mirrors. And if we have the opportunity to simply tell our story and be heard, be seen and be touched, without being judged.

Empowering & educating the individuals

From the point of view of the average individual, wellness is not affordable. People can’t afford therapy or expensive wellness retreats. Even if wellness services were affordable (or subsidized), we can’t educate wellness professionals fast enough to support a 10bn global community anyway. We will always need professionals to help with the 20% special cases, but individuals who learn and engage with evidence based wellness practices in supportive communities can bring 80% of the wellness.

We can no longer and sit around and wait for wellness solutions to be given to us. It is our responsibility to bring more wellness to our own lives and those around us. We need to, and we can, learn how to take action on wellness.

Exploring what works for you, based on evidence and deep listening

What brings wellness to me might be different from what brings wellness to the next person. What brings wellness to this community might be different from the next community.

Wellness is a complex topic of the the heart, the mind, the body, the personal circumstances, the family, the communities, and the larger society. Cookie cutter solutions don’t work. Sometimes even if the solution is the same, we may need different approaches or speeds. Or what we need may change over time, as we keep changing.

What is needed is a rigorous personal exploration based on scientific evidence and deep listening. Prioritizing known facts over hear say; knowing what effects were researched, what solutions were found, scientifically. Then, a deep listening to our bodies, a mindset of not taking anything at face value, a holistic mindset of bringing the science together with the deep wisdom in our bodies. Finding which solutions work for you, experimenting, adjusting.

This means wellness comes from a constant work of discerning, moment to moment, what you need and how you can get it. It is a constant work of self-leadership.

Encouraging multicultural and mindful communication

The wellness work we do at the individual and society level both, has to take the multicultural nature of our lives into account, and the oppression some people have to suffer through. Nowhere in the world today do we live in a monocultural, non-diverse community. We are always surrounded by people with different socioeconomic, ethnic, sexual, gender backgrounds.

Diversity, equality and freedom need to be key components of every community, team, work we create. We all need to keep learning the right language to use, the right actions to take to ensure safe, non-harming, multicultural communities. These are skills we can all learn. Any moment we come together, is a moment to learn and practice.

Using technology as a tool and a resource

Technology is a powerful resource that can aid wellness practices or help us find wellness when a visceral connection is not possible.

Technology should always be supporting our visceral connections, making way to them, not replacing them. When we know verbal language is only a small portion of communication, any connection that stays only at the verbal level eventually takes away wellness instead of adding to it. Same is true for unmoderated tech tools - online communities without the proper human guidance and direction, can do more harm than good.

What I Work On

Given all this WHY and HOW, this is what my work looks like at the moment:

  • Teaching mindfulness (awareness+compassion) in 6 week courses, offline and online, as well as in 1:1 teaching sessions. I also give talks and workshops, and I teach mindfulness to startups and corporations.
  • Creating and leading mindfulness communities in Paris and online. (links coming soon)
  • Sharing my personal journey to wellness as well as the wellness journeys of others on my blog and newsletter and on a podcast called Watch What Happens, hoping that we can start conversations on how to find more wellness together. Some topics I write about are: finding meaning in work, working for myself, my wellness tools, books that guide me, unleashing my artistic expression, relationships, being a woman, and finding my voice.
  • Producing a podcast called Watch What Happens where inspiring young adults in their early 30s share how they found growth throughout their 20s. (link coming soon)
  • Exploring some ideas for the future such as a social wellness game, proximity-based wellness communities, a program called What Do I Want To Do With My Life designed to find meaning in work.

Thanks for reading my manifesto! If you have comments or questions, please feel free to put them in the comments below. If you feel inclined to chat more or to work together on this mission, or if you know people who can help, guide or mentor me, I'd be very happy to know.

All the best,
Zeynep