Hi there, how are you?

Are you fine?

We all greet each other numerous times a week and quickly ask “how are you?”  “Oh Hi, I’m fine, how are you?” is often the response.  But are you actually the dictionary definition of “fine”?  Is your day satisfactory and pleasing?

Or are you a bit closer to this definition of “fine” from the 2003 action movie The Italian Job?  The lead character points out to his mate just before the big heist that everyone knows that F.I.N.E stands for........

  • Freaked out
  • Insecure
  • Neurotic
  • Emotional

It’s ok, we all have those days, and unfortunately we often try to hide it with a smile and a wave.  I first saw this movie about 10 years ago when my first baby was pretty young, and the hidden meaning of fine really resonated with me.  I know that sometimes I’ve told people I’m fine when I was feeling anything but calm and happy, but I thought I just had to get on with my day.

However, when we’re not honest with the people around us, we limit the ways in which relationships can boost our well-being.  We miss out on the chance to get to know other people better by sharing our experiences.  We miss the opportunity to allow a friend to be kind to us and then for us to express our gratitude.  These simple things are potent mood boosters and deepen relationships at the same time.

Positive Relationships

I think we worry that it’s opening a can of worms to admit how we’re really feeling, but the friend who cares enough to ask how we’re doing in the first place is going to be interested in the truth, and willing to offer support.  And, very importantly, when we’re brave enough to admit that things aren’t perfect, it can make it a lot easier for our friends to open up about how they’re feeling too.

So Mums, some days you’ll say you’re fine and you absolutely are (hooray!), but on the days when you’re F.I.N.E. please remember that you’re not alone.  Reach out to someone close to you, visit your favourite café with the chatty owner, or wander to the park to see who else is out and about in your neighbourhood.  If you’re open to social connection there are lots of opportunities to boost your well-being

Best wishes from Flourishing Mothers

PS.  If you are feeling F.I.N.E. too often and you’re finding it hard to reach out, please do consider speaking with a professional.  We’d be happy to chat with you about whether Coaching would be helpful for you or you could start with a chat with your GP. 

Increase your own wellbeing by asking your partner questions!

Having a good relationship with your partner is enormously helpful when navigating the journey of motherhood. Turning to them when things are tough or when you have had a bad day can help support you and give you the sense you are in it together!

And when caring and sharing is reciprocated in close personal relationships, we feel a great sense of personal wellbeing. Positive psychology has established a very strong link between positive relationships and wellbeing, and even supports the notion that love in caring relationships is the “trump card” of wellbeing.

Talking couple flourishing

A really interesting line of research into couples and intimate relationships suggests that supporting each other when good things happen is really important in strengthening a relationship.  How you celebrate in a relationship is more important than how you argue!

In flourishing relationships, couples respond “actively and constructively” when sharing good news or experiences with each other.  This means asking questions which encourage the person to talk about their good news. When we show a sense of genuine enthusiasm and energy for their experience, and we comment on the meaning it may have for them, it helps them to savour their positive emotions.

This contrasts with other responses which tend to weaken the warmth and bond of the relationship. For example; listening to the news but not showing enthusiasm, listening to the news but pointing out its downsides or complications, listening to the news and changing the subject or not even responding at all!

When responding to your partner you can be yourself, you don’t have to overdo the praise - just be interested, ask questions, including what it means for them. Your relationship will get a boost and you will increase your own wellbeing at the same time.

We hope you have a chance to test out this idea soon!

(Adapted by Flourishing Mothers from the work of Dr Shelly Gable, Professor of Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara)