David Smith: I will have to decide whether to take the plunge as 2021 dawns.


It is not for everyone, I understand, particularly in the current times.

But to support me with my rehabilitation and continuing therapy, I have embraced many of the lessons of positive psychology.

And as I sit here in the sun waiting for my oncology appointment to call me on a daily basis, I look at my journal where I wrote the PERMA model.

It’s a theory thought up by Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania in the early 2010s, if you’re not familiar with the PERMA model – which I think most of you aren’t.

He assumes that in order to thrive, we humans need some elements in life, and that is where the PERMA model comes in.

Positive feelings, commitment, partnerships, significance and accomplishments stand for it.

And very literally, to help us live better lives, it’s a guide for us.

Driving around Jamaica has made me think more about what Seligman says and how many things people naturally do anyway.

I use it as self-control on a personal level to ensure that I live my life and do not let hospital life lead me.

As I said, it might not be for everybody, but there is a lot of research demonstrating that if we build our consciousness around models like PERMA’s, we can live happier lives.

Instead of following my old life habits where I was just competing for medals within the British sports system, I know I have more of this way of living.

Compared to the faster paced life in Kingston, last week I spoke about my observations of individuals living a very simple life in the bush, and the more time I spend in Jamaica, the more I notice the differences.

In Kingston, driving is like falling into Tetris Level 20.

It’s all going at a much faster speed than I want.

It has been a crazy experience just driving around this week with the heavy rain filling up the potholes.

In Kingston, just going to the pool and gym has become a game of survival.

I’m dividing my time between the country and Kingston now — I’m living on a farm this time.

And it’s certainly a different experience for me: it’s great to just relax and unwind, on the one hand, but there’s still something going on, on the other hand.

This week, at 2 a.m., 60 heads of cattle erupted. On their way into the city and created chaos.

And just before I got here, there was a shootout by local police with criminals who were stealing cows.

A cow was killed in the process after being caught in the crossfire, and one of the suspects was shot as well.

Thus, for me, these are two very contrasting encounters, welcoming the edgy energy that often occurs on this island.

I find a balance between the gym, cycling and swimming when it comes to my training.

My intention is to just get fit and not get straight on the bike with the uncertainty of what the 2021 season will look like and the high danger of racing on the roads here.

I just want to be sturdy enough so that I can ride my bike 15 hours a week when I get home.

Swimming is a huge part of my workout routine here, but it gave me a different perspective this week than just the trouble of navigating the ocean current.

I wanted to go to the beach for a short swim prior to going to Kingston.

I was greeted by a young man whose message was very clear when I arrived at the little beach spot I go to most weeks.

He said, “Don’t park here and don’t swim or you will be robbed and your car will be smashed”

It wasn’t worth the risk, as much as I wanted to swim, especially because the radio news warned residents of increased crime.

There were more shootings between police and gangs, obviously, and with that, the beach was only five minutes away from Steer City, where gangs are the dominant force.

So I just told myself to go back and drive away in the car.

It feels like you’re living in a movie here in several ways, but as I leave you this week, I encourage you to think about the model of PERMA and how you can incorporate those elements into your life.


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