Gentle France

Gentle France

“Gentleness is a divine trait; nothing as strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.” R Sockman

A 14 year old boy sits down next to a 80 year old woman sitting alone on a park bench in the village. He asks her what she bought. She shows him her vegetables that she bought at the market. She tells him what she will cook tonight, that it will keep her strong, and that it tastes very good. He smiles. She asks about his skateboard. He shows her the wheels. Until today, they had never met. These are the experiences France offers every day, and in every corner, from what we have observed or from what has been reported to us. Powerful protective factors can be found in this brief example.

Individuals of all ages like to connect with individuals of all ages; eye contact is made, smiles are shared, brief enquiries regarding health, comments regarding the weather (usually pointing out how good it is), simple acts of respect and validation. Interactions are often brief, but always or usually meaningful. Individuals stop, make eye contact, and greet each other as they enter an establishment, or as they are handed their coffee. Strangers stop to greet you, wish you a good breakfast and comment on the good weather.

Calm, focussing on plenty and patience (and offering or receiving someone’s full attention) are part of the tradition in France from what we have observed over 20 years.

“From serenity comes gentleness, comes lasting strength.” P Brown

France has highlighted the importance of focussing on child protection concerns in recent months during the pandemic. France has considered good evidence in relation to practical, academic and theoretical challenges. Many charities in France look after those without a voice.

Most comment that they feel ‘home’ and ‘accepted’ in France, even after their initial arrival. France is a place where many feel welcome. Camaraderie (often working together with common goals eg protecting children), liberty and equality are evident in France.

Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité are not mere words in France, but experienced. Most people leave France with one main lesson, that everyone from every walk of life eats the same excellent quality of food, and that you can have the best meal of your life for 3 euros. Months or years can be spent discussing the bread and the butter. Simple things are treasured and expert skills are valued in these domains. Many report “airlines can learn from France’s approach to food”. Attention to detail, relating to all matters, including quality of bread or butter, makes all the difference and translates into quality of life, strength and success. People are inspired by skills, enjoyable food, beauty, by tidy parks and colourful gardens.

Many now report “France is a place where we can find normal, breathe, we can exhale, we can find calm”. Markets provide a world of experiences in every small village. Conversations started, treasures found, stories shared and moments made. Lives are sustained and made worth while by simple things and precious moments. Restaurants are open and Jazz live concerts continue. Spirits soar as the audience enjoys the talent. Communities come together to connect and enjoy together, with evidence-based safeguards, such as regularly washing hands and remaining calm and positive. Simple evidence-based initiatives, decisions and priorities relating to protective factors, promote and sustain immune systems, general health, mental health, development and well-being.

“In this world there is nothing softer or thinner than water. But to compel the hard and unyielding, it has no equal. That the weak overcomes the strong, that the hard gives way to the gentle, this everyone knows, but no one acts accordingly.” Lao-Tzu

Patients, children and families, medical and mental health colleagues often contact us to ask us “where do I find some normal to protect my (or our) health”. Normalcy, autonomy, liberty are evidence-based protective factors for health, mental health, development and well-being. Other examples of protective factors are provided above, such as being part of a community, support networks, friendly conversation, enjoyment and calm.

Medical doctors use the phrase ‘evidence-based’ when good or very good clinical evidence supports the statement or initiative.

We have been asked to write about bio-psycho-social protective factors for health, mental health, development, well-being and success. Health, mental health, appropriate development and well-being are some of the building blocks for success and victory with goals. We have liaised with several organisations, visited many places, and provided lists for several months. We know our colleagues are asked the same questions.

Simple evidence-based protective factors can change the course of individuals’ health, mental health and development. Let’s work together to focus on good clinical evidence.

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