Style for the Soul | はあとふる・ふくしま

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はあとふる・ふくしま

Style for the Soul

2011/09/05
 

You’re unsatisfied with your daily life, can’t set goals for yourself, are too hurried mentally to get anything done. The frantic feeling you had right after the disaster has settled down, but loathing and lethargy rear their heads in its place. You want to become more positive, but how?

One day after the disaster, I went out to participate in the relief effort and saw a bouquet of flowers arranged on a meeting table. It was a state of emergency, and I was too stressed and anxious to find calm in anything, but those flowers unwound some of the tension in the air. It turned out that one of the staff members had brought them in, out of no bigger idea than, “They seemed like they’d help somehow.” What a show of style that was. At a time when we were all packing so many bags, I may have wondered why they didn’t bring food or something else more essential. But that small luxury brought me a tiny bit of peace, and I believe that was very important indeed.

Taking the time to be stylish can also help people with dementia. As that disorder advances, fewer and fewer things can hold your interest, you stop caring about how you look, and eventually you just think about sustenance. But surprisingly enough, putting makeup on can snap people out of it, instantly reviving one’s passion for life. Eating is important for survival, and although make-up does nothing for your physical health, it seems that it is important for the health of the mind. Even people with advanced dementia hold firmly to the desire to look good.

It “just seemed like it would help” to have flowers. That desire to have a little something nice around hides deep in the back of our mind, and can have a surprisingly positive effect on our mood. Another helpful tool is humor, which you could call style for the soul. It’s a powerful weapon for overcoming hardships. We laugh at our circumstances to endure them, or talk about dreams that seem just a little too impractical. It’s that sense of style that we need now. Even an old man’s bad puns are a clumsy attempt at stylishness, so be kind enough to listen to them.


Mr. Hata Akinobu, Head of the Fukushima Prefectural Mental Health and Welfare Center

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