Flexibility: the key to wellbeing

Flexibility: the key to wellbeing

​By Lucy Clementson-Mills.


We have all heard it, the cautionary tale of the small tree with flexibility in its branches who was jealous of the large tree with rigidity in its branches. But when the storm came, the small tree's flexible branches swayed with it, and it survived; whereas the large tree's rigid branches tried to resist it, and it collapsed and was reduced to a stump. 

Just as a flexible muscle will have good circulation and achieve its full range of motion, so too having a flexible approach to work and to life is the cornerstone for greater health, wellbeing, and getting the most out of what this world has to offer.


The success misconception

There is a misconception today, that success comes as a result of stubbornly subjecting ourselves to unnecessary suffering and strain in the form of over work, stress, sleep deprivation and burnout.  This attitude creates misery on the road to success, and breeds a destructive negative energy that is not only harmful to ones' self, but is also extremely contagious to those around us. This is not what success really is and is harmful to our health and wellbeing.


The true nature of success

Albert Schweitzer put it aptly when he said, ‘Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.  If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.’ Life is full of obstacles, but these times are when we learn, so approach such times with as much positivity as you can muster; they help us learn and will be key to achieving our desires.  True success is found as much in the process as it is in the results; the journey is as important as the destination. So, how should we go with the flow a little more?


The importance of flexibility

So the next time a new obstacle presents itself, maybe an unforeseen problem, that we remain flexible enough to respond to it in a fresh way, even if it goes against our previously formulated plans.  There are times when staying the course means incorporating enough flexibility into our design to be able to change tactics.  This is particularly the case when we make mistakes. There is often a temptation to keep using the same tactics that haven’t worked in the past. 


Flexibility vs work / life balance

'Balance' is a slippery term, as what constitutes 'balance' is constantly shifting and is different for everyone.  Life throws up new challenges, work presents new opportunities and we need to respond accordingly.  We need to be flexible and do what works for us at that particular time and which ultimately leads to our version of success.

But life moves on and flexibility means recognising that our responses need to change in line with our life changes. There was a time when a big project meant longer days at work and those excess hours were possible without having a detrimental effect on your wellbeing.

However, fast forward a few years and perhaps you now have caring responsibilities or a young family.  Your definition of what makes you happy and constitutes success has changed; 12-hour days equals burnout.  The work hasn’t changed, but your life has.  Equally there will be times when life stays the same but work changes. 

It is not really possible to have a clear balance between work and life.  We need to make our life work for us based on what stage of life we are at.  Instead it is essential we are flexible.  Rather than adhering to a strict regime or strict hours, it is better to be able to embrace moments of spontaneity, responding to life as it happens, instead of trying to incorporating everything in a preconceived plan.   

Exerting ourselves and making an effort is important, but not to the point of injury.  We need to be flexible enough to put our health and wellbeing first. While the large, rigid-branched tree may look stronger and more impressive, it is the flexible one that will weather the storm.  



Lucy is a certified Yoga Teacher and founder of Yoga Three60. Lucy’s mission is to help organisations and people be at their best through her people consultancy business, Culture Three60. 

Please visit Lucy's website at http://www.culturethree60.co.uk/