Sheikha Intisar Salem Al Ali Al Sabah
Whether it’s through Alnowair, a non-profit initiative that spreads positivity, or Lulua Publishing, with its magazines that transform readers’ physical and mental wellbeing, Kuwait’s Sheikha Intisar Salem Al Ali Al Sabah is all about social responsibility and making a difference. The philanthropic mother-of-four is also known for her inspiring, personalised weekly column in “Al-Qabas” newspaper. She is an entrepreneur as well, having co-founded Prismologie, a brand of mood-enhancing body care products, established Lulua Production House and created Intisars, a fine jewellery line. Plus, the Kuwait University graduate is on the consultative board of the United Nations Development Programme bureau in Kuwait and a member of several associations, whether to do with human rights, children’s health care, animal protection or journalism.
Knowing everyone wants an upbeat 2018, we focused on talking to Sheika Intisar about Alnowair, which relies on scientific research by leading institutions like Harvard and Berkeley, to spread positive vibes in Kuwait through events, exhibitions, activities, seminars, workshops and campaigns. What’s more, we ask the winner of numerous honours and awards about the best tips she has garnered from the leading experts in the field of positive psychology. If nurturing positivity at home, learning easy techniques to stay cheerful and understanding how an optimistic attitude can really affect you is on your 2018 to-do list, this is a great place to start.
You launched Alnowair on the same day as the first International Day of Happiness, on 20 March four years ago. What do you have planned for that day in 2018?
We have a nice surprise as it’s our 5th anniversary, and we will celebrate our great happiness in reaching beyond our goals and expectations with all the people who have been affected by Alnowair.
As part of the initiative, you aim to inspire students at schools and universities to be more positive too. Tell us about some of the educational activities and campaigns Alnowair has been involved with.
For schools and Kuwait University, we have created a special curriculum under the name of Bareec. Therefore, Bareec is the educational arm under the umbrella of Alnowair. The curriculum is based on the outcomes of scientific researches in the field of positive psychology that also creates positive social behavioural change. We yield these outcomes into short, creative and interactive activities that can be performed in the classroom, in school, in college, or at home.
As things get increasingly competitive, isn’t it more important than ever for everyone to realise success should include happiness and wellbeing, not just getting good grades or landing a top job?
This is exactly what we are doing with Bareec. The curriculum focuses on positive thinking and wellbeing. With a positive mind, one can achieve wellbeing and success consequently. A decade of scientific research in this field has proven that. That is why we stress students’ engagement in our activities. Mental health and wellbeing will help in goal achieving and success.
How can parents nurture positivity at home?
Speaking of parents, let me tell you some stories. Parents visit their kids’ schools where Bareec is applied. They meet their teachers wondering what they are doing with their kids because they felt a remarkable transformation in their kids’ behaviour… Parents say they have become more cheerful, helpful, caring, self-confident, reliable and creative at home to cheer everyone up, and they love going to school. They did not know about Bareec, and now they visit the school and ask the teachers to apply Bareec activities with all their children at school. Plus, the husbands of Bareec teachers notice the remarkable change in their wives. And the children realised the impact Bareec has had on their mums.
Can you explain how an optimistic attitude can positively affect the way we feel?
An optimistic and positive view gives hope and that in itself is a huge influencer on our attitude to continue working or giving up, to continue studying or to give up, to continue looking for solutions or to give up. Years of research have proven that a positive mindset works better than a negative one in problem solving, health, sleep and financial gains. All these would surely make people feel better than when they are negative and pessimistic.
So is the saying “Smile and the world smiles at you” spot on?
The world smiles back always, and from research done on the ‘act as if’ theory, your brain, even when you fake a smile, actually believes you are happy.
Alnowair relies on scientific research by renowned institutes and leading experts. Can you give us some daily practices you’ve picked up by professionals that we can apply?
Smile even if you have to fake it is one of my daily rituals, so always find things to be thankful for, a minimum of five a day. Another one of my daily practices is to look at the good in everything, situation or event. This is one of the most life changing things I have ever started doing.
You’re responsible for several wellness projects. Is it hard to pinpoint your biggest contribution to your beloved country?
I like to spread knowledge when I get to learn something new that makes me feel better, act better or become better. Pinpointing exactly what these tools are and where they are dispersed is slightly less simple as I do many things at one time.
Congratulations on winning an award at the Arab Women of the Year Awards. Did you think you might win, or was it a total surprise?
I was actually told a few weeks before hand, if for mainly my guaranteed presence at the awards, which were held in London. Even though I knew I was winning, hearing my name called and going on stage and getting an award and thanking my family and friends was a another great moment for me. And the surprise was in how I felt as opposed to how I thought I would feel. It was much, much more beautiful.