Let Go of the Ideal of Happiness

by Indigo

Happiness is not the magic
pill for maintaining mental
well-being because it takes a
combination of things such
as joy for mental wellness.

Throughout the world there is a mental health day and week set aside in October to bring about mental health awareness. Until recently, it was usually more about mental illness. When I first began offering services, I was adamant that I would ‘change the conversation from mental illness to mental wellness’. What I’ve noticed is that a lot of coaches and professionals, in general are claiming to be mental health practitioners. It is great that people want to wave the ‘mental wellbeing’ flag and help people but I think we may be missing the overall point. A lot of people are teaching about happiness, which is temporary and doesn’t really address mental health fully. And, my concern is that once October slips away mental health will slip our minds, too.
Happiness is not the magic pill maintaining mental well-being, although it can improve your mental state. What has become crystal clear is the difference between happiness and joy. People need joy for mental wellness. Happiness is
an emotion that comes from doing something whether it is laughing, being with someone, drinking, or whatever. It is produced by external stimuli and its short term. Joy is a state of being that includes peace, bliss and well-being that exists
whether you are happy or sad within a moment. In fact, you can have joy, but experience sadness. The reason I am writing about this is because people focus more on being happy versus experiencing joy. Joy is actually harder to experience than happiness because it means being grateful when crap happens, having peace with uncertainty, loving yourself and forgiving others and the list goes on. With all that some people go through they still have joy and you can too. Joy leads to mental well-being.

We spend too much time trying to be happy, which is temporary. And, when people experience a normal emotion
of unhappiness, they feel like something is wrong. All emotions are normal when put into context. But, we rarely
hear about the importance of joy. Everyone has mental health similar to physical health. Mental health is a
spectrum: there is mental illness to mental wellness and many points in between. I would like to see us focus on
mental wellness which means practicing a combination of things. To increase mental wellness, you must become joyful which is sustainable with a mind, body and spirit connection:

Feed Your Mind: Positivity a Source of Strength

Much of mental health stems from the mind, i.e. the brain and hard wiring. But it is also about our thoughts, what we feed our mind, and what we think about. If you find that you cannot rest your mind, try putting it on an information diet. Stop watching things whether on television or YouTube that cause you to not have positive thoughts and replace it with things that are edifying and cheerful. Your brain is like a computer. It can only put out what information was put in. You can’t expect reaffirming thoughts when you consume disparaging music, disturbing movies, troublesome books, etc. I highly recommend listing out a few gratitude statements or affirmations that you can say when you wake up and when you go to bed each night. It’s very powerful what the mind will do with those messages. Try for the next 28 days to surround yourself with positive things or positive thoughts to increase your mental well-being.

Rest Your Body: Sleep Your Way to Better Health

Everything runs out of energy and needs to be restored. That includes you and your mind. You must rest your physical body to reenergize your mind. I believe that whatever day and time you wake up, you need to be asleep on that same day. So, if you wake up at 6:45 am on Tuesday, you need to be in bed falling asleep by 11:59 pm on Tuesday. It is not okey to be up in the middle of the night for long extended periods of time whether for work, children or to catch up on reading. You will suffer from sleep deprivation which has been linked to diabetes and strokes both of which are high in Asia, to include weight gain and more, and not to mention all of which leads to emotional problems. Then there is exercising for mental wellness. Exercising makes you feel good because it releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin that improve your mood. Regular exercise reduces your stress and feelings of depression and anxiety as implications for mental health disorders.

Trust Your Spirit: Listen to Your Gut Instincts

Spirit is far more than religion. You can have spirit without religion, but you cannot have religion without spirit. Spirit is the non-physical part of a person which is the seat of emotions and character; the soul. I strongly believe that mental well-being comes from listening to your spirit, i.e. your higher self, your emotions, your gut instinct. It’s being able to discern right from wrong when you don’t have all the facts, evidence or answers. To improve your mental well-being, practice trusting what you feel. A lot of dis- ease comes from not knowing or not being able to prove things when a decision must be made or simply feeling uneasy about something. This can cause stress. When you learn to trust your spirit, you can put your mind at ease by relying on your intuition.

Know that when we allow a mind, body and spirit connection to work for our highest and greatest good, we are able to create the extraordinary. We are able to have mental clarity, awareness and positive health on a daily basis. Now, that is not to say that it is a cure for mental illness. A mental disorder can exists based on a chemical imbalance, trauma and more, but what I am saying is that we can have joy despite a diagnosis by infusing these three aspects for improved mental health.

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