This will be a short post, but one that I hope expands your understanding and perspective. Look at this line, does it make sense to you?
My challenge to you and perspective I would like to share is that this is false. Here is what I suggest is more accurate and more useful for you.
Can you see the difference? We think that we are healthy when we have an absence of disease but that is simply a step on the journey to being healthy and well. This applies to both our physical and mental selves, which of course are intertwined and inseparable. In this second example once you no longer have obvious disease it remains a process to become more well, healthier. It is not some static end goal, but a lifelong process comprised of new learning, application of that learning, and becoming something more than you were before. In the physical realm this is easier to understand. Once you are absent disease you might want to increase your stamina, amount that you can lift, or flexibility. You can measure these things in pounds, inches, and distance. In the mental realm this may be harder to understand. In the 10th chapter of my book titled, “Mindlessness” I share how your mind is the most amazing creation in the world. Being mindless is what you do or don’t do with that amazing brain of yours.
I love this definition of mental health by the World Health Organization.
It is a state of wellbeing,
In which the individual realizes their abilities,
Can cope with the normal stresses of life,
Can work productively and fruitfully, and
Can contribute to their community.
A state of wellbeing could be considered your perception that your life is on track, moving in the direction you would like, or simply OK. You feel your life has meaning and you are generally happy. Can you see that over time you might realize more abilities like being even more able to handle stress, be even more productive, and contribute more to your community? In this way your mental health can grow, but not be measured in simple finite increments as pounds and inches. To get a sense of this over time will take some use of your mental faculties and regular introspection and feedback (see chapter two of the book).
Lest this become discouraging, do you think you are more, or less, capable of coping with the stresses of your life than 10 years ago? I suspect most people reading this, upon some introspection, will say yes. How about in the last five years, or one? Are you more patient, more focused, more steady or consistent? A yes indicates growth.
So, even with nominal effort you can grow your mental health, far beyond simply being without disease, and over relatively short timeframes. What if you are suffering through a bout of depression or anxiety, does that take you back to square one? Evidence tells us no. You can enjoy overall improving mental health even while suffering through some mental illness. Just like you can maintain a strong upper body while you nurture a sprained ankle on your lower body.
We have friends who in their early 80s have the unfortunate privilege of helping raise a teenage great granddaughter. He noted the other day that he is so much more patient than when he was raising his own children. Growth and development never stop if we choose to nurture it.
In conclusion and without going into a lot of depth here I hope you understand that your life is not any single moment but a continuum over time. Your growth and wellbeing are not static but influenceable up till the day you die. Your physical and mental health are more than simply the absence of disease but a continuum that you can positively influence. May this offer inspiration and hope, particularly if your circumstances are more challenging right now.
My goal is to help you align your life with enduring great principles. As you do this, while it might be challenging at times, overall your life will flow better, you will accomplish more, and amazingly feel even more connected to those around you. You will become the captain of your life, a New You! My new book, “New You! Who Knew? Contains the ten foundational principles to guide you through your life of wellbeing, meaning, connection, and accomplishment. www.davidredwards.com