Thursday, April 16, 2009

Good Mental Health - Perception, Reality, & Solutions

Good Mental Health - Perception, Reality, & Solutions
By O'Della Wilson

Good mental health is a real challenge these days. While we can say it's simply how we 'choose' to look at life and that is an accurate statement to some extent, perception will always differ person to person. It's that perception that leads one person to a different conclusion than another. Reality dictates the many complexities of something so complex [the brain] which still holds many unknowns is not such a simple thing.

Keeping a healthy mind is not always easy with the demands and responsibilities of today's society. While every family has challenges, some will have more than others. For some families the challenges can seem overwhelming. Regardless of what your family's personal challenges might be, a healthy attitude makes for a happier life.

The problem for most of us, is when a crisis hits us personally, we are rarely prepared. Even those with great coping skills can be caught off guard when tragedy strikes.

So how do we change this? Is there even a way to prepare for the expected, much less the unexpected? Simply stated: Yes! Although getting there is not so simple. It is a process, through practice, that is applied on a daily basis. Some days will require great effort to obtain a balance of thought. Other days, the process will flow with great ease. And unfortunately, there will be days where no matter how hard we try, balance will elude us at every turn.

The good news is that we have the power to minimize those days of unbalance and create a positive balance for all others. We must change the way we 'feed' our mind. As with our body, a healthy intake will provide a healthy balance. But first, we must have a plan of progress, to utilize and refine a positive process in our daily lives. Just as sleep, food, and breathing are daily prerequisites, maintaining a healthy mindset must be placed in this category.

Unlike breathing, eating or sleeping, positivity does not come so naturally though. So we must practice a healthy mindset for it to become a naturally occurring presence in our lives. Just as we learned to read, write or use mathematics by practice and use, we can also learn the skills of maintaining good mental health.

The best approach to implementing this practice is upon waking. Your state of mind upon waking and how you 'choose' your attitude in facing each new day, can drastically alter the way your day progresses. If we focus on ALL the things we have before us each day, we will start the day feeling overwhelmed and defeated.
Each new day is a present, a precious gift that affords us the opportunity to improve upon past days. We possess and acquire new experience every day of our lives.

We tend not to think in these terms, but rather we focus on the shortcomings of our prior decisions. This must be your next step (change) to a positive healthy mind.

Rather than focusing on the negative, we must find the positive of every situation. There is a positive side to every situation. And for those times of personal loss, we must focus on the thought of a greater unknown cause. While that might sound cliche' it can be your lifeline in those darkest hours.

Most of us have such a hectic schedule that the slightest variation can alter every successive task that ensues the rest of our day. It is at this point, for many of us, that our thinking and outlook shifts into a negative mode. I have often heard people say, "this has ruined my entire day" or "this has ruined all my plans for the day!" With that shift in thinking where one expects bad things to follow, that is exactly what one will find. We find only what we seek! So, it becomes crucial at that point [altered plans, unexpected events] that we maintain a positive focus.

Each event that alters our plan must be thought of as an 'individual' event; and the last such [altered or unexpected] event of the day. Expecting the rest of our day to exceed our expectations will keep us focused with a positive outlook of expectations.

For those days where it seems everything has gone wrong, we must look at those days as learning tools. Make note of your reaction and how you chose to handle the given situations. Is there a way you could have handled or resolved your situation better? If so, store that memory as a coping skill. If not, you must think of it as a learning tool you haven't yet mastered or an event that served a future purpose. That future purpose being of a significant or better outcome in the long term of all things. Either way, it is not something to 'dwell' upon; thus you must allow your mind to release the experiences.

Think of your mind as a massive database, containing tens of thousands of files with subcategories. The thought can be rather overwhelming. Yet, if our mindset is of a different state, the thought is rather comforting and reassuring. Allow me to elaborate this thought to you:

You enter a large room, lined with one file cabinet after another, row after row. Each of those cabinets contain several drawers, that contain one file after another. Some drawers are packed tightly with folder after folder, each folder contains a massive amount of documents within. Each of those documents contain massive amounts of information and facts. Trying to process all of these aspects, containing all of these facts and information at once ... the impact of all these things at once is mind boggling and overwhelming. The most astute mind can shut down.

Now, let's look at this from a different perspective - You enter a large room, just like the one presented above. Rather than allowing your mind to overload with thoughts of the massive amounts of information here [more than you could ever process or absorb], let's focus instead on our most eminent need for the moment. The information that will 'feed' our current needs. We approach the first few cabinets and find they are labeled, thus a system is in place.

Now we can set our focus on only one cabinet, the one which contains the information we need presently. But, remembering that for every future need we might have, we can return later and focus on that particular cabinet containing the information for that current need. Our perception becomes one of a positive mindset, with the assurance our needs will be met today and in future also. At this point this room is no longer overwhelming, but one of comfort.

With the proper mindset, a healthy mind will follow. With enough practice it becomes habit, which takes less effort. The less our brain is taxed, the more focused we are and the more energy we reserve. This focus and reserve will carry us through those future circumstances of the 'unexpected' that tend to deplete us so completely otherwise. With the proper mindset, one can extract the positive from the negative. The more positive our focus remains, the happier our lives will be. And while there are physical conditions beyond our control, we all possess the ability to maintain good mental health. And, good mental health can actually improve poor physical health.
 

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