In a society where mental illness issues seem to be on the rise, focusing on mental health is a critical step in making our lives healthier and happier. And to do this, it is really important to remember that what we focus on persists. In my opinion, the problem with most of the current approaches to mental health is that we have this tendency to focus on all the bad stuff that happened and ignore all the good stuff. But when we do that, we give away our power and foster a victim mentality that makes things worse.
I believe that if we really want to make progress with things like depression, the key lies in changing our internal beliefs and how we see ourselves and the world around us. We need to start by focusing on mental health rather than on mental illness, and the key to achieving that lies in looking within because what we seek is always within. All the answers, all the direction and all the happiness we could ever hope to ask for is already there inside. What’s more, we can only see on the outside what we have already found within. So if we want to increase our mental health and resiliency, we must stop fixating on what we don’t want and start focusing on what it is we do want. And then we need to find it inside of us before we can see it anywhere else.
But how can we accomplish this, particularly when in the grip of a mental illness? We do it incrementally, by training ourselves to become aware of our moods. We learn the nuances of how our own feelings work, and how our moods – the good and the bad – feed off each other. We learn to understand that allowing ourselves to stay in a bad-feeling mood only leads to increasingly worse-feeling moods and eventually tips us into that spiral of darkness that leads to things like full-blown depression. And we learn that something as simple as a tiny thought change can trigger a scaffolding process that will, sooner rather than later, shift our moods for the better. In focusing on mental health, we learn that we have all the power to change our minds and our lives, and that we’ve had that power all along.
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