Happiness and Mental Psychology

What is mental health? How can you work to improve and maintain your mental health if you don’t even know what that means.

Curiously, in this country most people older than six-years can tell you how to improve their physical health and shape. We have done a remarkable job of educating the public and embracing the idea of getting into good physical shape, understand that this improves physical health and stamina. In fact, you can hardly walk a city block without spying more than one health club, fitness facility or yoga salon.

remarkable progress in moving good oral health and dental hygiene as a commonly understood public health issue. With this shift and educational reform most American’s enjoy good dental health. The latest focus is the level of whiteness and brightness of your teeth rather than concerns to prevent cavities only.

But when it comes to mental health which is not defined yet and let alone take steps to develop or improve it. Investigating the term Mental Health on the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) website resulted in the following information about mental illnesses: depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, oppositional defiant disorder and more. There was nothing defining or describing Mental Health. Next searched in several dictionaries under the word health and found: the condition of being sound in body, mind or soul. But there were no listings for Mental Health. Wikipedia describes mental health as a level of psychological well-being or an absence of a mental disorder. Through some consultation from personal and professional friends and acquaintances getting mostly vague answers with an occasional explanation of mental health as the absence of mental illness.

Surely good mental health and happiness is more than the absence of mental illness, just as good physical health is more than the absence of illness and good dental health is more than the absence of cavities.

Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
Abraham Lincoln

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.”
Helen Keller

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
Marcel Proust

Living a happier life often seems to be about living your big dreams and putting in a lot of work over a long time.

Let go of one thing from your past. Clinging on to an old conflict, argument or that you were wronged by someone can consume a lot of time, energy and space in your life. It can also be oddly comforting since you are so used to it. But life happens right now, day by day. And as Jan Glidewell once said:
“You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present.”

  • Be kind to yourself. The next time you make a mistake or fail don’t treat yourself like a jerk of a boss would. Instead, be kind, see what you can learn from what happened, gently nudge yourself in the right direction again and keep going.
  • Do what is not “you”. Try a new dish for lunch. Read a book or watch a movie that is not in your usual genre. Learn a little about a topic that is not something you are usually into. This is a great and fun way to find new perspectives in life, to grow and to expand your comfort zone just a little on a daily or weekly basis. Cultivating this habit also makes it easier to get out of your comfort zone when larger and “scarier” opportunities present themselves.

Happiness is the Ultimate Currency

This is a dangerous thought for college students. Increasingly, however, I’ve been pushing it: Make happiness the ultimate goal in your life. Build everything around this; from your course schedule to your career path.

Tip #1: Set Goals

Research shows that the pursuit of goals that are concordant with your values can produce significant increases in your sense of well-being. Interestingly, the data show that achieving goals (or failing to do so) doesn’t seem to matter so much. There is something about having a focus on something important that helps us get more out of each present moment.

Tip #2: Seek Flow

The magic state for increasing well-being is to be neither bored nor overwhelmed. This means you should seek challenges that exactly meet or slightly surpass your current abilities. For college students, in particular, this translates to finding that perfect course load that pushes you intellectually without overwhelming you with more work than you can easily manage.

Tip #3: Simplify Your Life

. For the uninitiated: Time affluence is “the feeling that one has sufficient time to pursue activities that are personally meaningful, to reflect, and to engage in leisure.” In other words, under-schedule what you have to do so you have plenty of time to deal with what you want to do at the moment. For college students, this means resisting the urge to fill all of your time with coursework and activities. Instead, purposefully under-schedule, and then use the excess hours for the cool stuff that randomly pops up.

Tip #4: Focus on Happiness

Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “To different minds, the same world is a hell, and a heaven.” The practical translation: put in an effort to both seek out happiness-boosting experiences and learn to express gratitude for what you find. There will always be crap lying around in your life. This will never go away. If you focus on it, your world will become Emerson’s hell. The real trick is to learn how to keep moving amidst this crap — acknowledging that its a part of life that spares no one — and continually seek out or construct experiences that make you happy. Don’t just have these experiences, but also reflect on them later and show real gratitude. Dr. Ben-Shahar points to compelling research that mindful reflection on what you enjoyed during your day can significantly boost self-reported well-being.


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