May is Mental Health Month, making it the perfect time to consider what mental health actually is and resolve to do something about it.
All too often, mental health is considered as simply the absence of mental illness, but this is far from the case. One can have not the slightest evidence of a diagnosable disease or disorder and still have poor mental health! For instance, prejudice, terrorism, and thievery are usually instances of poor mental health, while having a low self-image, a defeatist attitude or a negative worldview also indicates compromised mental health.
No one has perfect mental health, and anyone can improve in that area. But before starting out to improve your mental health, you need to have an idea of what mental health actually is, how you personally relate to it at the moment and how to make desirable changes that lead to improvement. You also need to be aware of some of the roadblocks that you will inevitably run into.
Humans evolved to have healthy mental health. It’s in our genes. But along comes the experiences of everyday living and the excellent mental health that we would otherwise enjoy becomes compromised. Sometimes seriously. Sometimes to the extent that mental and/or physical illnesses do, in fact, develop.
So what does it mean to be mentally healthy? You are mentally healthy when your basic beliefs are consistent with the four inbornintentions. Whoa! What on earth does that mean? In essence, it is your personal balance between nature and nurture. “Nature” is common to us all and “nurture” is unique to the individual .
“Inbornintentions” is a new word coined to convey the idea that there is a natural (inborn) set of behaviors that humans are structured to move towards (intentions). Four inbornintentions constitute the nature part of mental health. We are genetically programmed or motivated to behave in positive ways towards 1) human dignity, 2) freedom of choice, 3) sense of accomplishment and 4) love. These four inbornintentions are present in everyone from birth to death, and do not vary from one individual to another.
Basic beliefs are the meanings we attach to life’s experiences. They are stored subconsciously as concepts and form the rationale for most thoughts, feelings and behaviors because they constitute “truth” for the individual. That’s the nurture part. If our basic beliefs allowed us to think, feel and act in perfect consistency with inbornintentions, we would have perfect mental health. While this is impossible, the closer your basic beliefs coincide with the inbornintentions, the better your mental health, and the more they digress, the poorer your mental health.
Of course, this is an all too brief explanation of what mental health is or to hint at what needs to be done to improve. A full explanation can be found here. No charge. However, for those who want something to hold in their hand, the paperback book “Pathways to Mental Health and Anxiety Management” also has a full explanation and is available from Amazon.com or it may be downloaded to your Kindle device. All sales proceeds go to the nonprofit corporation Initiative for Mental Health Awareness Inc.
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