The strength of your overall mental health will range between excellent and poor depending on its quality in four major areas. Those familiar with this blog know that mental health depends the on the relationship between your learned basic beliefs and the inbornintentions that are common to everyone.
Before we examine each aspect, note two factors that are unrelated to your mental health. First, consider the distinction between mental health and mental illness. The fact that one is mentally ill has no bearing on whether they are mentally healthy or not. This certainly sounds illogical, but it makes sense when you understand mental illness in terms of being physiologically incapable of thinking and acting rationally in many areas while mental health relates to the quality of one’s basic beliefs. Mental illness prevents a person from thinking or acting in their own best interest, but those free of mental illness may or may not act in their own best interests depending on the quality of their basic beliefs. Mental illness is primarily a matter of physiology; mental health is not.
The second factor unrelated to mental health is your level of intelligence. There are many highly intelligent men and women with poor mental health while it is possible that the mental health of one who is intellectually challenged could be better that your own. Again, the difference is a matter of the relationship between a person’s basic beliefs and his/her inbornintentions.
Now let’s look at what does determine the strength of your mental health. There are four components to consider.
Basic beliefs and human dignity. Your basic beliefs relating to human dignity is the greatest single contributor to your mental health. For example, a weak basic belief would be, “I’m not a worthwhile person because…I’m poor… I’m unloved… I have accomplished nothing… I did something unforgivable… (the list could be endless; supply your own if it applies.)” On the other hand, a strong basic belief would be, “I am a worthwhile person because, like everyone else, I have human dignity.”
Basic beliefs and freedom of choice. Individual freedom of choice is necessarily limited in order to have a civilized society; otherwise, there would be only chaos and anarchy. However, do you restrict your own choices unnecessarily? A weak basic belief, “I must do what my spouse… parent… boss… government tells me to do without question.” A strong basic belief, “I respect the will and interests of others but I alone must make the final decision as to what is best for me.”
Basic beliefs and sense of accomplishment. In primitive days, acquiring food, clothing, shelter and procreating were about the only tasks our ancestors needed to accomplish. Today, of course, the tasks we choose for ourselves range far beyond these basics. How strong are your beliefs relating to your sense of accomplishment? A weak belief, “Why should I try? It’s not going to work out anyway.” A strong belief, “This project has a high likelihood of success given the time, energy and resources that I put into it.”
Basic beliefs and love. As an inbornintention, love simply means our intention to have a positive worldview. As Voltaire had Dr. Pangloss say in Candide, “All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.” While this is incredibly naïve (as satire is intended to be) and we need to have a healthy skepticism about much of the outside world, we also need to avoid being overly pessimistic. A very weak basic belief, “Everyone except my spouse and I are greedy, lying and unscrupulous hypocrites. And sometimes I have my suspicions about him/her.” A far better basic belief would be, “People are trustworthy until they prove themselves otherwise.”
Remember, no one has perfect mental health. But you can strengthen yours by changing the basic belief(s) in area(s) that need attention.
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