"Don't worry, be happy!" Remember that song phrase from Bobby McFerrin's popular worldwide hit song? In the song, he says that if you have troubles in life (no place to stay, no money in hand, etc.) that you don't have to worry but just be happy. It sounds absurd right? Especially in the world we live in nowadays where money and material things, in most cases, govern people's daily lives which in return determines their satisfaction and happiness. So the biggest challenge is: How can one be truly happy? And if so, how can we make sure that it is lasting happiness and not just a temporary thing? Tough questions to answer indeed but I would like to discuss and elaborate on these thoughts.
It took me weeks and months to contemplate on what I will be writing for this blog post and it dawned to me that there is an inner need for me to focus on the topic of mental health awareness and share my points of view about its importance. I was even reluctant to delve on to this subject matter for I am no expert in the complex world of mental health. However, I believe that even for an amateur like me, most can relate to the experiences that I am about to share because I truly think that our mental health has a major role and part in our eternal quest to life's pursuit of lasting happiness.
If you have been following and reading my blog posts (in which I thank you my dear readers), last November, I have published an interesting post called Wild Thing: Embracing The Inner You. This talks about a journey of getting to know yourself better and being able to navigate that experience by surrounding yourself with positive, motivating people. This is also important when it comes to mental health. The type of people you interact with on a daily basis (whether at home, work or in the social scene) plays an essential role in most aspects of our lives and especially when it comes to satisfaction and happiness. Why do I say that?
In general, most of us struggle with daily stress, anxiety and sometimes personal problems which affects our physical and mental well-being. And by that, we also deal with these challenges differently. When we encounter a problem, the mind's initial reaction is avoid and eliminate that feeling of helplessness or discomfort. While some people (like me) tend to stay busy or do something so the mind is preoccupied, there are some, unfortunately, that resort to self-destructive ways and I have seen that from time to time through personal experience and interaction. That is why I am going back to the previous point that I mentioned:
The type of people your surround yourself and interact with plays a major role in your mental health.
Growing up (and mind you, I am still growing holistically as I have always said, I am a work in progress: always changing and evolving), I have always tried my very best to be around the type of people who I can learn from and look up to. In general, just to be around positive people who most of the time, share the same interests that I have and in some situations where people who actually are so opposite of me that they actually give me a different outlook and viewpoint in life. I learned that the more I open myself and be open-minded, then the more I would learn new things and discover life's wonders in a diverse manner. With that being said, the process of surrounding yourself with these type of people was daunting; at least for me. This is what I call the "weeding out process". I am always open to meet and interact with people from all walks of life but we have to keep in the mind that we should take the selection process seriously. I am not by any means promoting that we should be the type to be judgemental because we should give people a chance to show who they really are and until then, once you are able to view someone's motives and sincerity then you would be able to assess if someone is an asset to your life. This may sound very harsh for most, but I view my relationships with people (family, friends, professional, social and intimate) closely or somewhat similar to a business concept.
When someone makes you grow and inspire you, keep them: they are valuable assets in life that you should invest on. When someone does more harm to you, cut them out; for they are a liability not worth investing your time, emotions nor your energy.
I have always watched my Mom who loves planting on how she does it. She has a green thumb and can grow anything that one can think of in her backyard garden. I have observed that even if her garden was luscious and green that she wakes up every morning and not only water but weed out the wild plants in order for her flowers to grow and bloom properly. That is how I view the selection process in the type of people we let in our lives. It makes sense, doesn't it? In my life's experience, no matter how hurtful and at times discouraging and disappointing, I had to accept that there will be times that people who I count on may not always be there when needed the most and they may change in a way where our values are no longer complimentary. The question will then be, should you keep them in your lives or not? Trust me, it was very difficult and painful, but I had to "cut and weed out" some people who no longer give me the inspiration nor the positive light they may have once did. I told myself that in order to be mentally sane, I have to be around positive people ONLY. We only live once, so while we are threading this thing called life and writing our interesting stories, we might as well chose the right cast and crew for it. If you want for your life's story to be compelling and worthwhile, then the right team must be in place.
The next important factor I would like to discuss after the individuals around us are the feelings that govern us. Life is not a perfect plot. Don't you notice that the interesting movies and stories are the ones that has a lot of unexpected twist and turns? While our decisions and actions determine results and outcomes that affect our emotions and mental well-being; it is important and I am stressing it out that it is ok that sometimes we may not have control over our feelings and emotions.
It is ok to be sad and happy at times. It is ok to be vulnerable and feel helpless at times. Your feelings are valid. There is a certain power and strength achieved when we are comfortable and in touch with our emotions.
I want to stress this important point that in our pursuit of happiness; our overall well-being, primarily the way we handle our mental health and emotions are one of the ultimate factors that will determine our life's journey per se. There is this belief that our hearts and brains are separate-- that one is either emotional (mostly governed by the heart) or one is either rational (mostly governed by the brain or the mind) in our decision-making process. But I totally disagree with it.
I will never forget this session I had with my previous shrink when I was going through some very difficult stages in my life. He once explained to me that our hearts and minds are interconnected to one another; that there is no such thing as too emotional or too rational. What your thought process is because of how you actually feel. So in hindsight, it sounds confusing but what you feel is what your brain says and what you think is what your heart feels. I have been through a lot of ups and downs in my life: numerous disappointments, experiences that are traumatizing and discouraging at times but I am here. I have gone through depression but I sought help. I am not ashamed nor embarrassed of it because there is no need to. I sought help from family, friends and even professional assistance. I am going back to the point that I have stressed out: it is ok to be sad, it is ok to be happy and it is ok to be vulnerable at times. However, when these emotions get overwhelming and staggering, know that there is always help and assistance available. When I started to be honest to myself and really accepting of my emotions, that is when I started to really be in control of my own mental state because I have embraced every stages that I had to go through in order for me to be where I am now.
While most people believe that depression and other mental health problems are embarrassing and a taboo-- It is not, these things are real. We see in televisions and hear news and even from people that we know that someone has tried to or have committed suicide because they felt powerless and helpless. These things are real and they are happening every day, every where and even sometimes when we do not notice it. Our emotions and our mental well-being is important and we should not set it aside nor should suffer in silence. There is always help and it starts with the PEOPLE you surround yourself with.
In the end, my point is that the two most important things that we usually tend to disregard are the ones that are truly paramount and crucial to consider: Having the right type of people in our lives and being comfortable and in control with our emotions. These two components contribute immensely to our mental well-being, in part, which plays a monumental role with how we can find not only lasting but inner happiness in our lives.
Be happy! YOU deserve it!
For more information about mental health awareness, please click on this link.