About mental well-being as something practical

What is the most challenging part of your job, Sil?” Somebody asked me not so long ago. Whenever I have to face this question, it creates a ripple of discomfort & annoyance in me – I understand that the question comes from a lovely place of interest and care, but it is me, who is triggered by it – it could be because I am reminded of the challenge itself, that is still there to a certain extent. This challenge is about explaining (proving, begging, screaming, whispering): why is mental well-being so important. I did what I could to enlist here why am I so focused in my life on implementing mental well-being, while I am also promoting it through blog posts, the podcast, and my approach to my work and life in general. I did it with excellence (the most that I could, given my current conditions) to enlist the practical reasons behind its importance. Let me know, if it worked for you, or whether you would like to read more about one or more elements. 

MENTAL WELL-BEING IS INVISIBLE, OR ALMOST. We spend all of our lives in our minds. Everything, that ever happened, happens or will happen to us: we experience it there. Just imagine your mind as a house you live in. It could be just a bedroom, an apartment, a cottage, whatever. Mental well-being is like the cleanliness of this house you live in. You start living there, and for a while, there is no issue. You received it clean, there is no mould, no weird odours, the windows are as clean as possible, the carpets are nice, soft, colourful & inviting. There is a lovely cosiness inviting you to enjoy your time in this house of yours. This cosiness is your mental well-being. Later on, as you live in your house: life happens to it. Because of the dust and other elements, the windows become opaque. Because of the dust in the house, there will be a thin layer on everything. The spiders make webs in every possible corner, the mould is conquering the moist and dark parts of the house, and the insects and the plants want to take part in your living habitat. This is life, nothing special, or out-of-the-ordinary. You have to do some cleaning, once in a while: throw out stuff that you are not using, upcycle things that aren’t serving any purpose anymore, acquire new furniture & equipment, and just wash the dirty, smelly surfaces with some healthy introspection, critical thinking & kindness towards yourself. It also helps if you have a network of people who can support you with a (professional) perspective. This cleaning process, this tidying up is the process of mental well-being: we do things in order to clean out our mind, to offer space to things worth having and to clean out things that have to go, with kindness towards ourselves & sustainability in mind. We don’t do it necessarily because it is fun (although it could be, if you get used to it), but because it is like taking a shower, shaving, having a refreshing haircut, stretching your limbs, enjoying time with friends, laughing or just cleaning the house: it is necessary, to stay healthy. 

MENTAL WELL-BEING ACTIVELY STOPS YOU FROM BECOMING POOR. The richness of life about having perspective on it – having an understanding, that makes us be grateful for what there is, and still could be – all while we connect strongly to the only constant in the perceivable universe: change. This experience of the richness and availability of life makes the feeling of being poor (not enough, not having a house, a dog, a spouse, a car, a prestigious job, etc) either become temporary (becoming enough, but not yet having a house, a dog, a spouse, a car, a prestigious job, etc) or not existent at all: appreciating change will make you value that what is there but will not be there anymore eventually.

MENTAL WELL-BEING MAKES YOU RICH ACTIVELY. This has to do indirectly with money, or similar types of riches, although you can get rich financially as well. The wealth that I talk about has to do more with accessing your inner fountain of creativity, agility, flexibility, happiness, and care. They do not sound practical because they indeed are a bit abstract. However: their unique cocktail will make you – you. A valuable, relatable, attractive & wished for being. You will also give shape to the riches when you choose how will you channel all this creativity, happiness and the rest of it consciously. If you are not well, and not available to choose for yourself, you will have to accept what your circumstances drift you towards. These things are not bad, but they are also not great, at best they are OK taking into consideration your dreams, your skills & your potential. If you are OK with it, that is great, if not, you should take care of your (mental) well-being, for it will serve you as an ever-updating & refreshing GPS towards the riches of your dreams.

MENTAL WELL-BEING ACTIVELY GENERATES ENERGY IN YOUR LIFE. Your life is life. And with its life-ness has all the potential to be a great one. However, it matters a lot about how you approach it, and how you judge your life. Your life quality is more about the judgement of your circumstances than the life circumstances themselves. If you are well in your mind, you will judge your circumstances in a “sober” way: taking into consideration your circumstances, opportunities, obstacles, your goals in life & your vision of the future. Also: when you are judging your life, you will be aware of the metrics – compared to whom, when, in what way is my life good/bad or something else. If you are not well in your mind, you will be “drunk” – short-sighted, unclear in comparison, in opportunities, circumstances & obstacles alike, not to mention the confusion & chaos the fuzzy comparison creates. By comparison, we move forward – if the comparison is sustainable. As an example: I see this colleague of mine. He is fantastic at creating connections with the participants during the programs that we are facilitating, and at the same time, he remains relatable, grounded, and honest. I feel, that I am not quite there yet. What does he do, that I could also learn to do? I will ask for his support in order to become better with his care. This way I continuously value myself, while I realize that there are things that I can do better and that I can learn to do better. Otherwise, I might lose my ground and compare myself to my friend while forgetting how valuable, useful and caring I am. This should not happen, otherwise I am sabotaging myself and my growth is in danger.

MENTAL WELL-BEING IS THE BEST WAY TO CARE FOR THE IMPORTANT PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE. In my family, we used to do everything in our power to care for the others. This changed once I understood that one can not really take care of another person if that person doesn’t want to be taken care of. But I can take care of myself, so that I stay healthy, in a good mood, staying motivated – this way I can support the rest of the family to take care of themselves. And when I am needed I can support the family, while they know when I am not available I take care of myself. Of course, it is a work in progress, it works better as the years go by. Taking care of yourself with the purpose of serving others optimally is a noble thing to do and it is also important to state this and share this action of yours with the world.

MENTAL WELLBEING IS THE BEST WAY TO GROW OLD & MATURE. For some, it might look obvious, but for everyone else: I have 2 questions. If you die young because you didn’t take care of yourself, isn’t it sad that you wasted half of your life? And if you survive to live an old age but you are miserable and full of sorrow, then what is the point of surviving? Life is meant to be enjoyed. To be lived like a game, playing, dancing, and making music while we thrive & create space for others to do the same? Yes, but life is not easy! Well – I don’t believe life was ever meant to be easy. And this attitude helps me to be resilient and to keep things in perspective. Life is beautiful, colourful, and playful, it does not make any sense most of the time, it makes you angry and it fills your heart with joy, happiness and love. But easy it will never be, no matter what happens to you. Easiness (or hardness, harshness) of life is a concept and it is a matter of mental maturity & perspective. The less mature you are the less perspective you have on how blessed you are to be alive. There is an interesting phenomenon in society: despite a lot of challenges in their youth, the elderly remember their young age as something beautiful, magical, filled with opportunities, joy, and beaming with life itself. Through appreciation we reevaluate life, the older we get, the less time we have and the more precious it becomes. Why not appreciate it while you still have a lot of it?

MENTAL WELL-BEING IS BEING WELL, ALL TOGETHER: A LIFE FULFILLED. When people ask what is the meaning of life, I don’t know what to say. The best thing that I came up with is the meaning of life is to live the life to find the meaning. And while we are living we can choose to take care of it so that it will be lived well, appreciated in abundance, through gratitude for the obstacle-looking opportunities, and the opportunities-looking obstacles that we often meet along our journey. Choose a purpose. A silly one, a noble one, a scary one – one that makes life worth living, and the process of living is sustainable: you can laugh, you can enjoy the commodities of your life and your heart & mind can be light at times, not always heavy. Stick to that purpose, if it makes sense, change it if it doesn’t. The only constant in life is change, so change with change to stay constant. And you will see: you find fulfilment by supporting others to find theirs, and it can be through personal & professional development courses as I do, but it can be through dancing, cooking a lovely meal, raising children, painting a portrait, driving a truck, chopping wood, taking care of a pet, smiling at a stranger, or whatever you wish to do. Because you have a place, you are valuable, you are appreciated and the world needs exactly what you want to offer: your version of love and care. So be well, and your well-being will be not just fulfilling, but also an inspiration for the people around you, or who knows – around the whole world.

Thanks for reading this blog post. We have created a program, that has at its core the perspective-oriented mindset: it is called Thrive online retreat, and there are still a couple of spots open!

What is Thrive? I invite you to read more about it on our website or read the Info letter of the program, but in short, it is a 6-week long online retreat, where experiences are playing a big role, together with the exploration of self and the world itself. The focus is on state management and an empowering, life-friendly mindset. We designed it in a way that we meet online, yet it has a real impact on your everyday context – it contains a lot of fun challenges, guided meditations, and tasks that enable you to understand more, grow more and gain more perspective.

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