For a long time in psychotherapy, mental illness has been the focus: how to treat it, understand it and cope with it.
Positive psychology is a practice that has gained popularity over the past several years and not only takes into account treating mental illness, but provides us direction as to how to enjoy life and be happier.
It has been shown that good mental health is synonymous with happiness. Here are some ways to promote a healthy mind:
Going with the flow: Not being too rigid in life or falling into chaos, but instead living life on life’s terms. Happiness is an output of letting go of control (since we don’t have much control in life anyway), having a curious mind to see how the universe unfolds, and being open to experiencing the small miracles along the way.
Humility: Realizing and accepting that you are not that special. Dr. David Burns spoke at a conference I attended recently and said, “Once you accept that you’re not that special, you’ll be a lot happier.” We are all just doing the best we can, and maybe that’s enough. We don’t need to be the best or unique, to be praised ongoing, or to reach impossible standards in order to be “good enough.” You are enough.
Value-based actions: Acting in a way that is in line with what you believe as a person, whether it is moral, spiritual, physical or mental. When you value your physical health, but eat junk and don’t exercise, you feel down/depressed and even anxious. When you uphold this value and eat nutritious food, move more and strengthen your body, you feel happier.
Fluid social connections: Experiencing the flow of energy between yourself and another with little effort. There is little that feels better than being understood by another person, to laugh at the same thing, and to feel love between one another even without talking. We are social beings, and accepting, valuing and acting on this allows us the opportunity to experience happiness.
There are additional ways to promote mental health, including helping people in need and believing in something bigger than yourself (God, higher power, etc.), so it seems that we have several options how we can enrich our lives and be happier.
In terms of setting resolutions in 2018, let’s put improving mental health at the top of the list.
Krista Moe is a licensed psychologist with Baptist Health Medical Group Behavioral Health.