Recently, we experienced a second horrible occasion: a mass stabbing in a Pittsburg-area high school. Only 1 week before it had been another mass shooting at Fort Hood. And a very long line of devastating and preventable tragedies of this kind which are seemingly becoming more common daily. The Navy Yard, Aurora, Newtown, Virginia Tech, Columbine: once names that simply brought to mind-boggling places across our great nation that, regrettably today, instills devastating memories of unspeakable heartbreak.
In the midst of all of this, a nationwide dialog has again begun to emerge. It is one that, given the questionable mental stability of a great a lot of these shooters in these events, involves talks revolving around our nation’s policies and attitudes concerning mental health.
- ~ Are we doing enough to deal with the Mentalism ill?
- ~ How can we screen people for mental illness?
- ~ How do we keep guns out of the hands of those with histories of mental instability?
And so on.
But here’s a question I’ve yet to hear:”What can we do to prevent mental illness to begin with?”
Seems logical. And truthfully, if we were dealing with an epidemic of flu, obesity, or some other physical malady, prevention would be on top of this listing. But strangely, our culture’s attitudes and customs pertaining to mental well-being differ significantly from people toward bodily wellness.
In the realm of the physical, it is universally acknowledged (albeit not necessarily practiced), which if you want a healthy body, you’ve got to do preventative care: brush your teeth, eat reasonably healthy food, exercise, and get enough rest. Day in and day out we participate in a host of chores designed to help enhance the well-being and wellbeing of the physical selves.
To put it differently, we realize that physical fitness is a precursor to bodily health. Yet, in matters pertaining to our mental and emotional selves, we find another story.
Developing habits to nourish and exercise our mental and emotional selves isn’t something frequently considered by many Americans. To the contrary, almost all of our effort aimed at attending to our mental and emotional needs are more about coddling than fitness. Feeling stressed? Catch a beer with buddies. Sadness got you down? Go see the latest blockbuster movie. Anxious about work? How about a round of golf?
Rather than raising our mental capacity, we medicate ourselves. We participate in activities to make us feel better in the short run, but without actually addressing the main problem which revolves around an inadequate capability to absorb and cope with life’s difficulties. It is like addressing your weight gain by eliminating all the mirrors in the house. Sure it could make you temporarily feel better, but what does it do to solve the problem?
The truth is it’s an approach that all too frequently produces what can only be described as free-range, feral minds.
Mental Fitness Defined
To be clear, in this context Mental Fitness does not refer to the evolution of knowledge or even mental acuity. This is a significant point. Many of the psychological activities we undertake to develop our heads possess really little related to Mental Fitness, as referred to this. Examples of actions that DON’T radically improve our Mental Fitness levels include:
- ~ Digesting information as part of this learning Procedure
- ~ Exercising one’s cognitive facility to make the brain more nimble
- ~ Participating in actions that soothe and nurture the agitated mind and emotions
This is not to say these actions are not worthy and precious, for they obviously are vital in our development as happy and productive human beings. Nevertheless, for the most part, they are not helping to maximize our capacity to synthesize a relatively ease-filled experience in the most challenging of circumstances. And cultivating that ease-filled encounter is heart of Mental Fitness.
The secret to the comprehension Mental Fitness is that the idea of ability. Mental Fitness is the measure of someone’s capacity to match life’s challenges without being chucked unduly off equilibrium. It has the capability to withstand a layoff, to keep a health investigation, or to endure a financial challenge with grace, élan, and a sense of confident calm.