Mental Health Perspectives: Part Four

Mental Health Perspectives: Part Four
Chasing happiness and ways to find happiness and prevent mental illness.
PsycholoGenie Staff
Like any physical ailment, most mental illnesses are preventable. Just like one can diet and exercise to avoid heart disease, keeping your body and mind healthy can prevent the onset of mental illness at any stage of your life. Though some elements, such as genetic factors or life circumstances, are unavoidable, here are many ways to keep the mind healthy. One important element is to keep yourself happy. As movies like The Pursuit of Happyness can show us, happiness isn't something easily achieved. There are an infinite number of things that can happen to us that can prevent us from being happy. Whether it's a stain on your favorite shirt or an unexpected bill, there are always things that will get us down. There are also ways we can pick ourselves up. Let's examine ways that scientists and psychologists have discovered can lead to a happier life.

Please keep in mind that those who are suffering from a mental illness may not find themselves capable of performing the following tasks. Often when one is depressed, even the simplest tasks are difficult to do. If you think you are incapable of creating happiness in your own life or have been persistently depressed or dismayed for an extended period of time it is recommended that you see your doctor.

Smile!

Though it's not always easy, smiling is an excellent way to trick yourself into being happy. When you force yourself to look happy, often the feeling of happiness can accompany it. This is that "mind-body connection" you hear about all the time at work!

Do someone a favor

Helping someone else, even if only with a small favor or task, makes us feel good. Evolutionary scientists are debating as to why humans act so altruistically because most other creatures don't do something without benefit. Well, in my opinion, the good feeling we get from helping other people is all that we need in return. Whether you're volunteering at a homeless shelter or holding the door open for a stranger, these deeds make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Give thanks

Make a list of everything you're thankful for, whether it's Thanksgiving or not. Look at that list! There's probably a lot more, that you're not thinking of, either. We all have things in our lives to be grateful for. Thinking about these things can make us feel a lot better even when something is getting us down.

Yuck it up

Go ahead, laugh! Laughter releases chemicals in the brain that make us feel good. If you think you've got nothing to laugh about, put in a funny movie (personally I recommend Office Space - it's one of my favorites!) or turn on Comedy Central. Comedy, humor, and laughter can make you happy without you even realizing it. I used this often when I was depressed. If I was really down I'd turn on my favorite comedian or a good, funny movie and laugh it up. It always cheered me up even if only a little.

Pray, meditate, etc.

Spirituality is different to everyone, but no matter who you are, it's an important part of your life. Even for an atheist like myself, I have found that nurturing my "soul" through meditating or enjoying nature relaxes me and removes worries from my hectic life. Spirituality doesn't have to be religious nor does it have to be non-religious. Do whatever it is that puts you in touch with yourself or with some higher being. It's been scientifically proven to increase happiness and contentment with life.

Make love

This may seem obvious, but some people might need a reminder: sex makes us happy. As does kissing and cuddling. Having someone special in your life to be close to can breed happiness. If you haven't got someone, don't let that get you down! There are always opportunities to meet people.

Run, Forrest, run!

Have you ever known someone who was addicted to running? There's an excellent reason why some people can't get enough of running: it releases endorphins into the body that make us feel good. It's as simple as that. You don't need to run to feel the effects, either. Any exercise will do. Whether it's dancing, jogging, swimming, or playing shuffleboard, getting up and going will make you feel more energetic and, thus, increase happiness.

Those are just a handful of the thousands of ways one can find happiness. It's an individualized thing that we must find on our own, though a little advice can surely help. Give those few suggestions a shot! Or, even better, make up a list of things you know to make yourself happy. You'll not only feel better about yourself and life in general but you'll be protecting yourself from a number of mental illnesses.
Shuffleboard Opponents
Man Doing Running Exercise at the Park
Woman doing morning yoga and meditation on the rocks
This is hilarious