Much is written about happiness. Books. Articles. Songs. Videos. Happiness seems to be a universal pursuit and one that has existed through ages; indeed, it was a frequent topic among philosophers from the ancient worlds of West and East and has been pursued without pause since then. No one has yet to discover a single answer to how to find happiness. Russ Harris, a important leader in acceptance and commitment therapy, wrote a book entitled The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living. Is happiness attainable, or is it a trap, a sham? Read More...
Wellbeing is a lifestyle, a way of being in your life and with yourself. Researchers from a variety of disciplines continue to discover how the brain and body work and what we can do to optimize our functioning to enhance the wellbeing within us. This information is quite helpful as we work to move past difficulties and create a quality life. However, sometimes it can feel like information overload and be overwhelming. If you’ve ever felt that no matter what you do, it’s not enough, read on. There’s a way past these crushing thoughts and feelings.
Trying to Improve Mental Health, Wellbeing Can Make Us Feel Inadequate
Just a few short decades ago, most people–professionals included–didn’t have a deep understanding of what could create wellbeing. The phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” was wise and on the right track, but it was incomplete. What was it about an apple that kept apple eaters out of the doctor’s office? As we now know, there’s a lot about that apple and a whole lot of other foods that are necessary for our wellness. (Good Foods for Anxiety: Which Foods Help Anxiety?)
The list of what’s necessary for our health is dizzying. Just a partial list of what experts recommend for us:
- complex carbohydrates
- omega-3 fatty acids
- colorful food
- lean poultry
- fatty fish
- the right kind of dairy
- social connections
Don’t forget the things we should avoid:
- processed foods
- sugary foods
- fast food
- calorie-rich food
- junk food
- white bread/rice/potatoes
- refined cereals
- soda, sugary drinks
- too much screen time
- a sedentary lifestyle
- isolation, avoidance
Some people might look at the wellbeing dos and don’ts and think, “Why even bother?” Others might dive in, excited and pleased with themselves until they think they’ve hit a wall. If only they realized that increasing mental health and wellbeing isn’t an all-or-nothing endeavor.
Increasing Wellbeing isn’t All-or-Nothing
Perhaps the most important thing to do as you work to incorporate healthy living into your daily life is to be proud of what you are doing. You are creating a quality, mentally- and physically healthy life. Such a life is a journey, a process. Own what you’re doing!
Everyone has automatic negative thoughts that interfere in mental health. One such type of thought is all-or-nothing, or black-and-white, thinking, and it can hinder progress toward wellness. For example:
- I had a burger and fries, and now my brain won’t function optimally.
- I can’t stand on my head and put my feet on the floor behind me, so I can’t practice yoga or cultivate a sense of inner peace.
- I can’t meditate for two hours every day. I don’t have time, and my thoughts speed up. I’m inadequate because I can’t make meditation work for me.
- I’m not in good enough shape to sustain an hour of vigorous exercise. I’m pathetic.
Good thing our thoughts aren’t reliable. These statements represent legitimate feelings and frustrations, but just because you might have similar thoughts, that doesn’t mean they’re accurate.
Wellbeing isn’t all-or-nothing. Action is key, but it doesn’t have to be dramatic action. “An apple a day” holds powerful truth. It’s an apple. It isn’t the entire produce section of the grocery store that we must eat every single day.
A Healthy Perspective
If you are seeking to develop a healthy, quality life, you are already on your way. Knowing what you want is the important first step, and then you can plan how to get there (and adjust along the way).
Seek to understand what brings benefits as well as harm, and take small actions in a variety of areas to boost wellness. Sure, you may want to increase your efforts as you go, and that’s great, but when you lose momentum temporarily, be kind to yourself and just keep doing some positive things. It counts.
As you move forward and embrace who you are and how you are living your life, remember these important concepts: drop the guilt, the “shoulds,” and the sense of perfectionism (all consequences of all-or-nothing thinking). And to pull yourself out of the all-or-nothing trap, live by this general guideline:
Do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. Nothing more. Nothing less.