Mental health is at the root of all we do – the way we feel, the way we behave and the way we respond to what happens to us (and what we choose to pursue) on a daily basis. If you’re human, you already know that.
However, humans have a big habit of doing what makes us feel good in the moment and avoiding pain as much as possible. On one hand, this also makes sense, but let’s take a deeper look at the problems we often cause for ourselves when pain vs. pleasure is at work (and it always is, when you think about it):
What do you focus on most?
Here’s a key question for all of us, one that I had to really, really take stock of at key points in my life. There is a term called “growth mindset” that essentially means that you’re a believer in the ability to learn, grow and change your circumstances through effort and an empowered attitude. I mention that because the single biggest thing that helped me through some of my toughest battles was my viciously-determined mindset. Yes, I got tired, depressed and lost my way at times, but I worked hard to train my mind to think better thoughts after going on welfare briefly and moving out on my own, searching for a job.
The point here is that even though we all want pleasure and zero pain in life, we’ve got to recognize when our thought-patterns are sabotaging our progress. Focusing on failure, self-doubt and what isn’t going right in your life or the world will only bring you down, making things worse. You’ve got to stubbornly focus on what you do, want, on what’s going right in the world to change your life from the inside-out! I mean it – no B.S. here.
Even when my brother killed himself, even when I attempted to kill myself a few years later, and even when I committed myself a couple years after that, I returned to a strong, determined mindset of hope, potential, learning, asking for help and not giving up. That, my friend, is why I sit here with a new book deal that I’ve just signed with Rowman & Littlefield, and that’s why I’m known globally online for speaking out about ADHD (misdiagnosing, the many things that mimic it and deeper awareness around the world).
I’m also medication-free now, and I’m thriving. That comes from doing the work on self. Not simply popping a pill, as important as that can be for some people (which I totally understand). A pill will only do so much, though. You always need to keep learning and facing your thought/behavior patterns to be truly successful in this life. There’s no hiding from yourself.
Is Self-Growth A Must For You?
I totally understand if this stuff is uncomfortable for you – not everyone comes from a family where speaking openly about feelings and emotions was encouraged. The great news is that I’m with you in this, especially as a man, since we’re traditionally supposed to be the “strong, stable” ones in society. Sadly, tons of graves are filled with men who lived (and died) by that mindset, and many millions of men (and women, frankly) out there who suffer from their own lack of self-growth on a daily basis, living out hurtful patterns of anxiety, frustration, depression and self-loathing.
All it takes to start (or keep) making positive changes in your life is the decision that you’ve had enough of something in your life – a pattern of thinking, acting or feeling. All it takes is that decision – that will start your next “chapter” toward a better life, regardless of who you are.
How’s Your Physical Health and Fitness?
This is huge. HUGE. Some form of exercise and a decent daily routine of eating healthy (and yummy) foods goes such a long way to a general sense of well-being. I know – this isn’t rocket science, but I’m telling you that it’s crucial. Sometimes we just need to be reminded of what we already know.
Don’t have the time? Yes you do. You can always carve out time for some exercise and meal planning if you want a better life, one step at a time. There are no excuses here – find a way and write it down! Brainstorm, and make it fun, I say! Put on some music that makes you feel good, writing down one, two or three (or more) things you want to change, things you simply won’t settle for anymore (or want to improve!).
That’s all you have to do to build momentum in your life. None of us are “perfect,” so be gentle on yourself – start with one thing at a time. Just start. That’s the #1 rule here. You owe it to yourself!
I sure as hell did, and though it took courage to face my demons, I did it, and I still do it while being gentle on myself. One day at a time I built my current success.
What has worked for you in making positive changes in your life? I’d love to hear from you – leave a comment below!