Once we remove the idea of an Objective Reality, mental health is a very straightforward proposition. But thanks to some mistakes by some early, admittedly brilliant people like Freud, we got lost for a few decades as we focused on the content of our thoughts rather than on the fact that we were thinking at all.
The other mistake we make is that we don’t trust ourselves. Rather ironically, a belief in science has caused too many people to completely defer their awareness and common sense to the point where you’ll see people doing truly insane things just because they were told to.
We don’t want to abdicate our ability to actually calculate impacts for ourselves, so our sources become critical. We can’t infer what is going on around us any more. Most of us can’t do basic chemistry or math —instead we rely on machines or let the symbols on bottles vaguely tell us what to do.
We have lost touch with paying attention and the understanding that goes with it. Often times, we no longer notice things, we’re no longer aware, we no longer use our own direct experience to inform us. We simply do what we’re told.
Science is wonderful but we still must always remember that throughout history, science continued to –and continues to– refine its answers as the bodies of evidence grow. So while major things are almost never proven wrong, subtle implications of those things can misdirect us.
Science is like collective experience and wisdom codified, but as it develops we will encounter periods where we will innocently think things like the Sun rotated around the Earth, etc. But science can push out the frontiers of what’s possible. There are many curable diseases to day that could not be cured in the recent past.
Thanks to early psychological study we tended to focus on what we thought was wrong or unhealthy about someone. It wasn’t until someone got the shocking idea of asking happy people how to be happy that research began to shift. It wasn’t long before this was written that the mental health field got the notion that it might be helpful to study happiness rather than depression.
Below are some interesting studies that you may find illuminate aspects of your own journey. These are not presented as a wholesale new set of beliefs —we should pay more attention to the fact that the disease concept for depression is fading.
Rather than the content of thought, we’re focusing on the quality of thoughts. And people are beginning to see their psychology as malleable, flexible and resilient because it is all of those things. We’ve just lived a generation or three where we supplanted our own wisdom with a misdirected and incomplete science, and it took science this long to catch up to what aware people had already noticed.
It does us all good to quiet our thoughts about our current beliefs and thereby open our minds to fresh, new, rewarding ideas. Let’s begin with this list of healthy behaviours as assembled by Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and licensed social worker:
And in this article Dr. Kelly Brogan asks us to reconsider our quasi-scientific beliefs. What media soundbites have we converted into beliefs that in fact run contrary to the evidence? It’s inevitable that all of us will be walking around with crippling, half-formed ideas of where quality research has lead us.
The mental health field is in the midst of a revolution. Do not feel defeated or defined or destined. We all have much more control over our mental health and life experience than we’ve previously been taught.
Yes there a lot of people still pawning off old ideas, but happy people all agree —there is an enormous level of choice in being happy. Become aware of it and start making those choices. Because that is what will lead you to the sort of quiet, peaceful, healthy place that allows life to be as enjoyable as it is rewarding.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.