Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Religion and Mental Health

What part does religion play in mental health? That depends on how you define religion. Religion is simply a teaching method about a supreme being, it is not in its self a supreme being. As an example, Christ taught his disciples while on earth the way to live better lives and the the way to get to heaven. He also instructed them in the way they were to instructs others after his life on earth was over. Therefore Christianity is a religion. It is about his teachings. Those who believe in what he taught are called Christians. There are other religions.

Therefore, whether religion makes a person more mental healthy has to do with a person's overall health. Do those practicing a particular religion live a better, a less traumatic life. Is their way of thinking linked with the truth of  'love your neighbor as yourself''; do unto others as you would have them do unto you; love your God with your whole heart and so on and so on. These quotes are from his teachings. On the other hand if a person is insincere and cares nothing for the truth but uses religion to further their own interests, then their thinking is not compatible with good mental health. Also if a person forgets, or has never learned the simple fact that life on earth is a journey toward a better life to come, uses religion to further their sinful life and to advance themselves in a secular way, then religion is not being what it should be to that person.

True, there is only one God. Only he knows for sure the truth of every situation and yet many people are sidelined by the actions and words of others. God is truth, beauty, love and he of course relays this message to various leaders. Yet those leaders, if they are earth creatures are prone, on occasion, to do less than what God expects. Yet if they are later truly sorry, he forgives them. And asking for this forgiveness is mentally healthy. It takes away worries and concerns and gets one back to the realities of life on earth, its purpose, etc. Christianity teachers that God is three persons in one. This is not always understood but as humans who know and understand that there must be a way of communication with him, they who believe in the Trinity, find this reasonable.

God alone is perfect. Seeing that people on earth was not living according to His Commandments  He became man and taught, as Christ. Some believed and followed and some did not. In fact they killed him. Yet while on earth he knew what he was here to do. Those who believed started the religion known as Christianity. He is the second person of God. The third person, the Holy Spirit (used to be known as the Holy Ghost) is the goodness of God roaming the earth answering prayers, seeing that help is given to those who need it or who ask for it. This is carried out by people, saints, etc. Those of us receiving these gifts from on high most likely have varying ideas about his goodness and how He gets messages across, yet if all is done with an intention of doing His will, then that's good.

Okay, okay, you might say, I understand all that. Then why is there so much bad being done. Only God knows, but those of us who truly believe know that the will of God is not for us to know, but for us to believe. But we know for sure He is not deceitful, He is straightforward, He loves all people and desires for them to be in touch with the truth and not a dealer of lies and wrongdoing. Yet, not wanting to force people to love Him, he allows people on earth a free will. Only each one, those who are of the age of understanding and of sufficient mental capacity to know right from wrong, must decide for themselves. Will they love Him or will they love only what advances their own lives here on earth, is for each one to decide.

Yes, and I can only speak for myself, religion, and even religion as scantily practiced as I'm able to do advances mental health. Had I not God to depend on each day, my life on earth would be quite miserable. Yet despite all, I am a happy person and I have no problem believing the goodness, the truth, and wisdom of God. I do all kinds of foolish things and say things I should not say, forget to do some things I should do, but He knows my heart. He loves me in spite of my flaws. Flaws I attempt to conquer and improve upon but being an earthling I have a long way to go.  And yes, what mental health I can claim as my own, I owe to Him.

God has a job for each of us. Often I see myself a big fool but that does not bother me at all. Once it did. I once was terribly temperamental and lacking in patience. Yet, now knowing I have always been somewhat a fool, was a laughing stock for others who didn't always understand me, I thank Him for keeping that knowledge from me until I grew old and could easily accept that truth. In fact, all that I am, ever hope to be, I owe to Him.  

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Uncluttering Your Life

The world today is a crazy place. Anything and everything is tolerated, talked, fought over, given supremacy and the loud and the uncouth and the just plain crazy keeps on getting crazier. I know, this is not good copy, but who cares? In fact, who cares for much of anything anymore the rest of the world seems to be overlooking? God, for instance, the creator of us all has been pushed back into the corner or even, perhaps locked in the attic forever. How then do we get back to when the world was in his care? Lets get him out and make him our constant companion and be not ashamed to let others know we consider him good company. You see, he works through people and we will never know when that epiphany so much needed will come or from whom. Talk about your creator and let others know the truth of all existence and be not ashamed to be the fool you know yourself to be. (It is certainly true that every time you open your mouth you are liable to show that fact. So be it! Just be yourself and improve on your communication skills and this is best done if you truly love all people, yes even when you do not approve of their actions.) 

Well truthfully it has always been because he is everywhere, it's only that the biggest troublemakers are blind. Not blinded to the outside where all the loud, lewd, and loveless stuff is being played out for all to see; blinded to the inner harmony that opens into the passage way toward tranquility and to the person you were created to be. That place where those who need solace and his loving nature to to take over our cares and make sense of them or discard them as irrelevant. 

Oh, true to my words above, I have gotten off the subject which started out to be 'how to stop cluttering up your life'. Simple? Of course not, we all preach simplicity but somehow, with little forethought, we gather non essentials in thought and in actions. Once we know this how do we get rid of them and how will we know whether to toss or to keep? Each person will have to do some soul searching here and will have to answer truthfully to some questions asked. There is no one lesson fits all here. That's because what is important to one person is not important to another. It all has to do with what makes you more of the person you want to be, whether you realize this or not. In other words a gardener will probably have a well stocked little shed with items related to their favorite activity. Of course it's going to be painful to toss out those pots from outgrown plants, the dozens and dozens of other tools. But if you want to freshen up and keep a neat outlook on your habits as well as your ability to find what you need when you need i t, throw out and clean up. And so on with whatever activity. 

Just make sure you have everything in clear sight or easy to find when you need it. Otherwise you will forget what you have and will repeatedly buy an item already owned. But if you are truly dedicated to simplicity you may want to go further and fit your space with your belongings and fit in no more than is necessary. 

All the above reads as if it in material things that needs to be thrown out, but simplicity means having a mental filing cabinet in good order. Of course you once knew this or that and now that you are older you can't remember it. Should this bother you? Not at all, the mind functions best if  left to its own simple ways. The thoughts most needed and most used will be in the forefront of your mind and those of little use will be in harder to recall places. By association only will those be recalled and only when they are truly needed. (This changes somewhat as you get older but usually it only takes longer to recall truly needful or mental items.)

Simple ways are best. Of course I am speaking of my own life style and I've found over time I have had several instances where I have opted for the simple, the most needed, the affordable solutions. Yet the truth, as it now appears in the forefront of my thoughts demands  a say: I am somewhat cluttered as to books and papers, cards from my children, drawings from my grandchildren and my own artwork scraps. I tend to hold on to clothes because I am in no way fashionable nor desire to be or can afford to be.  I am simple in my food and diet. Reason? I don't like to cook and I am  learning eating a  well balanced meal means as is recommended for my age and my health requirements not only saves times, money, but adds to my overall well being. 

But best of all, as I grow old, I am learning how to do nothing. I can lounge on my sofa, half asleep, half awake and talk to my Creator as if he is the psychiatrist sitting slightly in back of my head. (I've been there in my younger days and I know what goes on in professional settings. Get comfortable and just talk it out! Now of course, He listens and it costs me nothing. Truth urges me on: You could say I am somewhat of a frugal soul. Stingy I am not. I just like to use my money for good causes and for what is important to me. He's the best mind straightening outer I know!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Mental Health Attitudes

We all like to think we are mentally healthy but no one is one hundred percent mentally healthy. It's absolutely impossible to always be thinking and doing and living according to the what society considers mentally healthy. Actually, it's a day by day thing and rules one lives by or tries to live by. These, by necessity, must be changed according to new awareness of what we are doing or saying that contributes to our unhealthy lifestyles. And, in fact, society does not hold the key of anyone's health and for proof of that, watch or listen to what 'they say' or what they are doing. Mental health is a personal thing and each one must take control of activating it and yes, revising it whenever necessary. Therefore the only way I know to define mental health is as follows:

A mentally healthy person, or one aspiring to be one does not judge. He leaves that up to the creator or to the teacher or whomever is in charge of whatever uncomfortable situation one finds one's self in. He first must understand his own way of thinking and acting and getting rid, or attempting to get rid of, his own faults. Well of course we can judge on the general issues, murder is wrong, hate is wrong, envy is wrong, slander is wrong, cursing is wrong, overeating and gluttony  is wrong, and so on but before we can point fingers of blame as to who is guilty of these sins we must first come to terms with ourselves. It's like this,  we cannot condemn others without first looking inward at ourselves. Of course we don't have to be around those who cause us to downgrade our own mental health unless of course that's our job, they live with us, etc. But bad attitudes can be caught! It's easier to be mentally healthy if all you have to do is sit at home and think about it. How then does one remain reasonably mentally healthy while living and working among others whose attitudes bring us down? That, my friend is what truly being mentally healthy, or working toward it, is all about.

A mentally healthy person does not rage at others about their behavior. At least they try not to get angry. The best most can do in situations when others try to provoke us is to keep quiet. We try to show by the best example possible arguments or name calling or bullying behavior is best ignored. If it gets out of hand let those who are trained to calm down those whose behavior or actions are destructive to others. If not at least keep quiet or run or hide, whichever is possible at the time. Understand here we're not talking about criminal behavior but just run of the mill mouthing off at workplaces or at home.

A mentally healthy person tries to understand the other person's viewpoint. It's possible they may be right and you may be wrong. We learn from each other. Sometimes we are 'it' and are demonstrating poor thinking or behavior and if we are truthful with ourselves and with others, we will admit and will try to make amends. If we have overstepped and have said words offensive to others, we must apologize. That of course is humbling but that is what builds character. It hurts and our pride drops a few notches, but heck with pride, at least when a good lesson is to be learned. With enough of these situations certainly, at least we think, we will have learned when and how to keep quiet. But being human, and lessons needing to be learned, we will, most likely if we are honest and will admit it,  will keep on saying wrong things and raisin eyebrows or adding to gossip behind our backs. Progress will be made, however, when these bad actions toward others will become less and less. And of course, maybe we had a right to defend our position, or so we will tell ourselves, but after a while, a person who truly wants to become mentally healthier, will decide no action need be taken. Instead, we will work toward improving how we respond to the actions of others.

How then will we know if we have made progress toward healthier thinking? Slowly but surely progress will come. Each person will find their own way, but I suggest this as a clue: When you find you have no animosity toward those who you know gossip and talk about you behind your back. In fact you love them as if you are blinded to their negative attitudes. You see them as struggling humans, the same as you, who are trying to do the best they can do to get along in this world. Show them every kindness and never, never, give in to their gab sessions when it does not fit in with your life style. Don't agree with them but somehow turn the subject to something positive. As a example, if they say something bad about another, say something good but do it in such a way as not to offend them. You may be the example they need. Who knows but God. He created each of us for his own purpose and the least we can do, if we seriously want to improve our mental health is to leave the judgment up to Him. He deals with all of us in His own way and I believe it makes life easier and more mentally healthy if we accept that fact. We are His instruments of peace.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Understanding Your Creativity

Yes, you are a creative person. According to Edwin Raphael McManus in The Artisan Soul "We are the result of a creative act by a creative God. He designed us in his own image; he designed us with both intellect and imagination; he designed us with both reason and passion; he designed us to dream, to risk, and to create."

So, get over the notion that you are unable to do anything other than what others tell you to do. Let go of the notion that only a special few are able to see beyond the daily humdrum of daily life. As long as you follow your conscience and obey the rules all must live by and thereby keep yourself out of man-made jail, you have only to answer to your God for how to live your life. That notion is simply known as freedom. It is the freedom to be yourself. But how do you start? You listen to your thoughts, you sit in on them as judge as to how they are directing or misdirecting your life. This takes time and patience but it will pay off if you listen more to what your inner vision dictates than what your rowdy or non-creative friends insist you do. Then follow some of the urges that tell you to take up singing lesson, join discussion groups, learn how to paint pictures, go bird watching, or simply say no to those who want you to do what you don't want to do.

First of all, be aware that since you give yourself this freedom to be who you truly are, the person you were born to be, and not the one defined by others, you must share your visions so that others too may find themselves and their place in this world. Creativity is not selfish, it is not hoarding but it is helping others to free themselves from the slavery of  'following the crowd.' That said, following the crowd may not be bad, but be sure it is one you creatively want to follow, and is not one urged on you by others.

Why, you may ask? What good is being creative, what is in it for me? The answer is so simple it is often overlooked. It lets you be yourself. Only then can you  begin to put the puzzle pieces of your life together and see the first glimpse of a creative soul. You see, everyone is different. There are no two people alike and that is exactly how God wants it to be. And while that is so, it also may be why the world is in chaos today; the world is full of unhappy and unfulfilled people. Instead of learning how to be themselves and then helping other find their way out of the pitfalls created by hatred and selfishness, they turn on others in anger blaming them for their blindness and wrong ways. To turn that around the world needs to learn to appreciate individual creativity as given to all by God and in turn learning from it instead of denying that it exists.

Just imagine what a wonderful world it would be if the world was simply one big 'think tank' on how to live according to its God-given creativity! It will never happen will be the first thought of many and as the world is now, but as with everything creative, it must have a starting place. How to start? Free yourself from ignorance and false values and get in tough with your inner self, your conscious self, your voice from above, and redirect your life. Then make it known. Give love and assurance to those around you so that they too may learn and pass it on. First begin by loving others as they are even though they have habits and thoughts foreign to you, but love that God part of them. In other words love the part of them that belong to themselves and their God.

You may notice that although I am writing about creative and how everyone needs to find their inner self, I have not directly related it to God or to religion. I don't see the two as separate. I have learned that I am closer to God when I am busy creating (writing, reading, listening to music, going to church, praying, doodling with paint, etc.,) than when I am listening to news broadcasts telling me how the world is destroying its self by hatred and warring factions. The latter is terribly depressing  and gives me much to pray over. No one it seems wants to sit still long enough and take stock of how they see themselves in relation to others, they would much prefer to point fingers of blame outward and never inward. It is true that when we are truthful with ourselves we must take the blame for our past mistakes, but we need not dwell there forever. God will forgive us, if we take the matter to him, and then we can begin to mend our lives. We can then begin our journey toward mental health and toward a hoped for world peace.

It's not easy but it is well  worth the effort. It's not for cowards, lazy people, those who deny the existence of God and those who live by taking from others rather than giving to others: It is for those who use their God given creativity for the purpose for which it was given, a way forward toward a mentally healthy world.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Mental Health In Other Words

Mental health is often mistaken for mental illness, although the two conditions are worlds apart. However, mental health is not something one has, or was born with, it has to be carefully nurtured. And nurturing is no possible until one understands that mental health, or wellness as some think of it as an overall part of their physical well being, which it is, is not a static condition. In fact, you can be mentally healthy one day and not so mentally healthy the next day. It all has to do with how well you know yourself and your thoughts. You must get in the habit of reading your mind and leaving the file open at all times. When you find errors or ways of thinking in yourself that if found in others you would classify as unhealthy, you must bookmark that page and determine to learn more about the reasoning behind your thinking.

Learn to be truthful about your thoughts. You don't necessarily have to admit this to others, but you must never be false to yourself. How absurd, you may be thinking, how can you be false to yourself? We do it all the time! We like to think we are on top of every situation but are we? We may have only picked up a few basic attitudes and have clung to them for years. What are some of the phony messages you may have claimed as your own?

(My mother never raised me that way) Poor mom, she may or may not have raised you that way, but as an adult and one supposedly knows right from wrong, why should you make her your scapegoat? Can't you think for yourself? It's a shame that too many people grow up in body and leave their mind back in yesterday. At the age of reasoning, you are supposed to take control of your own thoughts and while this is thought to be at the beginning of puberty, it often takes far more time than this. But any age is never too late to begin the process of taking charge of your own thinking. A mentally healthy person will, at some time in their journey onward, stop blaming all their shortcomings on their parents. They will have understood by that time that their parents too were only reacting to the pressures of their time and had they known better, or been taught better, they would have done better. Whether this is true or not, it's at least an honest answer to something unknown. It's simply another wrong belief one can throw out as one lives day by day doing the best they can do with the tools God gave them to work with.

Wellness is another word the professionals like to throw around when describing the opposite of illness. Generally it is used in connection with physical health, but truthfully, it must be accompanied with mental health. The body cannot be separated. A person's mind has a tremendous influence over bodily health. A mind in good shape understands that to go through life pain free is impossible. Pain often is a good thing. It's your seeing eye dog alerting you that something is wrong. Your first response, whether to call an ambulance, or whether to lie down and rest, or try an over-the-counter remedy--depending on the seriousness of the condition--will depend on how well acquainted you are with your innermost being. You will begin to question yourself, has this happened before, if so, what caused it, what did I do this time to bring on this condition, etc.

You see, mental health is an ongoing thing. Some days your are farther along the road to a  good understanding of yourself and the next day, like sunshine and rain, the situation changes. With your mind still in good working condition, although clouds seem to block most of the good feelings of yesterday, you reason that this is normal and although you accomplish less, there will be better times ahead. Although, philosophically you pass off your slight feelings of unease, your are well aware that eating that whole pizza, half for lunch, the other half for dinner, with a tall glass of a sweetened drink is not something that should be repeated. A lesson has been learned. That's what wellness is all about. This kind of thinking becomes a habit but don't expect ever to quit learning. New lessons on how to help heal your self crop up daily.

Others are likewise important and to spend all your time on your frailties is likewise unhealthy. Let God be your doorkeeper and you will learn how much of this or how much of that is healthy or unhealthy. Living is loving and caring for others and forgiving them for their faults and their wrongdoings as well as loving and caring for yourself and yes, forgiving yourself for your faults is likewise healthy.  But don't overdo it.  Going one step forward you at least hope to improve on your unhealthiness by giving Him the credit for all the good you have done this one day. God is not dead
as some smart(?) people often say or think, He is born new everyday, at least where he is allowed to be.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Common sense and mental health

Common sense may sound as if it's too common to be in vogue today; the truth is it's most often uncommon today. For proof of that all one has to do is to read the daily newspaper, visit Facebook, Twitter or just walk down the street with your eyes upon the other passersby. (I can't do that since I'm partially blind and I must watch out for the cracks in the sidewalk, which to me is common sense to me.

Last first: Those walking down the street will have some emerging communication demands that can't wait until they arrive at the office, their home, or wherever. Or is it simply the addictive nature of those delightful little smart phones that lead them hither and yon? Yet, where common sense is concerned it is far safer to text or phone while walking than driving. Therefore that age old reasoning behind common sense in itself has conditions. It says do the activity that has the least potential for danger to self or to others.

Newspapers are becoming ever more rare but in spite of their downsizing, they are a habit well worth hanging onto. They are good sources of commons sense and not so common sense, and they alert us to what is going on in our neighborhood. What's more, they fill in where the news commentator leaves off for lack of time. You can't rewind those news broadcasts and get a second look to make sure you heard right; a newspaper is there for multiple reasons. And too, when it's finished being read, it can line bird cages, wipe mirrors and windows as housewives in the past used to do. Actually it's hard to imagine a house without newsprint to hastily throw down on the floor to soak up what spilled over.

Facebook has changed the way people meet and greet. Now news of everyone you ever knew is suddenly important. I wonder what would happen if some of these just sort of dropped by in person, would they be welcomed at your home. Would you drop everything and invite them in, or would you talk to them at the door and wish them a good day and then quickly forget about them since you were too busy tweeting?

Tweeting is good but it has its purpose. But there's one question I often think to ask but don't because I don't want to pop too many bubbles. The question is: Is all this necessary? How much  of what one tweets is ever read. And too, common sense dictates that a great deal of time is wasted and the really important tweets may get lost in the shuffle. Yet, I'm sure much good is being done and its a good way to find out information in a hurry. Common sense says, however, that there should be a good purpose for tweeting.

Personally, I've never found it too useful. At first it was a novelty (When I had better eyesight) and I used to tweet for fun. I pretended I was a bird perched high on a perch and was sending little love notes to those below. Yes, I know, not exactly common sense since I could have been occupied at more useful chores. But I found it delightful. And then too, I could have told others to read my blog, or my Helium articles but that was more like work and I stopped tweeting. Rarely do I now check in but should I have something important to say, I probably would go the effort.

Common sense tells me that each of us has priorities and it also tells me not to be so inward looking, at least not all the time. Get out there and see what your neighbors are doing, visit the sick, lend a helping hand. Life is lived much better when we care for others and when we do what we believe God wants us to do. It also tells us not to be so sensitive to criticism. As an example, we may be poor at drawing, but nonetheless find sketching a delight. It's our choice. But commons sense also tells us not to expect others to think we have created a masterpiece. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Old Age and Mental Health

Mental health is especially important when old age is creeping in. The body is more fragile and its systems aren’t working as efficiently as before, especially the brain. It’s important that you learn how to deal effectively with the problems of aging and see them in the perspective of a lifetime and not as a hardship confronting you now. There are reasons for your insight— or the lack thereof— the problems of fault finding, the problem of being misunderstood, the problem of being less mentally active than you would like to be. You are passing on and are gradually leaving the world you once knew behind.

Those younger than you have firmer grasp of the present world than you do and it would be to your credit to give them more credit for their abilities than you probably do. Admit you are slowing down and are not quite as agile and able as you once were. Assist them with help when asked and learn from them when you have questions only they with their expertise can answer.
It’s not necessary to argue over misunderstanding. Generational gaps in communication are normal and it shows the world is moving forward. Often times, for the elderly to fully embrace this notion, it takes effort. They must keep an open mind to all possibilities and not be rigid and unrelenting. Look forward and contemplate the future and if at all possible see it as an adventure yet to be. Understand that death, at least to those who have accepted themselves and their place in the order of things, is a next step in life, and not a sentence to dread. Granted, this may take some readjustment, but look, what choice is there when the inevitable is staring you in the face?

In fact the problems confronting the elderly are those that confronted them when younger but now are often overblown and out of control. The solutions no longer fit. As an example, how you as a younger person saw the elderly is much different than the way you see them now, now that you are a living example. Truth is the problems facing the elderly are so immense it’s hard to tell where to begin. And against the better advice of many of the younger folk who haven’t experienced this life style yet, drugs are not often the choice of treatment. They are for last resort and are for those who have lost all control of their thoughts and their coping mechanisms. (That depends, of course, on the illnesses you face and is not what this article is all about.)

The best way to deal with old age is recognize it as a blessing. So you’re approaching ninety, more or less, and rather than waste a minute of this precious time moaning and groaning and feeling sorry for yourself, thank your creator for keeping you so long alive. You must understand it was his decision and not yours, and as a way to show how appreciative you are of the privileges you were given, you count your blessings every day. You start by understanding why you are hard of hearing, why your sight is failing, why your back hurts, why your fingers are riddled by bumps that make writing and holding a fork difficult. Your system is reacting to the wear of a lifetime of use. That means your body, your mind and your soul are all reacting to the shortcomings of your system and each helping the other as best they can.

Reality versus what you make of it

You are not hearing as well as you used to. You turn the television up and think nothing of it, but when people talk to you, you must constantly ask them to speak louder. If you can afford this luxury, hearing aids are available. If you live alone and are conversations are few and turning up the television is not a nuisance to others, you may do very well living with your lack of hearing. Hearing aids are not only about volume, but they reign in on tones and enhance the nerves that are doing their job properly.  The good thing about hearing aid, you wear them when you want to, and leave them off when you prefer the silent world. And believe it or not, at times silence is golden. Old folk especially often don’t want to be bothered trying to figure out a noisy world they are no longer a part of.
If buying hearing aids are out of the question, you can learn to live in a noiseless world. It has its rewards. As you hear less of what the world is shouting at you, the more you are able to hear the messages of heaven that are silently spoken. They reside along with the heavenly pictures you see when you think of your creator lovingly. It’s quite true that when one thing is taken away from you, others senses’ compensate.  The sense of touch becomes all the more important when your sight and your hearing is lessened.

What’s truly important at any age is mental health. With it you can cope; without it you are handicapped. Therefore it makes good sense to prioritize in favor of keeping your mental faculties up to date. Use your sense of reality: old age means your body is slower, less functional and from that realize that you won’t be as sharp on some issues as you once were, don’t allow it to turn you sour on life. Embrace the future even when that future is unknown. Dwell on heavenly possibilities but don’t make yourself an old fool by lashing out at younger folk who are still enjoying the frivolities the world offers. Their turn will come and try to become a mentally healthy reminder to them of the beauty of old age. Whatever you do, don’t give in to perpetual youth by imitating them, it will show you up as the fool most older folk understand themselves to be. (Mentally healthy old people don’t mind at all at being misunderstood, they’ve given up the fight and now are free to be themselves.)