KEY POINTS:

1. Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which an individual can realize his/her own abilities, can cope with stress, can work productively, and is able to make contributions to his/her community. 

2. There are many tools, tactics, strategies and techniques that can be used to improve mental health.

3. Eating smarter, moving more, and sleeping soundly will all enhance your ability to think clearly and will improve your mental health.  

The World Health Organization has defined mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make contributions to his or her community.” They expand on mental health as it relates to children where they state that children should “have a positive sense of identity, an ability to manage their thoughts, emotions, and to be able to build positive social relationships as well as having an aptitude for learning.” I think those sound like good goals for adults as well.
 
Fortunately, there are many tools, tactics, strategies and techniques that can be used to improve mental health. Those that I propose here are mostly focused on helping to create better mental health, improve mental performance and to prevent mental illness. If we apply these ideas as a society, one person at a time, I think that we can make a huge impact and create a culture and an environment where people experience much better mental health and people with mental illnesses get comprehensive and holistic help and treatment. The ideas and concepts that I am presenting here cannot take the place of medical and psychiatric treatment. They are meant to be used as preventative and complimentary modalities to improve mental and physical health and to help you unleash your potential.
 
Eating smarter, moving more, and sleeping soundly will all enhance your ability to think clearly and will improve your mental health. This is just the beginning. Thinking clearly is key to building your mental health and a happy, high-performance life. Practice these ideas, and share them with others. Together we can truly impact people and help them live a world-class life where they can reach their potential, achieve their dreams, and be as healthy as they can be.

Words of Wisdom from Dan Millman

I had the pleasure of interviewing Dan Millman, Author of The Way of the Peaceful Warrior on the Dr. Greg Wells Podcast (http://drgregwells.com/community/dan-millman/). He had some brilliant insights into the links between mind and body that I wanted to share with you. Here they are:
 
“When we talk about the body, mind, and emotions, of course we're drawing an artificial distinction. We work as a unity obviously in life but we have these names and labels to help us understand ourselves for analysis, but it struck me that physical skills alone were not enough. 
 
We've seen people who are physically skilled but who fall apart mentally in competition or under pressure or stress. That's when sports psychology was devised and psychologists tried to come up with techniques, methods, like visualization, positive self-talk and all that, to help athletes on the mental side of the game and then the emotional side goes along with that. 
 
How do we deal with self-doubt, fear, and other elements to help optimize our performance, not just in sport but in life? We know. We read all about it, athletes who are getting in trouble with the law, having relationships break up. Being physically skilled is being physically skilled and it's an achievement. It's something to honor. It represents practice over time, but how finely do we need to sculpt our bodies to be happy? That's when I started looking at what makes up the whole human being. 
 
What do we mean by personal development? Personal growth, spiritual growth, if you will. It does involve a holistic attitude and the ancient warriors, in the Budo tradition, the martial arts of Asia and Japan and China and so on. In that tradition, the samurai for example recognized that physical skill alone was not enough in a duel to the death with razor sharp swords. The mind had to be focused and sharp as the sword. The emotions had to be opened and even existentially one had to be willing to give up one's life.
 
Those who faced death every morning and died in their mind were the most successful warriors. Those who clung to their life ended up losing it. It led me to a path that I call the way or path of the peaceful warrior in terms of this holistic emphasis that we're here as a whole human being and life. It's not as if there's some marine boot camp program everyone has to go through to become this chiseled body mind spirit athlete. 

It's that recognizing daily life is a kind of classroom. Planet Earth might be seen as a school. We all notice lessons repeat themselves until we learn them and if we don't learn easier lessons they get more dramatic. In a way life is a perfect school, just doing what we do with awareness. That's all I can do is remind people of what they already know on deeper levels but we tend to forget.”

Today's POWER-UP: The Pursuit of Happiness

1. RESEARCHERS SUGGEST THAT HAPPINESS IS A COMBINATION OF HOW SATISFIED YOU ARE WITH YOUR LIFE AS WELL AS HOW GOOD YOU FEEL ON A DAY-TO-DAY BASIS.

2. HERE ARE SOME IDEAS THAT RESEARCHERS HAVE SHOWN INCREASE HAPPINESS LEVELS:

SPEND TIME ON RELATIONSHIPS. HAPPY PEOPLE TEND TO HAVE DEEP RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHERS. SO INVEST SOME TIME EACH WEEK ON BUILDING DEEPER RELATIONSHIPS WITH YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS. MAKE A PHONE CALL TO CATCH UP WITH SOMEONE, GO TO THE PARK WITH YOUR KIDS, TAKE YOUR SPOUSE OUT FOR DINNER, OR GO DO A WORKOUT WITH A FRIEND.

BUY EXPERIENCES NOT POSSESSIONS. RESEARCH SHOWS THAT UP TO A POINT MONEY DOES BUY HAPPINESS, BUT BEYOND AN ANNUAL INCOME OF $70,000 PER YEAR INCREASES IN INCOME ARE NOT RELATED TO INCREASES IN HAPPINESS. HOWEVER RESEARCH HAS SHOWN THAT BY SPENDING OUR HARD EARNED MONEY ON EXPERIENCES THAT WE CAN INCREASE OUR LONG-TERM HAPPINESS. LAST WEEKEND I SPENT $150 ON SURF LESSONS. I LOVED THE EXPERIENCE AND WILL REMEMBER THAT FONDLY FOR MANY YEARS.

VOLUNTEER YOUR TIME OR MONEY. CONTRIBUTING YOUR TIME AND / OR RESOURCES TO HELP PEOPLE HAS BEEN SHOWN TO IMPROVE HAPPINESS AS WELL. FIND A CAUSE THAT YOU CARE ABOUT AND GET INVOLVED. YOU’LL BE AMAZED HOW LITTLE TIME AND MONEY IT TAKES TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD THAT YOU CAN REALLY FEEL GOOD ABOUT.

EXERCISE = ENDORPHINS. EXERCISE CAUSES THE RELEASE OF ENDORPHINS WHICH DECREASE YOUR SENSATION OF PAIN AND CAUSE YOU TO EXPERIENCE DEEP FEELINGS OF WELL BEING AND SOMETIMES EVEN EUPHORIA – ALSO KNOWN AS THE RUNNERS HIGH. DAILY EXERCISE IS A POWERFUL TOOL TO IMPROVE HAPPINESS. AMPLIFY THIS EXPERIENCE BY WORKING OUT WITH A FRIEND.

ENGAGE DEEPLY WITH THE EXPERIENCE. WE LIVE IN THE AGE OF DISTRACTION WHERE WE ARE CONSTANTLY BOMBARDED BY EMAILS, TEXT MESSAGES AND PHONE CALLS. THIS CAN TAKE AWAY FROM OUR ABILITY TO ENGAGE WITH OUR ACTIVITIES AND EXPERIENCES. MY 5 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER QUOTED A CAMERON DIAZ LINE FROM THE MOVIE SHREK WHEN WE WERE IN THE PARK LAST YEAR AND I WAS RESPONDING TO AN EMAIL. SHE SAID “YOUR JOB IS NOT MY PROBLEM!”. THIS WAS A PRICELESS MOMENT THAT REMINDED ME TO BE MINDFUL AND PRESENT WHEN I WAS WITH HER. WE ALL NEED TO DO THIS MORE OFTEN SO THAT WHEN WE HAVE A MOMENT TO BE HAPPY THAT WE REALLY TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THOSE MOMENTS.

PRACTICE SHORT BURSTS OF HAPPINESS: TAKE 5 MINUTES TO BRIGHTEN SOMEONE’S DAY, EMAIL SOMEONE TO THANK THEM FOR SOMETHING THEY DID FOR YOU, HAVE A MEANINGFUL CONVERSATION WITH A FRIEND, TAKE 30 SECONDS TO HELP SOMEONE WHO NEEDS IT, CREATE A NEW FUN EXPERIENCE OR RECALL A GREAT PAST EXPERIENCE.

Dive Deeper: Dr. Greg Wells Podcast with Dr. Kelly Brogan on Mental Health

ABOUT 1 IN 5 PEOPLE WILL FACE A MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS AT SOME POINT IN THEIR LIVES. HAVING SEEN THE IMPACT OF MENTAL ILLNESSES IN FAMILIES, SCHOOLS AND BUSINESSES, MENTAL HEALTH IS NOW ONE OF MY TOP PRIORITIES. TO HELP SHED SOME LIGHT ON THIS TOPIC THIS WEEK I TALK WITH DR. KELLY BROGAN.

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