Is Having Mental Wellness The Equivalent Of Being Happy?
Iím a mental wellness coach, executive coach and performance psychology coach. I frequently have clients come to me asking to help them become happier. Theyíre not necessarily depressed or down in the dumps. They just want to be happier more often. When I ask them how much of the time they would like to be happy, they often reply, well, as much as possible. Some even say, all the time! I strongly recommend you use your unhappy bouts as growth experiences. I want you to view downtimes as potential uptimes. If you ask yourself, what does my unhappiness have to teach me, that can elicit some self-reflection and introspection that could lead you to a brand new place of self-understanding. Instead of being unhappy about being unhappy, and wishing you could get out of that space as rapidly as possible, dwell in that space a bit and engage in self-exploration of why you believe you might be unhappy.
Is Having Mental Wellness The Equivalent Of Being Happy?
Bill Cole, MS, MA
Founder and CEO
William B. Cole Consultants
Silicon Valley, California
Happiness depends upon ourselves.
If you want happiness for an hourótake a nap. If you want happiness for a dayógo fishing. If you want happiness for a yearóinherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetimeóhelp someone else.
Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus
Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasnít arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and Iím going to be happy in it.
Iím a mental wellness coach, executive coach and performance psychology coach. I frequently have clients come to me asking to help them become happier. Theyíre not necessarily depressed or down in the dumps. They just want to be happier more often. When I ask them how much of the time they would like to be happy, they often reply, well, as much as possible. Some even say, all the time!
How about you? Do you have a desire to be happy constantly? If youíre a bit unhappy, do you take immediate furtive steps to get back to being happy? Do you view any periods of unhappiness as negative? Do you view your unhappiness as a problem? Do you feel that when youíre unhappy thereís something wrong with you? Do you look around and believe that other people are happier than you? Do you believe they are happy more often than you?
When youíre unhappy, how do you spend that time? Is this time unproductive for you? Do you see being unhappy as a waste of time? Do you simply mark time until you can get back to being happy? Does being unhappy derail you from your normal activities? Do you put life on hold until you can get back to being happy?
You already know that no human being can be happy 100% of the time. Itís just not possible. Life doesnít work that way. So when people hope to be happy constantly thatís just not realistic, and theyíre setting themselves up, paradoxically, to be unhappy. People are unhappy for a wide range of reasons. Sometimes external circumstances trigger unhappiness. Sometimes people are unhappy for internal reasons. We may have health or medical or psychological reasons for our unhappiness. And sometimes we become unhappy for reasons we donít really know. We canít put our finger on why weíre unhappy. All we know is that we are unhappy.
What Iím going to say here may surprise you.
I strongly recommend you use your unhappy bouts as growth experiences.
Yes, Iím suggesting you turn lemons into lemonade. I want you to view downtimes as potential uptimes. If you ask yourself, what does my unhappiness have to teach me, that can elicit some self-reflection and introspection that could lead you to a brand new place of self-understanding.
Instead of being unhappy about being unhappy, and wishing you could get out of that space as rapidly as possible, dwell in that space a bit and engage in self-exploration of why you believe you might be unhappy.
Clearly, with folks who have been diagnosed with issues such as clinical depression, anxiety or other issues, Iím not suggesting that suddenly becoming happy is a simple or a guaranteed thing. But I have suggested these mental wellness strategies for clients of mine who have had all sorts of diagnosed maladies, and these have been quite helpful for them.
Hereís a very common example. My clients come to me with dreams and goals of high achievement. I love to help them devise strategies and pathways for achieving these objectives. Sometimes theyíll be quite frustrated because they have very high goals, but theyíre not reaching them at the moment. This achievement gap causes frustration. That frustration turns into unhappiness. The unhappiness turns into brooding or feeling stuck and then my client no longer takes action on their goals. They allow the frustration to block them.
Does some of this sound familiar? It doesnít need to be this way. Here are my mental wellness strategies to help you gain benefits from your bouts of unhappiness.
- Donít Seek To Be Happy 100% Of The Time: Recognize that all human beings have a percentage of time when theyíre unhappy. Donít view this downtime as a negative. View it as a growth opportunity. Take steps to learn about yourself when youíre unhappy. Take the unhappy periods in stride and see what you can discover about your inner world.
- Write About Unhappiness In Your Journal: This helps you process your thoughts and prevents them from simply endlessly spinning in your head. When you put your thoughts on paper or on a computer screen, they go over there permanently. Itís as if your mind asks you, ďAre you going to save those words that you wrote down over there?Ē And you would say yes, Iím going to save them. Then your mind will immediately relax and let go of the worries. You have now separated your thoughts you just wrote down from your mind and emotions. You just gave yourself a sense of relief. As a result, you can also examine your thoughts much more objectively and clearly when you see them in black-and-white. You can also come back to these thoughts after taking a break, and when you do so, you will often gain a brand new perspective about them.
- Speak With Someone You Trust: When we spend time with someone who we know supports us, understands us and who will not judge or criticize us, that allows us to speak our truth and to open up about how we think and feel. Even if the person says very little, and mainly listens, you will often gain a new level of understanding about how you think and feel as you speak. You also will be downloading your thoughts and feelings onto the other person. Weíve probably all heard the old saying, ďA burden shared is a burden halved.Ē Donít hold your thoughts and emotions in when youíre unhappy. They will only expand and increase your frustration and sense of feeling stuck. You need to give them a place to go.
- Ask Yourself, What Can I Learn From Unhappiness? Iím a firm believer in lifelong learning, across every sphere of life. If I can learn from everything I encounter, I gain many benefits. The major benefit is that I continue to grow as a person. You may know someone who is good at storytelling. Maybe they particularly tell stories about their bad luck or odd and quirky things that have happened to them. They may tell the story in an interesting, lively and funny way, and you may notice as they tell the story, that they seem to be no longer negatively affected by that unfortunate circumstance. On the contrary, they actually seem to relish telling the story, and they seem to have learned a great deal from that experience. This is turning lemons into lemonade. This is achieving victory over a formally negative circumstance.
I encourage you to turn your own lemons into lemonade. I encourage you to view your unhappy periods of time as growth experiences.
Bill Cole, MS, MA. All rights reserved.
Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority
on peak performance, mental toughness and coaching, is founder and
CEO of William B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps
organizations and professionals achieve more success in business,
life and sports. He is also the Founder and President of the International
Mental Game Coaching Association (www.mentalgamecoaching.com),
an organization dedicated to advancing the research, development,
professionalism and growth of mental game coaching worldwide. He
is a multiple Hall-Of-Fame honoree as an athlete, coach and school
alumnus, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published book author
and articles author, and has coached at the highest levels of major-league
pro sports, big-time college athletics and corporate America. For
a free, extensive article archive, or for questions and comments
visit him at www.MentalGameCoach.com.
Free Re-Publishing Rights For This Article
You have our advance permission to republish this article,
as long as you do not sell it. The author's name, web address (MentalGameCoach.com)
and copyright notice (Copyright © Bill Cole, MS, MA) must appear
in all reprinted articles. If the article appears on a website or
in an e-zine, the article must include a link to a page in the MentalGameCoach
website. We would also appreciate your including the author's bio
and full contact information in your article, although this is not
a requirement. For additional information, see our full article
re-publishing permission guidelines.