Happiness and Mental Illness

There is no denying that our happiness affects our mental health. However I do not think that being happy implies being mentally healthy. And I do not think that someone with a mental illness cannot be happy.

I think the issue is a misconception on happiness itself. There exists the idea that happiness is given to individuals. And we judge whether or not someone is happy by his material possessions and the relationship the person has. Or how intelligent the person is. But that is not enough. Things and knowledge on their own do not make happy.

So what does? Taking responsibility for our own happiness. Happiness is not given. It is worked for. We need to find out what we want. And then realize that a lot of the things that we want… we already have. And we learn to take a break and appreciate that.

Being happy does not mean we are never sad anymore. It does not mean we do not get triggered anymore. The urges don’t just go away magically. We even may still have to go see a therapist.

I think the key to being happy despite a mental illness is to be able to distinguish emotions from rationality. Sometimes we get hurt for no obvious reason. A trigger. A friend who said something that hurt us. But we keep wondering why we suddenly feel so bad. In those cases it is crucial to allow the emotions. To allow ourselves to feel the emotions but to acknowledge that there is no reason for them. Which does not mean invalidating them. It just means that we know that even though we feel bad, on a rational basis those feelings do not mean that we have a bad life or are genuinely unhappy.

This takes practice. And it requires one crucial mindset: The mindset of being the one’s in charge for our happiness. Because to be able to see what we just feel and what is actual truth, we have to be willing to look at our reactions more closely. We have to be willing to sometimes not have an explanation. But isn’t thinking: “I am just tired, that’s why I am so sad.” or “I feel bad and there is no real reason for it.” better than thinking: “Everyone around me hates me.”? One is accepting our own weakness. The other is blaming everyone around us for our own misery. One is taking responsibility and allowing ourselves, to be who we really are. The other is being unjust to other people by blaming them for something they had (possibly) no doing in. One comes from a gentle and kind mindset. From the kind of mindset that allows us to love yourselves, the other comes from a cold, negative and angry place.

I am not one for lying. I don’t say we should always just blame our own weakness, or the weather for when we feel bad. Sometimes there are reasons. But as someone who tends to mask pain with anger, I know I am likely to try to search for someone to blame and bend the truth to my will.

But that is toxic. It has the power to destroy relationships. And it puts more negativity into the world. Which is why I think we need to learn to be okay with us not being alright. And realize that it does not generally mean, we are unhappy. Not unless we have the mindset that makes us think we are unhappy. And it is our responsibility to adopt the mindset that will let us heal and make us happy. For me that is positivity and gratitude.

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