People spend their entire lives pursuing happiness. They’ll focus on getting rich, getting better relationships, moving to new cities, and doing everything that society tells them they need to do to become happier. Which begs the question, how mental stability affect happiness.

What many neglect is their own mental health.

And the truth is that mental health is woefully misunderstood. If you had to explain what heart disease or cancer is, chances are you’d be able to do it. But if you had to explain neurosis and how it could affect one’s day-to-day life, it’s likely you’d be stumped.

The state of mental health influences many areas of your life. And it can have a direct impact on your happiness.

In our mental health IOP, we’ve seen many patients who felt they were misunderstood and under-represented in society. And it’s because many people just don’t comprehend the link between mental stability and happiness.

What Is Mental Health?

For us to understand how to achieve happiness, we first must understand the meaning of mental health.

Mental health is your psychological well-being. It’s how you feel about yourself, and how you feel about the environment around you and relationships in your life.

When people talk about “mental health” they mostly talk about anxiety and depression. And while those are real conditions, mental health encompasses more than that. The absence of depression and anxiety does not mean someone is in good mental health.

We believe it’s more about the presence of certain things rather than the absence. For example, people who are in good mental health tend to have:

  • A passion and enthusiasm for life
  • Contentment for the things they have in in life
  • An acceptance of the bad circumstances in your life
  • Self confidence and self esteem
  • The ability to have fun

Those things are often missing with people who have issues with their mental stability. This can spiral into crushing depression and anxiety, which can often lead to destructive behaviors like addiction of drugs and alcohol.

How Mental Stability Affects Happiness

In his book “Thrive: The Power of Psychological Therapy”, Richard Laylard described the anguish of poor mental health, “Mental pain is as real as physical pain. It is experienced in the same areas of the brain as physical pain and is often more disabling.”

Mental pain is misunderstood because other people cant’ see it. When you break your leg, the injury is obvious. If someone has cancer, there are MRIs, X-rays, biopsies etc. to check internally. But when someone is mentally anguished, there are few clear-cut tests to check their health. This is a great video by Dr. Mike Evans explaining it in more detail.

 

Video Transcript
Hi, I'm Dr. Mike Evans and this is a short whiteboard on happiness. It's kind of a crazy topic and the philosopher in me feels the more we try and make it a formula, the farther away we'll get. It's also likely we all have different meanings for happiness; pleasure, being engaged, life satisfaction. In medicine, we call it subjective well-being with many domains; work, family, friends, spiritual, contentment, and control. So I'll leave it to you to know what happiness means to you but I do think the science of happiness comes with some useful lessons. First is what predicts it. The research points to a lot of factors but three big picture players;
First are your genes, your temperament, or personality.
Second, are your life circumstances. Things like wealth, where you live, and health.
Third, are your life choices and behaviors.
So of these three players which is the most important? Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, a University of California professor, tried to answer this question. I think she will say these are very approximate but about half is predicted by your genes, 40% by your life choices, and only 10% by your life circumstances. This is interesting, I mean I do think there's a line in the sand. For example, lifting people out of poverty would give a lasting bump in well-being. But for most, we think if I just had that new collar, higher salary, a bigger house, new lover/partner, I would be so much happier. But the research says that sure, there is a boost with a new car, a new hockey stick, a new marriage. But after time so with the car this might be a few months and the generally accepted time with the marriage is about two years. The new becomes the norm and our happiness quotient drops back to what it was.
The fancy name for this is “Hedonic Adaptation” but perhaps the observation is that happiness doesn't come from getting something we don't have, but rather from recognizing and appreciating what we do have, or that happiness is best pursued by extracting the most possible from the present before turning one's attention to the future. Some would call this mindfulness or “Living In The Moment”.
The second big lesson is about your life choices. The good news is they are mostly in our control and overlapping so;
Expressing gratitude
Being more forgiving
Meditation
Mindfulness
Exercise
Investing in quality relationships
Kindness
Altruism
Doing things for others
Compassion
Having good flow where you have a kind of spontaneous joy from being fully absorbed in a task
Minimizing thinking traps that make us feel bad about ourselves.
All of these can work with our factory settings to increase happiness levels and don't underestimate their effects. Let's take one, having good relationships, the Granton Glue at Cohort Trials have been following two groups of men. One advantaged and one disadvantaged for over 75 years. When they look to see what most predicted being a healthy happy octogenarian, well it wasn’t middle-aged cholesterol. It was middle-aged satisfying connectedness to family, friends, and community. There are many nuances we were just figuring out, for instance, dosage. Dr. Luber Mirskiy showed in a small trial about counting your blessings where you list what I am grateful for, helped when it was done once a week but not so much three times a week. So in the end, I think sure if you want to buy something cool go for it you might even give you a short-term bump in well-being. But maybe also consider investing in a few things that have a longer-term effect, a happiness portfolio if you will. You may have a set point, but just like your risk of heart disease, you can alter this a lot by doing things differently. Hopefully, this helps. I'm grateful that you listened and watched, see I feel better already!
Video Transcript
Hi, I'm Dr. Mike Evans and this is a short whiteboard on happiness. It's kind of a crazy topic and the philosopher in me feels the more we try and make it a formula, the farther away we'll get. It's also likely we all have different meanings for happiness; pleasure, being engaged, life satisfaction. In medicine, we call it subjective well-being with many domains; work, family, friends, spiritual, contentment, and control. So I'll leave it to you to know what happiness means to you but I do think the science of happiness comes with some useful lessons. First is what predicts it. The research points to a lot of factors but three big picture players;
First are your genes, your temperament, or personality.
Second, are your life circumstances. Things like wealth, where you live, and health.
Third, are your life choices and behaviors.
So of these three players which is the most important? Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, a University of California professor, tried to answer this question. I think she will say these are very approximate but about half is predicted by your genes, 40% by your life choices, and only 10% by your life circumstances. This is interesting, I mean I do think there's a line in the sand. For example, lifting people out of poverty would give a lasting bump in well-being. But for most, we think if I just had that new collar, higher salary, a bigger house, new lover/partner, I would be so much happier. But the research says that sure, there is a boost with a new car, a new hockey stick, a new marriage. But after time so with the car this might be a few months and the generally accepted time with the marriage is about two years. The new becomes the norm and our happiness quotient drops back to what it was.
The fancy name for this is “Hedonic Adaptation” but perhaps the observation is that happiness doesn't come from getting something we don't have, but rather from recognizing and appreciating what we do have, or that happiness is best pursued by extracting the most possible from the present before turning one's attention to the future. Some would call this mindfulness or “Living In The Moment”.
The second big lesson is about your life choices. The good news is they are mostly in our control and overlapping so;
Expressing gratitude
Being more forgiving
Meditation
Mindfulness
Exercise
Investing in quality relationships
Kindness
Altruism
Doing things for others
Compassion
Having good flow where you have a kind of spontaneous joy from being fully absorbed in a task
Minimizing thinking traps that make us feel bad about ourselves.
All of these can work with our factory settings to increase happiness levels and don't underestimate their effects. Let's take one, having good relationships, the Granton Glue at Cohort Trials have been following two groups of men. One advantaged and one disadvantaged for over 75 years. When they look to see what most predicted being a healthy happy octogenarian, well it wasn’t middle-aged cholesterol. It was middle-aged satisfying connectedness to family, friends, and community. There are many nuances we were just figuring out, for instance, dosage. Dr. Luber Mirskiy showed in a small trial about counting your blessings where you list what I am grateful for, helped when it was done once a week but not so much three times a week. So in the end, I think sure if you want to buy something cool go for it you might even give you a short-term bump in well-being. But maybe also consider investing in a few things that have a longer-term effect, a happiness portfolio if you will. You may have a set point, but just like your risk of heart disease, you can alter this a lot by doing things differently. Hopefully, this helps. I'm grateful that you listened and watched, see I feel better already!

How To Improve Your Mental Stability And Become Happy

Here’s the key: reduce mental anguish and find more fulfillment in life. This will mean different things for different people, but there are things almost anyone can do to reach this goal.

Feel grateful. One of the hallmark signs of unhappiness is a lack of contentment. You see what your neighbor has, and you feel as if you don’t have enough. You accomplish something, but you feel as if you failed. No matter what circumstance you may be going through, you have something to be thankful for if you’re still alive and breathing. It could be the small things: having a roof over your head, having food to eat, having friends and family that love you. Take time out and think about what you have. Avoid blaming and complaining. Instead, speak from a place of positivity and contentment. Adopt a mindset of abundance rather than scarcity. Eventually, you’ll notice that your outlook on life will change.

Become mindful. The world is a chaotic place. Events are always happening. People are consistently entering and leaving your life. Things are constantly changing— for better or for worse. Your mind absorbs this chaos, creating disorganized thoughts, anxiety, and general anguish. Remove yourself from this by learning to quiet the mind through becoming mindful. Practices like meditation and deep breathing are often excellent at helping people to decompress, become tranquil, and find a clearer path to improving their well-being.

Get active. Being active isn’t only necessary for your physical health, it’s absolutely crucial for your mental health as well. Get your body moving— whether that’s by going to the gym, taking long walks, doing yoga, or something else entirely. When you’re moving, you enhance your state of well-being with the release of endorphins. This is why exercise is often considered a natural “treatment” for depression and anxiety— without the side effects of traditional medications. Exercising also creates a sort of reward loop: the more you do it, the better you’ll look and feel. This boosts your mood and helps you feel content about your actions. If you’re currently inactive, start today. You don’t necessarily need to join a gym to get started, you simply need to build a habit. Go for a walk, do some push-ups, do whatever— just start and build from there.

Find professional help. When you’re dealing with mental illness, you often feel isolated. It may feel like the world is closing in on you, and that there’s no one to help you escape. People may not take what you’re dealing with seriously, nor do they even understand what it is you’re going through. If this describes your experience, getting help with a mental health IOP can be the best thing to help you conquer your issues. At A Mission For Michael, we offer treatments for those who are suffering from anxiety problems, mood disorders, personality disorders, and a variety of other mental illnesses. Our therapies are led by our staff of psychiatrists and mental health experts.

When you are dissatisfied with your life, and are unhappy with the direction it’s going, you need to take the reins and regain control. This is done with customized treatment plans that are designed to change the way you think and feel— helping you obtain the fulfillment you need in life.

Mental stability and happiness are highly linked. It’s almost impossible to have one without the other, and it can be difficult to achieve both when you’re facing some form of adversity in life. Our mental health IOP can help you stabilize your mind and find a path to happiness. Contact us today to learn more about our mental health IOP.