The Other Side of Mental Health

Why do we spend so much of our time fixated in piercing detail on what’s wrong in our lives?

  • We worry about the future…
  • We ruminate on the past…
  • And we wish desperately that it would all just ease up, if only for a few hours or days.

And who can blame us? Life can be tough. Terrible even.

But isn’t there something devastatingly ironic in our tendency to attend so stridently to the negative aspects of our lives when life itself is already so hard?

Why do we compound our negativity like this?

Can we do better?

We long for a better life. And yet…

  • How much of our time and attention do we spend clarifying a specific vision for what that better life might look like?
  • How much energy do we spend experimenting with what we want out of life rather than avoiding what we don’t?

Beyond the removal of suffering, we seem shockingly unclear about the details of realizing the good life.

But maybe that shouldn’t be surprising given how we spend our time and attention.

We are what be habitually attend to.

Answer this honestly: How much time do you spend deliberately and intentionally clarifying your values and aspirations and making concrete plans to move toward them?

I think I know the answer…

But why so little?

Why do we devote ourselves so intensely to the hyper-clarification of what’s wrong at the expense of clarifying what might be right?

I suspect it’s because we’re afraid. Afraid that, somehow, it’s only by striving constantly to fix what’s wrong that we hold it all together.

But it’s been my experience that quite the opposite is true.

The Leap

When we learn to radically accept our fears and insecurities, we give ourselves the freedom to move beyond them: to put down our incessant strivings to fix what’s wrong, and instead, begin to build what’s right.

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