Dr. Daniel Siegel, a Harvard Medical School graduate and board certified psychiatrist has sought through his clinical research to define mental health. We’ve done an excellent job defining mental illness, but not nearly enough effort is put into talking about mental health.
Dr. Siegel describes mental health as being in a canoe on a river of well-being. Floating down the middle of the river is calm, steady, and enjoyable. There’s a nice current that takes your canoe on a relaxing and enjoyable journey.
On one shore of the river is chaos; it’s the rapids that move our canoe in variable and unexpected ways. Chaos is right-brain dominate. It drowns us in an ocean of emotions and refuses to engage with any form of logic.
On the other shore of the river is rigidity; it’s the tree roots that get our canoe stuck and prevent us from paddling down the calm waters. Rigidity is left-brain dominate. It’s unfeeling, unemotional, totally logical, and ignores the very human aspects of connection and community.
Mental health is navigating between chaos and rigidity. It’s living in a state of integration. Both right and left brain have a role to play, and when they co-operate in balance, they’re integrated. Living in a state of integration allows us to be caring, feeling adults who are also in control of our emotional responses.
There’s no doubt that the past three years have been a disaster for our collective mental health. We now live in an outrage culture, and it’s being weaponized against us.
Showtime’s “This is America,” the President’s Twitter feed, late night television hosts, multi-media journalists, IHOb, and even our neighbor’s Facebook page are being used to drown us in emotion. They don’t want you to be human and logical, they just want you to react with rage against the target that they paint. They thrive on clicks and engagement, no matter the quality of the interaction. Their goal is to grab as much of your attention as they can.
The good news is that you can choose to not be outraged. It’s still possible to get your news from a reputable news organization that’s more focused on hard news than clickbait. It’s still possible to unfriend, unfollow, or unsubscribe. Remove those people and organizations that are trying to manipulate your emotions based on fear.
Unsubscribe from the President’s Twitter feed. You have enough valid reasons to oppose his agenda. Advocate for your positions. You don’t need him constantly trying to distract you with inane drivel.
Stop watching Showtime and HBO. You’ll be much happier reading a book or going for a walk.
Stop visiting BuzzFeed, CNN, and Fox News. Get your news from a news organization that has separated its opinion side from its news side. All journalism is biased, but real news organizations report stories on their facts and merits, not on how many clicks a stupid headline will get.
If you hate the way that Twitter has become toxic or the tribalism that tells you to yell at every person who disagrees with you, there’s something you can do. Choose to not be outraged. If you stop giving oxygen to a fire, it flames out. Focus on rowing down the river of well-being, and living a calm and integrated life.