9 Things You Absolutely NEED For A Healthy, Happy Mind

Want to know whether your love or mental health is in as tip-top shape as it could be? Brain research says that if you have these nine things, you have a healthy mind.

1. Happiness!
Of course you need happiness for a healthy mind and a happy life, but there are a lot of misconceptions about what happiness actually is. Happiness is not a momentary response to a particular situation in your life: it is a general state of being. Some might call it contentment, or a sense of well being. If you do not have an overall feeling of happiness about yourself and your life, despite whatever ups and downs your day to day life might bring you, you are missing a piece to the mental health puzzle.

2. Flexibility (and not the kind you get from yoga).
Do things have to be "just so" for you to be happy, or can you be flexible as circumstances, both major and minor, in your life change? Being flexible means that you can adjust to your current circumstances without suffering too much depression, anxiety or loss of focus on your goals and relationships.

3. Emotional regulation is a must.
Can you get yourself revved up to face life when you need to? How long does it take you to calm down when angry or fearful feelings have overwhelmed you? Do you have "knee jerk" reactions? Finding the strength to push through the down times and having the ability to turn down the burner on over-arousal are functions of a healthy mind. When your skills in these areas are suffering, you know that your mental health could use some TLC.

4. Good relationships make for a great life.
Good relationships, both intimate and superficial ones, are characterized by kindness, compassion and empathy. Do you feel totally autonomous and at the same time completely connected to the most important people in your life? If not, you have some work to do. The quality of your relationships is one of the biggest indicators of your overall mental health.

5. You know how Yoda lived so long and was happy? Wisdom!
What drives the decisions you make and the actions you take in your life? Do you apply experience, knowledge and good judgment to them? If not, this is an aspect of mental health that eludes you. Sound decision making and the ability to foresee potential outcomes of the actions you take requires an integration of parts of your brain that only sound mental health allows.

6. Compassion creates happiness in yourself and others.
Can you feel the emotions of others? Do you show kindness, caring and a willingness to help relieve others of their suffering when it makes sense to do so? As social animals, our ability to experience the emotions of others and respond with kindness, caring and a willingness to help is fundamental. If you do not possess this quality, it may be an indication that you are missing something in the healthy mind department.

7. Morality: Being a good person leads to a good life.
Do you have the capacity to think of the larger good and act in a pro-social way, even when you are alone? Our social nature requires that we have the ability to act in ways that benefit not only ourselves, but our group as well. Antisocial and amoral behavior are clear indicators of poor mental health.

8. You need a sense of meaning.
Can you tell a coherent story of your life? Do you feel connected to something larger than you? Being able to make sense of your life by telling "your" story, as well as experiencing the feeling of being connected to something larger than you are indicators of well functioning mental health.

9. You have to follow your intuition.
Are you aware of the information coming from your heart and your gut? If not, your mental health is suffering. Believe it or not, a vital component of mental health is a connection to the neural networks of your heart and your intestines. If this connection is impaired or missing, you have some work to do.

If by reading this you have discovered that there are areas of your mental health that your would like to improve, give me a call. We'll talk.