The things that create a high quality of life for you, specifically, may or may not be the same things that anyone else needs to create a high quality of life for them.
But: others will try hard to convince you that you NEED to do the same stuff THEY need to do, in order to create a high quality of life.
It can mess with our heads.
I’ll be the first to admit, my priorities may be al little different than other mental health care providers, in that I’m not into “health” or “wellness,” in the abstract, being the primary aim of mental health care.
I want people to have a subjectively positive QUALITY OF LIFE, regardless of how that measures up to what the rest of the world thinks is “healthy.”
It’s not necessarily that I think the world is WRONG about what constitutes “mental health.”
The truth is, I think the mental health community does some things right, some things less right, and a lot of things…um…a whole lot less right when it comes to actual “health.”
But the thing is, I don’t get to tell anybody else that MY version of “mental health” “SHOULD” be THEIRS.
I don’t get to tell YOU that MY version of “mental health” should be YOURS.
Which is good, because I don’t particularly care if you, or anyone, agrees with what I think is “mentally healthy.”
I want you to like your life.
I want you to want to live your life.
I want you to feel good about who you are, what you do, the opportunities you have available.
I want you to feel those good things without hurting other people.
Beyond that, who the hell am I, or anyone else, to tell you what’s “healthy?”
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t listen to others’ opinions. There are often people who care about us, whose opinions matter. I personally get a lot of value out of listening to others’ viewpoints about what is or isn’t “healthy.”
The point I’m trying to make, though, is that we cannot live our lives obsessed with what OTHER people think is “healthy.”
We can’t live our lives chasing what OTHER people consider the “perfect” relationship.
We can’t live our lives working toward what OTHER people consider a “successful” career.
There are things that substantively improve the quality of YOUR life, that make YOUR life worth living. Other people may or may not agree or even UNDERSTAND why we like the stuff we like, or why what motivates us motivates us.
Doesn’t matter if they get it or not. They don’t have to live our lives. We do.
Keep what others think and say in perspective.
We can listen to them or not, take what they say seriously or not; but in the end, we have to remember that our life is about what WE want. Experiences and feelings WE value. Goals WE find meaningful.
We all know people who are virtual SLAVES to the opinions of others.
They truly think that, if they do everything right, maybe they can earn EVERYBODY’S approval— and maybe THIS will make them happy.
Hey, I like it when people approve of me, too. Who doesn’t?
But if we make that our standard for when we’re “allowed” to be happy, we’re surrendering a vital piece of power and autonomy. Don’t do it.
You’re allowed to find value EXACTLY where you find it.
You’re allowed to create a high quality of life in EXACTLY the ways that come natural to you.
Yes, we have responsibilities to other people— but we also have responsibilities to ourselves.
And that’s not selfish. That’s reality.
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