Mental Health Challenge: The Pursuit of the Best Day Ever.
by Live Better
Our goal at Live Better is to help you have the best day ever, every single day.
Instead of contemplating esoteric questions (like "what is the meaning of life?"), it's easier to make immediate improvements by tackling a single (more concrete) question: How can we be better human beings TODAY than we were YESTERDAY?
This is growth.
What is a growth mindset? The Mindset Scholars Network defines it as "the belief that intelligence can be developed. Students with a growth mindset understand they can get smarter through hard work, the use of effective strategies, and help from others when needed. It is contrasted with a fixed mindset: the belief that intelligence is a fixed trait that is set in stone at birth."
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. If you're new to the newsletter, we've been discussing the different facets of mental health through a six element model, the factors for which are listed below:
So how can we utilize the combination of a "Best Day Ever" mindset with a "Growth Mindset" to achieve better mental health?
We simply take a positive, no excuses approach to being better today than we were yesterday by putting our words into action, using strategies instead of winging it (hope isn't a strategy), and being willing to ask for help.
Easier said than done. De-stigmatizing talking about mental health is an extreme challenge in our culture, especially our corporate/work culture. Who would want to pay for "damaged" goods, anyway?
Raise your hand (seriously...up in the air...right now) if you're comfortable discussing your mental health with people in your life. Truly telling someone you're not okay or you're going through a rough time?
Right. We aren't that comfortable doing it either. But comfort breeds mediocrity, stagnation, and cowardice. We take the safe route because we don't want to feel judged.
We said this last week: "After all is said and done, at the end of every day, we decide what is most important to us. We ultimately decide the fate of our lives by choosing our path. This happens between our ears before we take the first step."
We are in control, ultimately, of our narrative. First, the story we tell ourselves. Second, the story we transcribe in the way we interact with others. And third, the legacy we leave behind as the "finished product."
We're going to provide a challenging thought for each element of mental health, a practical challenge, and a daily habit we suggest making for each section. If you come up with a different "habit" or action to address each challenge, please share with us and tag us @livebetterco.
To start, we suggest you take all of this week to pick one of these areas and focus some free time on completing one of the challenges.
A difficult part of maintaining good social health is understanding how we fit into our social surroundings. How are we perceived? How are we judged? How do we self-identify?
Do we take the approach of "I don't give a F*&# about what anyone thinks of me"? Do we trust a few close friends and family to consider their opinion of us? Do we trust our Instagram following as a whole to provide some kind of validation?
Challenge: Document which type of "validation" feels best to you. Is it the number of likes you get on an Instagram post? Is it being recognized at work in front of your peers for a project well-done? Kind words from a significant other or date for being attractive? Think of this like figuring out your "love language" of social health.
Daily Habit: After determining how you find validation for social health, determine what is a positive experience vs. a negative experience. For the negative experience (i.e. lack of recognition for a project well done at work), find ways to self-congratulate or self-validate. Why do you deserve that praise or recognition? Say something positive about the situation by making the "glass half full."
Example: "I worked really hard on this project and know I did a great job. Not only did I make deadlines, communicate well, and lead the team, but I also did XYZ. For my next project, I will implement the same tactics to ensure another job well done."
How do your surroundings make you feel? Are you inspired, creative, and energized? Is your glass prison called office sucking the life out of you causing you to be angry and frustrated each time you enter the room?
We've been in both.
Challenge: Document which type of "environment" suits each of the following four areas:
We believe you should set aside different environments for different reasons. If you're an entrepreneur or you work from home, your bed is NOT a suitable place to send email, create, meet deadlines, and be productive. Your brain thinks it's better served for other reasons, and you'll start to do them instead (e.g. go to sleep with your phone in your hand scrolling Instagram with the tip of your nose).
Daily Habit: Schedule important tasks and to-do list items not only by time, but where you'll complete them.
Example: "I have to write a big brief for a work project tomorrow. I will complete this from 2-3pm at the coffee shop on the corner because I know I'll be able to concentrate."
We know our feelings are subject to which way the wind is blowing. People around you are negative? You will be too. People around you starting to gossip? So will you. Little feelings of anxiety popping up? Runaway freight train by the time the hour is up.
How can we learn to approach the way we handle our emotions? We believe you can practice framing them (i.e. positive vs. negative), and practice specific responses to better handle negative situations. If all else fails, we ask for help.
Challenge: Document your "scariest" emotion. Define the fear for why it scares you (e.g. I feel anxiety often, and it scares me because of the physical pit I feel in my stomach that I know I can't get to go away. Once I feel it, it only gets worse.")
Daily Habit: After determining your least favorite feeling, document what you have done in the past to help address that emotion to turn the tide back to "normal." After feeling anxiety, did exercise help? Did talking to a specific friend in a park help?
These are reusable strategies! This is truly the "best day ever" mindset. We can reproduce certain emotions, actions, responses, and successes by repeating things that work for us.
Anecdote (Jason speaking): "I often feel a (deep) urge to please everyone. If I am helping a room full of 10,000 people and 9,999 feel like they have a life-changing moment but just one single person even blinks twice at not feeling like expectations were met, I can only focus on that negative. It's often times crippling for me to face interpersonal confrontation because I want everyone to be helped and gratified. Something I've taken to combat this is to turn back to the 9,999, understand why they felt positive change and help them then take another step forward (i.e. always leveling up). This gives me a new journey and focus to help them with, rather than regret an approach I may have taken to fail just the one.
What voice is playing out in our head on why we look and feel a certain way (physically)? Is it one of self-doubt, saying I'm too fat or too slow or too weak to accomplish this task? Is it one of judgement, which spirals our decision making into a negative tailspin?
The perception of our physical health is often the way we feel others perceive us. Why do you need abs to feel "wanted" by others? Why do you allow a magazine to dictate the way you feel you ought to look?
Maybe we don't care how we look but we've certainly neglected how we feel. The way we carry stress, sleep poorly, and as a result treat other people has gotten us into trouble.
Challenge: What are your physical goals? Define why you want to be X lbs., run a mile in X minutes:seconds, or complete your first marathon.
The why should serve as an internal compass for when motivation runs out. It's the backstop so that you don't quit. Remember that story you started to spin? Never has it been louder than the pity party everyone throws after they themselves fed themselves 14 brownies, 10 Bud Light's, and a pack of cigarettes during a night out.
We know your sister was in town...and it was your friend's birthday...and you just graduated...and you are starting on your goals tomorrow...
We don't care. There are two kinds of people; those who make excuses to quit, and those who will make any excuse NOT to quit.
It's not about the intensity you bring to show up once; it's about the consistency you bring to show up each and every day, despite what you feel like.
Daily Habit: Make a plan and stick to it. No excuses. No missed days. Create social accountability to someone better than you at that activity, and create social environments that are conducive to pushing you to uncomfortable limits. The people who massage your ego aren't doing you any favors.
Everyone is busy living their life. We've all got stressful jobs (regardless of the hours you work) if you're doing anything that's stretching your limits, so by necessity we need to manage the stress of this growth.
Don't feel like that? We need to find you a side hustle/passion/skill to push your boundaries.
Another question from last week: "Do you have a hobby that forces you to create something? We're always talking about creation > consumption, especially in today's world; what are you adding to the world around you?"
Challenge: Document the last thing you did that truly made you uncomfortable but you came out the other side with a giant smile on your face and a sense of accomplishment.
Was this a race? Ask for a raise at work? Ask someone out on a date that intimidated you? Why did you feel so good afterwards?
Daily Habit: Pick one theme in your life that makes you uncomfortable and frame why it does. What are you going to do to service getting better at being good at being uncomfortable?
It's a practiced skill.
Example: For instance, communicating to your boss that you would like more responsibility because you deserve it. Then, do something each day to build your confidence in achieving that ask with a "due date" set for the actual conversation. "Today, I wrote down five things I did on the last three projects I was on that show my personal growth and ability to lead a team. Tomorrow, I will write down the sales results of last month and how I contributed to those numbers. Friday, I have scheduled lunch with my boss at 12pm to discuss my results and ask for more responsibility...because I deserve it."
Why is our spiritual health the most open-ended topic of mental health yet people are the most closed minded in discussing it?
If you turned away from church as a young kid because your parents "forced" you to go, why haven't you gone back as a discernment practicing adult to see for yourself?
Do you find yourself judging other religions, spiritual practices, or belief systems simply because they are different from yours? What kind of compassion and empathy have you tried on in order to understand their point of view?
Our pride in our self-identity blocks our progress (side note: how often have we seen THIS play out in today's cultural confrontations? We're quick to pick "teams", even though we're all really on the same team...aren't we?).
Creating labels is lazy. We do it based on the color of our skin, gender, geographic location, or even which sports team we cheer for. It's much harder to get to know someone, then judge them for the person they truly are, strengths and weaknesses alike.
Challenge: Reach out to a friend, family member, or community leader and tell them you are trying to learn about different spiritual practices as part of a self-experiment to open your mind.
Daily Habit: Text them, "Hey, Friend! I wanted to reach out to you because I've been searching for ways to practice positive growth and to find strategies to apply to maintaining good mental health. I know you are (Catholic, Muslim, Buddhist, Purple Polka Dot); what are some ways you guys talk about this?"
What a cool pathway to open up. It's a willingness to find new ways to think about the world we live in in order to make it a better place to actually live in.
We're so excited to continue this journey throughout May to de-stigmatize talking about Mental Health. Story you want to share or question you want to ask? Follow along on Instagram and tag @livebetterco.