Wellness Wednesday - Flourishing
Did you know that October 10th is World Mental Health Day?
What the heck IS mental health?
Is mental health the absence of mental illness?
According to the wellness aisle at the bookstore, mental health is being "happy".
Is that true?
Years ago I went to a talk about Positive Psychology and the Flourishing Model (Corey Keyes). The visual of Flourishing was life-changing for me. It just made SO MUCH SENSE! From that point forward, I applied this model to not only my work but my life. I'm a visual person. So let's start with this graph.
The Flourishing Model
Seriously. Isn't this just genius???
Let me help you out a bit by giving you Keyes' definition of hedonic and eudaimonic:
Hedonic – (feeling good) – the measurement of emotional well-being. This represents the energy tied directly to a person’s discretionary effort – or, the difference between happily going the extra mile and feeling good versus simply plodding along, or worse.
Eudaimonic – (functioning well) – the measurement of achievement and purpose as determined by their social and psychological well-being. This represents the level at which a person is functioning well – fulfilled, working with a sense of purpose and place, and getting things done.
Let me tell you a little story about flourishing...
When I finished my first degree, I was ready to break free from my hometown. Did I ever!
I moved down to Massachusetts from New Brunswick to work in the community as a mental health support worker. I was this 23-year-old kid just trying to figure her own sh*t out. My manager handed me a caseload, I shadowed other support workers for a week or two, and then I was on my own! My clients were diagnosed with mental illnesses such as paranoid anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar depression. You will notice I do not use the term "suffered from" and then name the mental illness diagnosis. That's because I believe one can have a diagnosis, but not always "suffer". All of my clients were inspirations, but one, in particular, stands out.
Lisa (not her real name) was a kick a$$ lady.
First of all, she was SUPPOSED to die... but didn't. She was a true medical miracle. She had been moved into this apartment complex with elderly people, though she was much younger, due to her originally impending death. But. Again. She did not die. So she ended up being this wonderful helper to the others in her building: running errands, visiting, caring.
I loved spending time with Lisa because she knew everyone in town.
Lisa was a fabulous artist. She had native American roots, which she explored through her art. Drawing and painting were comforts. Lisa had a lovely home, managing what little money the state provided very well. She had purpose in her life, connections, self-esteem, and self-mastery. According to this model, she had high engagement AND high achievement.
Lisa also heard voices. She heard voices every darn day. Some of the voices were kind, but they were usual shushed by the louder, meaner voices. It could be quite exhausting for Lisa, managing her day to day life AND the voices. Lisa negotiated with the voices to give her some time for herself, promising them her full attention at some point in the day. This worked well. Most of the time. At other times, the voices overwhelmed her... and she would need support. Her mental illness was chronic, at times manageable, at other times dangerous. Yet. Lisa had the best mental health of most people I know, even today.
She taught me what life should really be about.
The point to my story?
According to Keyes, mental health does not imply an absence of mental illness. Rather, mental health is a "separate dimension of positive feelings and functioning." Individuals described as flourishing have a combination of high levels of emotional well-being, psychological well-being, and social well-being. Flourishing people are happy and satisfied; they tend to see their lives as having a purpose; they feel some degree of mastery and accept all parts of themselves; they have a sense of personal growth in the sense that they are always growing, evolving, and changing; finally, they have a sense of autonomy and an internal locus of control, they chose their fate in life instead of being victims of fate. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flourishing)
We all struggle with ups and downs in our lives. We may even get to the point of being diagnosed with a mental illness such as depression, anxiety or PTSD. Chronic health issues can have an effect on our mental health. Huge life adjustments can knock us off our feet. We can go through periods where we aren't overly productive or connected to those around us.
We can all dust ourselves off, get a bit of help and FLOURISH.
Wellness Wednesdays are about FLOURISHING together; finding purpose, growing, evolving and connecting!
Until next time!