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Mental Health

An Opinion: Differences Between Mental Health & Emotional Health, and Why Can’t You Always Be Happy

Note: This entire post is nothing but an opinion. Please do not construe it as any kind of expert advice whatsoever, and take any and all information with a grain of salt. In fact, assume that everything presented here is questionable and fiction. At the end of the day, it’s nothing but an avenue to express what I think. (Perks of owning a blog, I suppose).

Often going hand-in-hand, both mental health & emotional health appear quite synonymous to each other in our daily lives; however, there are distinctions between them. To understand the differences between mental health & emotional health, we need to grasp what each individually means. And while the post discusses the two, it will also talk about why it’s not possible to always stay happy, and why that isn’t necessarily bad!

What Is Mental Health?

what is mental health

Mental health refers to our overall well-being that encompasses our emotions, social aspects, situational circumstances, and the psychological state of mind.

In general, mental health is closely associated with how people feel, act, and think, which by definition includes the emotions or emotional health. There are various factors at play that affect your mental health. Primarily, the three common ones include:

  1. Genetics & chemical composition of your body.
  2. Trauma (can include abuse too).
  3. Other life experiences.

Staying always mentally healthy is a challenge that everyone faces daily, and it’s something that marks the epitome of happiness, I suppose. Although, realistically speaking, it’s not possible (more below).

Why Everything Seems Chaotic?

I personally believe that in the bigger scheme of things, even more so in the short-term, 80% of the things do not work the way you want them to work. In all likelihood, it’s higher. Just think about it for a second. Things at your work, in your personal lives, etc., a lot of it is beyond your control.

I believe that part of staying happy is accepting this truth. Based on how we’ve been raised, we’re told that “happiness” is what you should always strive for. The problem occurs when things do not go according to your plans. The end result? Disappointment, depression, and sadness.

I am not saying not to be ambitious, not work hard, or not to hustle, I am saying to keep the odds in mind when you’re doing all these things. I am confident that there is some kind of statistic out there that can provide more context to my thinking here, but a great example that comes to my mind is job interviews: Do you have any idea how many candidates interview for the same positions? Let’s say that 20 folks interviewed for one job.

Based on that, if we consider that all the candidates feel 100% on getting hired, and assuming that in this world, 50% of things go according to plans (way less than my earlier quoted 80%), it would mean that 10 people would get the offer letters for the exact same position. Does it work like that in the real-world? Absolutely not. I know that this isn’t presented in the most perfect way, but I hope that you get my point.

Chaos is a given. The order of things is not. Even from a science and physics standpoint, a great scientist can explain the immense amount of time, energy, and resources it can take to create order. Although, (I forget where), but I read or heard somewhere (probably from a TV Show) that random is what we don’t know; random is simply something for which we haven’t quite figured out the pattern yet. That, blew my mind, and I 100% agree to it. All I am disputing is this: Is it worth all of the emotional and mental toll to figure things out? Why can’t we leave things be? It’s not about giving up, it’s about recognizing what affects you mentally, and being smart about it. It’s about telling yourself to stop the pursuit, and rather than chasing it, accept it and get happy that way!

Alternatively, if something is extremely significant to you, take a break, rest up, and get back to it by giving your best. In general, and in specific situations, all you can do is your best. That in itself, should be sufficient. Not being able to achieve something doesn’t necessarily translate into failure.

Chaos is a given. The order of things is not. Even from a science and physics standpoint, a great scientist can explain the immense amount of time, energy, and resources it can take to create order.

Shaleen Shah

The Role of Sadness in All of This

Like how we’ve been taught to stay happy, we’re also taught that “sadness” is terrible for you. True, not refuting that. The real question is, why is “sadness” not great? What is it that it does that affects you? On the surface, the obvious answer is you don’t feel good. And because you don’t feel good, your mental and physical health deteriorates. So yes, it’s not euphoric to be sad.

All I am questioning here is this: Isn’t sadness the default state of mind? Let me elaborate.

You have to work a lot to be happy. But if you do nothing, you’ll likely get sad & depressed. Here’s the plot twist though: don’t you define your level of sadness and happiness? I understand that other people, society, money, purpose, etc. play a role too, but at the end of the day, your state of mind is controlled by your state of mind.

I don’t believe that anyone is enlightened enough — so as to not get affected by sadness at all; but, the acceptance of a simple truth that things don’t go as planned can alleviate a lot of the mental health struggles. Not living in a state of denial can ease the pain. Welcoming the pure & raw fact that “sadness” is a part of your life will, believe it or not, make you less sad.

Shaleen Shah

For me, sadness is like darkness. Without it, we wouldn’t realize the essence of light/a.k.a happiness.

What Is Emotional Health?

If it wasn’t clear already, emotional health is part of mental health where specifically, the focus is on recognizing your current state of emotions. A step that goes further is emotional health management, where you’re syncing yourself with your negative emotions, and converting them into positives.

This right here, is another reason why “sadness” or similar negative feelings are a given. Because if they weren’t, you wouldn’t need to manage anything.

Coming back to the original point of management nevertheless, say, for example, you’re angry at yourself for not achieving a high-score in your favorite racing game. Now, rather than being in that phase, you can convert that anger into reassurance by telling yourself that it’s okay, and that you can always try again.

The “recognition” is an essential aspect of your overall aspirations of staying emotionally healthy.

In an average person’s life, both emotional & mental health are used interchangeably, but this subtle contrast between them is what really separates the two apart.

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Why Can’t You Always Be Happy?

Why Can’t You Always Be Happy

When everything is said and done, happiness is nothing but a strict relevance of its definition to an individual, and the threshold for things they set for themselves.

For instance, I could be happy with $10 in my bank balance, whereas, another person can be unhappy with $100,000. Plus, the tricky paradox is that your brain can always crave for the next thing. As in, I got $10; now what? Should I try for $20? I reached level 10 in this game; now, I want to get to level 30.

The illusion of progress is what creates the chase for happiness. But I ask, are we progressing towards getting everything better, or are we progressing for doomsday? I suppose we have at least until 2031 to find out.

Being happy is not like the internet where you can always be on, it’s more about giving credence to other emotions as well — especially whatever the opposite of happiness is for you.

Respecting other emotions can attain the feeling of being content in your life. Plus, as stated before, the real value of anything, especially feelings of euphoria, peace, and happiness, can’t be felt without its absence. And that my friends, isn’t necessarily bad!

Sidenote: All image illustrations are from https://undraw.co/.