The Quickest Way To Mental Health

Years ago I worked as a driver for a Government Minister. Picking him up at his house every morning I was the first person he saw each day. And each day the first words after “Good Morning Josh!” were something positive about the weather.

No.

Matter.

What.

It started to get annoying.

Minus 40 degrees? “Less snow then yesterday!”

2 feet of snow? “At least it’s warmer than yesterday’s minus 40!”

Raining? “The farmer’s must be glad, it’s been so dry lately”.

37 degrees and humid? “Gotta soak up these days to get us through the winter!”

It wasn’t just me. Other coworkers would make comments. Didn’t this guy know we are Canadian? Complaining about the weather is at the core of our identity. Our nation was settled by a bunch of european idiots who landed in their ships and when the aboriginals were like “ya……there is gonna be 3 feet of snow and you’re going to die of scurvy”, responded by being like “Sweet! Let’s send for our vulnerable wives and children!”. Then they pretty much all died that winter and we’ve been complaining about the weather ever since.***

***There is a chance that this is not a 100% historically accurate interaction***

Anyhow. Complaining about the weather is as Canadian as hockey, politeness and thinking our humility makes us better than americans. (We apparently haven’t fully learned what irony is. But I digress)

Back to the matter at hand. What was with this guy? Why wouldn’t he complain like the rest of us? Then one day he told me. “Josh,” He said on one particularly gloomy day, “Accepting the weather is the first step to mental health.” He continued to share with me his life philosophy. See he had been all over the world, including war zones & political hotspots. He had seen friends gunned down in broad daylight. Narrowly missed being blown up in a terrorist plot. He knew that there are good days and bad days, great days and tragic days, and you can’t really predict them. BUT. Every day has weather. Moreover, the first thing you usually interact with each day is the weather. So he purposely chose to make the weather a constant positive in his life. Everyday would start with him being delightfully surprised that the weather was exactly what it was.

I remember a story that the well-known dutch missionary Brother Andrew used to tell. In Holland the saying isn’t “Got out on the the wrong side of the bed”, instead it’s “Getting out of bed on the wrong foot”. So Brother Andrew said he named one foot “Praise The Lord” and the other “Hallelujah”. That way he had no “wrong feet”.

It’s a similar choice. It’s saying, I’m going to start every day being grateful. Each morning I will choose to start by finding the positive, no matter how cold, rainy, snowy, or humid.

I am well aware that there are people who struggle with mental health issues completely out of their control and in no way am I suggesting that if they think more happy thoughts there problems will be solved. But for many of us who are simply too busy, too anxious about work, too worried about our finances, choosing to start the day off making a deposit in the account of positivity instead of negativity, truly can be the first step to mental health.

 

 

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The wikipedia page of your life

Most of us aren’t ever going to be famous enough to have our own wikipedia page written. But it’s a very interesting thing to think “what would the wikipedia page about me say?”.

The reason I find this such an interesting question is because of the rules that wikipedia has in place to make sure that the entries stay as objective as possible. The main rule is that opinions must be clearly marked as opinions.

For example, while Jordan Peterson’s entry lists many “controversial” incidents, and even though many of the articles cited use the term “controversial professor”, the actual entry never calls him such. Rather it makes it clear that there are people who consider him controversial.

A great example is the way it allows musicians to be described. It doesn’t say that Taylor Swift has a “sweet and soft” voice. Rather it references that specific critics refer to her vocals as “sweet and soft”.

Where am I going with this.

Could you write out the story of your life and actually consider where your own opinions of yourself come from? What would it look like if you just stuck to the facts. So many of us carry labels that others have put on us as if they are the truth. We would write “Despite being stupid, John Smith managed to graduate with honours from university”. Or would it be more truthful to write “John Smith graduated with honours from university, the only member of his family to accomplish such a feat. This despite the fact that at the age of 10 his teacher had referred to him in a parent/teacher meeting as stupid”.

It’s a challenge I have for myself. Do I carry the labels and opinions that others have put on me, both negative AND positive. Or do I realize that other peoples opinions of me are just that, opinions. And that not only do I not have to carry those labels, but I also have a lot of my own story left to write.

Who eats better than you?

I didn’t used to be very good at eating.

Now mind you, if you have ever watched me eat over my entire lifetime you would not think I ever struggled with eating. But I’m not talking about my appetite, I was just a typical North American kid who had one style of eating. Is it deep-fried? Crispy? Crunchy? Salty? Feeeeeed it to me!

I was not a food-cultured person.  (Ironically my mother is a really good cook. But that didn’t stop me from demanding my steak be cooked well done).

I was the punk who went to the sushi restaurant with my co-workers and just loaded up on a plateful of chicken wings instead. As previously stated, I would go to the Keg and order steak-well done. And I ordered coke with everything.

Then one day I started working for a guy who knew how to eat. Years of working as a sales rep meant he had to learn how to go to restaurants and know exactly what to order to impress the clients. And the best thing happened to me. He just would order for me. He picked Sushi that wasn’t intimidating until I learned not just to love sushi but I could be the guy who ordered for the table.

He refused to let me eat steak well-done.

And he taught me that Ginger-ale is a superior drink with many meals.

And I’m really glad he did. As someone that has spent a lot of the last 4 years on the road, knowing how to order and eat well is a big benefit. Not just that, but I in turn have learned to help other people have better food experiences.

And it’s all because I found someone who was better than me at eating.

But importantly, I had no pride in my ability to order food. So I didn’t mind if someone told me I was doing it wrong.

But I do have pride in other areas of my life. That’s not so good.

I hope I find people that are better than me at all those things and that I am willing to just say, “Sure. Just show me what you do.”

I think it’s called being a disciple.

Ideas are like toddlers

Ideas are so interesting.

You have them. One second they aren’t there and the next second they exist. You can’t make them not exist, just boom. There is an idea.

And it’s yours. Have you ever had someone try to take over something and you’re like “That was MY idea!”

But on the other hand, it’s totally not. So often it’s like the idea belongs to itself. You can’t make your idea stay the same as it first was. It changes and morphs and goes all sorts of places that freak you out.

Sometimes you’re embarrassed by your idea. You think people will judge you because your idea kinda seems crazy.

But you still can’t stop it. The idea just keeps changing and growing and sometimes wakes you up in the middle of the night.

This blog was an idea. And now I don’t really know what to do with it.

You were born stupid

You couldn’t walk.

You couldn’t talk.

You couldn’t feed yourself.

You peed in your own pants.

Now look at you.

You may not be an athlete but outside of a tragedy, you not only walk you can run.

You may not sound like an angel but you can talk and sing.

You can feed yourself and maybe even cook.

I’m guessing you don’t soil yourself anymore either.

Don’t ever tell yourself you’re stupid and have no ability to learn. The fact that you can even utter the phrase “I can’t learn” is proof that you HAVE learned.

Sure you can always find someone to compare yourself to who can do things better than you. But forget them. Compare yourself to you when you were born. You can learn. You’ve been doing it your whole life.

You didn’t stop when you were 2 years old.

You don’t have to stop when you graduate high-school, university, anything.

You’ve got a good thing going with this learning thing.

Don’t quit now.

You Are A Baby

Hey you. Ya you. You know what you are? A big baby. Yes you eat “big-people food” and you don’t spit up on people. You can dress yourself.

But.

You think like a baby.

Now of course nobody really knows what a baby is thinking because there has yet to be either a talking newborn, or anyone who can remember what it was like exactly. But you can guess.

Newborns constantly think they are about to die.

It’s why they cry so much.

Here is how I imagine babies think.

Oh my gosh. This is it. I’m going to explode. Here it comes! Oh no! Goodbye cruel world!!!!!!!…..” *burbs*Oh. That was nothing. I’m fine

Oh wait. I’m going to die again! No! I’m to young! Not like this! Not my insides exploding all over my mom! No mother should be holding her baby while they spontaneously combust! I can’t believe this is happening!*poops*.” Oh. That’s better.

Oh my goodness. Someone has poisoned me. I’m going to die. This is what having poison coursing through your gut is like. My insides are turning to dust!*Feeds*Oh that was lovely! What was I upset about again?…….oh wait…..this is it, I’M GOING TO DIE!!!!*Burps*. “Oh I’m fine

You know what? Sometimes I feel like that. Not about burping and hunger. But something comes up. Something upsetting. Probably something that has happened to me before. And while I don’t think I’m literally gonna die, I still act like a baby. “Oh no! This is the end! It’s all to much! Goodbye cruel world!” And then 90-95% of time the things work out.

But I don’t freak out only that 5-10% of the time that things actually end up being a big deal. I freak out ALL the time.

Are you like this? If so. You need to know. You’re a big baby. And so I’ll tell you what I tell my babies when they cry. “You’re going to be fine. There are people that love you and are going to make sure you’re ok.”

17 things you never thought about, but are terrifying

Life can be scary. And complicated. And if you lived inside my head, you would probably think it’s more of both those things than you ever realized. So I’ll just give you a tiny glimpse into the types of things I think. There are concepts that I believe we just haven’t taken the time to realize are as horrifying they are. Like C.S. Lewis pointing out that going to a land where your dreams came true would actually be the scariest thing in the world (think about it. Your actual dreams. Like where you didn’t study and showed up to school without pants on).

One of my examples is how I’m afraid of midget clowns. I’m not afraid of midgets, and I’m not afraid of clowns, but for some reason a midget clown would freak me out.

Here are 17 more terrifying things you’ve probably never thought of.

  1. A mouse with the voice of a man.
  2. A glow in the dark elephant.
  3. Wesley when he was the bad version of The Dread Pirate Roberts.
  4. Forgetting it’s a PD day and going to the mall.
  5. A spider dancing the hokey pokey. Extra terror points if it sings it as well.
  6. Sleeping on an aquarium water bed.
  7. Remembering being born.
  8. A countdown clock until the next time you got the stomach flu.
  9. If things stay the same, the average person will have spent over 27 years interacting with their digital device by the time they die.
  10. Vultures the size of a moth.
  11. Moths the size of vultures.
  12. You actually have no idea what anyone else is really thinking and you never will.
  13. Narwhales are a real thing. That’s basically a whale just swimming around carrying a spear.

    Scene 1: Jason Bourne googles self, discovers real name. Roll Credits.
  14. If smartphones existed 16 years ago then the Jason Bourne movies probably would have never have happened.
  15. Landmines.
  16. At some point in your life your stomach says to you “Hey, I forgot to tell you, we aren’t going to accept spicy food anymore.” And you have NO control over when that is.
  17. Someone out there is lying about you right now. And if they aren’t, then this sentence is a lie, which means…….it’s true.

Do any of these terrify you? Anything I should be terrified by that I’m not? Please leave a comment with your answers.