Relationships: The Key to Maintaining a Healthy Mind
Our minds perceive more than we realize…
Briefly, take a moment to think about someone you know very well. Perhaps a parent, a partner, a friend, a loved one comes to mind. You understand their mannerisms, behaviors, and the subtle body language that lets you know how they’re feeling. Now think of a time when you’ve been with this person and because of a cue in one of these areas, you’ve been prompted to ask, “What’s on your mind?”
What is on your mind? A simple question at the surface, but one that holds tremendously profound implications when considered more deeply.
When thinking of the mind, do we think only of the brain and its chemical processes that house conscious thought? Or is the mind something noncorporeal, seen as separate from the body itself?
Twenty years ago, a group of 40 leading scientists across disciplines from anthropology to physics assembled to define this slippery subject. Eventually, they mutually settled upon this definition:
Definition of the mind
The emergent self-organizing process, both embodied and relational, that regulates energy and information flow within and among us.
With this definition in mind, we ask what it means for our mind to relate to those of others. How can we so easily sense and understand when the minds of others are troubled?
A Healthy Mind Results from Positive Social Interaction
Researchers from the UCLA School of Medicine set out to understand the importance of these mental relationships by studying a happiness paradigm between The United States and Namibia. Essentially, they traced the happiness of many Namibians to a sense of belonging within their tightly knit communities.
In other words, people find happiness by living in a community where their minds interact with, and are appreciated by, the minds of others.
Providing direct juxtaposition, Dan Siegel, of the UCLA School of Medicine, grimly comments on the concerning rise of depression in America.
“In our modern society we have this belief that mind is brain activity and this means the self [or atman]…is separate and we don’t really belong.
But we’re all part of each other’s lives.
The mind is not just brain activity. When we realize it’s this relational process, there’s this huge shift in this sense of belonging.”
Quartz would agree with the source of America’s growth in depression as related to isolation, explaining that, “…even perceiving our mind as simply a product of our brain, rather than relations, can make us feel more isolated.”
Relationships Keep us Happy & Healthy
Ultimately, we all want to live a happy life. And increasingly, studies are proving that the secret to happiness lies in positive mental health.
Thus, if a healthy mind largely relies on building healthy, meaningful relationships with those around us, should we be spending more time connecting with others?
We hope to explore this path together as we consider what the mind is, how it interacts with others, and how to cultivate a truly healthy mind.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.