Finding Meaning in Life - The Roots of Lasting Mental Health
I've come to realize why I write about mental health.
I've realized that one thing above all else creates the foundation for a mentally healthy life.
It's not exercise.
It's not sleep.
Those are must-haves, for sure, but people don't tend to message me or email me about that.
The concept that builds a strong foundation for mental health is meaning.
Meaningful and accessible.
Making content that fit those two terms was my early mission when I started my first mental health site.
And I'm realizing that learning to find meaning is more important than ever.
This is why I do this--and how you can both find and create your own meaning.
Finding Meaning - Why I Write
I've realized something quite strange over the last year.
I've found a term to describe a part of who I am.
Because I lack something most people have.
I can't visualize images in my head.
I can't see my parents' faces.
I can't actually see the house I grew up in.
It's really bothered me throughout my life.
And, strangely, it bothers me more now that I know there is a term to describe what I have--aphantasia.
Aphantasia, like mental health, falls along a spectrum.
Some people can create partial images in my head.
I can't create anything.
It explains why I hated when teachers or therapists would ask me to visualize a happy place and go there to calm myself down.
Who can do this? I thought. It's absolutely impossible.
It didn't mean anything to me when they told me to do this.
I'm sharing this with you now because I've learned over the years that I write to create meaning.
I talk to myself to shape my experience.
I ask myself questions whenever I see something puzzling.
I've always done this, but I only ever realized the extent I use words to shape my world when I learned about mindfulness and meditation in college.
Using words is what I have to create meaning, and it's probably why I gravitated toward writing to share mental health information.
The Meaning-Making Process That Will Define Your Life
I'm telling you all this to show you that meaning is at the heart of it all.
When I was first helping my mom through a terrifying mental health crisis, I didn't have the words to put to my experience.
And because I couldn't see in my mind what to do--and because I had never experienced anything like it before--I was utterly lost.
Writing has helped me create that meaning.
Of course, only a small percentage of the population has aphantasia like I do.
Not everyone will create meaning in the same way.
But, if you think about it, you will find that meaning is at the heart of who you are.
It's in your experiences past and present.
One of the hardest parts about overcoming a traumatic event is the sense-making aspect of it.
It often requires a trained trauma therapist to guide you through the meaning-making process.
But there are other mini-traumas in this world. We experience them all the time.
What is holding you back right now?
What is preventing you from growing into the person you know you can become?
The answers you give to those two questions are filled with meaning.
You can ask yourself questions like I do whenever you want.
Maybe your questions are in the form of movies or paintings.
You might get more out of that.
Use your natural tendency to seek your meaning.
Because meeting your basic needs is a given.
Food and sleep give you the ability to focus.
But your "why" and the meaning you create is what will sustain you.