Politics and Mental Health - Think This Way to Be Happier

Jordan Brown

There are topics to be avoided.

And then there are topics that should be run away from at all costs.

Politics is one of those topics. Politics divides when it should bring people together.

And yet, we need politics. We need organization in our lives.

But what do you do when you feel your very sanity is affected by political decisions?

What do you do if you feel controlled by forces that, by their very nature, seem so very far from your control?

You dive in. You explore the impact that politics can have on your mental health.

But first, we need to understand the many faces of politics.

Politics and Mental Health

When we discuss politics, what typically comes to mind is government. More specifically, federal government, the big national entity that makes decisions far off in the distance.

The federal government is like a parent when you're a tiny, powerless child. It seems big and scary. It seems like your parent has all the answers, but as you age, you come to understand that no one, not even the seemingly omnipotent parent, has all the answers.

And of course, it's not just your parent--or parents. It's the other looming influences. And politics has those as well. There are organizations, big institutions that also have an outsized impact on your life. What they decide, be they a health organization or a business association, can drastically change your mindset and very living conditions.

It all seems so scary and immovable. Politics is the unseen overlord that feels like it's always bearing down on you but is nowhere to be found when you look for it.

"All Politics is Local"

Have you ever heard that phrase?

It's tossed around in the United States, and it speaks to the bottom-up effect that the people, when effectively organized, can have on the bigger government system.

I also think of it as a reminder of the power of the individual person. When I think of the phrase, "All politics is local," I think of the strength of individuality. I think of the power that one person has to choose his or her path in life.

If you think of your life in terms of a local, political system, you can start to see the opportunities you have in front of you.

Yes, there is a big national government, but there's also local government right in front of you. Learning to navigate your local power centers is critical for your ongoing mental health.

Here's what I recommend you do.

Take a look at the power-brokers in your life. Are they your friends? Your family? Are there enemies who could be friends? Are there people who have something you wish you had? How can you influence them?

More than anything, politics is  a system of interlocking parts. It's systems buried in systems. The more you can view your life as the system that it is, the more you can start to see the opportunities you have right in front of you.

Start small.

Identify the influential forces in your life. Make decisions where you can. There's never going to be much you can do at the biggest-of-big-system level. That's why you have to dive into the local politics.

When you feel your life is in the hands of hidden forces, that's when your mental health can suffer.

But when you focus on the local, on the mini-systems you can influence, that's when you can make your life your own.