Since launching this platform almost a year ago, I have wanted to begin sharing talking points related to all things health - namely, mental health. You will notice I have spoken of my ADHD because it is relatable and easy to digest. However, ADHD usually comes paired with other mood disorders, like depression and anxiety, which I have yet to dive into. I have experience with both, but anxiety is my most prevalent. It wasn't until very recently that I found the confidence to start talking about it.
My interest in psychology dates back far further than most know, dating back to the tail end of my collegiate studies. To this point, I had never paid much attention to psychology or abstract thinking. I worked to the point in my curriculum where all my core and aviation classes were complete, and the final options left were electives. I found a couple of psychology courses that fit into my baseball schedule, so I enrolled with little thought.
Much to my delight, the classes were captivating, and I began answering questions I did not know I even had. Abnormal Psychology was my favorite class, highlighting different mental disorders and providing insight into others' experiences. Indeed, I may not be able to feel what someone with OCD encounters, but it is still possible to comprehend what we are not able to understand.
By not investing time and energy into understanding more about ourselves, one must presume that we have it "all figured out." This is not to say I am the second coming of Sigmund Freud or Carl Jung. For those interested, countless resources exist for consumption that supplement our personal development journeys. I have found the plethora of books I have read on specific topics to be the most influential, but I acknowledge that for others, it likely varies.
Some of my favorites:
Emotional Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman.
Nudge, by Richard Thaler.
You're It: Crisis, Change, and How to Lead When It Matters Most, by Leonard J. Marcus & Eric J. McNulty.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Dr. Stephen Covey.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, by Mark Manson.
I am sure others escape me now, but this covers a brief favorite few.
The Happy Medium
Why did I choose this title? Well, a while back, I came up with an idea that I really liked. In fact, maybe I liked it a bit too much, never really finding any creative traction I was content with. I called it the "Center of Gravity," an aviation metaphor. The concept was to compare and contrast two dichotomous factors, highlighting the importance of finding a middle ground. For example, work/life balance is a fundamental formula for living a high-quality life. Yet, it can remain disturbingly one-sided before we can do anything about it.
The problem is this idea grossly oversimplifies many complex topics that deserve dedicated time and in-depth attention. We are at a point where many antonymous variables carry so much emotional weight that it becomes a personal reflection. Invariably, these beliefs will differ, inciting a chain reaction that polarizes and fuels hate and intolerance. It is as if there is only one right way to live, only one correct answer. The sad irony is that it is anything but valid.
I firmly believe that, as humans, we are designed with a set capacity. That is, we are capable of adequately understanding only so much of our environment and composition as if what we do not know is too complex for human comprehension. Intrinsically, this generates anxiety, which is scientifically defined as "the fear of the unknown." It is how our fight-or-flight reflexes developed and live with us today, creating irrational thoughts and crippling fear.
"What we know is a drop. What we do not know is an ocean." - Isaac Newton.
Behaviorism plays a role in this, as well. Repeated negative patterns or experiences will condition us to anticipate adverse outcomes moving forward. We start to prepare for the worst and catastrophize relatively manageable situations. Before we even know it, our default mode becomes flight mode. One will pass on a potentially life-changing opportunity, but it is okay because history has told us it would not end well anyway, so why even bother?
This is meant to paint a picture of how we end up in a rut the same way people who win the lottery often immediately go broke. The anchor is my favorite symbol, reminding us to stay in place the way a boat will never stray from where it is anchored. The ship may shift around based on the water's current but will never float away if appropriately anchored.
Sometimes, the current can feel overbearing, like a riptide that tries to pull us out to sea. In these moments, holding strong where you are anchored is vital. If we are unprepared for the storm, we cannot survive. For example, if we weren't appropriately anchored during the last storm, we must learn and adjust for future storms.
Keeping with the metaphors, mood disorders are dangerous sea monsters that take many different shapes and forms. Numerous medical treatments and practical therapies exist, yet sometimes, they do not feel like enough. However, one of the most potent forms of rehabilitation seeks to attack anxiety at its core - meditation.
The goal of meditation is to obtain balance in the present moment. We can't change the past, and worrying about the future is wasted energy. Thus, we should direct our focus and energy toward the present. Once you see the power found in the moment, you will find many open doors that you never existed, hidden in plain sight.
No good has ever come from forcing wants or desires in the same way that nothing will ever be gained from avoiding them altogether. At either extreme, we are destined to fail. Our best odds lie in evaluating the situation and finding a practical solution somewhere in between. We have more control over our past and future than we think, but what works for one may not (and often doesn't) work for another. Thus, our responsibilities lie in returning to the middle. Living too close to one extreme is debilitating, unsustainable, and leads to a life filled with regret. I wish I had the correct answer to pass on as if it were a secret passed off in fourth grade. Only you can put the pieces together for yourself.
Undoubtedly, none of this is possible if we do not first believe - truly, authentically believe. History constantly defies the odds upon the efforts of extraordinary individuals who, at the end of the day, will tell you they knew they had it in them the entire time.
Secondly, we must be patient and forgiving. Nobody is flawless - if we all lived in the middle, the stark extremes would instead be at arm's length from one another in what would be a near-perfect world. Forgiveness in these moments of vulnerability is necessary to prepare for tomorrow's present.
There is no way to calculate our happy medium, so this category is intended to be all-encompassing, a deviation from the aviation world. You may find that many of the same themes will come down to balance, so I selected the title appropriately. Our happy medium is a symbolic place where we are at our strongest. We are calm, humble, and resilient. Here, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Hopefully, this will grow into a place with exciting resources for getting there yourself.