Using Your Brain To Improve Your Own Mental Health #WorldBrainDay

Mental health requires courage

Inside The Brain

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The key to a happy life

The key to a happy life is the ability to transcend personal suffering, find a balance, and recognise that the world has problems. This requires mental effort and those of us who strive to better understand ourselves in the world come out the other side as a new person, with some peace of mind and a way to live.

Fundamental or accidental?

A limit to understanding ourselves in the world is the fact that we do not know that some of the things we perceive to be truly fundamental today may actually be just accidental. For instance, the brain uses systematic patterns of thought to produce philosophy including science, mathematics, literature, ideas, and beliefs including a belief in a deity to guide us towards new insights. What we need to understand is that none of these may be fundamental in themselves. They are just tools that our ancestors used to probe the unknown and to see what is possible — knowing that what is common for us is just a tiny sliver of what actually exists.

Accidental fundamentalism is often mistaken for truth

In the West, we have made the truth our highest value. This motivation while important is weak compared to the actual power of belief. We are born into a culture that often insists on a particular religious or ideological philosophy as fact and the only way to understand ourselves in the world, but adhering to this belief may cause personal suffering by impeding insights necessary to achieve peace of mind. Resisting enculturation is the highest expression of human psychological development and is a hallmark of what is called in psychology the fully self-actualised person.

Recasting reality

Self-actualisers reject accepted cultural ‘truths’ and see beyond the confines of an era to achieve a clearer perception of reality. A further subtle difference sets these people apart. Most of us see life as striving to get this or that — whether it be material things or having a family or doing well career-wise. Self-actualizers in contrast do not strive as much as develop…

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Inside The Brain

Professor Billy O'Connor. Neuroscientist. Medical Educator. University of Limerick Graduate Medical School