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Excerpted from Slowing Down to the Speed of Life by Richard Carlson and Joseph Bailey. Copyright 1998 by Richard Carlson and Joseph Bailey. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.
 

"Mental health is our birthright."

  Richard Carlson, Slowing Down to the Speed of Life, Part 2

Mental health is our birthright. We don't have to learn how to be mentally healthy; it is built into us in the same way that our bodies know how to heal a cut or mend a broken bone. Mental health can't be learned, only reawakened. It is like the immune system of the body, which under stress or through lack of nutrition or exercise can be weakened, but which never leaves us. When we don't understand the value of mental health and we don't know how to gain access to it, mental health will remain hidden from us. Our mental health doesn't really go anywhere; like the sun behind a cloud, it can be temporarily hidden from view, but it is fully capable of being restored in an instant.

Mental health is the seed that contains self-esteem--confidence in ourselves and an ability to trust in our common sense. It allows us to have perspective on our lives--the ability to not take ourselves too seriously, to laugh at ourselves, to see the bigger picture, and to see that things will work out. It's a form of innate or unlearned optimism. Mental health allows us to view others with compassion if they are having troubles, with kindness if they are in pain, and with unconditional love no matter what they believe, how they act, or what their nationality or religion happens to be. Mental health is the source of creativity for solving problems, resolving conflict, making our surroundings more beautiful, managing our home life, or coming up with a creative business idea or invention to make our lives easier. It gives us patience for ourselves and toward others as well as patience while driving, catching a fish, working on our car, or raising a child. It allows us to see the beauty that surrounds us each moment in nature, in culture, in the flow of our daily lives.

Although mental health is the panacea for living our lives, it is nothing short of ordinary. If you reflect on your life, you will see that it has been there to direct you through all your difficult decisions. It has been available even in the most mundane of life situations to show you right from wrong, good from bad, friend from foe. Mental health has commonly been called conscience, instinct, wisdom, common sense, or the inner voice. We think of it simply as a healthy and helpful flow of intelligent thought. As you will come to see, knowing that mental health is always available and knowing to trust it allow us to slow down to the moment and live life happily.

Six Reasons Why it is Critical to Slow Down to the Speed of Life:

Reduction of stress

Improved physical health

More present, intimate, and loving relationships

Heightened sensory awareness and enjoyment of the natural beauty around us

Greater peace of mind and serenity

Dramatically improved ability to be productive and creative and to stay focused

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