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Mental Health: 3 Keys To Emotional Hygiene

Just like personal hygiene is important for maintaining the well-being of your body, emotional hygiene is required to have a functional mind.

But what exactly is emotional hygiene?


The Dalai Lama On Emotional Hygiene

While addressing devotees at a congregation in Dharamshala a few years back, the Dalai Lama said that emotional hygiene is a great need of today - a set of moral ethics that people can follow without any religious connotation to it.

In essence, emotional hygiene means the state of a mind that is free, at peace, and conscious of the impact one's actions have on the people around him or her.

Here are the 3 keys to emotional hygiene.


1. Focus On Your Mind And Its Working Twice A Day

Meditation, journalling, coloring, playing instruments, and crafting are all different ways of quieting down your mind, engaging with your thoughts, and reflecting on your day. That's why it's very important to allocate a fixed amount of time every morning and night for an activity of this kind.

In fact, it's better if your morning sessions focus more on gratitude and your aspirations for the day, while your evening sessions focus more on reflection and the lessons you learned through the day.


2. Don’t Be Afraid Of Emotional Challenges

There are two stages every human being needs to cross before they are an adult - the child and the adolescent. And while physically we cross these stages by the time we are 18, according to Lawrence Kohlberg's model of moral development only 13% people at the age of 36 are mentally an adult.

That means most of us are either still stuck in a childlike, selfish mental state where we do things because it gives us pleasure or helps us avoid pain, regardless of the societal consequences, or are stuck in an adolescent pattern of transactional relationships where we do things for people only when it gives us something back in return (fulfills a pleasure or helps us evade a pain).

And the only way you can become an adult mentally - do things because it's a matter of your principles, regardless of whether it causes you pleasure or pain - is through embracing emotionally challenging situations and learning to grow up through them.

Situations that cause you pain, sorrow, despair, anger, and the myriad other emotions that most people reject as unacceptable emotions.


3. Listen First

Most of us speak more than we listen. And even when we listen, we are only listening to interject and counter.

That's the sign of an emotionally unhygienic individual.

An emotionally healthy person realizes that a conversation requires two (or more) people to actively take turns to speak and listen so the conversation is a meaningful activity that helps each participant grow in some way.

So if you are not a good listener, develop this habit. Over time, your attention span will increase dramatically and you will start building deeper relationships with people.

Are You Emotionally Hygienic?

You wouldn't have read this article if you already were emotionally hygienic. After all, we don't seek that, which we already have.


Story first published: Friday, March 9, 2018, 17:00 [IST]
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