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There used to be an old therapist’s joke that explained the difference between a neurosis and psychosis: neurosis is a problem for the sufferer but psychosis is a problem for everyone else… Boom boom! The veiled implication of this is that if you are neurotic you are hyper-aware of what others are thinking (even when they’re not), but if you are psychotic you are in not state to care what others think.

Seriously though, mental health has a problem with its image, don’t you think? First, the field is sadly lacking in humour (among professionals at least, I have met some very funny people with a so-called ‘mental health issues’). Second, the title ‘mental health’ is a misnomer; pick up any book on the subject and it is actually about psychological disturbance, mental illness… not about ‘health’ at all. A tributary to this is that he term ‘Mental health’ is for many people synonymous with mental disturbance, incapacity, even threat.

Thankfully, among professionals, this has started to change. There are now many more conversations about what ‘normal’ actually is, and how to promote mental health and psychological wellbeing. Which brings me to the point: normal means just that, and most people are in the ‘normal’ range, whatever their label says.

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Optimism and pessimism are generally seen as opposites, but that doesn’t mean they are mutually exclusive; learning optimism does not mean abandoning negativity. If that is what turns you on, stick with it.

If you tend towards a pessimistic outlook, how about learning selective optimism? That way you can get the benefits and still be true to your negativity.

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Work-life happiness

There’s life and there’s the job, right? Wrong. Instead of treating work and home as disjointed parts of the same existence, Anna Tims suggests a change in perception rather than a change in circumstances, and so re-infuse our lives with greater purpose and fulfilment. Work is not necessarily the enemy if it is managed correctly, and it can all be achieved without you having to trek through rain forests, climb a mountain or wear sackcloth.

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