The truth is that a variety of factors affects mental health, including your outlook, but outlook is likely the number one factor. The next section discusses why.
Factors Affecting Mental Health
According to mountains of research, these are the primary factors that affect the state of your mental health, in no particular order:
1. Family environment
2. Past or present abuse
3. The state of existing relationships
4. Genetic roots
5. Confidence in own abilities
7. Feeling loved
8. Habitual behavior
9. Exercise and diet
10. Physical health / existing conditions
11. Quality of sleep
The first question that has probably popped in your head is, why isn’t outlook on the list? The truth is, it is on the list, indirectly.
The first three items on the list could be categorized as “Environmental.”
The next item, genetic roots, could be categorized as “Genetic.”
The next four items could be categorized as “Mentality / Outlook.”
The last three items would be “Physical Health.”
Mentality / Outlook has the largest percentage of items within it. These items are all things that can be changed when you develop a more positive outlook on your life and on society as a whole.
A Closer Look at Mentality / Outlook
#7 – Feeling Loved
In looking at number 7 on the list (feeling loved), you may argue, Well, ‘feeling loved’ is not something you can just change with a new outlook, it is based on whether the people in your life actually love you or not. This is not entirely true.
Feeling loved is largely based on how you perceive that others love you. Even if you are treated badly by people in your life, you have the ability to cut your connections to those people and surround yourself with positive people. This requires a strong mentality, to be able to take such a big step.
You could even derive a sense of love from a “higher power” or spiritual being. Children may have more trouble with this, especially if they have not been taught about God or a higher power or if they live with parents who do not love them.
Children are unable to simply cut ties with their neglectful parents on their own. This is why it is important for aunts and uncles and other relatives to pay attention to the child’s behavior and family environment and to help the child as needed, even if it means reporting the parents to social services.
#8 – Habitual Behavior
Regarding number 8 on the list (habitual behavior), you may wonder how habits can be changed with a more positive outlook. Some habits, such as smoking and alcoholism, have a very physical effect on you, causing you to feel an intense craving until that craving is satisfied. However, you can still conquer these habits with a strong mentality.
You have to want to break the habit and be willing to do what it takes to do so, whether it means wearing a nicotine patch or going to a self-help group. The power of the mind is stronger than you realize.
The other two items in the Mentality / Outlook category, Confidence and Self-worth, are easy to understand. Study after study indicates how positive thinking can boost confidence and self-worth. How you view yourself, and others, affects your ability to trust in yourself and your capabilities.
In sum, positive thinking – your outlook on life – has a major effect on mental health. Through regular meditation and positive affirmation, you can develop a more positive outlook on life. This, in turn, improves your confidence and self-worth, enables you to feel loved and empowers you to break bad habits. By doing these things, you will significantly improve your overall mental health.