Bucket list – I have two questions for you

Blog: Bucket List – I've got two questions for you

Are you happy? Do you make others happy? Some will recognize these two slightly rewritten questions from the movie The Bucket List. According to that story, this was the questions the Egyptians were asked when they met the gods on the other side.

Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson starred in this movie, and the storyline is about both of them having terminal illness and how they should spend their last months. Goals and dreams they wanted to experience before life ended, no matter the cost.

Going back to my two questions. If I reformulated them even more and instead asked: “Do you have good mental health?” and “Do you feel good about those you choose to have around you on a daily basis?”. Many people may turn up their noses when I ask these questions, and I think I know why.


Physical health is fine

Physical health is something we all can talk about. Exercise more, New Year’s resolutions and goals to reach, training equipment to be purchased. Not to mention the pressure we put on ourselves to be better than others. Although this may be challenging, it’s something concrete we can relate to.


Mental health is awkward

Mental health on the other hand, is harder to focus on, because there is nothing I can buy, like an app or a smartwatch that can let me know that I have been sitting still for too long. I must do something – within myself and within my inner self. I think this is where many people stop, because unfortunately many still think: “Go within myself, what kind of nonsense is that?”.

Just to be clear: What is good mental health? Maybe it becomes clearer if I first say something about what it is not: A high stress level, which eventually turns into depression or anxiety, poor sleep, a constant feeling of not being good enough, all feelings that gnaw on you, a chaotic stream of thoughts, being weighted down by a feeling of not mastering one’s daily life. The list is a lot longer, but I’ll stop here; I think you understand what it is not.

Unfortunately, I find that many people are afraid of the word mental or psychological, and we quickly skip past it. Our mental health is all about how we feel and the quality of our life. We must get used to the fact that the subject of mental health is positively charged.


The definition of mental health

WHO has described mental health as: “Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”


Afraid to see ourselves?

Everyone has done or said things that we regret. Huge or small, we prefer not to relate to it, and we “forget and repress it”. But we know that it is still within us, and when someone says that we can go within to get good mental health, many will say: ‘I don’t do things like that’, or ‘I’m fine’, or ‘working with oneself is for others’, or ‘I feel great, tip top thumbs up’!

What are we afraid of? Losing face? Or may it be that we do not know how to deal with it or what we can do about it, so it is easier to move on and just cross something off our Bucket list.

If I had learned about mental health and had techniques I could utilize to look within myself and at my own baggage, I may not have hit the wall as brutally as I did. I had no choice and had to learn ways to look at life and myself in a different perspective – as a whole person. For that is the perspective that good mental health can provide – external and internal perspective in balance.


The brain’s rules of the game

I quickly learned that having a Bucket list for everything I wanted to do before I died took me away from my life here and now, with fulfillment of dreams and goals in the present. So instead of a Bucket list, I have a goal book where I write down my dreams and goals that I complete during my life.

Knowledge of how the brain works and how we are built up mentally has shown me how I can use the brain’s rules of the game to gain good quality of life right here and right now.

A saying goes “don’t be afraid to open the door to darkness, because then the light will be let in”.

I know that it’s not dark at all, because I have worked to have good mental health and on my journey through life I have helped thousands of people in the same way. We humans have learned different things, including that working with oneself is scary.

It’s not. Just imagine a 3 or 4 year old child sitting and dangling their legs, and eagerly waiting for you to get in touch.


At the top of a Bucket list

Good mental health is fundamental for humans. Believing something else, or that the good feelings can be bought on an app, shows how far we have wandered away from ourselves – who we really are.

We need to take care of ourselves. To some, that automatically means something in the physical exterior. For me, the matter is clear – we need to take care of both our inner and our outer, physical self.  Balanced in life provides good mental health.

My wish is that good mental health is at the top of a Bucket list. Without that, it’s hard to reach other goals we dream of before we «kick the bucket».


Deborah Borgen