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|Towards Flourishing Mental Health –article 3 By Caroline Ademiluyi by tonyluyi1985: 3:15am On Apr 06, 2022|
EXERCISING HUMILITY AND CHARITY
In Article 2, there was a discussion on the need for living out a relationship with one’s Creator, which for many may seem odd or incomprehensible; but it is very possible and actually, it is within the reach of every person. The whole edifice of the human person is built on this indisputable fact that human origin comes from God Almighty; conviction about this fact is a predisposition to exercising the two principal virtues of HUMILITY and CHARITY.
Adages attributed to the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates are “Man, know thyself” and “An unexamined life is not worth living”. This means that the study of human nature had been on-going long before the advent of organized religion like Christianity or even Judaism. What is known of human nature in the present times is a synthesis of the discoveries of the early Greek philosophers and organized religion.
Human Nature; Self-knowledge
Self- knowledge is crucial to maintaining and growing in flourishing mental health. Christian Philosophy identifies weaknesses of human nature and are summarized by PRIDE, COVETOUSNESS, LUST, ANGER, GLUTTONY, ENVY, SLOTH. (Acronym is PCLANGENS). Human nature has been wounded or weakened by sin and is predisposed to engaging in any of these vices or weaknesses; the opposite or contrary virtues are HUMILITY, LIBERALITY, CHASTITY, MEEKNESS,TEMPERANCE, BROTHERLY LOVE, DILIGENCE.(Acronym is HULICHAMTEMBROD).
The Intellect and Will
These are the highest powers of the human person; The faculties of the Intellect and Will reside in the spiritual soul. Through the Intellect, one thinks and reasons, seeks the truth, form convictions; with the Will, one acts or refrains from acting, based on prior convictions or decisions. Since human nature has been weakened or wounded, it follows that the Intellect and Will have been tainted with PCLANGENS. Manifestations of weaknesses of these faculties include all manner of selfishness and self-centeredness, unwillingness to serve unconditionally, procrastination, disorderliness, unwillingness to learn, boastfulness, sadness at not being publicly recognized or extolled, fear of being humiliated, ridiculed or suffering rebukes, and a host of other vices associated with any of the capital vices, chief of which are PRIDE and SLOTH. The more the person succumbs to the influence of these vices, the more diminished the mental health status will be; but flourishing mental health will result from exercising the virtues (HULICHAMTEMBROD).
Difficulties in Exercising Virtues/Way forward
The greatest challenge of growing in virtues and consequently in flourishing mental health stems from the natural tendency to selfishness/self-centeredness found in human nature. The way forward is not simply to succumb to these weaknesses, satisfying one’s whims and caprices, seeking justification and excuses for our inordinate actions. This situation will engender very low levels of mental health on the long run. For instance, we can feel a temporary joy /elation after succumbing to sloth(laziness) and thus succeeding in avoiding an unpleasant or difficult task and leaving it for others to do. The consequences of these evasions will eventually follow when the opportunities to have grown in competence and experience. Consequences like reprimand, loss of promotion, getting fired from work due to incompetence etc can all be very demoralizing; Unfortunately, pride can still influence the intellect into refusal to admit faults, mistakes, in competencies/negligence’s etc. and cast blame on others, on system, except oneself; misery will increase and mental health flourishing will be greatly compromised; in fact, in such situations, pathologies like Depression, Victim- mentality can be engendered.
This is a key virtue or mother virtue to be exercised at all times if one is to aim at flourishing mental health. Humility is knowing the truth and acknowledging the Truth about oneself, God and others. The key questions to be asked all the time is “Who am i?” The answer should be “A son or daughter of God” “Who is God?”-the answer should be -”God is the Supreme Being, Infinite in all perfections, Creator of all things; Who keeps us in existence and to Whom we shall render an account at the end of our lives. “Who are others?”-the answer should be “Sons and daughters of God”.
With the above questions and answers attended to, we can then know that we, as human beings are creatures, dependent on the Creator and owing allegiance to Him; striving to please Him at all times, being convinced that it for our own good, since pleasing Him will mean doing good and avoiding evil. There was a post that went viral about 2 weeks ago about someone who travelled to Japan for a course and left his laptop in the train station; he went back after several days and found the laptop intact; This shows that the virtue of Honesty is lived intensely in Japan. All cultures and religious sects in the world go by the maxim “Do good and avoid evil”; Indeed, the Commandments of God have been inscribed in human hearts. All human beings possess a rational nature with an inclination to live according to reason and thus know the moral truth; if they do the right thing and live virtuously, they will be acting in accordance with their human nature; all human beings have an innate capacity for virtue. All people can do right or wrong, regardless of whether or not they believe in God. Becoming virtuous or doing good acts is a process and not an event; it involves the Emotions. The While person and the Community. There are two points to be noted –Firstly, one must be aware or able to recognize that there is a right way or a wrong way to act; Secondly, we need to freely choose our responses.
Humbly accepting who we are, where we are from and accepting others as fellow creatures with whom we are to live and work with to attain the End for which we have been created, will indeed help one to flourish immensely in mental health; We will be able to think, speak and live the truth always, which will always be a source of peace of mind. It will greatly eliminate unnecessary fears about what others think about us or fear of failure etc, all of which diminish mental health considerably. The truth is that we have nothing of our own; all we have is as a result of having cooperated with the grace of God; grace is a free gift of God accessible to everyone.
Charity is synonymous with Love and it is the summary of all the virtues; All cultures, religions including paganism extol this August virtue. St. Paul in his 1st Letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor.13) says that Charity is kind, patient, hopeful, believing, enduring, rejoicing in truth etc. With all these qualities ascribed to Charity, it means it involves a lot of sacrifice to be able to exercise the virtue of charity; it will entail going ot of one’s comfort zone to be able to please God and to serve others. Research shows that exercising love increases the “Happy Hormones “of Dopamine and Endorphins and decreases the stress hormone of cortisol. There comes about a sense of being useful and making meaningful contributions to society
Making the choice of exercising the virtues – in particular, Humility and Charity will go a long wat to boosting mental health and leading to an overflow of flourishing mental health in oneself and in others.
Caroline Ademiluyi is a Lagos, Nigeria based Pharmacist
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