In psychological terms, our minds have a certain bandwidth within which we can tolerate discomfort, a certain speed range in which we can drive with ease, taking care of the challenges and problems. This is known as the window of tolerance.
If we cross the upward barrier in this speed range, we feel terrified, guilty or shameful. If we are below the bottom threshold of this window, we feel lonely, bored, alienated and numb. Remaining within the Window Of Tolerance is our daily challenge as we zig-zag between various emotions and try to keep ourselves sane by self-regulating the mind to remain in the ‘harmonious’ window, while not being stagnant.
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Being psychologically well does not mean being super excited, happy or exuberant at all times.
We are seldom aware of the stability of our ‘pendulum’ of thoughts and feelings, and the steadiness of our state of mind. We let our thought stream cross all boundaries, unable to realize that the outside circumstances, people and events have gained power over them and pushed our mind to the extreme.
If we continuously feel a lot of distress and draining, we should recover ourselves by moderation in eating and drinking, meditation, reading, exercising, and ample rest.
We need to be aware of the direction and trajectory of our moods, emotions and feelings, and make use of introspection and self-observation to get us out of possible pitfalls, avoiding a ‘crash landing’ at a later stage if we do not pay attention.
‘What need is there to weep over parts of life? The whole of it calls for tears.’ - Seneca.
This dark remark gets to the heart of Stoicism, which says we get weepy and angry not only because our plans failed, but because we strongly expected them not to. Seneca thought the less we expect, the less we will suffer. Seneca was trying to spare us the kind of hope that inspires bitterness and anger.
Our parents are connected to us not by choice, but by history and biology. We are physically and emotionally intertwined with them in extremely intricate ways and do not share a similar relationship with anyone else.
Outside our families, we assume people and other relatives are normal, but maybe everyone is like that and we never got to know the other families in such detail.
To increase our chances of fulfillment, we need to feed our imagination and provide them with endless examples of alternative narratives, so they are more able to come up with plan Bs. We should practice to picture better ways to be.
As part of creative classes, adolescents should be asked to produce narratives like: If I lost everything and had to start up again, I will... They should be asked to make a list of 20 things that currently make life meaningful, then have to cross them all off and find ten more.