Improving Mental Health Amidst Today’s Chaos

by | Feb 25, 2022 |

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We know, and of course, you know, that this may have been among the most stressful periods in the lives of most Americans. Many of us may have developed tools to cope that can be used in the future of our lives. However, before delving into that, we would like to begin with a quote from the great American fiction writer F. Scott Fitzgerald who said,

“For what it’s worth…it’s never too late, or in my case too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you are proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start over.”

Poet David Okerland described points of view similar to Fitzgerald in a poem titled REDUNDANCY:

There’s a disease that attacks our mental syntax
Where we slowly get stuck in a rut.
A constant and stagnant redundancy,
That becomes extremely difficult to rebut.

It’s doing the same things tomorrow,
In the same way we did them today.
Never questioning the rhyme or reason,
For repeating them in the exact same way.

It’s becoming unconsciously competent,
About everything we say or do.
Never bothering to ask, I wonder if?
Or considering trying something new.

It fosters a loss of creative vision,
Of what we might yet become.
Expecting all who work with or for us,
To march to the beat of the same drum.

It’s being reactive to the change we encounter,
Instead of creating a change on our own.
It’s a defensive, stoic philosophy,
With a propensity to fight the unknown.

So remember to think like a beginner,
Examine your own circumstance.
Become an out-of-the-box thinker,
And get out there and dance.

The senior writer of this article uses a simple plan to navigate each day that has worked for most of his 85 years: 

  1. Believe in yourself, 
  2. Live for this day and wall out yesterday and tomorrow, 
  3. Make up your mind to be kind and helpful in all human contacts throughout the day,
  4. Try to turn all of today’s problems into opportunities, 
  5. Try not to complain about anything; it can only drag you down, 
  6. Remember only you can create your happiness today,
  7. Try to recapture your childhood sense of wonder, and you can again enjoy what they do,
  8. Don’t let anyone bring you down today.

A separate issue in working toward the best mental health in difficult times is focusing on the most important purpose in your life, whether it is your work, hobby, helping friends, or family. Charles Dickens summed this up well when he said, 

“Whatever I have tried to do in life, I have tried with all my heart to do it well. What I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself to completely.” 

This might be considered a good definition of “passion.” We are fortunate if there is a segment of our lives that we are passionate about. If it does not exist, it may be time to find it if you can.

Here’s another wonderful poem by Okerland that may teach a great lesson in life:

I launched a thousand arrows
Into the sky.
A thousand great ideas
That I might try
And a thousand possibilities
Eventually hit the ground.
Lost somewhere in the darkness,
Never to be found.

Then I launched one single arrow;
Let is go with all my might.
Straight at my chosen target it flew
In perfect flight.
One well-chosen idea,
Soaring under my determined command.
And straight into the desired bullseye, I watched out land.

When it comes to achieving anything, our ability to maintain our focus can be paramount. We are not saying that all multitasking is self-defeating, but you might say it.

In difficult times, a rare topic to discuss in matters of one’s mental health is luck. It has been said that there is hardly a word in the English language more abused than the word “luck.” It has always been used to cloak our faults and failures. In fact, Roman philosopher Seneca said centuries ago, referring to good luck said:

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

Of course, at times, one’s good luck is another’s bad luck. When we blame bad luck for outcomes, more often than not, a review of actions taken up to a negative event usually ignores the decisions made leading up to it. For instance, the investor losing money ignores the risk taken previously.

We will be covering all this on our radio show The Other Side of the Story this weekend, Feb 26/27, at 11 am and 8 pm ET on both days at America Out Loud Talk Radio. Our guest will be David Okerland, a philosopher, poet, writer, and internationally-renowned motivational speaker. We hope you will join us as we discuss the tools the three of us have developed to survive and even mentally prosper in today’s chaotic world.


Dr. Jay Lehr is a Senior Policy Analyst with the International Climate Science Coalition and former Science Director of The Heartland Institute. He is an internationally renowned scientist, author, and speaker who has testified before Congress on dozens of occasions on environmental issues and consulted with nearly every agency of the national government and many foreign countries. After graduating from Princeton University at the age of 20 with a degree in Geological Engineering, he received the nation’s first Ph.D. in Groundwater Hydrology from the University of Arizona. He later became executive director of the National Association of Groundwater Scientists and Engineers.

Tom Harris is Executive Director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition, and a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute. He has 40 years experience as a mechanical engineer/project manager, science and technology communications professional, technical trainer, and S&T advisor to a former Opposition Senior Environment Critic in Canada’s Parliament.

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