2,500 years ago the Buddha entered a town to teach his philosophy and methods of attaining peace of mind, including the practices of mindfulness at its core.
While teaching, he pointed out to those listening, a nearby busy market.
He said something along the lines of "Look at all those people. The majority of them look and probably are physically well. But I believe none of them are mentally well."
That's quite a statement, and I've used it for my heading in this article.
Buddha set the bar high. Really high. Our society, and our global culture, sets it low. Really low. In essence if you're not depressed, chronically anxious, schizophrenic, suicidal, or suffering from episodes of psychosis, then you're mentally just fine.
So the bar is set at zero, zilch. Mental health, this says, is the absence of extreme states of mind.
Everyday anger, frustration, irritation, fatigue, boredom, lethargy, apathy, sadness, grief, bigotry, prejudice, and so on, are not considered a problem, not signs of mental ill-health.
Why not? Because everyone has some or all of these feelings sometimes. Doesn't that make it normal?
Yes, they are normal. But normal does not equate to healthy. Normal is what you can see or witness or experience every day. Healthy - mentally healthy - is feeling good about being alive, feeling mentally strong, happy, content, at peace, with sprinklings of joy, awe, love, and beauty.
That's the bar. That's the real bar. Our job as human beings is to accomplish, or at any rate, aim to reach that bar, and we have just this one life in which to do it.
So don't accept our society's woefully low setting of mental health. Understand what real mental health is and go for it with all you have. Don't settle for a life dictated by your genes and your life experiences up to this point in time. Stretch out and reach for the finest qualities of mind we as a species can accomplish. Mindfulness is, in my opinion, the key tool for attaining this.