Become as a Child with the Teachable Spirit

» Posted by on Aug 19, 2014 in teachable spirit, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Become as a Child with the Teachable Spirit

Psychologists talk a lot about the pathologies that can grow out of trauma and loss–the chronic fear and anxiety, the guilt and anger, the hopelessness. People with pathologies are, after all, the ones who need help. But in its rush to understand illness, science has given sanity short shrift. Is mental health just an absence of illness, or can we realistically strive for something more?

–Geoffrey Cowley (with Anne Underwood) in Newsweek, September 16, 2002.

He continues by responding to his own question,

Children of Ingrid Education Centre begin guided across the street, Nairobi, Kenya, February 2013.

Children of Ingrid Education Centre begin guided across the street, Nairobi, Kenya, February 2013.

Preachers and philosophers have always relished such questions. Now, after a century of near silence, scientists are asking them, too. Words like “optimism” and “contentment” are appearing with ever-greater frequency in mainstream research journals–and some enthusiasts foresee a whole new age in research psychology.

–Geoffrey Cowley (with Anne Underwood) in Newsweek, September 16, 2002.

Sponsor one of Ingrid's children today because it will change their life tomorrow. Photo by Isaac V. Photography.

These children of Ingrid are definitely “feeling their oats.” Photo by Isaac V. Photography.

My own experience tells me that there is a huge amount of focus on illness because there are no words to describe what it means to be healthy mentally. Think about all the expressions used to describe lack of mental health:

  • off his rocker
  • the lights are on but no one’s home
  • the elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top
  • one fry short of a happy meal
The children of Ingrid seemed optimistic, enthusiastic, positive, and eager in their demeanor, Nairobi, Kenya, January 2013. Photo by Isaac V. Photography.

The children of Ingrid seemed optimistic, enthusiastic, cheerful, positive, and eager in their demeanor, Nairobi, Kenya, January 2013. Photo by Isaac V. Photography.

Language is a reflection of feelings and most often we tend to feel the angst side of the coin. We have difficulty with people who are too happy! Consider the colloquialisms we use to express too much happiness:

  • she’s a pollyanna
  • happy as a clam at high tide
  • feeling one’s oats
  • in seventh heaven
  • tickled pink
One of the children of Ingrid that is receiving an education, uniform, and a meal, January 2013.

One of the children of Ingrid, Nairobi, Kenya, January 2013. Photo by Isaac V. Photography.

What about the mainstream words such as optimism, contentment, cheerfulness, and positiveness? None of these really describe sanity either. What can the teachable spirit say about mental health and its relationship to happiness? Are they synonymous with each other or not?

I think the problem lies in our understanding of the word, “health.” When my 90 year old father goes to the doctor, he is told,

“You are doing well for your age.”

When I am 90 years old, I want to be told that my health is like that of a 40 or 50 year old.

Can we say the same about mental health?

Reading The Lion King to the two children of Douglas and Grace, Ian on the left, and Jeremy on the right, Nairobi, Kenya, October 2012.

Reading The Lion King to the two children of Douglas and Grace, Ian on the left, and Jeremy on the right, Nairobi, Kenya, October 2012.

If the teachable spirit thinks of mental health moving in that direction, we can turn to scripture where Yeshua (Jesus) says,

“Most certainly I tell you, unless you turn, and become as little children, you will in no way enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Whoever therefore humbles himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” –Matthew 18:3-4

This phrase begins to make sense when the teachable spirit thinks of mental health. Children are typically fairly healthy mentally. When we become adults, we have more trouble staying even-keeled. Perhaps now we can think of words to describe sanity, mental health, and happiness.

The children of Ingrid surrounding me in Nairobi, Kenya, January 2013.

The children of Ingrid taking pleasure in my presence, Nairobi, Kenya, January 2013.

A small child generally puts 100% effort into everything they do, and when they have worn themselves out with play and other activities, they fall asleep without any more thought for that day. Trying to juxtapose a child’s life against mental health may give us a clue about happiness:

  • living each moment to the fullest extent
  • displaying emotions without feigning
  • taking pleasure in the simple things
  • trusting easily
  • eagerness to begin again
  • full of hope
Forgiving another ushers in peace, such as can be seen reflected in the eyes of this child at Ingrid Education Centre, January 2013. Photo by Isaac V. Photography.

The peaceful face of one of the children at Ingrid Education Centre, Nairobi, Kenya, January 2013. Photo by Isaac V. Photography.

Having these characteristics in our life deliberately, knowing full well that there will be ups and downs, trials and so forth, can go a long way towards true happiness. Do you think that is too pollyanna? Aha, I caught you! Now you have to come up with another word to describe it!

Contact Dr. Warren Bruhl via email: dr.bruhl@dreamweaver911.org or other members of  the Board through Dreamweaver International to support Kimana School or Leadership and Professional Studies

Contact Douglas Monene, founder of Ingrid Education Centre via email: douglasmonene@gmail.com to learn how to sponsor one of the children who attend Ingrid

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