Our hearts and emotional well being is like a garden.
We need to nurture and care for our “emotional garden”.
It is important to spend time watering our garden, allowing appropriate sunshine, pruning the unhealthy branches and adding fertilizers to it. We also need to pull the weeds and remove the pests that may harm the plants. Sometimes, we may wish to consult a “guru” or a mentor to guide us to enhance our gardening skills. With time, patience and effort, our garden will surely flourishes into a healthy and beautiful garden.
Unfortunately, many of us are not aware of the needs of our emotional garden.
This is simply because this garden is not clearly visible or tangible . If we have a cut on our body or sprain our ankle, we may see a visible wound or swelling, but if our emotions are traumatized and hurting, others may not see it or acknowledge it. Perhaps some of us may choose to mask our emotional wounds or pretend that I am ok because of our perception that nobody really cares about me.
If we neglect, deny, or ignore the needs of our emotional garden, weeds or “lalang” will grow and our garden will suffers and will not bloom well.
Our emotional garden may be invaded by “weeds” such as uncontrollable anger, bottled up frustrations, vengeful feelings, resentment, bitterness, unforgiveness, hatred, unhappiness, depression, suicide, excessive fears and anxiety, distrust, addiction problems and impulsive behaviours.
However, If we seek to nurture our emotional garden with good ingredients such as healthy relationships, hugs from someone who cares, unconditional love, time to heal, self-awareness, self-control, self-acceptance, good sleep, sound guidance from a mentor, social support, spiritual help, etc , we will reap the colourful flowers of happiness, peace, love, joy, gratefulness, contentment, kindness, hopefulness and meaning of life.
So I encourage you (including myself) to care for your emotional garden with tenderness, love and care each day.
The LAH support
Sometimes we may encounter situations where someone shares with us about feeling “hopeless” or ” there is no meaning in life”. In situation like this, we are in a better position to assist when we are equipped with some simple listening and enquiry skills.
I am sharing a simple technique called the “LAH” support” which is a simple step by step method to approach someone who is depressed or suicidal. This technique was created by a psychiatrist in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Professor Dr. T. Maniam.
Here are some interesting data on mental health and its relationship with well being and happiness.
Source : World Happiness report 2013
1) *Mental Health or Psychological well being is the single most important determinant of happiness.
2) Happy people live longer, are more productive, earn more and are better citizens
2) Published research from Psychological Bulletin (2005) found a strong connection between emotional well-being and success.
3) According to American Psychological Association,(2012), Mindfulness( Focus on the present )
4) A Sociological report ( 2010 ) found that positive social relationship influence health behaviour and lead to better physical health, mental health and overall well-being.
5) Malaysia is the world’s 56th happiest country.
The late actor Robin Williams has a very special place in my heart. It was a role which he has acted in a movie called “ Patch Adams” in 1998.
In that movie, which was based on a real life story, he took on the role of a medical student who was passionate about being a doctor. He believed that doctors should focus more on treating the person besides treating the disease. In other words, the focus of patient care is the process of understanding the patient as a whole and how he or she has been affected by the illness ; in all aspects of a personhood, be it physical, psychological (intellectual and emotional), social and spiritual.
My heart was filled with sadness when I heard of Mr. Robin Williams death. The world has lost a truly talented and gifted soul.
Let us mourn and grief over our loss.
And let us cherish the fond memories that remains in our heart.
Recently, I went for a family trip at Fraser’s Hill, Pahang, Malaysia and managed to squeeze in time for my personal retreat. I truly felt that it was a much needed break from my daily routine.
The thing that I enjoyed most at Fraser’s Hill was the cool morning walks at a temperature of 20 degrees Celcius. This was a great relief from the 37C in Kuala Lumpur / Petaling Jaya at noon.
As we were descending for Kuala Lumpur after a refreshing retreat, we came across an abandoned bungalow at midway.
I was told that the mansion was once a very famous bungalow and cafe which accommodated travellers, particularly those who needed a short rest. During those days, there was only one road to Fraser’s Hill. Travellers ascending and descending the hill needed to take turns based on a specific road schedule.
As such, the holiday makers used to enjoy delicious English breakfast and tea at the cafe while waiting for their turns to ascend Fraser’s Hill. Some may choose to stay overnight at the bungalow because the narrow road leading to Fraser’s Hill were closed at night.
However, in the recent years, new roads were developed and allowed for continuous access to the hill. Therefore, the bungalow which has once seen glorious days, was later abandoned.
The world and our surroundings are changing each day. Medical sciences are flooded with new research findings. Our local social and cultural fabric are continually invaded by influences from other cultures. According to Erik Erikson, the famous developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst, the journey of a lifetime is about growth and adapting to changes from birth till death. And I need to follow through these changes that happens in my internal and external world.
Human rights movement and individualism are permeating our shores. So how do we integrate individualism with the Asian traditional family and cultural values? Hence, if I do not learn, unlearn and grow alongside these rapid developments, I may end up like the abandoned bungalow, lonely and obsolete.
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
― Mahatma Gandhi