Feed your mind as you feed your body
What happens when we are hungry? Our stomach grumbles; we find food to feed our hungry stomach, and then we become full. Even with choosing food to eat, we should be careful about the feed we feed to our bodies. For example, individuals with high blood pressure or cholesterol are encouraged to avoid fatty food, packaged and processed food, salty food, alcohol and so on. However, not only are they encouraged to avoid certain types of food, but they are also encouraged to consume some types of food, such as legumes, whole-grains, fruits, and vegetables more. This will ensure that the body is protected from the negative effects of high blood pressure and also becomes more healthy at the same time. Hence there are two parallel routes one works one: prevent the negative and strengthen the positive.
In the same manner, what we feed our minds has a great influence on our actions, speech, behavior, emotions, etc. If we dwell mostly in unwholesome states, we will see the world as unwholesome. For instance, if we develop hatred and nurture hatred, we will hate the people we interact with and see only their faults and transgressions. Eventually, we will start to view our environments with hatred and see the world as a broken place. People will start to dislike and keep a distance away from us. Not only does this harm us mentally, but also physically.
On the other hand, too much positive thinking will also harm us. If you have watched the movie Inside Out, too much joy can also harm our minds. Too much joy without awareness and fully understanding ourselves (i.e. no wisdom) may lead to mania. Imagine a situation when it is time to be sad; everyone is sad, but you are there being very optimistic and joyful. It is displaying the wrong emotion at the wrong time. A balanced emotion and displaying those emotions at the right time are vital to understanding ourselves.
Feeding our minds healthily does not apply only for emotions as emotions are a small aspect of our lives. We should also look after our actions, speech, and thoughts in the same we look after our emotions and our bodies. Hence applying the Right Effort with courage and diligence to our actions, speech, and thoughts will not only guide us to a healthy psyche, but also our relationships with people around us. There are four different components of Right Effort we can apply to our lives, and they are:
eliminate the unwholesomeness that has already been produced
not to produce unwholesomeness that has not yet been produced
give rise to wholesomeness that has not yet been produced
increase wholesomeness that has already been produced
With guidance from these four components, we can strive towards a healthy mind and healthy life.