The constant negative news cycle can affect one’s mental health. An interesting fact I heard in a conference this week is that depression is the leading cause of disability in the US for individuals ages 15 to 44.
Like many of you, although I’m aware of mental health issues, two things happened this week that sharpened my focus around this issue. The first was this past weekend when I attended the Imagine Hope Annual Benefit held by PRS. PRS is a charitable organization whose mission is to provide behavioral health, crisis intervention and suicide prevention services. My good friend and partner of 30 years, Leonard Wolf, is on the board and the organization, its employees and the many volunteers do amazing work. At the benefit, I heard many stories from people who went from a feeling of hopelessness to recovery and are now thriving. PRS is just one of thousands of organizations that are trying to help in this fight and we should all be grateful for organizations like PRS.
Then, Wednesday, at the Charles Schwab Annual Conference, a Harvard University psychologist, Susan David, briefly spoke about resilience and self-compassion. The Mayo Clinic states that resilience means being able to adapt to life’s misfortunes and setbacks and that resilience can help protect you from various mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. “Resilience won’t make your problems go away – but resilience can give you the ability to see past them, find enjoyment in life and better handle stress.”
So, how do we become more resilient? Dr. David noted that a starting point can be to have more self-compassion. She referred to being emotionally agile which is one’s ability to experience their thoughts and emotions and events in a way that doesn’t drive them in negative ways, but instead encourages them to reveal the best of themselves. My takeaway was that many of us are very hard on ourselves and that creates stress and anxiety along with a feeling of not having control over our lives. That feeling of a lack of control can spiral into hopelessness if we are not careful. Austrian psychologist and Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl said “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.” The freedom resulting from that power of choice to which Frankl spoke helps me to remain both hopeful and resilient. I hope the same is true for you.
This week’s selection is:
The Daughters of Yalta by Catherine Grace Katz
Much has been written about the historic Yalta Conference in February 1945, when Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt met to decide the future of the postwar world. Little, however, is known about the role played behind the scenes by three young women. In “The Daughters of Yalta,” Catherine Grace Katz tells the story through the eyes of Sarah Churchill, Anna Roosevelt and Kathleen Harriman, the daughter of W. Averell Harriman, the U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union. Skillfully written and meticulously researched, it’s an extraordinary work that reveals the human side underlying the politics.