Exactly Where You Need to Be

Photo by Sebastian Unrau on Unsplash.com

Hello my dear happiness nerds, welcome (back)!

Today is World Mental Health Day and for this day I prepared something special (the WHO has, too). Let’s see how you’ll like it, it’s a first on The Happiness Nerd, and I’m a bit nervous (spoiler alert: it’s personal). We’ll get to it in a second, but first I want to write a few more words on mental health. It’s a topic very dear to me, which might seem like a no-brainer, since I’m a trained psychologist. Yet, you wouldn’t believe how blind many psychologists (let alone non-psychologists) are to the topic of mental health. I’m not talking about clinical psychologists, who are the ones dedicating their lives to offering relieve and support through psychotherapy, rehabilitation, and guidance (and even there you’ll surely find some bad apples). It may come as a surprise to some, but there are many other kinds of psychologists. They work in fields as diverse as personnel selection, advertising, consulting, politics, engineering, city planning, web design, data science, education, environmental protection, and scientific research. As I’m most familiar with the latter, I’ll just quickly comment on that.

In my time as a PhD student, I’ve seen a lot of poor mental health. With that I mean colleagues, who were constantly stressed, some to the point of burnout, colleagues with depression, anxiety, or substance abuse, and colleagues with strong narcissistic tendencies (I’m talking about tendencies, because it would be unprofessional to diagnose them with an actual disorder without having used the appropriate interview and/or self-report measures). All of them weren’t nearly as happy as they could have been under healthier circumstances. There were cases of emotional abuse by supervisors and even suicides. All this in Switzerland, a country of incredible wealth, stability, and the most sophisticated infrastructure I’ve ever seen (also in terms of psychological support). Also, a country of marvelous nature, clean air, and some of the most delicious water you’ll ever try. But all that doesn’t help, if you’re stuck in an office 24/7 (even if it’s a home office) or stress out over the next deadline or your precarious future every waking minute of the day. Worse yet, from conversations and some reading on the topic, the situation seems to be even more dire in other countries and some other scientific fields (I’m looking at you, cancer biology!).

What to do about it? Clearly, there are many ways, in which the international scientific community, the various national and local governments, and the individual universities and research groups could alleviate much of this needless suffering (obviously, the individual has some responsibility, too). And I say “needless” because let’s get real: None of our research papers, which will only be skimmed by a few dozen experts anyways, will save the world. That’s why I’d like to plead in favor of just taking it all down one notch. Whatever it takes. Collectively. In psychological science, but also everywhere else in society. Let’s take one step away from harder, better, stronger, faster (even though it’s a fantastic song!) and one step towards softer, modester, vulnerabler, slower (I know two of them aren’t actual words – maybe they should be!). Let’s strive for good enough. Let’s find ourselves, our lives, and the people around us good enough. Perfection is impossible anyways. Today’s world record will be outclassed in a generation or less. Let’s take real breaks from time to time and find the peace we can then share with the world.

And there’s the transition to the actual centerpiece of this now longer than expected post: A poem that I wrote a few days ago. It is based on some profound experiences I had this year, some of which have led me to start this blog. It was nudged by my favorite podcast at the moment, Jack Kornfield’s Heart Wisdom Hour. If you can look past the occasional supernatural and reincarnation talk, you might find this podcast as inspirational, eye-opening, and heart-warming as I do.

And now, without further ado, please enjoy my poem!

a moment on the way

once this year i truly rested,
felt like it was all i needed.
poems came and went
and strung my strings
and let them sing
and let them quiet down again.

time has passed and so has rest
my strings untouched by poem’s flight.
still, today the grandest scene:
a wind-shook tree with rustling leaves.
see, i rustled, too, with them
among them swaying with the way.

there i was or, actually, wasn’t,
instead was leaf, was wind, was rustle.
was more than ever was before
and wished for nothing more to ever be.
i left myself to find myself.
to truly rest in wordless poetry.

If you like what you see, please like and follow! If you think that somebody else might, too, please share – it would be my honor! If you want to receive and e-mail every time I post something new (which is usually twice a month), but you don’t want to open a wordpress account for that you can do that, too (see sidebar or below the post, depending on which device you’re reading on right now).

76 thoughts on “Exactly Where You Need to Be

  1. Love this, I think people tend to assume poor mental health is a lower class issue, it seems to have taken the world too long to understand the concept of mental wellness and have underrated the importance of it in each and every one of us. Thank for for sharing your message Betty

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Dear Betty, thanks for your great comment and for reading my post! I didn’t think about it, but it’s true: Also here, it’s seen more as a lower class issue. But yeah, we need to improve the situation on all levels!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Your poem is beautiful!❤️🙏🏻 Mental health awareness is a subject that is very close to my heart and I appreciate your insightful blog on this issue. There is so much denial around it, causing unnecessary suffering and pain. Thank you for shining a light on it. May all beings be well and free from suffering🙏🏻

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, I really appreciate them 🙂 It’s true, there is too much denial around it and it’s beyond me why. May all beings be well and free from suffering indeed 🙂


    1. Plus I’m building an Instagram account now to sponsor my blog and trust me.. That is harmful for mental health :)) I need to meditate often to stop comparing my profile to others … wish you were in Rome so that I could have booked an appointment :))

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, I believe that! I once had Instagram for a few months, but I deleted it, because I didn’t want to see, for example, with which awesome guests Steven Colbert had dinner that night 😅
        I’d actually enjoy a conversation over skype! Send me a pm via the contact page, if you’re in 😃


    1. I think we can accept pretty much anything as good enough in the sense that “this is how it is right now.” Then, wen can still aim to improve it, but without the inclination to fight it, but gently moving it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love it. You always seem to come along at the most needed space in time.
    “there i was or, actually, wasn’t,
    instead was leaf, was wind, was rustle.” 💛
    For a moment, I was there too. As long as could be. This poem reminds me of a time that I spent with pine trees. When I was transitioning from my job. I wrote about it too. Peace and Blessings. Todah rabah. Shalom.💚🌸

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Kardayah! Yeah, I was really lucky with the timing of the last two posts 😊 I wanted to write about these topics anyway and then there was this global awareness for them 🤗
      Oh, I’m so happy that I could bring you there for some moments, too 🎉 I’d love to read about your experience with the pine trees! Can you post the link in the answer to this comment? Much thanks and love, Thomas

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have a psych degree and now study nursing I eventually want a PhD. I work in mental health as a mental health support worker I agree with your comments.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. There’s pretty much no work available with just the bachelor degree. I’m science based and the majority of psychologists are arts based so I really don’t get along with them. In nursing we used psychology and it’s science based so it’s more up my alley. I can be a psych nurse and use the knowledge there. I use it now as a mental health support worker.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Regarding working with a bachelor degree: Same here, unfortunately. It seems like you really know who you are and what you want, that’s great! Plus, science heads are always extra-welcome at my blog 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, that’s fantastic!! I wish you that you get inspired soon! When it happens, let me know, I want to read your poetry 🙂 Thanks for reading and sharing your experience!


    1. Huh, what do you mean? I’m right here, posting every two weeks (on Thursdays, usually). Next one coming in two days and you’re mentioned, too 🙂


  5. Such good points in this post. Especially in the profession you are trained that you need to ensure you have your own self care process. I work with many people that their mental health has a profound impact – both customers and colleagues. By hearing so many stories of others mental health experiences it’s so easy to brush your own under the carpet believing that it’s not ‘bad enough’ to worry about.
    P.S – thank you for the follow!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Yukiko! I also find it so valuable to share one’s mental health story, just like you do! One’s experiences are definitely “bad enough” as soon as one feels like they are. We all deserve help 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ilse! Thanks for reaching out to me. I don’t have an article on it, but as a trained psychologist I’d highly recommend seeing an expert. Anxiety is so much harder to handle alone. Ideally, you go to somebody who works with cognitive behavior therapy or anything resource-focused. They can help most quickly (psychoanalysis and the like are more geared towards the long-term). I wish you all the best and if you have more questions, let me know! You will get out of the anxiety for sure!


    1. Thank you so much for your nomination, I really appreciate it! 😊 It might take a while though until I participate, as I have posted an award post very recently. I wish you all the best!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I really enjoyed reading this post. Sometimes it’s easy to think of psychologists as being aloof/ having it all together but you showed how down to earth you are and I agree wholeheartedly with your message, “Let’s strive for good enough. Let’s find ourselves, our lives, and the people around us good enough.”. Striving for perfection is often what details me and it is refreshing to hear your words.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts! I’m really happy you enjoyed my two cents on this topic. I’m really quite surprised by how well this message is received here, because in academia it’s seen as cool to work yourself dead (of course, there are always exceptions). Please help me share the message and practice of good enough! Mabye don’t start with yourself (because we’re our harshest critics), but with something which is easy to find good enough. Hopefully, others will be inspired and follow suit 🙂 Wish you all the best and hope to read you soon! (Btw, I’ve prepared a post with a similar topic to be dropped tomorrow – I have to polish it first, so it’s good enough :D)


        1. Haha, yeah, it’s a process 😀 But change is always possible – in fact it’s the only certainty. Yes, it’s really inspiring and I enjoy reading yours, too 🙂


    1. Hi Miriam, thanks so much for your kind words! I’m really happy the poem could transport that feeling of “just being” that I felt in that moment with the tree. Best wishes, Thomas 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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