Michael’s definition here is something that is still under consideration in my own thoughts:
The definition of good mental health is being willing to experience any thought or any feeling at any time, in any place, under any circumstances, at any intensity, for any duration… without defense.
People who do this are psychologically bombproof. They are not unfeeling and they do suffer. But they don’t make any of it worse by fighting it, which is the real problem.
But, while I consider that, I will say that his discussion around what people come into therapy for in terms of defining good mental health is often an issue. When I started therapy I wanted to not dissociate, because the dissociative states were proving to be more and more dangerous. But, it wasn’t like we could sit and discuss plans to simply stop, we had to dig into what happens right before I dissociate and learn better ways of dealing with that. (In my case, stress)
Even then, the desire to simply feel less stress is not always possible. It would have solved the immediate reason why I was in therapy, less stress would make me less likely to dissociate, right? But it also wasn’t sustainable because at some point life is going to be stressful. The key was not to avoid stress but to learn how to recognize it, acknowledge it, feel it, and deal with it in a healthier way.
So yes, I agree our definition of good mental health needs to incorporate much, much more than “not feeling sad, anxious, depressed, etc.” because we will feel those things again at some point. They are unavoidable, but succumbing to them without a proper response is not. We can, and should, learn how to do that.
That’s a good place to start when thinking about therapy. Learning how to do that.