Joe Barnes lives what he writes and talks openly today about the mental health myth. He discusses how making one small change in our lives can have a big impact on our mental well-being.
Since graduating from the University of Manchester, Joe Barnes has followed the path of greatest inspiration and forged a successful career doing what he loves: as a tennis coach, then as a hypnotherapist, and now as an author, speaker, and life coach. His first book, Escape the System, gained him a dedicated following and he is in great demand as a motivational speaker at personal development groups, including his own Success Club.
In 2020, the World Health Organization released figures revealing that 254 million people across the planet suffer from depression.
The statistics are even worse if you focus exclusively on the developed world. In the US, 1 out of every 4 adults suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year (according to the Johns Hopkins Medicine website).
Why are these numbers so high?
Traditional explanations, especially when it comes to depression, focus on the chemical Imbalance theory. The idea is that people, through no apparent fault of their own, sometimes experience a lack of positive neurotransmitters – dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin. This lowers their mood and, without corrective medication, they’ll experience loss of motivation, despondency and, in extreme cases, suicidal thoughts. However, UK psychotherapist Dr James Davies challenged this theory in 2013 with his brilliant book, Cracked.
Davies points out that there isn’t a single shred of scientific evidence to support the chemical imbalance theory. Furthermore, the DSM (the mental health Bible where disorders are listed) also, in most cases, lacks any scientific evidence to support its diagnoses.
What does this mean?
There are a growing number of mental health professionals who believe our poor mental health stems more from spiritual and environmental factors than anything to do with chemical imbalances or the physical body. Could these ideas highlight an interesting new solution to your own struggles with depression and mental health?
A search for meaning
The most powerful insight this new way of thinking reveals is that we are in charge of our own wellbeing. We are not depressed by accident. Something is missing in our lives and if we can identify the cause, we can find the solution.
While Davies highlights a number of spiritual and environmental solutions to our discontent, I’ve chosen to focus on just one – a lack of meaning in our lives (especially our working lives).
In 1946, Victor Frankl, in his book Man’s Search for Meaning, revealed, after documenting his experiences of 3 years spent in Nazi concentration camps, that having a clear meaning for your life can help you remain positive in the most desperate of circumstances. Unfortunately, the world of modern work is so far from being able to provide us with this (a 2013 Right Management Survey stated that 81% of employed Americans are uninspired by their work) that our jobs can end up making us feel trapped and depressed.
But what if that was to change?
What if every day was a chance to be involved with an exciting project that made you feel alive and had a positive impact on other peoples’ lives? Surely this would dramatically improve your well-being?
Finding the work you love
Finding this passion project is not easy, though, and it requires you to make one fundamental change to your thinking. You must give free reign to your dreams.
This is something society warns us against. We’re taught to ‘be realistic’ and that it’s better to aim low and avoid disappointment.
You must reject this type of thinking. Without fear of judgement, or even the consideration of whether your dreams are possible (yet), you must list between 5 and 10 ideas for making money that inspire you. Remember, nothing is off limits.
Once you’ve taken this step, it’s time to evaluate your options. Grade your choices out of 10 for 4 different categories – Enjoyment (in the moment fun), Fulfilment (the lasting impact your potential dream job will have on you and others), Length of Time to Master (how long will it take you to become proficient enough to make money from your passion – the longer it takes, the lower your score out of 10), Potential to Monetize (is there a clearly defined way to make money through your interest – if yes, give yourself a higher score).
Once you’ve completed this exercise, you should be left with a score out of 40 for each potential idea. You can then make a selection, or possibly combine different options, and begin your journey to the kind of passion-based work that makes life worth living.
A more in-depth version of the exercise above (The Dream Job Chart) can be found in Do The Work you Love the new book from Joe Barnes, which is now on special offer for the next 7 days. Also, if you want to check out his website, and FREE course, then click the link here. Finally, if you want to contact Joe via social media, check out his Instagram @escapethesystem19.
Take a look at our other mental health awareness articles in the May-June issue of the Digital Magazine.
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Joe Barnes lives what he writes. Since graduating from the University of Manchester, he has followed the path of greatest inspiration and forged a successful career doing what he loves: as a tennis coach, then as a hypnotherapist, and now as an author, speaker and life coach. His first book, Escape the System, gained him a dedicated following and he is in great demand as a motivational speaker at personal development groups, including his own Success Club.