Ten Extraordinary Icons of the Planet Championing Global Mental Health #NeverAlone

Marcus Aurelius shared his immortal words with humanity, “People try to get away from it all – to the country, to the beach, to the mountains. You always wish that you could too…. You can get away from it anytime you like. By going within.”

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As an icon of the planet, Arianna Huffington is the expert on human flourishing, optimal wellbeing, and power of sleep.  She wisely reminds us, “I wish I could go back and tell myself that not only is there no trade-off between living a well-rounded life and high performance is actually improved when our lives include time for renewal, wisdom, wonder, and giving.” 

Interaction with nature is what philosophers, poets, and artists have studied for millennia.  Today, we are at a crucial inflection point.  Creating a shared narrative for global health for the people and for the planet is key.  Our own species is facing unprecedented challenges.  Marcus Aurelius first articulated his perceptions of nature in Meditations.

“At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: ‘I have to go to work – as a human being.’  What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for?  Don’t you see the plants, the birds, the ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can?  And you’re not willing to do your job as a human being?  Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands?” – Marcus Aurelius

The best way we can create a shared narrative for the planet is by recognizing that global health unites mental health with physical well-being.  As a species, we must come to recognize that we are not alone on the planet.  Growth happens when we tackle obstacles, and do our job as sentient human beings.

“The highest levels of performance come to people who are centered, intuitive, creative, and reflective – people who know to see a problem as an opportunity.” – Deepak Chopra

The Never Alone Summit brought together icons of the planet namely Arianna Huffington, Deepak Chopra, Wim Hof, Kunal Sood, Poonacha Machaiah, Gabriella Wright, Victor and Lynne Brick, Mariel Hemingway, and Zak Williams.  The 72 speakers from diverse countries shared lessons in resilience.  People working on the frontlines of global mental health can undertake practices that build strong immune systems to protect themselves and the communities they serve. 

Victor and Lynne Brick are transforming best practices in mental health and fitness, “Resiliency is the ability to get back to normal.  There is no finish line in fitness.  It is a continuum in life.”  Furthermore, “We’ve always been in the helping people business,” Lynne Brick shares. “We believe ultimately you will be judged by what you give back to society.” 

Resilience in the home creates hope.  After Wim Hof lost his beloved wife to suicide, he had to find a way to transform himself to become stronger than ever in order to go on living for his four children.  Hof became mother and father overnight.  With 21 world records in extreme environments, the cold healed him.  “My mission is to bring this confidence and power over one’s own body – happiness, strength, and health – to be accessible anywhere.  Happiness is there within yourself.  It is lifechanging!”

Extraordinary resilience can save your life.  The relentless pursuit of transformation is the core principle that guides Kunal Sood life’s purpose and journey, which he credits to his mother.  As the founder of X Fellows, NOVUS, and Co-founder of We The Planet, Sood focuses his work on making the impossible possible by using exponential technology, transformational leadership, and the idea of the Heroes Journey in building physical, mental, and emotional resilience.  “To become resilient as a society, we must first transform ourselves, where the old AI (Authenticity and Integrity) meets the new AI (Artificial Intelligence) to become one with the force.  Doing what you love with tenacity and courage are the cornerstones to making the impossible possible.  If we collectively take action, we can create something larger than ourselves to transform our world.”

Learning to live a healthy life with meaning, purpose, and accomplishment begins with inner strength.  Co-hosts of the Never Alone Summit Gabriella Wright, Poonacha Machaiah, and Cassandra Vieten are changing how people perceive mental health around the world.  Machaiah is a modern-day warrior who is the founder of Warrior Monk, his brand dedicated to empower everyone to be more resilient in body and mind.  He is a strong proponent that our attitude in the face of adversity gives us the power to make radical choices about our own lives.

No matter where you are born on the planet, resilience begins within.  I learned something profound from actress and humanitarian Gabriella Wright during the Never Alone Summit, “The most important teaching I gained from being an actor and model is that people look up to you, no matter what.  Even if you have inner conflicts, the outer world needs hope, and people project what they need on you.  You sometimes have no idea that by just being present you are affecting and influencing someone’s life. So this job really is not about you, it’s about them.”

Mental health and physical well-being transform a nation when they reach the hearts and minds of every member of society.  Zak Williams is leading PYM as a champion of global mental health to honor his father, Robin Williams.  In facing his own struggles, Williams realized helping others allowed him to heal and cope with the trauma of his own painful loss.  Similarly, Mariel Hemingway is a beacon of hope who understands this space profoundly due to her own personal resilience.  With seven suicides in her family, she is rewriting the family legacy.  “I was drawn to being able to tell a story so that other people don’t feel alone, so they don’t feel isolated inside the darkness — because there is so much darkness when you don’t speak about it, and there’s so much hope and light in recovery if you’re able to tell your story.”

This is the power of true resilience to help others release their grief, grow and transform, and make the impossible possible for a better world.

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