helpingI know, it’s a strange topic for a mental health blog.  But when I think of good mental health, I think of good self-esteem, and what better way to achieve the latter (and the former), than by being brave?  And teaching our kids to be brave?

So I heard this brief anecdote that I wanted to share in the hopes that others find it inspirational as I did.

I was listening to Fresh Air and the guest was Jonathan Alter, who has a new book out about the last presidential election.   He was discussing the “47% video” as a game-changer, and the man behind the video, Scott Prouty.

Scott Prouty was a bartender who happened to get Mitt Romney on video, and had to do some soul searching about whether to release it.  Anyone in that position would, of course, think about the personal cost.

Mr. Alter said that the decision was really born of an event five years before.  A woman’s car went into a swamp in the Everglades, and Mr. Prouty heard her screaming.  He dove in and tried to get her out of the car.  He got the door open, but she was still trapped by her seatbelt. He managed to get a knife and cut her loose.

And the lesson as he saw it, according to Mr. Alter?  “If you can jump in, you must jump in.”

What a simple and beautiful credo.   What if we all lived by it?   Acts of heroism and generosity would become the norm.  We would expect that of ourselves, and each other.  In the process, imagine how much better we would be, but also how much better we would feel.

And that’s the mental health lesson, as I see it.

Also, I just really liked that story.

Rescue image available from Shutterstock.