I tire of working on myself, of striving to improve my emotional health. How I wish I could go to a retreat or conference and come back changed. A new, calm, content person.

“What happened to you?” my friends would ask. “You suddenly seem so different.”

Suddenly. Key word. Because just like Captain Naaman, I seek a magic bullet.

Captain Naaman, sweeping down the steps of his beautiful villa, robes fluttering to mount his chariot, expecting to greet Prophet Elijah. Not only would he be healed of leprosy, but the healing would be spectacular. Perhaps he envisioned thunder and lightning from heaven. Rain, washing his skin rosy new.

Maybe he imagined walking through fire, coming out on the other side spot-free.

Whatever he expected, it didn’t happen.

Naaman’s leprosy disappeared, yes, but not in a quick or glamorous way. Instead, he had to lower himself—literally and figuratively—into the muddy Jordan River. Seven times. River murk. Ew.

All these years later, there’s still no magic bullet. We don’t get healed in ostentatious ways. It still happens more slowly than we think it should, with more effort.

Real change doesn’t happen from reading a quote or a new book. It doesn’t happen during meditation. It doesn’t happen after an, “I’m sorry.” Real change happens when you take action in a new way so many times that it becomes who you are. Trust action, not words.” –Kristen Butler

In a way, isn’t that encouraging? Taking action sounds doable, like something I can manage.

Recently I had a chance to listen to a psychologist speak about mental health. She talked about organic mental illness, the different medications and treatments. She also talked about those of us without a diagnosis. Those who struggle along with nothing in particular wrong, but nothing very right, either. The ones who look ahead and see long, heavy years. The ones who cry “for no reason.” Of course, there is no magic healing bullet for us, either. However, there is something we can all do.

“If you are mentally healthy,” the psychologist said, “do these six simple things and you will not get mentally ill.”

I poised to record this secret, magical, sure-to-be-amazing list. By the second item, though, I knew we were in Naaman territory.

1. CLEAN EATING: No more junk. Cut sugar, preservatives, and all soda (diet and regular)
2. WATER: drink half your body weight in ounces every day
3. VITAMIN D3 (our instructor recommended 5,000 IU daily)
4. SLEEP: get 7-9 hours a night
6. GRATITUDE: every day write down 10 things you’re thankful—and why

That’s it. No magic. Just self-discipline and work. The people who are willing to do these six things show they are serious about their mental health. Like me, they may be a Naaman, giving up their dream for a grand healing and instead, dipping seven times in the muddy Jordan.

I’m inspired to step up and live my best life.

Written by – Vila Gingerich