While most of us were firing up the barbeques or lazing around by the pool this Labor Day weekend, 64-year old Diana Nyad was in the water, but she wasn’t there for recreation. She was on a mission to fulfill her lifelong dream of swimming the 103-mile passage from Cuba to Florida. Ms. Nyad had tried and failed four times before. After her second attempt in 2011, she almost gave up, referring to her dream as just a fairy tale. When she finally emerged from the water victoriously this past weekend, she had changed her tune. “I have three messages,” she said. “One is we should never, ever give up. Two is you are never too old to chase your dreams. Three is it looks like a solitary sport, but it takes a team.”
These are not just words for fellow swimmers to swim by; these are words for us all to live by, especially those of us who are on the journey of personal growth, whether it’s to beat depression or simply learn how to deal with stress effectively. Take a minute to really ponder Nyad’s messages with me.
Never, Ever Give Up
When life gets hard or when you wake up one day in a circumstance you’d never imagined yourself in, it’s easy to feel like giving up. Maybe you tell yourself you’ll never be happy or you’ll never make a difference in this life. Maybe you resign yourself to just go through the motions of putting one foot in front of the other and give up on your passions and dreams. Although this may seem like an easy out, it’s actually the worst thing you can do for yourself and your mood. Diana Nyad decided to return to swimming at the age of 60 after being out of the water for three decades. In a Ted talk in 2012, she told the audience why she returned—to feel the thrill of passion and commitment to a goal. When you find yourself stuck in rut, trying desperately to beat depression back, remember Diana’s words, “Never, ever give up.”
You Are Never Too Old to Chase Your Dreams
As we get older, we sometimes find ourselves looking back on the past as “the good old days.” Even at 30, it can be easy to feel like you’re past your prime. Maybe when you look back, you see only failures and missed opportunities. No wonder you feel so down! You can pick yourself up though; beat depression by getting back in the game. The game itself doesn’t matter; what matters is that you feel alive again!
It Looks Like a Solitary Sport, But It Takes a Team
Like swimming, life itself may feel like a solitary sport sometimes. You may think you’re the only one still struggling with the question of how to deal with stress. Through the dark lens of depression, everyone else’s life can seem so much rosier than our own. Don’t let this distorted view keep you from reaching out to others. As the Dalai Lama says, “We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot survive without human affection.”
Stress and depression can make you feel as if life is just too much. If this is the sickness, though, passion is the antidote. Find something you’re passionate about (it doesn’t have to be swimming with sharks!), make a commitment, and then never give up!