Part of having a positive attitude is avoiding tension and depression in your life.
Ways to find happiness include taking the emphasis off of ourselves and moving forward in a sensible and positive direction. When we’re in a stressed or depressed state, it can sometimes seem as if it’s never going to end. But everything changes over time. We can facilitate the rapidity of a change to more positive territory through our own actions, such as those suggested below. No matter how bad things might be, or get, you always have hope. It’s always good to know that you’re not alone. Have someone else to turn to, and to lean on, when you need to.
1. See Your Doctor and/or A Trained Professional
It is important to determine if your stress or depression has a physical cause or whether a referral is needed to a trained psychiatrist or other mental health professional. Sometimes people say, “I’ve been there already. It didn’t help.” My suggestion is to try another counselor. Every counselor is not suitable for us. Just keep at it until you find someone who can help. The right professional can help but as Milton Erickson said, “It’s the patient who does the therapy.” With the proper guidance, you will be able to do what you need to do to get you where you want to go.
2. Don’t Try To Go It Alone
Talk with trusted family members and friends who you can rely upon to keep your confidences. Don’t feel like a burden. What goes around in life often comes around. You can be there for them in the future when they need some help. It’s going to get better. Change is one constant in life we can rely on. Listen to the advice of professionals and those who are concerned about you. It can help you view things differently Be willing to try something new, particularly since what you might be doing so far might not be working too well. Talking it out can provide improved perspectives you may not have had otherwise, even if the actual advice you got in the process wasn’t that helpful. There is something about just getting your thoughts out in front of you verbally that allows you to see things better, rather than just having them banging around inside your head, and getting nowhere.
3. Take The Focus Off Yourself
Thinking about your problems 20 hours a day is not helpful. Maybe you can’t always get help, but you can always give it. It will help renew your own self-esteem when you see that you have the power to help someone else. It also puts your own problems into perspective. Doing this is an important step to getting yourself out of the woods to the point where you can see a clearing ahead that you can keep walking toward. It’s ok to crawl sometimes too. Just keep your head up and keep moving in the right direction.
Volunteering takes the focus off of yourself and teaches the instructive lesson that whatever our problems are, those of many others are far more problematic. Service also builds self-esteem because it shows that we still power – the power to do something good. It’s naturally a great help to recipients too. Multiple research studies have shown that volunteers enjoy better health and have longer life spans overall. Arianna Huffington says that, “When we are engaged in service and volunteering, we are widening the boundaries of our being.” Sometimes we can also get some surprising insights into ourselves by helping others, as Walt Whitman did: ” I am larger, better than I thought. I did not know I held so much goodness.”
4. Laugh More
Laughing more can help too. How often do you laugh? It takes the focus from us on to something else, and if you have stress, that’s something good. Find outlets like funny movies, television shows, books, articles, jokes and whatever else might get you laughing. Spending time with positive, upbeat friends whom you’re likely to laugh with can help too.
From a WebMD feature article, “Give Your Body a Boost — With Laughter” by R. Morgan Griffin: “Feeling rundown? Try laughing more. Some researchers think laughter just might be the best medicine, helping you feel better and putting that spring back in your step. “I believe that if people can get more laughter in their lives, they are a lot better off,” says Steve Wilson, a psychologist and laugh therapist. “They might be healthier too…The effects of laughter and exercise are very similar,” says Wilson. “Combining laughter and movement, like waving your arms, is a great way to boost your heart rate.”
“The focus on the benefits of laughter really began with Norman Cousin’s memoir, Anatomy of an Illness. Cousins, who was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a painful spine condition, found that a diet of comedies, like Marx Brothers films and episodes of “Candid Camera”, helped him feel better. He said that ten minutes of laughter allowed him two hours of pain-free sleep.” This particular type of comedy might not be appealing to you, but search around. Find something that is.
5. Just Do The Next Thing
Sometimes depression can immobilize us to the point where we seem overwhelmed by everything and can’t seem to get ourselves to do anything. Just dead in the water. Just do the very next thing. Don’t worry about a half-hour from now, tonight, tomorrow, next week, next month or next year. Just do the next thing. If you’re depressed when you get up, wash your face. Then brush your teeth, then get a shower, then get dressed, then put on the coffee, then do the dishwasher, etc, etc. Don’t think about anything else until you’re finished that. Then decide what the next thing is to do. After a while you’re going to see that you are staying active and getting things done. Staying active is a big help because it takes your mind off of you and substitutes accomplishments, even if they are very modest, for obsessing about problems.
6. Get Out!
Don’t stay in the house. Get out and take a walk, go to the mall, volunteer, or ask someone to go to lunch or dinner with you. It’s very important to stay busy at night, but not just watching television. Read, challenge yourself, call somebody, or do something that gets you into a state of flow where you are so absorbed in something positive and challenging that you lose track of time. Idle time can be a real enemy when we’re pressed down by concerns. Many people can deal with things during the day when they are busier, but nights can be very lonely. Whenever you feel tired, take a short nap, and stay up at night until you feel tired enough to go to sleep without a struggle. Sleep helps.
7. Self-Help Happiness and Success Reading
This should be a lifetime habit. There are research tested ways for people to be happier. Learn what they are. I have compiled an excellent list of recommended books about happiness in my EzineArticles article: “Be Happy 101: The Happiness Course”, which can be located by putting the article title in your search box. One I would particularly call to your attention in dealing with depression is written by Dr.Gordon Livingston M.D., a practicing psychiatrist, who wrote the national best seller: Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart. It contains many positive suggestions for dealing with stress and depression, and many common problems that people seek professional advice for. He is a highly experienced professional who offers wisdom from having provided counseling for thousands of hours to help others.
8. Prayer and/or Meditation
Both provide the opportunity to stop and reflect and to enable us to gain perspective again. Either or both may be helpful.
9. Stop Worrying
The Bible has a wonderful quotation about worry that has helped me many times:
“You worry all day and what do you have to show for it?”
How much has your worrying accomplished? Whenever you have a worrisome thought come into your mind, just fight it off by saying, “No! I’m not going there.” After you do that for a while, you’ll find that the handy affirmation will help you to clear your head of junk thoughts that don’t provide any benefit.
Sometimes we wind up worrying about nothing too:
– Montaigne noted, “There were many terrible things in my life, but most of them never happened.”
– Jefferson concurred, “How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened.”
– Calvin Coolidge too: “If you see ten troubles coming down the road, you can be sure that nine will run into the ditch before they reach you.”
Don’t let what’s “impending” get in the way of the positive things you should be thinking about instead.
10. Get Physical
I wish I could tell you that I am a model for this, but I’m not even close. However, I do not doubt the wisdom of what I read everywhere. If you can get to the gym (having a trainer helps enforce the discipline), engage in a sport or just walk, it can help. My father had a heart attack when he was about 55 and his doctor told him, “Tom, start walking.” He did, until he died at 87. It can’t hurt.
11. Regain Perspective and Improve Your Thinking
It’s hard to move ahead when you’re not thinking straight. Get away from the situation. Take a trip or visit a friend or relative somewhere else. It can’t just be for two days. Stay away for a week or more if you can. Being removed from the situation and doing and seeing different things can help you re-evaluate where you are and provide fresh insights to help you make changes you may need to make.
Be present. Constant thinking about answering texts, e-mails and phone calls, and what’s next, instead of who’s next to you, or in front of you, fogs perspective and disrupts thinking and communication. Electronics have been an asset to life in many ways, but they have also become a scourge to more peaceful living. The key is to control them. Don’t let them control you.
Economist, essayist and humorist Ben Stein commented that most problems we face are found right between our ears. No real improvement takes place, until we improve the way we think about our problems. It’s good to remember too, that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. That strength will help us face many problems in the future, with a clearer head and with greater equanimity. As William James said, “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another. We change television channels with our remotes dozens of times a month. Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves is to change the channel in our head when we should.
12. Conquering Death and The Loss of A Love
Two of life’s great stressors are the death of a loved one and the loss of a love. Both are very difficult to deal with and can immobilize us for a long time. The important thing to remember in both cases is that we still have a valuable life of our own. One of the best tributes we can give to someone we loved who has died is to live a meaningful and enjoyable life. The person who has died certainly would not want mourning over his/her loss to stand in the way of that. Loss of a love, or unreturned love, has a pain all its own. It’s important to just face reality.
Sometimes it’s also good to realize that we should be careful of what we wish for. A famous quotation says: “Not getting what we wish for can be a stroke of luck.” Lives should not be put on hold because we can’t get what we want. Just ask yourself how much sleep the person pined for is losing. Probably none. So don’t torture yourself. It’s not worth it. You will surely recognize this later, but it’s better to do it now, so you don’t look back on it later and see how much time you wasted making yourself feel miserable. The best cure is to get busy finding someone who loves you in the way you need to be loved. Once you find an interest in someone else, who’s interested in you, the loss you’ve been feeling will start to fade.
One of my books, Finding The Right Man For You speaks about this, and other problems in chapters such as “Dealing With Divorce”, “Defeating Hurt and Anger” and “Life After the Death of a Partner”, as well as many other helpful dating related topics for women. It is out of print, but still may be found through an online search.
13. Make The Most of Your Unfinished Life
Think about others and be kinder. It doesn’t have to be earth shattering. Little kindnesses, and different ones, extended frequently can have excellent impact on others and ourselves.
If being happier by being kinder, and taking the emphasis off of ourselves sounds like mumbo-jumbo to you, here’s what famed intellectual and philosopher Aldous Huxley had to say about it: “People often asked me what is the most effective technique for transforming their life. It is a little embarrassing that after years and years of research and experimentation, I have to say that the best answer is – just be a little kinder.”
Virtually all positive psychologists say too that true gratification in life is found not in focusing on ourselves and our egos, or by basing our life on material things, but in the service of something higher. Pick something that’s meaningful to you. It will improve your self-esteem, and provide you with the peace of mind, personal fulfillment and happiness you seek.
Author: Lawrence J. Danks
Visit my “Happiness and Success Resource Center” from which this article has been excerpted. It will help you: http://www.iwanthappiness.net
The Center contains fifteen segments of guided personal growth and positive psychology readings on happiness, success, innovation, motivation, luck, reinvention, job hunting, career advice, and kindness, accompanied by thoughts and comments along the way. It’s followed by four appendices:
– Your Unfinished Life – A Guide For The Rest Of Your Life
– ” Getting A Job – And Holding On In The Meantime”
– “You and Your Future” – A Career And Job Hunting Guide For College Students
– A Treasury of Inspirational Quotations
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