Archive for the ‘depression’ Tag

Depression

In my business networking group, several members have been proclaiming that they refuse to participate in the economic troubles.  While such a bold statement may be a bit foolhardy (much of the worst of it has not hit us – yet – in the South, but it’s likely to before a year is out), you have to admire their conviction, and the passion behind the statement is to be taken very seriously.

Economic depression results from psychic depression.  And depression is the very soul of evil, the very opposite of life.  Somehow, we have turned from affirmation to denial, we have sunk perilously close to the quicksand of depression, we have forgotten how to trust.  The hard part is, even though we have lost our faith because those we trusted have proven to be untrustworthy, we are challenged to regain it.  We must be trustworthy ourselves, and we must also trust; it is the only way to emerge from this trouble.

Some of you may know what personal depression is, and if so, you understand this.  You understand the extreme danger in letting depression have its way.  You know that while the world may try its hardest to shake your convictions, you must persevere in the belief that your dreams can be realized.  The alternative is simply not an option.

Let’s spend the weekend immersed in our dreams, specifying and tailoring them to the finest detail, savoring the promise of faith and disallowing the evil of depression.

Start by appreciating

OK, so you’re not into the arts, and can’t imagine devoting time to practicing drawing or dancing or singing. But still, you worry about your lack of energy and enthusiasm; you wonder if this is all there is; your business is steady, maybe even growing, but you’re only vaguely interested in it anymore. You have trouble promoting your efforts with passion. You need something else, but what?

It’s dangerous times we live in. Oh indeed, we’re not fearful the Visigoths will slit our throats while we sleep; we have achieved a measure of peace compared with the daily threats of life in the Dark Ages. The danger lies in our heads these days. Have you ever wondered how it is that so many Middle Easterners are ready to die for their cause? Why do so many of us require anti-depressants to be healthy? We live in a time when 30,000 people can die in a day from a natural disaster, the news is instantly shared with the world, and we mourn for a day before shoving it aside along with all the other distractions that we need to keep from interfering with our one sacred duty: that of making money.

I perceive that death has become an attractive alternative to our pervasive unhappiness, rather than a disaster to be avoided at all costs. The danger of this state of mind cannot be underestimated. All our peace and productivity stem from an appreciation for life as a thing worth participating in. If you find yourself stalled, uninspired, wanting only to sleep or otherwise hide away, you’ve become infected with this ennui.

Directives to indulge your fascinations in order to avoid such apathy are useful only if you can identify one or two things that unquestionably turn you on. Having been there, I know it’s possible to be so sad that you can’t think of anything that can be qualified as a turn-on. In this instance, where you’re starting at rock bottom, the best thing to do is allow yourself to appreciate.

Notice this is not making yourself appreciate. It’s just quietly allowing, turning your attention to your bodily responses. That first swallow of coffee, the breeze on your cheek, the way the sun falls across your desk, your ability to use your legs and walk, the divine caress of the sheets as you lie down to sleep. Let yourself not only notice but spend a few moments mulling over whatever offers this chance for appreciation. Do nothing more than dedicate your attention to the tiny little ways the universe soothes and delights at every moment.

I love the newspaper stories about the latest woman celebrating her 101st birthday. Many times, when asked the inevitable question about advice for long life, the answer is that you’ll benefit from maintaining an attitude of gratitude. For most of us in these times of profound threat to our existence as a species, developing that attitude in the first place requires focus and committment. Decide to appreciate, and your opportunities to do so will multiply.

Ultimate motivations

Thinking about ultimate motivations this Friday morning.  Traditionally, we’ve relied on faith in the divine when all else fails to rouse our interest in daily living.  For many nowadays, though, religion just never “took.”  We had lost the ability to take things on blind faith.

Human health, though, requires robust motivation.  Depression is lack of motivation, and as one who has experienced it I know the draining of life force when depression sets in.  Motivation is the energy that actually keeps us alive.

So where does it come from?  Your children, your pets, your lover?  Perhaps you point to Mother Nature.  I must humbly suggest that these are all beneficiaries of your motivation, but not causes of it.  Motivation is derived from individual creativity.  And creativity is derived from listening, curiosity, openness, generosity and all those other attributes I’ve been discussing in these posts.  These attributes – very unlike the old hook of, “faith” – can be consciously and scientifically developed.  I can use specific exercises and intentions to boost my creative abilities and thereby boost motivation.

So in case you have been thinking that my obsession with the many aspects of creativity is excessive, I offer this explanation.  In a very real sense, the development of creativity is your lifeline,  your fundamental motivation, the one thing that keeps you getting up every morning.

Practicing delight

One of the symptoms of depression is an inability to enjoy things that previously used to delight you.  The healthy, natural way is to be susceptible to the charms of at least some things in life.  Something most people don’t consider, however, is that the capacity for delight – like intelligence – can be cultivated and enlarged.

As we reach adolescence and then adulthood, I believe each of us should exercise our ability to be delighted.  The seriousness of growing up and joining the business world would seem contrary to this directive, and indeed, for the most part, we do not encourage such lighthearted development.  And what we end up with is a paranoid, oppressed, and underproductive workforce. 

How is delight cultivated?  Practice, of course.  Such daily activities as focusing on the tiny things that please you, allowing yourself to dwell on any encounter you may have with beauty, taking the time to thoroughly appreciate a good meal, a thoughtful gesture, a clever solution; all these kinds of practices will increase your capacity for enjoyment.

We can dwell in bliss if we set our energies to it!