Part One by Seamus Anthony
Although I do struggle with the blues quite often, my low spells are mercifully short lived. I spend most of my time feeling extremely optimistic and excited about life.
I can see so many interesting ideas that I am passionate about exploring, so much potential for creative expression and so many ways to experience abundance every day that it generally makes me feel pretty happy and quite young-at-heart.
Of course many people do not feel like this most of the time, maybe ever. This is a crying shame. The way I see it is: you’re going to be alive for however long, so you might as well spend as much of it as possible being happy.
Happiness is Relative
( … although not necessarily A relative – arf, arf … )
Let’s face it, when you’re blue, the last thing that will help is some irritatingly positive Numby telling you to “Cheer up! Life’s great!” because if you are not experiencing life as great, then it just isn’t for you at that moment.
Life is how we individually experience it. The positive or negative nature of life is not an unchanging fact, it is a relative perception.
If you’re feeling down a lot. If you don’t feel excited by the potential or passionate about anything, then here are some pointers and ways of thinking that work for me:
1 – Deliberately Focus On The Positive
Just because focussing on the positive now does not instantly make you feel like leaping out of your chair and doing a happy dance, does not mean that this technique does not work. In my experience it does. In fact recently I had a very real experience of how this comes into play.
I have never been one for the news much, but seeing as it was so easy, I started scanning through the Google news app on my iphone every day. Now of course, it will not be news to you (arf arf) that the media focus very sharply on fear and anxiety inducing stories. Well at first this didn’t bother me, I winced at the worst of the headlines and moved on.
Well, predictably (in hindsight) I soon started to feel that I was getting more and more stressed, anxiety levels throughout the day were peaking and I was losing sleep worrying about all kinds of problems both real (environmental issues) and imagined (what was that noise? I’d better check the kids are OK … again),
I soon decided to skip the news feed. The truth is most of it isn’t really worth reading, if only because it is all so far away and removed from your life that you cannot do anything much about it, and I don’t think we are psychologically equipped to deal with the instant transmission of the myriad woes of the entire planet’s population.
2 – Read Positive and Uplifting Books All the Time
I am always reading self-help books. Some people might think this is a bit cheesy, and yeah sometimes they really, truly are, but I find the constant input of positive, passionate and can-do attitude just plain rubs off. It’s pretty much the same as the whole news of the world thing, but in reverse.
I find that when I am on a roll of reading encouraging, inspirational non-fiction, I tend to be on a roll in my real life too.
The more you focus on positive thoughts and the more positive input you seek, the more positive you will begin to feel over time. We are what we think.
3 – Excuse the Vomit-Worthy Cliché, But Count Your Blessings Already
No, I mean actually list them off and count them. All the things you are grateful for.
I was driving to work the other week and I wasn’t in the sweetest of moods. I can’t remember what was bugging me but I was a bear with a sore head grumbling to myself and allowing my mind to wander into the fear and self-loathing zone.
Then I saw one of them super cheesy signs they put out the front of churches. You know, usually resplendent with some kind of lame Christian pun, but this one was straight up old school cliché – Count Your Blessings.
So I did. I deliberately counted down aloud in my car ten things I was really grateful for. By the time I got to work I was sweet as pie.
You know the really positive guy at work who drives you nuts with his stupid, shit-eating grin? The one who talks about all the awesomeness he’s gonna do? Yeah, I was that guy…
4 – Stop Thinking You Should Be Somewhere Else
If you’ve got kids, the worst mistake, and I used to make this more than I do now but still do sometimes, is spend too much time thinking you should be somewhere else. Kids are a fleeting blessing, and even if you’re an ambitious freak like me, you need to put it aside while you are with them and just be in the moment before the whole moment that is their childhood has past.
Same goes for everything you do and everywhere you go. Easier said than done I know but if you’re at work, just be at work. If you’re doing housework just do the housework (ok I am crap at this one).
And if you’re hanging with the kiddies, put work out of your mind. Your goals won’t go up in smoke just ‘cos you played tea parties with your daughter for half an hour.
5 – And Speaking of Goals …
Yeah I know this is the cheesiest list ever right? Well, sorry but the truth is a lot of this stuff is clichéd because it is true.
You gotta have something to work towards, something to look forward to, something you’re passionate about achieving. It doesn’t need to be as bodacious as my mental goals (become millionaire bestselling author and middle-aged rock star extraordinaire) but you need something to work towards.
And it’s got to be goals that you enjoy the process of striving towards. This is really, really important so I will repeat it on another line.
You gotta have goals and they gotta be something you enjoy the process of striving to achieve.
I have every intention of making my dreams come true, but I can also die at any time happy that I just plain enjoyed the striving itself, whatever the result
OK this crazy juju blog post is just too damn long, so I will continue it very soon in Part Two
Disclaimer: I am not a psychologist or counsellor or anything officious sounding at all really. These are my observations of what works for me and a lot of other people. Please do see a professional if you are suffering; a blog post is not a substitute for proper health care.