Happy_child_finds_joyHappy Child, by Steve Hillebrand, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

In our last post, After You Read This You’ll Never Need To Make Another New Year Resolution Again, I mentioned I no longer regularly make new year resolutions—though I did make one for 2014. You can read the post for more details.

And in 2013 I made another resolution, though not at the new year. Let me explain.

Many of the folks I work with, and also some of those among my family and friends suffer from depression. I haven’t been depressed since I was in my 30s. But even though it was so long ago, I remember how debilitating and awful it was. So I have the greatest compassion for those who are depressed.

Today I am almost never depressed, and on the rare occasions I see myself getting that way I know how to pull out of it quickly.

There are various ways of coping with depression—some of which, unfortunately (in my opinion) are not always helpful. Medication is one. It often simply masks the symptoms, just as alcohol or illegal drugs can. But those things are rarely cures. The real cure can come only from within. (One caveat though—I believe certain severe cases of depression can benefit from medication.)

Last year I started keeping what I call a “gratitude journal.” The idea is nothing new, although it was new to me. I was amazed at how powerful such a simple tool can be.

I keep my gratitude journal by my bed. Then every night before I go to sleep I reflect on all the good things that happened to me that day. I write them in my journal, with a target of at least three. Usually I end up with more than that.

For me this is simply a way of saying “Thank you” to the universe for all its gifts.

The benefit of this little nightly exercise is amazing to me. First, I get a much better night’s sleep. Second, it reminds me of how much good there is in my life—far more than “bad.” Third, the more we focus on the good in life, the more good comes to us. That’s simply a universal law we’ve talked about many times. Focus on what you want, and you’ll get more of it.

Also, scientific studies have shown once we get into the habit of noticing the good stuff in life, the easier it is to be happy. Or, if we have a “down” spell, the easier it is to regain our happiness.

As US President Abraham Lincoln said, A man is about as happy as he makes up his mind to be.”

Which reminds me of another quote, this one from the ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao-tzu, the author of the Tào Té Chīng. He said “In order to eliminate negative influences, simply ignore them.”

Sometimes when I’ve mentioned those quotes to folks they say, “That’s too simple. Being happy or eliminating negativity is difficult and complicated.”

I used to believe that too. But no more.

The best things in life are simple. Life itself is simple.

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Here is Andrew Weil, MD, talking about his own personal experiences with depression. He also talks about ways of dealing with depression, including severe cases, and ways we can all be happier.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ps3M5DQ-DAY

Related links:
Simplicity and Silence
Simplifying Your Life
Gratitude Will Transform Your Life Forever
The Depression Epidemic

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Do you believe life can be simple? Have you ever been depressed? What helps you to cope with depression? Please share your thoughts and comments with us.

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What other subjects would you like us to talk about in these posts? Please email me.

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About John Cali

John Cali is a writer, blogger, and channel for a group of spirit guides. His next book is Conversations With Spirit: Real Answers to Life’s Pesky Questions, Book 1. John lives in northwestern Wyoming. Sign up for his newsletter here.