Life, Depression, and Happiness by John Cali


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.


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.

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


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.


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

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.

15 Responses

  1. Monica

    Hi John
    I got some advice, many years ago, that depression is accumulated unexpressed anger. Be this true or not I have no idea but the rest of the advice was awesome and helped hugely.
    Regularly I would sit and image this enormous sack squashing me. In the sack was my depression. I would have to really make every effort to move my hand so that I could cut a hole in the sack. Then imagine this ‘depression sand’ slowly leaking out of the sack until it was light enough and I could throw it off. This imagery of allowing my depression to seep away had a wonderfully positive effect. I was also told that depression builds up over a period of time – so it takes a period of time to break it down. Today I am without depression – sure I get down but not depressed.
    This is my experience – I hope it can help someone else too
    Love, light and laughter

    • John Cali

      Hi Monica,

      Thanks very much for your comments. I too understand that depression is unexpressed anger. I’m no expert, but I also understand it can be rooted in a sense of hopelessness. I’m delighted the advice you received helped you so much. Congratulations on having the courage and persistence to pull yourself out of the depths of depression — you deserve a lot of credit!

      You are certainly a great role model for those souls suffering from depression. I’m grateful to you for sharing your experiences here with us. I’m sure anyone who’s depressed and reads your comments will benefit from your experience and wisdom.


  2. Barbara

    The subject of depression is an interesting one. I don’t believe there is any one answer, but I am becoming increasingly drawn to re-visit the effects our pre-birth and birth environments and experiences have upon our adult lives.

    We already know that half of our personalities is already formed at birth and epigenetics shows how much the emotional environment we experience in the womb affects us.

    The birth experience itself also has a huge effect on us.

    We can carry the emotional implications of emotional trauma years after it occurred. We continue to carry, anger, fear, anxiety etc. in our cells and we continue to experience the trauma – emotionally, mentally and physically – on a cellular level until we release it.

    I think this realisation could provide real clues for people who haven’t been able to work out what emotional issue is causing their problem. They can’t remember it because it occurred pre-birth or in very early childhood.

    Not only that, but it may well not even be their issue!

    Everyone knows that what their mother ate or drank went through the placenta and affected them. But it is important to remember that her emotional and mental state also affected you. The chemicals in the hormones circulating in your mother’s body also went through you! If she was content, secure, happy and enjoying a loving hug, the neurotransmitter, oxytocin circulated through her and through you.

    If, on the other hand she experienced fear or distress, the stress-hormone cortisol, coursed through your bloodstream as it was going through hers. Whatever she experienced, you also experienced.

    When a pregnant woman is under stress or anxiety on a sustained basis, she is sending cortisol to her developing foetus. This teaches the foetus that life is not safe and the world is a scary place.

    Alternatively there may have been a miscarriage or stillbirth before you were conceived which could have created a melancholy within you which can’t be uncovered or explained by conventional means. It may even result in life-long depression if it is not released.

    Unwanted pregnancies and traumatic birth experiences can give rise to emotional patterns that are still active in adult life. When they are recognised they can be healed.

    So I’d suggest that anyone who has been unable to work out the root of their problem, Take a look at the circumstances of your pre-birth and birth experience. You might find a clue there.

    With Love,

    • Chuck

      My birth Mother was suicidal with me in the womb and then I was put up for adoption. I met her later in life and although she was a very kind person she was riddled with depression and took her own life at a early age. I suffer from anxiety & depression and it has really screwed up my life. I tried meds and they made the situation worst. The only thing that works for me is marijuana. Meditation works along with the MJ. Even then I still struggle and find it hard to be happy. Right now my life circumstances are real challenging and I often feel like ending it. Sometimes I wonder why I am still here.

      • John Cali

        Thanks very much for sharing, Chuck. You certainly are facing challenges most of us will never have to deal with. I have close family and friends who deal with depression, and I have the greatest compassion for all of you.

        I’ll add you to our prayer list.

      • Barbara

        Hi Chuck,

        Thank you for sharing such a personal story with us. I have known people who were born and adopted much as you describe and I know how big a challenge it can be.

        There are a lot of fantastic modern therapies and healing modalities nowadays which might help.

        I don’t know if you have heard of the books by Robert Schwartz, “Your Soul’s Plan” and “Your Soul’s Gift”. They talk about how and why we planned specific experiences, relationships, and challenges for our lives before we were born. I found them to be life changing. They have helped me reach for a different perspective when I’ve been struggling.

        Love and admiration,

  3. Corine

    Hello John, as you know,I suffered from depressions years ago and they were aweful ! I started to meditate,sometimes for hours a day and that made me stronger and stronger and I started to feel connected with the universe again like I felt when I was a child. I no longer have depressions anymore. Yesterday something bad happened and I felt terrible and negative for a couple of hours,then I became conscious of my feelings and I started to write down what I’m grateful of and that’s a lot……immediately I started to feel positive again.I ‘m still feeling hurt by what happened but I can make the choice now not to let it affect my daily life and that feels great and free ! Love,Corine

    • John Cali

      Thanks very much, Corine.

      I don’t want to promote meditation or writing as cures for everything that ails us. But they sure do make a huge difference in helping us to deal with our challenges. Focusing a gratitude and all that’s good in our lives, as you said, is very powerful.


  4. Sarah Drury

    Hi John, interesting post as always and one I can deeply relate to.

    I have a condition known as bipolar disorder (or manic depression) which is primarily a chemical imbalance in the brain. I have to take medication in order to have stability and a good quality of life but medication has not been the only treatment. I have undertaken a course of psychological therapy based around mindfulness and its techniques. Any time I notice any dark clouds forming in my mind, I bring myself back to the present and let the thoughts ebb away. I also talk to the universe and my loved ones in spirit before I go to sleep. That in itself is enormous therapy and always leaves me calm and ready for a peaceful nights sleep.

    Regards medication, I think there is a place for it but it shouldn’t be the only port of call. You’re correct, the root causes need addressing and such as mindfulness therapy is highly recommended!!

    • John Cali

      Thanks very much, Sarah.

      I’m familiar with bipolar disorder, as I have friends with it. It sounds like you’re dealing with yours in a very positive, helpful way. You deserve a lot of credit for that, my dear.

      I agree with you on medication. As you said so well, “is shouldn’t be the only port of call.” As I recall, Dr. Weil said essentially the same thing in that video in the post.

      Thanks again, Sarah, for sharing your experiences. I’m sure anyone with similar challenges will be uplifted by your words.

      • Sarah Drury

        Thank you so much for your kind words and understanding. There’s a lot of stigma attached to mental illness so your positive attitude is much appreciated. Thanks again.

        • John Cali

          You’re very welcome, Sarah. I agree — even in this era of expanding consciousness there still is a societal stigma attached to mental illness, unfortunately. But I know that will change.

  5. Shirley White

    I have great compassion for those who suffer depression and other “body chemistry imbalances.” I have been very blessed. I was born an eternal, over the top optimist and I just don’t get even the “regular” depression that many folks experience from time to time. Certainly I have had times of difficulty and less than wonderful experiences, but I always know that they will pass and things will improve and that it is all within my power to create that and expand that.

    Certainly sometimes I get frustrated and out of sorts, but I know that going to my ever present gratitude will take me in the positive direction I wish to go always. I start every day with my gratitude. I don’t write it down, I just whiz through that ever longer list of wonderful things that I am grateful for in this life and that sets the tone for my days. I Often go back during the day and add some more of the endless things I am grateful for. Especially when things don’t seem to be going along just the way I would like them to. . .I just start right in on what I am grateful for. And that may well be why I am still the most Blessed Being on the planet!

    Recognize how blessed you are and see how quickly things can change.

    Esther Hicks/Abraham gave us a phrase that I repeat constantly these days. It is fabulous and it really, really makes things hum along nicely.

    “Everything always works out for me.” I say it all throughout the day especially when things seem less than perfect. And YES EVERYTHING Always works out for me,

    Hugs and Blessings to all

    • John Cali

      Thanks very much, Shirl.

      In my work area, over my desk, I have quote similar to the Abraham one: “Things are always working out for me.” It’s a powerful affirmation.


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