Category: gratitude

The Three Most Powerful Anti-Depressants I Know

Many people in my family suffer from depression. My grandmothers on both sides were severely affected by depression and my father’s mother used to be bedridden for weeks at a time when she was still alive.

My father suffered severely from depression, and would go months where he was unable to function. Throughout his life he’s struggled with a number of mental health issues over the years and sadly it has opened up a gulf between us – and while I forgive him, I do not wish to spend my time with him.

The reason I mention my family-tree is deeply tainted with depression, is to highlight the fact, that luckily I’ve been spared, which is more unlikely than not, given the history in my family.  Now because, I’m an only child, I don’t have any siblings to study as a control group, but I do believe that there are several other reasons which explains my fortunate mental health, because clearly it is not explained by my genetic makeup.

First and foremost I believe that every person has a higher degree of control over their outlook on life, than we give ourselves credit for. I believe that we can choose to view the world in any number of ways, and if we make a conscious effort, we can choose to look for the upside in any given situation and cultivate an overall positive outlook on life as a result.

My personal experience is that it’s highly effective in combating depression and severe mood-swings, simply because it is fairly difficult to focus on what’s good in your life and on what’s bad in your life simultaneously. I realize that there are more nuances to clinical depression than just thinking bad thoughts, but my experience is that if we consciously look for upside in our lives, we are likely to find it.

Thankfully, science has my back – it’s called the Tetris effect.

Another element which contributes significantly to any persons well-being – I’m no exception – is regular exercise. We’re not talking about ultra-runs or Iron Men or bodybuilder physiques – we’re just talking about moving your body a little every day. I’ve found that doing so is incredibly helpful in terms of warding off any negative emotions. On my best days and my worst days, I’ve always found exercise to be an incredible mood-lifter and it doesn’t matter if it’s going for a run, lifting weights, rowing, biking or simply walking – moving my body around lifts my spirits significantly, regardless of how I do it.

The final habit, which I believe is the most powerful one of the three, is the habit of journaling. Specifically the habit of writing down 3-5 things every day, which I’m grateful for. I’m aware that this can come across as cheesy, and overly simplistic, but I dare you to try it, and tell me the results.

In my experience there is nothing more powerful than expressing my gratitude each and every single day.

Not only does this habit make me focus on the positive and so gives me a double-whammy on the Tetris effect, but it also forces me to look for things, for which I am grateful throughout the day, which helps me find them. In my mind, journaling has a number of added benefits on the side as well such as enhanced creativity, better ideas and it makes it easier to connect with others.

The point here is that journaling – and specifically journaling for gratitude – is an insanely powerful tool, and I believe you will find it to work wonders for you if you give it a try.

In summary…

… If you need a mood lift, or if you feel like you’re stuck in a rut, or even if you feel severely depressed – maybe even clinically so try any combination of the following

  • Look for the upside
  • Move your body
  • Express your gratitude

All the best

Nick

What two epileptic seizures in a week taught me about gratitude

As I’ve recently blogged about, I live by the belief that everything is transitory. We live in an impermanent world, and whenever we think we are in control of everything, fate has a way of throwing a monkey wrench in our otherwise perfect cogs.

Most of the time, I feel like I have a pretty firm handle on things. I’m in a career that I love, surrounded by colleagues I appreciate and look up to for the most part. My fiancée is incredible, and by all measures I feel like I’m doing pretty well.

But then last week, after a night of heavy drinking, I got an epileptic seizure for the first time in my life. Not a pleasant experience, but I figured it was a one off, and as soon as the weekend rolled back around I went out for a few more beers with some friends. Nothing crazy, but apparently still sufficient because by the time Friday night turned to Saturday morning I seized up again. This time it lasted for a shorter while, but I bit my tongue like a motherfucker and doing all things tongue-related (insert dirty joke) still hurts pretty badly.

My point is…

… that everything changes, and there’s no point in getting too comfortable or getting too used to things being a certain way, because the only guarantee in life is that things change constantly. This is not a bad thing however, simply because the very reminder can help pull us back into a better state and make us more appreciative of what we have, and focus on all the things which are already good in our lives as opposed to what we want to achieve in the future.

If having two epileptic seizures in a week taught me anything it is to be super grateful for everything that is good in our lives, and that there are many more people who care about our well-being than we might believe at first glance, and we all have much more to be grateful for than we give ourselves credit for in everyday life.