I have had depression all my life–this ever-growing hollow feeling in my core. It’s like being punched in the boob, which, if you don’t know, is the worst. The key is to experience a full range of emotions, and accept them. Here are some tips to find things to be happy about. (Worst sentence structure ever. Yo, I studied and taught English composition and reading. Woo!)
1. Reasons to Be Alive
On a very basic primal level, it is important to have reasons to be alive. Maybe it’s the pleasure of going to the beach, lay in the sun, read books that stimulate you mentally. You can look forward to seeing small kittens learn to eat Big Cat food™. Watching sunsets and taking goofy pictures of yourself are another reason for me, personally, to stick around.
Still stuck? Check out this video for some ideas.
2. Mission Statement
If you are feeling up to it, think of a bigger picture, beyond the basic sensations you want to experience, the things you want to see, the people you want to meet, and so on. It helps to be working towards something.
If you don’t have goals, set them up! It’s never too late. The goals can be lofty and epic. On the flip side, they can also be simple.
The idea is to break down your life into areas you can control, like: relationship to yourself and to the world around you. How do you want to carry yourself? What kind of impact do you want to make on community, your country, your continent, the planet?
3. Things that Serve You
So, you should try to be of service to the Universe, but also, consider releasing things that do not bring you peace in the long run. This comes with a warning, though, because some things are uncomfortable since they tap into lessons you could work on. Sometimes, discomfort is not “bad.” It’s often necessary for growth.
However, sometimes, the pain is doing damage with little value. In that case, it helps to release these ideas, memories, people, relationships, habits, whatever they may be. You can read up more on that here.
4. Capture the Happy
Sometimes, it helps to have a little reserve of happiness. For me, that means saved pictures, and music that brings me peace. Create playlists, go all Pinterest-y and make mood-boards, vision boards, whatever can bring you a smile.
The key is to remember that things were once okay, and that they can be okay once more. Remember Dumbledore, “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.” I interpret this as not “instant happiness.” It’s more of a remembering that happiness is possible. When depression hits, it is very hard to recall happy moments.
Having them pre-prepared (try saying that 10 times fast. Go!) releases the pressure of forcing them out when you’re unwell.
Remember, framing matters. Think deeply of how you perceive the world and others. It is important to remember that the people you’re comparing yourself to are edited and framed portrayals of themselves.
Check out this video on framing, by my favorite author, John Green.
I want to add that perception regarding your life is not the only truth out there. It feels like it is, and the challenge is to question the narrative. Are there abundant joyful blessings in your world that you are not seeing? I am not saying you guilt yourself into feeling happy. No, but try to frame the depression as a factor in your life. It’s not all that is in your world. Again, it may feel that way in the moment.
6. Start Small
Take the day off. Let yourself feel the sadness. In the meantime, try to do gentle things for yourself. A nice cup of tea, watching fun movies, cuddle with teddy bears and/or fur babies. Here are some ideas of how to do that.