Overcoming Depression – Creating an Attitude of Gratitude Part 5

You Find What You Look For

I took last Friday off to spend some much needed time with my family prior to my son’s wedding on Saturday. Thank you for understanding!

Because of that family time, I am finishing my attitude of gratitude series today.

The quote I used on today’s meme tells it all: You Find What You Look For.

What a profound statement! I remember so vividly the night that I had my near-death experience. It was proceeded by a phone call from a bill collector. My severe depression and 24/7 migraines had created chaos of our business and finances. I was not able to keep up and several large clients filing bankruptcy had had a profound effect on our bank account.

I tried to explain to the bill collector that I was suffering from severe depression and 24/7 migraines in hopes that she would be more willing to work with me. Instead, she said, in the snidest tone of voice she could find, “You are depressed and sick because you want to be depressed and sick.”

That conversation was the last straw for my depressed mind that horrible, horrible day so many years ago. Thank goodness for the Divine Intervention that followed that night!

I have learned many things since that day. I have walked a path of healing and I have searched and studied hard. I am no longer depressed and I no longer have 24/7 headaches. I now have the health of someone much younger than my actual age. Nothing about my current situation is an accident. It came as a result of learning and following God’s guidance step by step.

Though I did not consciously choose depression or my headaches, I did have to learn a different mindset to overcome my depression. I had to deliberately look for light and goodness. I had to consciously recognize and acknowledge all that I had to be grateful for. And, I had to commit to using those new found skills for the rest of my life. The result? My life and health is better than it ever has been!

Thus far, we have talked about Depending on God, Delving into the Depths of Your Soul (Getting to truly know yourself), and having an Attitude of Gratitude. Those are the first three steps for overcoming depression.

There are no quick fixes. The law of the harvest is as applicable today as it ever has been. The rest of this week, we will share how the use of exercise can help overcome depression. Be sure to stay tuned! I hope you will enjoy today’s article on using gratitude to overcome depression:

Gratitude – A Cure for Depression?

This Is No Fun

Depression is no fun… none at all, I hated it. Obsession isn’t any fun either… all that relentless going over what happened, who said what, who did what, and how unfair it all was.

After a major life crisis I spent the next year, though it felt a whole lot longer, pretty much laying around on the couch bemoaning my life and feeling hopeless, pointless, angry, depressed, bitter and also quite a bit righteous. After all, I was the victim wasn’t I?

There’s A Train in My Brain

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It felt like I had a train in my brain going around and around carrying a relentless pattern of sad, mad, thoughts. I could not turn those thoughts off, could hardly sleep, and found it hard to think about anything else. The train was full of pain and every time it went around I hurt.

When I looked into the future and imagined living with that train long term it made me feel like jumping off a tall building. Fortunately I didn’t even have the energy to climb to the top of one.

Eventually I got desperate enough to go out and look for a way to change things that did not involve tall buildings.

So That’s How My Brain Works

I happened upon a course that taught me about how my brain works, what neural pathways are, and how flexible and changeable the brain is. During the course I had a profoundly life changing epiphany:

“You find what you look for.”

Those six little words changed the way I live my life.

Backtrack

To backtrack a little: I best explain that even during the worst of my depression/obsession I had been very, very, familiar with gratitude as an concept – I loved it.

I had a gratitude journal (mostly empty) and two of my daughters, Georgia & Hailey, had popular online gratitude projects. Unbelievably, given my mental state, Hailey and I had even written a short comedy film script about gratitude. Still, my gratitude journal sat lonely by my bed while I waited, not very hopefully, for something good to happen, something worth being grateful for.

Why Gratitude Works

While the course was not really about gratitude, the science that was presented in the course opened my eyes as to why and how gratitude could work to alleviate depression and why it had not worked for me so far. I began to understand that it isn’t, as I had thought, being happy that makes us grateful; it is deciding to be grateful that makes us happy (Thanks for that wisdom Dr David!).

I began to see that the intentional practice of gratitude, even when you don’t feel like it, has the power to change entrenched negative thinking and rewire the brain.

Very tentatively, and with some difficulty at first, I began to practice gratitude. In a surprisingly short period of time that relentless train in my head was mostly derailed and my depression faded off into the distance.

There are many reasons that gratitude worked for me, here are just a few:

Other Orientation

Brain rules Dr. John Madina

Gratitude practice forced me to start thinking about other people and the way they contributed to my life. I had less time to wallow, gazing at my navel and more time to notice how many kindnesses I was regularly shown. I’d been so self focused that I just took them for granted and didn’t even notice them.

Dr John Medina, author of the NY Times Bestseller ‘Brain Rules’ spoke, during an interview film for our (still in production) documentary Goodness Gracious Me!, about how effective ‘other orientation’ is for getting out of depression.

Lots of Good Chemicals

I found gratitude practice reduced my stress levels almost immediately. There is so much science backing this up – research shows that gratitude practice reduces the stress hormone cortisol and dramatically increases the feel good hormone DHEA. There is nothing like an all natural ‘happy chemical’ cocktail to make you feel better. You might enjoy this page on the Science behind gratitude.

New Tracks

It turned out I did have a train in my brain going around and around on tracks I had laid for it: neural pathways! These little guys are the highways for information travelling through our nervous system and they are built by our own thoughts. It works, very simplistically put, like this: Thoughts create neural pathways and the more thoughts on a subject the stronger that neural pathway becomes. Our brains have to automate most of our thinking just to get through the day so the strongest neural pathways are the default thinking. My nasty, sad, self pitying and angry thoughts had created a super highway and it was no wonder I couldn’t think about much else.

As I began to deliberately think grateful, thankful, good thoughts the more my brain began to think positively and the less traction the old super highway depression pathway had. In time I found it more natural to default to a positive take on things that happened.

Different Picture

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When I said I had had an epiphany around the six little words “You find what you look for.” I meant it.

Just simply deciding each day to look for the good in my life, and express gratitude for it, has meant that my life has become filled with good. The more I look for good things in my life the more my brain becomes alert to good things, scans for good things, and finds good things.

It is hard to be depressed when there is so much good around. Previously my brain was wired to scan for bad, and it was exceptionally good at finding it.

Named My Own Game

Once I understood how my own thoughts could play a part in depression I realized that I was often making the choice to replay certain things for a variety of self-serving reasons.

Firstly I had developed a victim mentality – starring in a victim role comes easily to me and I have learned to become more aware of it, avoiding it as often as possible. Bad stuff happens to everyone and it is my choice if I let myself play the victim.

Gratitude teaches me that I am not a victim but the undeserving recipient of so much beauty and grace.

Gratitude is an instantly rewarding practice that gave me positive emotions that transitioned me to a place where I was stronger emotionally and able to be a little more self controlled.

Another game I was playing was the sympathy game – if you are depressed people treat you kindly and give you sympathy – yay! Gratitude is teaching me to give empathy to others and stop making myself the center of my own, and everyone else’s, attention. I also began to glimpse how draining on everyone my misery was – not a pretty sight.

I also secretly enjoyed knowing that I did not have to be strong and self controlled if I was rolling in my own misery. Everyone understands that when you are miserable it’s hard to be strong and so there is tolerance for much self indulgent behaviour. Gratitude is an instantly rewarding practice that gave me positive emotions that transitioned me to a place where I was stronger emotionally and able to be a little more self controlled.

My own experience tells me that gratitude is a powerful antidote to depression, many people I talk to feel the same way.

mountains joy awe

Feeling grateful brings emotions of awe, wonder, happiness and joy, to name a few, and those emotions shove depression aside.

As I have researched the subject of gratitude I have come across loads of scientific studies that back up my own experience regarding depression. I have looked a little at depression research too and more and more there is an understanding that our own thoughts have a huge role in this affliction.

Certainly the widespread acceptance that depression is just a chemical imbalance or a random disease is under review among many scientists and psychologists at the moment.

Kill Depression With Kindness

Which brings me to my other depression killing tip: Random acts of kindness – if all else fails for me, and I find myself getting a little down, I just go out and do secret acts of kindness for strangers and friends. Works every time!

This article was written by Toni Powell and is shared from the following website: http://gratefulness.org/grateful_living/gratitude-cure-depression/


smiling woman Toni Powell

Toni Powell is a recovering worrywart, author, storyteller and award-winning filmmaker. She spends most of her time teaching people about the life-changing power of gratitude through very funny workplace seminars, professional development for teachers, public How To Have a Happy Life workshops and videos like the surprising, hilarious and helpful video, The Yellow Car.

 

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You Can Never Cross the Ocean Unless You Have the Courage to Lose Sight of the Shore…

art wood sign on beach

I don’t know about you but personal growth always feels like a remodeling project to me – with too many walls being demolished and the new construction always fraught with delays. Yet, when the work is done, I never fail to look back and feel a heart full of gratitude.

Personal growth is such a blessing! Self improvement always requires a leap of faith and courage. Although we may see massive benefits to changing, where we are is usually where we feel most comfortable. God is our most ardent fan. He is mindful of our capacity and our abilities. No one knows us better – not even ourselves. You only know yourself from a mortal perspective. He knows your mortal history and your pre-mortal history. He knows your magnificence! Best of all, He believes in You!!

Are you feeling a need for some changes? Perhaps God is nudging you! Listen to your heart and allow yourself to really feel deeply what God is trying to speak to your spirit. Then use His guidance to start the step by step process that He will provide. He will help you across your “oceans” and you will never regret the journey.

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Follow Your Heart….

Pursue what catches your heart, not what catches your eyes Roy T. BennettIn my experience, the heart is not given its due respect. As the recipient of a host of various experiences involving the heart and my Creator, I believe that not only is the heart vital for knowing and understanding God – it is also of prime importance in understanding ourselves.

In today’s complex world of technology and insistent demands, it can be so easy to quit listening to our hearts. Yet, that is exactly where all of the answers are that we need!

Our hearts can tell us what our true passions are as well as provide answers from God, himself.

However, the heart does not shout and it does not demand attention. In order to get the full benefit of our heart, it must be listened to. In order to listen, we must allow ourselves quiet time, time to reflect, and time to commune with God.

If you want peace and joy in your life – make time to listen to your heart! I know that you will be blessed for doing so!

Instead of an inspirational story today, I found a poem that I wanted to share. I hope you enjoy!

Follow Your Heart

Although it’s been said many

times before

It’s a powerful message, so I’ll

say it once more…

Follow your heart, go wherever

it may lead,

Follow your heart and you’re

sure to succeed!

For when you follow your heart

and do what you love,

God gives you guidance and help

from above…

And things start to happen that

you never thought could,

And dreams come true…that you

never thought would!

For God’s given each of us a

special part to play…

So follow your heart and you

won’t be led astray!

©Faye Kilday 2000

Today’s poem is shared from the following website: http://www.inspirationalstories.com/poems/follow-your-heart-faye-diane-kilday-poem/

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Spending Time with Family and Loved Ones…You Will Never Regret It!

Happy family of father mother son and daughter smiling looking out wall isolated on white background with copy place

I am blessed with a husband that taught me the importance of making memories and spending time with family and loved one. I hope that you are able to spend time with your family and loved ones this holiday season. If not, I hope that you will make sure that they know of your love for them!

Today, I want to share a story I love!:

by Stephen on October 14, 2008

After 21 years of marriage, my wife wanted me to take another woman out to dinner and a movie. She said, “I love you, but I know this other woman loves you and would love to spend some time with you.”

The other woman that my wife wanted me to visit was my MOTHER, who has been a widow for 19 years, but the demands of my work and my three children had made it possible to visit her only occasionally. That night I called to invite her to go out for dinner and a movie. “What’s wrong, are you well?” she asked.

My mother is the type of woman who suspects that a late night call or a surprise invitation is a sign of bad news. “I thought that it would be pleasant to spend some time with you,” I responded. “Just the two of us.” She thought about it for a moment, and then said, “I would like that very much.”

That Friday after work, as I drove over to pick her up I was a bit nervous. When I arrived at her house, I noticed that she, too, seemed to be nervous about our date. She waited in the door with her coat on. She had curled her hair and was wearing the dress that she had worn to celebrate her last wedding anniversary. She smiled from a face that was as radiant as an angel’s. “I told my friends that I was going to go out with my son, and they were impressed, “she said, as she got into the car. “They can’t wait to hear about our meeting.”

We went to a restaurant that, although not elegant, was very nice and cozy. My mother took my arm as if she were the First Lady. After we sat down, I had to read the menu. Her eyes could only read large print. Half way through the entries, I lifted my eyes and saw Mom sitting there staring at me. A nostalgic smile was on her lips. “It was I who used to have to read the menu when you were small,” she said. “Then it’s time that you relax and let me return the favor,” I responded. During the dinner, we had an agreeable conversation – nothing extraordinary but catching up on recent events of each other’s life. We talked so much that we missed the movie. As we arrived at her house later, she said, “I’ll go out with you again, but only if you let me invite you.” I agreed.

“How was your dinner date?” asked my wife when I got home. “Very nice. Much more so than I could have imagined,” I answered.

A few days later, my mother died of a massive heart attack. It happened so suddenly that I didn’t have a chance to do anything for her. Some time later, I received an envelope with a copy of a restaurant receipt from the same place mother and I had dined. An attached note said: “I paid this bill in advance. I wasn’t sure that I could be there; but nevertheless, I paid for two plates – one for you and the other for your wife. You will never know what that night meant for me. I love you, son.”

At that moment, I understood the importance of saying in time: “I LOVE YOU” and to give our loved ones the time that they deserve. Nothing in life is more important than your family. Give them the time they deserve, because these things cannot be put off till “some other time.”

Story shared from the following website: http://academictips.org/blogs/give-time-to-our-family/

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No One Saves Us but Ourselves…Choose Your Path in Life

Are you waiting for someone to save you? Do you think perhaps that your faith in Jesus Christ is all you need? While I believe the Lord is essential in building a meaningful life – no one saves us without our own help. We choose our path. We are responsible for the paths we walk.

There are many people who have chosen to change their lives or who, when handed difficult circumstances, have made those choices which enabled them to overcome their obstacles. The Lord is both an essential and critical component but we are the ones in the driver’s seat.

If you are waiting around to win the lottery or for your knight in shining armor to show up – you might want to start the new year with a reality check. Perhaps the time has come for you to take charge and build the life you have always dreamed of!

In that light, I want to share a story today about a man who has chosen to create a meaningful life despite obstacles and difficulties! I hope you enjoy!:

Albert Frantz is a world-class pianist  from Pennsylvania who started playing at the extraordinarily late age  of 17. His early piano teacher told his mother to throw her money in the  garbage rather than spend it on piano lessons for Albert.

He discovered  his love for classical music while in high school and his passion made  him accomplish seemingly impossible things. He was the first pianist in  nearly a decade to win a Fulbright scholarship to study in Vienna just a  few years after starting out. This led him to study at the official  conservatory of the city of Vienna in Austria, the home country of many  of his musical idols.

Even before he could finish his education, he  started suffering from scoliosis, first discovered in his adolescence,  that virtually incapacitated his piano playing for more than six years.  Desperately looking for a therapy that would promise any amount of  relief, he found relief through Bikram yoga.

No sooner did he recover  from his back pain when he broke his left wrist upon getting hit in the  face by a tram on a cold and icy Thanksgiving weekend. Breaking a wrist  is a nightmare for a pianist. For Albert, it turned out positively in  the end, as the injury led him to play pieces by Charles-Valentin Alkan,  a 19th-century French virtuoso and one of the only composers to write  music for the right hand alone. His music was considered unplayable for  over a century and is regarded as the most athletically challenging  music ever written for the piano. Albert took it as a challenge, which  led to his critically acclaimed debut CD dedicated to Alkan’s music. His  debut album was an official jury nomination for the prestigious German  Record Critics Award, designed to recognize the “most rigorous standards  for supreme achievement and quality” in the field of music recording.

Besides  turning his interest to the works of Alkan and Liszt, his back pain  also led him to pursue an IRONMAN triathlon. This is especially notable,  as there were two situations in which he almost drowned during his  childhood. Swimming in open water made Albert panic throughout his adult  life. After a change of perspective, Albert found himself training for  one of the most challenging sports competitions in the world. He  finished his first IRONMAN triathlon – 3.8 km swimming, 180 km cycling  and a 42.2 km marathon – on June 28, 2015.

Source: http://www.dreama.tv/2015/10/alb…

Shared from the following website: https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-inspirational-short-stories-that-can-change-a-persons-life

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