Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Pursuit of Happiness

I'm ok, really I am. You guys hear from me on my bad days because this is my outlet for the pain, the place I turn when I'm feeling awkward and misunderstood. But I am having many more good days than bad.

I've had so many people share their stories of depression with me and I thought I would share a little bit more about how I am fighting it, not just with medication.

I came across a blog post about a month ago that was fitness related, but was so inspiring to every aspect of my life. It talked about having a virtual "vision board", something in e-form so you could copy and paste inspiring quotes and images easily and paste it into your blog or word document.

I started off just recording 5 gratitude statements per day. This was a good start but I would record the statements and not really *feel* them. I started work on my virtual vision board, made a list of all the things I wanted to do and see and experiences I wanted to have. It took a good week to finish but I made it my sole priority everyday to get a little bit of it done. It started to feel like the difference between getting better and sinking further into despair.

It was difficult at first to have a clear vision for what I wanted for my life. The travel part was easy, I love to travel and see the world. But what would fulfill me until then?

This is going to sound so completely cliche and SOOO 2006, but The Secret movie has always really inspired me. I know that most people think it's hocus pocus. But I have lived by the principles in the movie in the past and it was the happiest I had ever been. This dawned on me last week, and I remembered that it was available on Netflix. So I cued it up on my iPad and watched it in my kitchen while making dinner.

It all came rushing back to the joy of life is in the gratitude for the things we do have, how the attitude of gratitude brings about more of what we love, how our thoughts are the glasses we wear to see the world around us. I was reminded of how when we have ideas we should go forward with trust and no fear--how you don't have to see the top of the staircase to take the first step--how with action, the universe will open doors where there were only walls--how we create our own heaven on earth.

I followed up The Secret with a documentary also available on Netflix called "Happy". This movie totally drove the point home that happiness is not in any material things, situations, people...happiness is a perspective. The movie opens with a family in a third world country. The father is being interviewed and talking about how great his life is and how happy he is. He says "We have a great house that shelters us from the rain, and a great community"...and they show his house and it is nothing but a shack with a tarp for a roof. But he was joyful because in that house was the family that he loves, and surrounding his house were neighbors who were a supportive community for his family.

Another interesting point in Happy is that happiness is that feeling you get when you are doing something you love, something you could do for hours and not notice the time has gone by. Whether it's rockclimbing, or hiking, or playing with your kids, we should find the activities that bring us that type of mindless joy and fill our lives with those moments. Tomorrow or even the next minute of our lives is not promised, so living in the present is the key to tranquility. For someone who suffers from severe anxiety, reminding myself of this has helped me SO. MUCH.

I finished up my virtual vision board and even made a physical one for my office, that sits right next to me. Here are the quotes I read everytime I look over:

-Happiness is a direction, not a destination.
-Thoughts become things.
-Tell the story of your amazing life, the law of attraction will make sure you receive it.
-It's really important to feel GOOD. The more you feel GOOD, the more GOOD things you will attract.
-Say THANK YOU for every GOOD THING.
-Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.
-The happiest people are those ho think the most interesting thoughts. Those who decide to use leisure as a means of mental development, who love good music, good books, good pictures, good company, good conversation, are the happiest people in the world. And they are not only happy in themselves, they are the cause of happiness in others. 

I am beginning to try and look at life differently. I'm seeing my mental illness as a blessing instead of a curse. Yes I have horrible awful days, but without them I might not appreciate the good so much. Yes I have an overactive mind that is riddled with anxiety, but if I really focus, I can use that overactivity and channel it into being incredibly productive and creative.

Whenever I have one of those blissful moments, in my mind I say "Thank you". I recognize the moment and really feel the joy in it. In turn, everything around me is changing. The attitudes of the people I love are suddenly different. They were never the was always me. Realizing this and really wrapping my mind around it has been HUGE.

My creativity has been at an all-time high since I've been working on this little happiness project, and I have some pretty inspired ideas that I just need to make sure I follow through on. I am not expecting everyday to be roses and daisies, because this *is* chemistry in my brain, a physical illness that could take hold at any time. But even in those dark moments I will meditate on the fact that no matter what my body does, I am in control of my thoughts, and I can change them. I will aim to view the hard days as part of the process and a lesson in what is good in my life.

I have so much to look forward to and I have woken up the past couple of days so excited just to be alive and make my bliss. I feel like I have a clear picture of what the rest of my life should be. We're not meant to be so stressed out. Life is supposed to be relaxed and happy, everyday.

It's a work in progress, but progress it is.


  1. Yahhh...happy for you! I like your ability to be positive even when it is tough. You inspire me. I am not nearly positive enough. I am gonna try some of your non-medication depression-lifting techniques! Danielle

  2. Wow .. I am SO happy for you! I know that this is not a cure but it is so amazing that you have found the strength even in the most difficult times to see what you body and mind need to recover. So inspirational. And now I am totally going to steal this from you - I have a bulletin board in my office where I have pinned my favorite cards, medals, pictures, quotes. I am now going to take your idea and make my bulletin board virtual. I am excited even thinking about it so THANK YOU! Hope that your good days continue. You deserve it.