In all the hype written about our shocking New Zealand stats on suicide I am constantly dismayed at the lack of forethought about digging deeper as to what is causing us to be so damn un-resilient in the first place. We talk a little about relationships, connection, we talk a lot about depression and anxiety and people are very happy to share on social media about their experiences of the same, but nowhere oh nowhere do I ever see what I believe is a contributing fundamental issue being addressed..
Some time ago I did an online course titled "The Science of Happiness" (I highly recommend it for anyone who is interested in what actually causes us to feel happy and have long term joy. For more information click here). During this course we completed an exercise that was designed initially by the wonderful doctor of happiness herself - Sonja Lyubomirsky with another researcher Kennon Sheldon. They conducted a small study comparing this exercise to a 'Gratitude Exercise' - another popular mood enhancing technique. It was found that:
People who completed the .... exercise daily for two weeks showed increases in positive emotions right after the two-week study ended. Those who kept up with the exercise even after the study was over continued to show increases in positive mood one month later
Depression is a subject I've been avoiding for a while; it is deeply complex and for those suffering, a deeply personal and seemingly insurmountable thing to deal with. It is fraught with both self induced guilt and also an air of 'there must be something wrong with me'. It is debilitating and soul destroying.
It is not a simple as a chemical imbalance, and certainly not a lack of 'Prozac, Nortriptyline, Sertraline or Citalopram'.
New Year Resolutions
How to make them. How to Keep them!
We often enter the new year with new resolutions - something we want to change, do differently, a behaviour or a goal we want to attain - be it health, wealth or happiness related. Here a few hints on how to make that happen!
If you haven't already been bombarded with messages about this this week... It's Mental Health Week. Over the years, the term "Mental Health" has slowly began to actually mean "mental health" as opposed to the absence of mental illness - which is quite a different thing. The WHO (World Health Organisation) define Mental Health as "as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community".
I think a lot of us at times feel that there is something more to us than we are currently experiencing – but feel overwhelmed and unsure of what it might be - so given the choice, we choose to do nothing. A while ago, I wrote about the changes I had to make to end up doing what I now do. I had left work due to 'burn out', and decided to take a year off. I had no idea what I was going to do, but felt that I really had to the potential to do something different. Better. More satisfying. However, after a few months I began to wonder whether to forget about my plan and instead return to the status quo. Although I felt that there was something 'better' out there for me I did not know what and I certainly had no idea what my ‘potential’ was. I was getting nervous and feeling a little unsure of what I was doing.
And then this poem was read out to me:
You know those times when you feel out of control?
Your thoughts are messed up. The little voice in your head is in control and won't stop chatting to you. Thoughts such as "Why did this happen to me?". "I have totally messed up!". "I'm not very good at this". "I am a bad/unworthy person". "I am not pretty/skinny/wealthy enough". "There must something wrong with me". "I am useless/hopeless/not good enough" - ad infinitum.
This often happens after a negative event; a break-up, an argument, some form of mistake or rejection. Sometimes even just a 'bad day' can increase the negative chatter.
This negative chatter is part of what I call your emotional mind (aka 'the crazy mind'). It's in control and it is taking you for a ride. Often a ride that just goes around and around the same block, for hours if not days on end. It's painful, it's soul destroying and it is totally cruel.
This has been something that has been on my mind for quite some time.
And something I have been trying to get my head around for a while.
I know so much has been written about it and I know that there have been all sorts of ideas and suggestions to 'throw away your day job and travel the world'. And that's all very well and good (if that's what you want to do). But it's not at all possible.