The Secret to Happiness

We all want to feel excited and hopeful for the future, but sometimes we slide into a rut, and the world seems a lot less sparkly and interesting.

The Secret to Happiness

Happiness in motion.

I’ve struggled my whole life with clinical depression, which means not only ruts but some seriously low times.

I manage it a lot better now, aided by Zoloft and regular check-ins with an outstanding therapist, but it still rears its hideous head every so often. And even though it’s disheartening when it does, I’ve lived with it for so long that I’ve learned to make those awful times show up less frequently. Which is a good skill to cultivate, clinical depression or no.

So, happiness.

 

 

 

 

This week I was muscling my way through a really bad day, trying to settle down to work, which I had a ton of, so after many wasted hours I told myself that for 15 minutes I would process some of the photos from the Ireland trip. That’s all I had to do, and after that I could go back to my misery. (Fun! Ugh.) Which is much like distracting a cranky baby with a toy, but I’m okay with that.

And you know what? It worked.

It snapped me out my unproductive, unhappy mood, and not only immersed me in that wonderful trip, it also reminded me that life wasn’t hopeless.

It was hope-full, because not only were there other trips to dream up, I could also share my photographs and make someone else’s day a little better, maybe even inspire them to dream up their own adventure. I remembered that I had something of value to offer others.

You do too.

Humans are creative beings at heart. I’m not just talking about the “artistic” stuff like songs or paintings, but knitted socks, letters to a friend, or home-baked bread. And if your gift is creating any of those things, my mailing address is on its way to you forthwith. 🙂

There might be nothing so satisfying as making something out of nothing, with only your two hands, heart, and soul.  

Creating not only triggers a hit of happiness for you, it kicks you out of your rut and brings excitement and engagement back to your life. And as a bonus, sharing that thing you made will bring happiness to someone else. Maybe even a lot of someone elses.

So if you’re feeling like you’re in a rut, make something. It doesn’t have to be anything great or even anything you keep around. The simple act of creation is just for you, which is a very Zen thing, don’t you think? Living in the present moment, enjoying your glorious human self.

Remember my motto: Life is short, don’t wait.

Meaning that today you could outline the novel that’s stuck in your head. Make a new photograph in your yard. Cook up a perfect pan of mushroom lasagna. Or maybe you’ve dreamed of working for yourself, so you draft a plan on how to start easing your way out of your day job.

That’s what you’re here to do, and as I’ll say over and over again, the world needs your gifts. Plus – bonus! – it’ll keep you happier in the process. Everyone wins.

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7 Comments

  1. Emilie Vardaman March 23, 2017 at 8:39 am #

    Deonne, I have had a low level depression most of my life. About as far back as I an remember, anyway. I have tried medications but they all put me to sleep. I spent one summer off teaching trying different kinds and almost all I did was sleep and the depression never lifted.
    To me it takes the form of simply doing nothing. Read, play computer games, eat. Eat too much. To get around this I schedule things for myself so I am forced to get out of the house. I volunteer for a few organizations and it is difficult to back out of the commitment. And, not surprisingly, each of my volunteer activities is enjoyable, so while feeling good, I sign up for another round.
    I have also joined two book groups and a writing group. These activities force me out of the house, and although I usually don’t want to attend, I make myself go (I promised, after all), and then I enjoy a good evening.
    Hopefully these tights can help someone else.
    Carry on!
    Emilie Vardaman recently posted…Mazatlán – the Photos.My Profile

  2. deonne March 23, 2017 at 8:55 am #

    Emilie – But tights are so helpful! Ha. Thanks for sharing your story and what’s worked for you. I was shocked when Zoloft helped me – I had always resisted medication, but then hit such rock bottom I gave it a shot. You’re absolutely right about keeping busy and setting up commitments to others. It’s so easy to give up by ourselves, but when others are counting on us, it’s much tougher. Bravo!

  3. Kim March 23, 2017 at 9:41 am #

    In addition to volunteering, try taking a class. I’m taking Spanish right now, and even though I’m slower than everyone else in the class, I’m loving it! Plus, it’s fun to tell my kiddos that it’s time for mommy to do her homework.

    • deonne March 23, 2017 at 10:21 am #

      Kim – Classes are great to break out of a rut and generate happiness! Good suggestion. I love that you’re taking Spanish – I’ve wanted to relearn it for years, but it keeps getting bumped down the list. Feel free to comment here in Spanish if you need practice. 🙂

  4. Kathy B March 23, 2017 at 10:07 am #

    Great post, Deonne! You have always been an inspiration to me and I appreciate you sharing your story about depression. Being creative definitely helps shake me out of the ruts. Some times it’s hard to get my butt in the chair but once I’m there creativity happens.

    • deonne March 23, 2017 at 10:22 am #

      Thanks so much, Kath! Appreciate the butt-in-chair mention, and so glad it works for you. You need to keep writing. 🙂

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