Whatever you want to call it, this “down” state of mind is something that we all dread and hope to avoid.
Oddly, however, it’s often something that most of us recognize as one of the greatest drivers of our lives.
Stuff like bad relationships, working jobs we hate, and making stupid decisions teach us how to make the future ones better (or at least help us persevere) and, all-in-all, it is this unhappiness that gets us on a better track in life.
But… sometimes the future doesn’t get better. And sometimes the depression doesn’t leave.
Why this is, of course, is different for everyone.
I believe for the majority of us, however, it is because we seldom or no longer process our feelings and thoughts.
If we did, we would be able to hear what is really being said.
But because we are too busy (or maybe we just never learned how), these unchecked thoughts are driving us to feel emotions (that we probably don’t want to feel) and to do things (that we probably don’t want to do).
We all have to something we have to say and give to the world. When we keep it in, however, it slowly dies.
Deep down, the core of our being wants to keep it alive. So instead, it makes us depressed in hopes that we will change our ways.
So this is where the solution to our pain and sadness lies.
When we focus on giving to others, we forget ourselves.
This is exactly what we need.
Before we can fully give to the world, however, we have to figure out what our core wants us to give. Trying to be something (or give something) that is not aligned with our core is futile and will be short-lived at best.
Here are 3 steps to help you with that discovery:
STEP #1 : LISTEN
Pay attention to the stream of thoughts and feelings that are coming out of your head. Don’t run or hide through various activities or substances. Instead, go find solitude. Bring a pen and notebook and track the flow.
Like I said in You vs. Your Mind, our mind says some crazy stuff. This isn’t necessarily us but a huge conglomeration of our past (ie, our culture, our media, our parents, our religion, etc.).
There will be assumptions (that have never been tested) as well as beliefs (that are untestable).
Let them all out.
This is something we all need to do once in a while. We all need to take inventory on what is running us and understand the beliefs and feelings that are behind our depression.
If writing is not your thing, draw them or do a video log. Capture the emotions however you can.
STEP #2: ASK QUESTIONS
With time, you should have a good idea of your inner dialogue. With this you can start questioning your beliefs and why you want this or that or feel like you should do ___ .
How far you want to go down the rabbit hole is up to you. Generally, after 5 Whys, we will be at our destination.
Before we jump to conclusions on why we are sad, I can already tell you this: We are not depressed because we are poor or that we are overweight (and to suddenly get rich and fit would only be a temporary fix).
I am not saying those things don’t matter (as having a well-functioning brain can certainly lead to better well-being), I am just saying they don’t matter as much we think.
We already have what we need to be happy (food, shelter, safety) so we definitely do not need anything more.
What we need is to get lost (in laughter, in love, in positivity, in giving ourselves to the world).
So the main question(s) we should ask are not “Why am I sad?” or “How can I be happier?”, but instead ones that are a bit more refined: “What can I offer to the world?” and “What is my purpose/gift?”
With this, we can take the focus off ourselves again, forget the mind, and truly get lost.
Some other questions that might help:
- What did you want to be as child?
- What is your personality best suited for in communicating/giving to people? (introverted vs extroverted)
- Is there anything you would do for free?
STEP #3: TAKE ACTION
So you think you have your purpose/gift?
You will find almost immediately that it’s not exactly your purpose. You will, no doubt, probably be in the ballpark.
Finding our purpose is a refining process and is full of trial and error.
I’ve heard it before be compared to the layers of onion. The more you peel off and deeper you go, the more it will leave you full (filled).
So once you have a [vague] idea of what it is, figure out what step 1 is and go from there. With a thousand or so steps, you will be well into the onion.
In the end…
There are a ton of other things that contribute to happiness and beating depression (such as exercise and sunshine).
Without a purpose, however, we will sink (even with them).
Without giving what we must give and saying what we must say, we will always have those days where we feel without hope.
And like I mentioned above, the solution to this shouldn’t be about putting more focus on ourselves, but less.
Where should the focus go? To what we can give others of course.
That’s the Truth.
Note: This “giving” … this should be something that we actually want to give (ie, it shouldn’t be forced). We all have something that we are good at, like doing, and can benefit others. Find it – Refine it – And Give. I just gave you this post, and I couldn’t care less how you use it. That’s a real Gift. Thanks for reading.