A joyful heart

I think the tenth most important thing in life is to cultivate a joyful heart–a joyful attitude toward life.  I look around at my contemporaries–old as anything, and also at my granddaughter and great granddaughter’s contemporaries and I see a whole country of people on anti-depressants.  I’m no doctor, and I’ll admit there are probably a lot of good medical reasons why people take these medications, but in my day, “depression” was called “the blues” and people were supposed to get a handle on it.  Most people did.  Thats not to say there weren’t plenty of people in mental hospitals with severe depression, but nowhere near the number of people who are now taking anti-depressants.

The bible says “a merry heart does good like medicine” and I believe that is true.  I used to struggle with my moods when I was a younger person, until I studied some of the non-medical indicators of depression.  People who are depressed have a number of these things in common.  Notice I don’t say “all” these things, but depressed people will have a number of these things in their life.

First of all, their care of their physical body will be sub-par.  They will eat junk, use either caffeine or sedating substances or both, and they won’t exercise.  They have a lot of unhelpful thought processes: they have unrealistic expectations about what other people should be doing, they have a persistent negative outlook on life, they have withdrawn from social contact, they have withdrawn from things that they used to enjoy, they have stopped or never did look for a power greater than themselves, they have stopped or never did look to be involved in something bigger than themselves, and last, but not least, they are almost totally self-absorbed.

I want to offer “Nonni’s recipe” for getting over this kind of depression.

1.  Get up early, no matter how you feel.

2.  Thank God that you can walk and talk, see and hear, take care of yourself, and that you had a bed to sleep in last night.  Thank Him for every good thing you can think of.  Take about 10 minutes.  Write these things down.

3.  Dress and take a brisk walk.  Walk about 30 to 60 minutes at a good pace.  Look at things around you.  Thank God for the birds, the green growing things, and smile and wave at the people you see.  Stop to say hello to whomever is outside.

4.  Have a good breakfast.  Keep it healthy.

5.  Drink enough water.  A lot of “droopiness” could be dehydration, especially in warm weather, but even in winter as some of our heating systems are very drying.

6.  Ask yourself what meaningful thing you could do today that would make the world a better place, or that would at least help some individual.

7.  Do something uplifting.  If you don’t feel the energy to do anything, then at least read something inspiring.

8.  Call someone, and try to lift THEIR spirits.

9. Add something beautiful to your surroundings.  Pick some wildflowers.  Bring in a blooming branch.  Play some music that makes you feel good.

10.  Think ten positive thoughts about your life, your future, the people in your world, and write them down.  Where possible turn them into goals for something good, happy, meaningful or beautiful that you will do.  Thank God again for these 10 things.

11.  Periodically do a mental housecleaning, and forgive everybody who has hurt you.  Everyone has their demons.  Forgive yourself.  Write down everything you are holding against others and everything you are holding against yourself.  Take the list and throw it in the fireplace or the paper shredder.  Now resolve to live in the future.

12.  Tell yourself that you will be a “worry procrastinator”.  If you can DO something to insure a more secure future, do it, but put off worrying.  Its a time waster, especially since 9 out of 10 things we worry about never happen.

13.  Do what Martin Luther did, and ask God to protect your mind as you sleep.  Ask Him to remove old negative thoughts and refill your mind with thoughts that are pleasing to Him.

14.  Go to bed early.  Fall asleep with a thankful heart.  In your mind, re-visit a favorite place.  Re-live the sights, sounds and smells of this beautiful place.  You will be asleep before you know it.

Give my recipe a try for a couple of weeks.  If you don’t feel better, feel free to comment me.

 Nonni

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