Posts Tagged ‘joy’

Joy as a Virtue

January 12, 2011

If I am to pursue joy as a virtue, I must learn to genuinely appreciate all of life.  That would be almost synonymous with developing a habit of thankfulness.  In fact,in the “Living” bible it says “Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right.  Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others.  Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about.”  (Philippians 4:8)   Thinking this way tends to create happiness.  Thoughts create emotions, so thankful, appreciative thoughts create a sense of satisfaction and gladness.  Thankfulness also draws our attention toward God and in that way is a form of worship.  All these things cultivate the virtue of joy, and as a by-product immunize against depression.  Joy would almost be a selfish virtue since it does me so much good, until I remember it is also a way of worship.


The Story of Santa Claus as I told it to my Children

February 17, 2010

Long ago there was a holy man named Nicholas, who wanted more than anything to give Jesus a gift on his birthday.   But what can you give to someone who owns the whole universe?  Then Nicholas remembered when Jesus walked the earth, He said whatever you do for the least important people,  you do for Him.  So Nicholas decided a very pleasing gift for Jesus would be to visit the children of his city, carrying gifts for them–clothing, food and special things that delight children.  Nicholas did this for years, using a carriage if Christmas were warm, and a sleigh when it snowed.  Eventually God called Nicholas home, and that Christmas all the people wondered who would visit the children on Christmas Eve.  Gradually they realized they could visit the children themselves.  And that year, parents, grandparents, and aunts and uncles, big brothers and big sisters and older cousins and friends, all secretly left gifts for the children on Christmas Eve.  On Christmas morning the children were so surprised.   “Who left these gifts for us?”  they asked.  And the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, big brothers, big sisters and cousins and friends all smiled and winked and said “Could it be Nicholas, come down from heaven for this one night?”  Well, the tradition continued for years and years, down to this very day .  Nicholas eventually was called Saint Nicholas, and in the language of little children, who can’t always speak plainly, he became Santa Claus.

How to Quit “Singing the Blues”

September 4, 2008

I realize much has been written about depression by people far more educated about it than I am.  I also realize there is much that is chemical and can be treated by antidepressants.  However, I also believe there is an old garden-variety depression we always just called “the blues”.  Its also called “the blahs” and the baby boomers (my sons generation) used to call it “being in a funk”.  Whatever you call it, there are some things in common:  You don’t experience any positive emotion.  You don’t even experience any negative emotion–not sadness, and definitely not anger.  You don’t even have the energy to be angry.  You just have a kind of low grade, flat mood.  What you do feel is a kind of disappointment, either regarding people in your life, your current situation in life, or both.  You may notice your thoughts tend to be negative, and you have kind of “pulled in” to yourself.

Its kind of hard to pull yourself out of this, but I have learned in my long life to do several things–

1) Take better physical care of yourself, including healthy eating.

2)  Get good sleep, even if you have to take a benadryl or an actifed for a couple of nights to break the cycle of waking up in the wee hours and lying awake ruminating about things.

3)  Take long walks in a pleasant place.

4)  Enjoy some beautiful things.

5)  Talk with the most nurturing people in your life.  Don’t be afraid to share that you are struggling.

6) Read something inspiring every day.

7) If it helps, do some journaling.  Let it all hang out, knowing it will end up in the shredder where it can never be used against you.

8) Make a list of things to thank God for, and thank Him every day.

9) Tell God all about your struggle, and ask His help

10) Make yourself reach out and do one nice thing for somebody else every day.  It will certainly get your creative juices flowing, and get you turned around from “pulling in”.

11.  Make a list of 10 things you have really wanted to do (things you WANT to do, not things you SHOULD do, the latter doesn’t help right now). 

12.  Make a plan to begin to do some of the things on the list.

This reminds me of the Greatest Commandment:  Love (appreciate) the Lord Your God with all your mind, with all your soul, with all your heart and all your strength, and love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.  What a mental health program! It incorporates thankfulness, self-care, prayer and reaching out.  This will eventually begin to bring more joy and love into your life, and the “blues” will fade.

I’m so glad I wrote all this down–in case I forget, I may need to remember my own advice one of these days!


A joyful heart

March 1, 2008

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.