It is difficult to recognize, promote, and sustain positive attitudes on the inside when life isn’t measuring up on the outside. You feel as though you’re running and running and getting nowhere. It seems you keep smacking into the patterns of your past that complicate your present. Every time you get back up on your feet, it seems life throws you another curve. The glass always seems to come up empty for you and not for others.
In the midst of all that, how can you find and keep joy?
The answer is in taking back control, as much as possible, of the outside environment of your life. Each aspect of life — the pace, the patterns, the predicaments, the perceptions — can gather so much momentum on their own that it’s easy to forget how much control we really do have over our lives.
We can choose our attitudes. In a great many instances, we also choose our activities. Either we allow our activities and our circumstances to carry us along, or we take control of the direction our lives are going.
Take a moment to examine what you do each day.
What are your major and minor activities? On a page of your journal or on any piece of paper, make four columns:
1. In the first column, write “Activity.”
2. In the second column, write “Filling” (representing activities that you find fulfilling and energizing).
3. In the third column, write “Draining” (representing activities that tire you and drain your hope).
4. Entitle the fourth column “Overall.”
5. Choose the first six activities that come to mind. Write those in the left-hand column.
6.Evaluate what elements of those activities are filling and what are draining. Some of the activities may contain both filling and draining elements.
7. In the right-hand column, indicate whether, on the whole, that activity fills you with energy and joy of life or drains you of hope and optimism.
The environment you create for yourself is vital in overcoming your depression. It’s time to intentionally plan what you do on the outside in order to fortify who you need to be on the inside to overcome depression.
Are you depressed? Though no replacement for a formal diagnosis, this survey can help you recognize the signs.
SOURCE: Chapter 3, “The Pressures of Life,” in Moving Beyond Depression by Gregory L. Jantz, PhD., founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources Inc.
Review Blog Schedule (every weekday devoted to excerpts from a different book by Dr. Jantz)