Dedicated to Eddy. You're my greatest tonic. You lift me up every time. Thank you...
When I was a small child, I remember reading a book called 'The Seven Roads to Happiness'. It was about a rather unhappy little chappy - a caterpillar - who went in search of that elusive state we call 'happiness'. I don't recall the details but I do remember the general gist of it. There were seven paths he followed in pursuit of happiness. I remember some.
When you're feeling down, the right kind of music can instantly pick you up. I know that when I've felt low, this has helped immensely. I'll put an upbeat CD on in my car, turn up the volume and in no time at all my fingers are tapping out the tune on the steering wheel and I'm singing along.
It is known that physical activity is a great antidote for depression. I go to the gym regularly (I try for every morning) but recently I found it became a huge effort to go. I just didn't want to leave the warm comfort of my bed in the early morning. I was also finding the daily ritual a bit of a grind and I started to rebel against it. Stupid really when I think about it. Anyway, the point I'm making here is that you don't need to go to a gym to get the benefit of exercise. Dance is one great way to get exercise and have fun at the same time. You don't need to be a professional dancer to dance. Put on some good music and let yourself move to the rhythm...even if you're slightly out of rhythm. It will come. It's the most natural thing in the world. If you're worried about making a fool of yourself, shut yourself in your own room, close the drapes and simply let go all on your own.
Let me share a great story with you about how effective this is. One of my greatest mentors was a short but rather round Greek lady named Anna. She had the most incredible approach to problems and believed that when things went wrong, you should do the exact opposite to what you felt like doing. At one of my lowest points, Anna demonstrated this in the most effective way.
One morning I woke up with a huge headache and feeling really groggy, to discover that our house had been burgled during the night. As it turned out, a gas had been used to knock us all out and all of our valuables had been stolen right under our noses. It became clear that the burglars had even entered our bedrooms and rifled through our cupboards. You can well imagine how much of a shock this was for the whole family. One of the first people I called (after my mother) was Anna. Her rather unexpected response: "My sister (she called every female friend "my sister" and every male friend "my brother") I am going to come there and we are going to dance!" I thought she had taken leave of her senses and remember thinking 'That is the LAST thing I feel like doing right now.' I did protest but she wasn't hearing any of it and a short while later I watched her little car race up our long driveway. She bounced in with a radiant smile on her face, plugged in her 'ghetto blaster' and popped in a CD (Greek dance music what's more).
"Come my sister. Dance!" Halfheartedly and only to humor her, I began to dance but in a short while, I was dancing as wildly as she was and in no time at all, laughing uproariously too. When my mother arrived it was to find me, Anna and my kids dancing up a storm in the rather empty living room and by all intents and purposes having an absolute blast. I will never forget the look of total shock on her face. I'm sure she was ready to have us all committed.
The point of the story is that Anna knew a great secret. DO the exact opposite to what you FEEL like doing. Don't think that you're being fake. When you feel sad, act happy (in the extreme) and in a short while you won't have to act. This was her simple philosophy and it worked like a charm.
Now I know that many of you reading this already know that there are other elements that help lift your mood so I'll only touch briefly on those:
Sunshine People who live in cold or cloudy conditions and who don't see much sun, may suffer from S.A.D. (Seasonal Affected Disorder). Just ten minutes of sunshine a day makes the world of difference. Getting out in the sun will help your mood.
Breathe. This may seem rather obvious. Of course you have to breathe or you'll die. When I say 'breathe' I mean learn how to breathe properly. There is nothing more invigorating than taking in deep controlled breaths of fresh morning air. This is a whole subject on its own and I could write an article purely on the merits of breathing and sharing some techniques but this is not what this article is about.
Love. The greatest antidote to sadness is a good dose of love. Having a loving partner helps a lot. Physical affection has been clinically proven to have an extremely positive effect on the human mind and body. If you're single and don't have a partner, a pet may provide the affection you need. For loving couples, sex is a great stress reliever. You may not always feel passionate when you're down but it's amazing how relaxing it is to make love and how much good it does for your mind and body.
Diet. 'You are what you eat' Ever heard that one? It might sound like an old wives tale but it's entirely true . You have no idea how much your mind is affected by what you put into your body. A diet high in sugar will cause your blood sugar levels to rise and then drop sharply (past the level of healthy balance i.e. homeostasis). In this state of lowered blood sugar, you may feel irritable and even out of control. This is but one example of an imbalance. Your diet should be balanced and consist of sufficient protein, carbohydrates etc. More importantly, you should eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables in their rawest form each day. A healthy, balanced diet has an amazing effect on your mind as well as body.
Exercise. I covered exercise under 'dancing' but if you really don't want to do this, at least take a walk each day. You only need to walk for 20 mins to derive a great benefit. If you don't enjoy walking around your neighborhood, take a walk through your local mall and window shop. Whatever it takes to get moving. Exercise is vital for your health and wellbeing. Exercise should be fun too. I enjoy horse riding, kicking a ball around with my son, go-kart riding and even just throwing a frisbee in the park (hey Eddy don't we have some great memories?)
Laughter. 'Well if I felt like laughing, I wouldn't be down would I?' Sound familiar? Eddy knows only too well how to pull me out of a pit. He only needs to make me laugh and it is as if the sun has broken through the clouds. Fortunately he is extremely good at this and I can't stay down around him for long. If you don't have a partner who can help bring humour into your life, hire a good comedy movie (read Stan Grimes' blogs), or get a few friends together and do something crazy (like kite-flying) and in no time at all you'll be laughing. Were you really so down just a short while ago?
Pampering yourself. Uhoh, this one can be dangerous. I know a woman who shops every time she is feeling down. The problem is that it helps for a short while but when she has to pay her bills, she gets even more stressed. The secret to pampering yourself without the guilt (which plays a huge role in depression), is to indulge yourself in ways that don't cost too much. Having a nice hot bubble bath, sipping on a delicious drink and listening to soothing music is one such way. Giving yourself a nice manicure or pedicure (or going to a beautician if you can afford it) is another. Remember to love yourself too.
I could go on of course but there is a climax to this whole article. It is like having sex. It's really great while it's happening but it's a bit of a let down without the climax isn't it?
In the story I read as a child about the caterpillar, 'he' found moments of happiness on all of the seven roads but for some reason, the feeling of happiness was always transient. He was, after all, still a lowly caterpillar and he was obviously not happy with himself. This was his REAL problem.
In the story he decides that he wants to hide away from the world. Ever felt like that yourself? I don't think suicide was an option for this creature. After all, how much damage could he do to himself if he threw himself from the highest branch of the nearest tree. Somehow God made caterpillars ugly but also resilient. Anyway, what he does is he spins a covering around himself with strands of silk. Finally he is completely encased inside a coccoon.
"Ah, finally I can be left in peace and sleep." he might have thought. Whatever his thoughts, we all know what happened after a time. It must have been extremely cramped inside that coccoon and he probably felt a little clautrophobic or at the very least, bored in there. After a time, he breaks out and when he does, he discovers that he has been transformed. A miracle! He has turned into a beautiful butterfly. Not only that, the once ugly caterpillar discovers that he no longer has to crawl around on his belly, he has wings and can FLY!!!!
I guess the moral of this story (other than the fact that rest is also crucial if you want to be up) is that true happiness was found within himself all along. He had to search inside for the one true path to happiness.
Inside each of us, is locked a great vault filled with potential. The 'key' is to find it, acknowledge it and then release it. This is the only way we will soar above it all.
There is a butterfly in every caterpillar. and there is a miracle inside of every man.
One other great way to lift out of the doldrums is to have someone talk you out of it with good positive affirmations. "You can do it. I believe in you." etc. etc. If you don't have anyone around who will do this for you, try it for yourself. Self talk helps a lot. I do it all the time. lol
A final story on a lighter note (I just can't help myself...hey, I am a storyteller).
A woman notices a man shopping with a young child seated in the shopping cart he is pushing around and filling with groceries. The child is behaving very badly and making a dreadful noise but the man seems outwardly calm and keeps on saying, 'It's ok Johnny, be quiet. Don't lose your cool. Johnny just remain calm. We'll soon have this shopping done and be out of here..' etc. The woman is amazed at the man's self-control and tells him so, 'I can't believe how well you handle your son, Johnny,' to which he responds, 'My son??? Are you kidding?...I'm Johnny!' :)
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|Reviewed by Doug Miller
|Great article Chanti! I just read your "How to Critique Poetry" article and had to copy it for use later. I enjoy your perspective. You are a very good writer and I look forward to reading more of your work. - Doug|
|Reviewed by Poetess of The Soul Sheila G
So sorry to hear of you being burglarized, we were too, but no gas involved ~ Privacy invaded - what a stinky feeling
I truly appreciated this article!
Music -upbeat- and
Dancing is my antidote! and little splurges, my gardens need tending and weeding, and adding too, and that thrills me!
You mention many I use!
and any Adam Sandler or Jim Carey movie, Oh my! I will bust a gut!
I will print this gem and treasure it, chocolate soothes my senses, as SEX always does!
Light is a defin. I find that, I can't work insides 4 walls surrounding me...
I love your caring heart Chanti'
WArmly, WArrior Spirit Lady Sheeeoox
|Reviewed by Edwin Larson
|Thanks for that Snuggles...Would you like a good Gin with that tonic? ;) Great Write!!! Laughter truly IS the best medicine. Keep your gin up and thanks for the mammaries..er...memories :)
Wilfred B Cuddlechops
Dept. of Silly Grins
|Reviewed by LadyJtalks LadyJzTalkZone (Reader)
|Good article, loved the bit at the end. I knew he was talking to himself. lol. Lady J|
|Reviewed by Linda Wells
|Thanks for the tips, Chanti, but right now nothing is working! When you are down in a valley, it helps to remember how it felt up on the mountain top. I am trying, but nothing is helping right now, not dancing, singing, or breathing! Just existing, sigh. When you lose something you have held dear for so long, it just takes time to get over some events we must endure.|
|Reviewed by Joyce Bowling
|Several years ago we too had a burgler who sprayed a type of gas through air vents and robbed the neighborhoods. Our family was blessed and survived this scary time without being robbed! I loved the ideas and suggestions to help control depression, lift spirits, increase happiness, etc. I also believe that laughter is good for the soul and heart, deep breathing exercises is great for the mind, spirit, body, lungs, and heart! I am especially fond of the way you described we are what we eat! This is so true. I was recently placed on a diet for health reasons, and within two weeks of not really eating less, but changing my intake...I felt like a new woman. Two more weeks and it really began to show up on the outside, and inside...I was happier, had more energy and stamina and my tolerance level was much better! All of the suggestions and advice given are great and they do really work! I have also found the meditation is a great theraputic exercise. I love to sit on the creek bank at our farm and enjoy the serenity of the flowing waters and just get lost in thoughts, add all of this with prayer and it's makings for a happier and healthier life and lifestyle, and we are happy our family and those around us are happier! Enjoyed this very much this morning!
Blessings from Kentucky,
|Reviewed by H Cruz
|Nitros oxide burglars; who would have ever come up with that one, wow! Thanx 4 the happy tips, I just put the radio on and soon will be dancing with myself, LoL|
|Reviewed by Pier Tyler
|I love this! I like the morals and footnotes of the story. This is on time, especially for the weekends and you're alone. Thanks for sharing this with us.
My favorite Quote is...
"Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly." ~ Anonymous
|Reviewed by Stan Grimes
|Truism. I haven't made the butterfly stage yet. Right now I'm a moth.|