Happiness Is A Habit
I used to be Eeyore. Now I’m Tigger. I didn’t make that metamorphosis overnight. It was a slow, conscious and deliberate effort applied over and over again. Let me give you the quick backstory on my personal misery.
At 17 I was suicidal. I tried it twice in the same day because the first attempt failed. It was a bad day. I was diagnosed with clinical depression. I saw a court ordered psychologist. Three times. Proclaimed myself ‘well’ and stopped going. She didn’t follow up.
At 23 I derailed again. Consumed by depression I decided to go and ‘get fixed’. I was making $7 an hour and I was paying a therapist $100 an hour! (Best money I ever spent).
At 30 I went through a crisis with my Ex. Years down the line I was still suffering with PTSD symptoms.
That’s all the history I need to share. There’s an important reason for that; My backstory is not who I am. And your backstory isn’t who you are, unless you say so.
I was so miserable at times (and useless at suicide anyway), I needed to do something drastic. So I made the decision to live a happy life. I decided clinical depression wasn’t an accurate label for me and I sought out doctors and therapists who focused on wellness, rather than disease. I went on a single-track, relentless mission to heal my heart, body and mind. Here’s my essential list of how I managed to transform Eeyore into Tigger:
1. Get great help. I got an AMAZING therapist. I’ve tried a few, the majority were mediocre. If you don’t click with your therapist, move on. Personally, I love Imago therapy – it’s practical and very relatable.
2. Fill your mind with uplifting messages. I read a TON of self-help books. You don’t have to, YouTube has conversations on EVERYTHING.
3. Talk nicely to yourself. I shut down my inner critic down, moment by moment, day by day, year by year. I imagined myself as a little kid and began my inner conversations from that perspective, i.e. Not yelling at myself, instead, giving myself a hug.
4. Get rid of old mind debris. I examined my useless labels, useless belief systems and decided all of them needed replacing.
5. Go on a negativity detox. Do things that make you feel good. I watched great films, drank good coffee, read helpful books. And simultaneously stopped watching crap that scared me, or made me feel bad, like the news.
6. Appreciate, appreciate, appreciate. I got a journal. I wrote one, or more things that I’m grateful for EVERY DAY. Game changer. Try it.
7. Move. Dance party for one? I’m the master. I really don’t care who’s watching. Get the stress hormones out, get the chill hormones in. Don’t dance? No worries, how do you like to move? Try something, anything.
8. Make happiness your habit. Say ‘no’ to negative people, negative movies, negative stories. And don’t repeat your own! This was huge for me – if something crappy happened, I’d tell someone about it. Then I’d tell someone else. Each time I’d tell it, it got bigger and had more energy. So much energy that I was drained by the end of the day.
9. Having a bad day is ok. Feeling miserable from time to time is normal. Not being able to talk yourself down off that ledge is gonna happen. The trick is, get miserable, cry, have a glass of wine/cuppa tea, and then, when you’re ready (and no one gets to tell you when that should be), ask yourself this groundbreaking question “what do I need and want right now?”. Then go do that!
Obviously this is a blog post, not a fix-all answer for everyone and I’m not minimizing depression in any way by turning it into a simple nine point list. Just know if you’re suffering, I feel you. Connect with me if you’d like, because we all feel better when we feel connected.
Written by: Rachel Matthews Burton