This past year has been a rough year for a lot of people. I discovered last week that 3 thousand people in the state of Alabama lost their homes. With so many businesses going under, economic crisis looming overhead, and the amount of people who have lost so much, it is very easy to get depressed. There are ways to combat it, however. You don’t have to be a victim to your own dark thoughts.
One of the most powerful tools you have is your mind. If you can learn to control the way you think, it in turn will allow you to control the way you feel. No one likes to feel down all the time. Do look up. There are ways that you can learn to control your thoughts and make your life better.
The first step in learning how to control your thoughts and overcome depression is finding things in your life to be thankful for. Make a list. Are you healthy? Do you have a home? What about a car? Do you have food to eat or a warm bed to sleep in? Do you have your sight, your hearing, your sense of taste? What about your family? Do you have loved ones that you can turn to or who feel they can turn to you?
By taking some of the basic things in your life for granted you are missing out on so much joy. Life isn’t about how much money you have in your checking account. No matter how bleak your circumstances may be, you can find things to be thankful for. This is one of the biggest things that causes depression. If you are alive, you have something to be thankful for. The fact that you are alive can go at the top of your list. Because you are alive you have the potential to make a big difference in someone else’s life. And, facts are, you probably are already making a difference in someone else’s life whether you may know it or not.
After you’ve made your list, concentrate on that list. Force your mind to think about those things you are thankful for and try to add to your list daily. This may sound crazy or “below you,” but it works. The more you focus on the positive in your life, the more you will notice it.
The second step is start giving. Seeing how you, all by yourself, can make someone else’s life easier really lifts the spirits. I’m not talking about donating $1000 to a local charity (though if you can afford to do that and you know a good charity you feel good about giving to, by all means, do it!). What I mean is offering to pay that extra change if the child in front of you is having trouble coming up with it. Take your neighbor’s mail to him if you know that he’s sick. Offer to care for your brother’s dog when he’s out of town. Little things add up. The more little things you do, the bigger your joy becomes.
“Little things are indeed little, but to be faithful in little things is a great thing.” – Mother Theresa
Third, learn to forgive. This is a hard one, I know. There are a great many hurts we each experience, sometimes on a daily basis. The only problem with harboring resentment is that it isn’t hurting the person you are upset with. It hurts you. It builds walls around your heart. It causes a deep seated bitterness that is so hard to relinquish. It can make you a prisoner to your own dark thoughts of hatred and revenge. Learning to forgive is like turning a light on in a very dark room. It chases away darkness you may have held onto for years. It is healing, it is releasing, but more importantly it opens doors in your life that may have been sealed shut for years. Forgiveness offers you a future of joy, unspeakable joy. And, the more you forgive, the easier it gets.
Lastly, and this is the most important one. You have to make yourself understand that your life is just that. It is your life. No one else can live it for you, and no one else can do the things that you can do. God has equipped you with specific abilities and gifts that He hasn’t given anyone else. If you aren’t working in those then you are missing a great life. But, it is your choice if you use them or not. It is your choice to be someone else’s victim, or even your own. There isn’t time for feeling sorry for yourself. The past is the past. It is time to focus on the present so that you can have a future. You do have the power to control your own thinking. You have the power to decide if you will be happy or not. You have the power to be thankful, to be sad, to be joyful, to be angry, to be loving, or to be selfish. You, alone, have the power for your life.
Have you been truly living it to the fullest? Get determined that from this point on you will. Remember, it’s your decision. No one else can make that decision for you.