Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Looking at the bright side

Some of my friends struggle with depression. I'm grateful that hasn't been the case with me. I can think of a few times in my life when I've felt a dark cloud surround my thoughts and I'd look back to my usual self, wondering how to get there again, wondering if I ever could, thinking I probably couldn't. But I somehow snap out of it. That's my only glimpse at what depression might be like. My friend tells me it's a small glimpse.

Most of the time I'm actually chuckling throughout the day at the irony of life, the silliness of circumstances. I even laugh at myself for being so grateful for simple things, realizing that I'm unique in "getting a kick out of" little, little things. The only one that's fresh in my mind right now isn't really appropriate to write about online -- since it has to do with bodily functions, but even that can tell you how easily pleased I can be with normal every day stuff.

I don't know why I find it so easy to see the bright side of the coin (okay, I'm messing up some metaphors here, I'm sure).

If this doesn't come as easily to you, first I recommend you clean up your eating, (even if just in small ways). It will make a difference to your brain to feed it essential nutrients for maximum health (yes, even mental health is affected by eating). Secondly, pray or meditate (or both!), if you don't already. This will help you cast your burdens on a higher and helpful source and alleviate your mind from all the stuff that clutters it up in life. Third, think of someone worse off than you are. There are PLENTY out there. Sometimes just a change of perspective can help. Finding a way to help that person is even better! Fourth, surround yourself with positive people. Some people tell me they don't want to be around positive people when they don't feel positive themselves, but it can help. Laughter really is great medicine.

I found a fun piece of art about looking at the bright side (up at the top). Pretty cute (and positive!)

My husband is much more realistic than I am. That's what he calls it. (In fact, that's what my friend who battles depression calls herself too! Hmm -- maybe ignorance is bliss?) A quick example. One night I was looking out the bathroom window and exclaimed, "Wow! I see the big dipper!" This might not be as exciting for most, but we live in a misty climate and have many foggy nights. Being able to see the stars is a treat.

My husband replied this was impossible. The big dipper isn't in that part of the sky. We can't see it from our house because we live in a forest and the trees on the north side of our house cover most of it up. Granted, he does comprehend astronomy FAR better than I ever have, but this looked like the big dipper to me. So I stuck with my happy place and said, "Well, I'll just call it the big dipper" and he told me, "You can't. It isn't the big dipper." I was fine with the falsity of my experience, even if it gave me joy. He couldn't do that. He knew it wasn't there and as nice as those stars might be, it couldn't be that celebration for him that it was to me.

This wasn't an argument of any sort. In fact, we were (or was it just me) laughing about it as we went back and forth on "But it isn't the big dipper" to "I don't care -- It still looks like it to me." It's kind of become our symbol for how I see things. He calls it basing happiness on inaccuracy. I just call it happiness! :)

I've learned not to think of him as a pessimist though. Everyone's way of thinking probably plays into their strengths and talents. My husband's an industrial designer, which is part designer/part engineer. This clever comment on engineers describes his way of thinking well.

To the optimist, the glass is half full.
To the pessimist, the glass is half empty.
To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.


  1. There are different parts of the sky? Come to think of it, I think I saw your husband in K-Pax.

    I like the idea of finding someone else who needs more cheering up, and helping them. Thanks for the pick-me-up, Renee!

  2. Hey Renee! I just found your blog while I was researching this video (instead of putting it in and trying it) called the 10 min. solution kickbox bootcamp (w/Kelli Roberts). This was great for me to read as I'm trying to get back on track after a rough several months! Nice to "meet" you and thanks for the motivation!

  3. You're welcome Rusty! You must be an optimist. You felt picked up instead of knocked over :).

    Jen -- Glad that you stopped by. Sounds like I need to try Keli's 10 Minute Solution Kickbox. I've checked it out on Collage a few times before, but wasn't sure if the music (or lack of background exercisers) would be motivating enough for me with Kickboxing. Then again, one of my favorite short kickboxing dvds is Silk Manning's Aerokick and it doesn't have background exercisers OR good music :). It has a lot of great jump kicks though.