Think back on where you were and/or what you were doing one year ago, today. Maybe it was just another day that bled into the next. Perhaps something great happened. Or tragedy struck. Of all the myriad scenarios that may have happened between that day to this one, ask yourself: Am I better than I was?
I grew up believing that humans as a species are wretched, hopelessly sinful creatures. We could only be seen as perfect through the lens of god.
Given the horrible things people have done to each other over the centuries, it’s not difficult to accept that we, as a whole, are pretty wretched. Now, think of the person whom you love the most. Think about how much you love them, why you love them, how they make you feel when you’re near them.
Is that person wretched and hopelessly sinful? Maybe. That depends on how you define “wretched” or “sinful.” I’d like to think we’re both perfect as we are, having been made in the image of god, but we can always be better. It’s up to each person to make themselves better.
How do you define “better?” More financially stable? More generous? Less grouchy? You’ve conquered a vice? Some combination of these things, I think.
In the past 52 weeks and 1 day
On this day, May 31, last year, I was diagnosed with depression. I have talked about it numerous times, noting my struggles and my triumphs. My goal with this site is to write (help myself by doing something I feel good about) and, with a bit of hope, help others. With a great deal of certainty, I feel successful that I have achieved the first goal. And, while I don’t necessarily need the validation from others, it seems like I have helped others. I’m glad for that.
Where is the demarcation set between being self-aware and self-conscious? I want to find it and stay just barely on the side of the former. Though the official diagnosis of depression means nothing in and of itself, knowing I have it has produced the Wile E. Coyote Effect. I have been running past the cliff over thin air for decades and have been reminded, by diagnosis, that I’m supposed to be falling.
That’s how it’s supposed to work, right? Sometimes it does. I feel unexplainably happy some days. Without questioning its source, like I do when I’m unexplainably sad, I breeze through the day with a genuine, shit-eating grin. But, I remember I have depression and that happiness melts away. On a good day, I can still get through my responsibilities with relative ease. On bad days, I have to claw my way through.
Buy stock in Acme, Inc.
In the past year, I have learned so much about myself and my place among the rest of the population. I sum up my learning into one word: positivity. I have a plethora of tools, like subroutines in an android’s programming, that help me find the positive side of any and every situation.
There’s always something good to find in a shitty situation, no matter how grotesque or painful it can be. How do you find it? Well, sometimes it’s staring you in the face, other times you have to endure something and find the positive side in retrospect.
Some broad strokes here:
- Pray or meditate: Clear your mind and/or soul.
- Exercise: Clear your mind while helping your body.
- Release: Plug into something where you’re using your talents the way you want to use them. Some might call that a hobby.
Only a Sith deals in absolutes
Up until recently, I shied away from thinking in absolutes. Someone can’t really be an asshole all the time, right? You can’t really know for sure if you’re going to have a good day, right?
When those absolutes apply to others, and how you interact with them, they’re unreliable. Applying an absolute belief to another person implies assumptions that can’t always be sustained.
Let me give you an example. My former step-father was a verbally abusive alcholic who actually stole money from me once to buy beer (he claimed it was for groceries, but the fridge only had Coors Lite in it). Yes, what he did was selfish. You could call him a bastard if you want (go ahead, he deserves it). But is he beyond redemption? No, he isn’t. While I think a person who would do things like that is better off dead (or otherwise isolated from others), I forgive him. For that and all the other things he did.
So, no, he might not be an asshole now. I’m not sure. I have neither the time nor inclination to find him and see for myself.
Can you apply absolutes to yourself and sustain them? Absolutely. Depression and anxiety are masters at it. And the more you allow yourself to give into the negativity they produce, to deeper you sink and the more real the negativity becomes. You believe the illusions.
There’s good news, though. You can do the same thing with positive thinking. Like shining a light in the dark, or pissing out a fire, positivity can instantly and sustainably get rid of the blues. It can and it will. You just have to make yourself do it. Sometimes all it takes is a small spark.
It all starts with you.
Here’s hoping my next trip around the Sun will make me stronger and wiser. I wish the same for you.