Maybe you won't agree with me. I used to not believe it either. How could someone choose to be happy when their life is filled with misery?
I've learned over time that even in the midst of pain, there is always, always, at least one thing to be grateful for. Even if it is as simple as the fact you have shoes on your feet. Or a job. Or a friend. It may not mean that your life is exactly where you want it to be right now, but it's a start.
Focus on it. Focus on that one thing. Thank your God for it. Appreciate it. Take care of that one thing. Treasure it.
You will be amazed at how much your attitude can change when you choose to focus on the good things in your life instead of dwelling on the bad.
If you really want to be amazed, try giving something! Even if you think you have nothing to give, you do. Give your time to someone who needs a listening ear. Give a smile to someone who looks like they could use some cheer. Give a hug to someone who is in desperate need of love.
Not only can you choose to be happy, you can choose to share that happiness with others by giving it away. You are quite powerful! You just need to believe it.
To exacerbate my lack of faith, in 2012, my 18-year-old niece was struck by a car and died. I didn’t understand it. It was then that I started to believe life was a series of random events loosely strung together by the weak power of my own will. Nothing happened for any reason I could see. Things just happened. Some people had luck. Some people didn’t.
It’s really scary to believe that way. I was riddled with fear and anxiety. If you live your life thinking bad things can happen to you or your loved ones at any time without rhyme or reason, and that everything around you is just one giant toss of the coin, that means none of this matters. What the hell are we all here for then? None of our lives mean anything.
Today, I don’t believe in luck. I believe that all things happen for reasons we may or may never understand. Good things and bad things.
I still don’t understand my niece’s death. I may never understand it. What I can do, however, is take the aftermath of her loss, which was anguish, uncertainty, and grief, and choose to focus on what good came from it. Today, I hold my kids a little tighter. I don’t let the little arguments and disagreements effect me as much as they used to. I tell my family I love them every day. I don’t take my time with them for granted. Ever.
Whatever happens in my life, good or bad, I know that as long as I have faith there is some order to all of this, that there is some higher purpose or meaning, even if I never know what that purpose is, I can rest in knowing that I will be okay. My life isn’t resting in the hopes of good luck. Whatever happens in my life, I will be okay.
“True humility is not thinking less of ourselves. It is thinking of ourselves less.” – C.S. Lewis
I love this quote. It truly is the essence of humility.
The word is confusing in our culture. Merriam-Webster defines it as “the quality or state of not thinking you are better than other people.” That sounds great on paper. However, many people associate the word ‘humility’ with the negative word ‘humiliation’, which is defined as “to reduce to a lower position in one's own eyes or others' eyes”. Humiliation is no fun.
What right do I have to say I am better than you? I have character flaws just like you do. We may not have the same flaws, but who is to judge my flaws are any better than yours? Let’s remember we are on the same plane. That means I could also ask the question “what right do I have to say I am worse than you?” If I want to be humble, I don’t have to lower myself to a position of any less importance than you. We are equal.
I have struggled my entire life with alternately feeling less than and feeling better than. The character flaws I have recognized that keep me from feeling equal to, and therefore keep me from effectively practicing humility, are fear and pride.
We are all souls here on earth learning the lessons we need to learn to move on. My journey really has nothing to do with your journey. You may help me at times, and I may assist you, but that doesn’t mean either of us is better than the other. It means the Universe put each of us in the other’s path for a specific reason, to help us learn a lesson we are here to learn.
But back to C.S. Lewis…
If I am continually worried if I am better than you or less than you, I am constantly thinking only of me. If I accept that we are equal, journeying this world together side by side, I will be much more effective at listening to the gentle nudging of the Universe to ways in which I can help you on your path. I can remain humble by thinking of myself less. I am aware. I am listening. I can be of use to the earth and its people instead of being fearful or prideful and therefore cutting myself off from people. I can be truly humble.
If you haven’t had it, you can’t possibly understand. Don’t tell us that you do.
Don’t tell us to snap out of it.
Don’t tell us to look at the bright side.
Don’t tell us to be positive.
Don’t tell us about all the starving people on the planet or homeless veterans or all the people that have it worse off than us.
None of it matters.
If we could will ourselves out of the pit of hell that is depression, we would.
We don’t want to be there. Just like you don’t want us there.
But if you have never walked through it yourself, nothing you can say will help us.
Get that through your head.
We know you are only trying to help, but what you’re really doing is pissing us off.
You’re making us feel weak.
You’re making us feel like we’re horrible people who don’t care about our families or friends.
You’re making us feel like outsiders.
You’re making us feel even more alone.
Depression isn’t something that can be turned off like a switch. I know my husband wanted his wife back. My kids wanted their mom back. I wanted myself back. But depression wanted something else. It wanted to hurt and destroy and fill me with guilt and pain and self hate. It lied to me and told me my kids would be better off without me and that I should just end it all and save everyone all this misery.
So what would have helped?
Thankfully, I got the help I needed from a team of professionals that got me on the right medication and into the right therapy. I still have bad days, like everyone else. When those days come, I’d be lying if I said I don’t get scared. I fear the day that depression might return and drag me down again.
So I keep taking my medication as prescribed. I keep all my doctor’s appointments. I talk with my therapist about my problems. I talk with people who have been in depression and have walked through the same fire. I help others who are in pain.
If your loved one is suffering, you can assist in every way possible, but remember this: In the end, it’s up to the person to be responsible for her own recovery.
I'm just a traveler, a dreamer, like you.