Depression is a clinical term used to label a group of behaviors and internal experiences associated with a depressed mood. It is also a clinical diagnosis. Depression is different than being sad. Sadness is a normal part of life and, as long as you are not feeling it all the time, it is actually a healthy thing for you to feel. It is important to realize that learning how to be happy again after depression looks slightly different for everyone.
Sometimes, we battle our way through a bad bout of depression and come out on the other side, only to find ourselves still feeling sad. While this can be a frustrating and disappointing reality about life “after” depression, it is important to acknowledge that feeling sadness can be an indicator of positive progress. Depression often leaves us unable to feel anything at all, let alone sad. It may not be your first pick for your team, but sadness truly has its hidden virtues.
The truth is that “after depression” just isn’t a reality for many people. Depression is actually a lifelong challenge that we learn to live and work with, more and more effectively. So, it’s understandable that knowing how to be happy again after depression may seem far-fetched or unattainable to many. And if you’re depressed, you should not be ashamed about that experience or of asking for help. If you are in that “after-depression” space, it can take a bit to get back to regular habits.
Here are some tips to help you get back on track.
1. Give yourself time to be sad: If you are still feeling sad the most important thing you can do is give yourself space to feel that way. Be deliberate. Sit on the couch for an hour and let yourself be sad. Then, get up and get moving.
2. Start slow: Often times depression leads to inactivity which can push us out of the healthy habits that we might have at other points in our life. Don’t expect to jump straight back into all your activities. Give yourself lots of time to slowly bring things back. It is good to push yourself, but don’t push too hard.
3. Make it easy: Sometimes what was a small step for us when feeling better is a huge step after being depressed for awhile. The smaller and easier you can make your new activities, the more likely you are to succeed. Give yourself that chance.
4. Acknowledge your progress: It can be easy to be critical of your abilities and your progress, especially if you have an anxiety disorder that exacerbates this behavior. It is vital that you acknowledge each new and beneficial thing you add to your life. You just ran an emotional marathon and now you are showing up at the gym. This is no small thing.
5. Choose the lesser of two evils: Our perspective gets skewed when we are depressed. We lose sight of what is good for us. When you are recovering from depression, you might feel as though you are choosing between something that is not so good and something that is worse. Try and choose the easier or slightly better option.
6. Take a day off: Yes you want to get back on track, but if you give yourself a moment to breathe, it may help you get where you want to go faster in the end.
7. Stick with it: You did not get to where you are in one day. You won’t get to where you want to be in one day either. Keep making efforts and you will see results, even if it takes time. You’ve got this.
Mental illness isn’t something you can just will to go away, but there are treatments that can help you deal with your depression.
If you’re still feeling sad after your depression, I hope these actionable tips help you. Life is a continuous journey and it usually isn’t a smooth one, especially if you’re learning how to be happy again after depression. Whether you suffer from depression or not, the best thing you can do for yourself is build up these life skills and techniques so that you can put them into place when you’re able. My LifeWork Community program is a great way to help you build practices that will support your wellbeing. Click here to learn more.
Happiness can be a surprisingly fickle thing. Sometimes, a new routine or a new perspective can revitalize your life and sense of well-being. Other times, change presents a challenge to our happiness. Learning how to make your joy and energy resilient to the drain that life’s changes sometimes leave us feeling is a key to safeguarding your happiness.
All too often, we forget that happiness is a skill, and that being skillful takes practice. Here are 5 small things you can do every day to practice your happiness skill-set and safeguard your joy.
The first few moments of your day can set the tone for the rest of it. So, start each morning with a quiet moment, an affirmation, a journal entry, or any other activity that helps you tune into your feelings and intentions for your day.
Your focus channels your power. Unfortunately, we often focus on what makes us unhappy rather than what brings us joy. Make an effort to recognize what’s going well in your day and be present to the things you enjoy.
This may seem like a no-brainer but it’s actually something we often overlook. What brings you the most pleasure and happiness? Time alone or time with others? A home-cooked meal or take-out and a movie? Becoming conscious of the things you most enjoy means that you will choose them more often.
To yourself, your partner, your child or co-worker. Make a point to express your gratitude for what’s working in your life. Showing your appreciation will immediately make you and the person you’re thanking feel more positive. And, by expressing gratitude for the things the people around you do, you reinforce the positive behavior as well as the positive feeling.
Slow down and savor the good parts of your life. Pay attention when you’re eating something delicious. Choose to really listen to your friend while they’re talking. Take the time to notice what’s around you on your daily walk or drive. The more you can use your five senses to be present to what you’re experiencing, the better.
Life is always a mix of things. No matter how bad a day seems, there’s always something in it that’s positive. Use the list above to help you focus in on the good that’s present in life’s simple, daily events. These simple things can add up quickly and drastically increase your happiness.
It is unlikely that you, or anyone you know, actually live in a constant mood of extreme bliss (I mean, really, can you imagine? You wouldn’t even know you were happy anymore!). On a less dramatic point — it is unlikely that you are constantly satisfied with all aspects of your life. Life is continual change, so while we might finally achieve satisfaction with the state of one part of our life, another part might be shifting and slipping.
Being attuned to the parts of your life that are shifting outside your satisfaction, and making sure to take care of those parts, is what prevents you from an emotional shutdown and unhappiness. Here are 3 quick tricks to bring your focus to problem areas and up your mood.
It may seem like this is a recipe for misery, but it is a crucial component in avoiding the pitfall of blaming your unhappiness on other things or other people. Own your life fully and you’ll be happier in every moment.
Ignoring when the engine light comes on in your car might make your today easier, but it’s a promise of trouble for tomorrow, or worse the next day. Your life is the same.
Love begets love. This is the reminder that I get when I’m at the supermarket, the airport, or just walking down the street. You know it too, it’s the difference between someone cutting you off in line, or waving you in front of them. Do your best to find it in yourself to be authentically nice to all the people you encounter.
These three steps alone will help you feel more energetic, joyful, and alive as you go through your life.
Establishing a true practice of happiness is an elusive but powerful skill. In its own right, it is a hard goal to achieve. Harder still, however, is chasing the commodified and distorted versions of happiness that we have been taught to seek and think we can achieve.
Happiness has become a myth that has been both downplayed and exalted, made to seem both commonplace and unattainable. Busting the myths of happiness can be an important step toward truly being happy. See which ones might have caught you in their snare and be happier now.
I have to start the list with this because it is such a common myth that gets in the way of people being happy. We think that we are supposed to know how to be happy, but I find that most people do not have the skills they need to make themselves truly happy. The good news is that you can learn how to truly be happy and, with a little work, you can get yourself feeling great.
You can’t be anything all the time and if you were you would likely lose the capacity to recognize it. But you can benefit from moving in the direction of being happier as often as possible. In fact, find time each day to do one thing that makes you happy and you will be feeling the difference in no time.
It does not matter how much money you have or where you are from. True happiness is not about circumstances or possessions, it is our relationship with ourself.
While being around toxic people will affect your happiness, there is no one who can really make you happy but you. It is important to pay attention to who you feel happy around and who you don’t, but recognize that learning how to make yourself happier can only come from you.
This one sounds like, “If I just do enough work on myself I will be happy with my crappy job and my unfulfilling relationships.” This has to be on the list because, while happiness is an inside job, losing sight of the impact that outside circumstances have on our happiness is equally problematic. Unload the toxic parts of your life and open up to more happiness.
If you are one of those people who keeps looking around the corner or over the horizon for your happiness, I have to tell you, you are not going to find it there. When we chase happiness we don’t find it. We find whatever else we put in its place. The keys to happiness lie within us, not in the next city we plan to move to.
This sounds like, “Happiness is my birthright and I should have it even if I make little effort at my own personal development.” Happiness entitlement gets in our way. It also denies the reality that some of us battle biological predispositions that make attaining happiness even harder. Approach happiness with gratitude, and you invite more of it.
Change can be a great thing. A new routine, or a new perspective, can really revitalize your life and sense of well-being. But what about the times when change presents a challenge? How can you build up your energy and joy when changes in your life leave you feeling drained?
For this week’s newsletter, I’m going to talk about how you can bolster your happiness in your everyday life. Because, the truth is that when you’re connected to your sense of joy, you’re better equipped to work with change when it comes your way.
We all too often forget that happiness takes practice. The good news is that small things can make a big impact on your sense of well-being.
Here are 5 small things you can do to cultivate happiness in your day-to-day life, no matter what comes your way.
1. Start Positive
2. Look for It
3. Get Clear On What Makes You Happy
4. Say “Thank You”
5. Slow Down
Life is always a mix of things. No matter how bad a day seems, there’s always something in it that’s positive. Use the list above to help you focus in on the good that’s present in life’s simple, daily events. These simple things can add up quick and drastically increase your happiness.
Do you feel lost or as if something is missing in your life? Maybe you want to make a bigger difference in the world than you feel you are, but you aren’t sure how. So many of us walk through life, feeling numb and desperate for a deeper connection, but aren’t sure how to get it.
The two greatest days of your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out what your purpose is, but if you don’t know what your purpose is than you don’t know why you are here, and it can be hard to keep going.
I know this feeling all too well. I used to suffer immense inner turmoil while trying hard to find my purpose. I was in a job I hated, working in advertising under fluorescent lights, and suffocating from the stale corporate air. I saw people like Beyoncé and Justin Timberlake shine so brightly when they performed. I wanted what they had, infectious passion, a thirsty love for life and an unyielding connection to their work.
I struggled daily to figure out my purpose, but it wasn’t until I took a step back and realized that my purpose isn’t “figure-outable” from my head that I found a way to get there. I thought to myself, “Maybe the problem isn’t that I don’t know what my purpose is; the problem is the way I am trying to find my purpose.”
We can’t think our way into our life’s passion and purpose, we have to do our way in. This means taking steps towards what you want, and removing those things in your life that you don’t want. I left my successful corporate job on a mission to find my happy, and it came by taking one step at a time and exploring many different passions. If you are looking for your purpose and passion, stop looking and start doing. These steps will help you.
How to Find Your Purpose and Passion
1. Get More Action
You can’t think your way into finding your life purpose; you have to do your way into it. Take a mental note from Nike and Just Do It. The more we act, the more we get clear on things. So instead of overthinking it — Will this work out? Should I try that? What if I don’t like it? What if I don’t make money at it? Start taking steps toward your goals and start trying new things. This will help you get out of your own way. I struggled for years trying to find out what my purpose was. This cycle only created a deeper lack of clarity. It wasn’t until I started doing that things changed for me. I began writing, and sent a story to Chicken Soup for the Soul. The second I received the letter of acceptance was unlike any ever before, love flooded into my heart and I knew that this was what I had to do with my life. You see though, I had to start writing to learn that my biggest passion was indeed writing. That only came with consistent action.
The experience is the reward; clarity comes through the process of exploring. Action is where you get results.
2. Drop From Your Head to Your Heart
Your heart is your best tool to access your true purpose and passion. Ask yourself what you love? Start taking steps to do what you love. When you are inspired and connected to your happy self, inspiration floods your heart and soul. When you lead from your heart, you are naturally more joyful and motivated to explore. By doing what you love, you will be inspired and gain insights into what brings you the most joy.
3. Break Up with The “ONE”
Many of us struggle because we try to find that ONE thing that we are meant to do; but trying to find only one thing is the reason why we feel like something is missing. The notion that we have only one thing we are meant for limits us from fulfilling our greatness. Take me for example; I have six different job titles. I’m a life coach, travel writer, author, speaker, teacher, mentor, designer, and each thing I do brings me joy, but none of these are my purpose, they are my passions. So start getting in touch with your passions! When you lead a passionate life you are living your life on purpose.
Let go of thinking there is only one purpose for you and embrace the idea that our purpose in life is to love life fully by putting ourselves into our life! This means we jump in and try new things; we stop resisting the unknown and we fully engage in what is happening right here, where we are. To lead a purposeful life, follow your passions. When we live a passion-filled life we are living on purpose, and that is the purpose of life.
That feeling that something is missing goes away when you lead a passion-filled life. The need to seek our purpose comes from a lack of passion. When you don’t feel connected to your life, you lack purpose and passion. To fix this emptiness simply add more passion. To boil it down, remember this simple equation:
Passion + Daily Action = Purposeful Life
Consider that the real purpose of anyone’s life is to be fully involved in living. Try to be present for the journey and fully embrace it. Soon you will be oozing with passion, and you will feel so purposeful and fulfilled you will wonder how you lived life without it. Enjoy the journey into your own awesome life.
Shannon Kaiseris a best-selling author, coach and travel writer.