We all have our own answer, but deep inside we know that things will never be perfect and we can’t allow circumstances to control our emotions. When we dwell on the negative we can’t help but feel “down.” There was an old song called Count Your Blessings, but who can do that during times of frustration and distress, when things don’t go according to our plans. We can. We all have treasured blessings, especially family and friends. So how can this help?
For many years, I experienced depression. There were mornings I couldn’t even get out of bed.
Now I am known as the “Joy Lady” and I teach seminars on living a joyous, balanced life.
So what changed me? As a college student I was one of the most out-of-balance people I knew. I was a hundred pounds overweight, flunking out of school, staying out partying, and self-medicating. I was mad at God and the world. On my third unsuccessful suicide attempt, I somehow came to realize I had been given one last chance at life, a chance to make it right. So I began seeking out the happiest, most fulfilled people I could find. I hung on to every shred of hope. They too had times of discouragement, but had learned to put them aside quickly and pull out “tools” for living a joyous life. They would could call a friend or counselor, take a walk, listen to inspirational music, exercise, visit children or the elderly, volunteer for charities, and pray. In the past I would have turned to drugs, alcohol, overeating, isolation, or self-inflicted pain. But I made the “exchange.”
I didn’t know how to live on the other side of my feelings. I hadn’t learned to push past depression and act upon what I knew – not on how I felt. Feelings will never go away, but we can make them line up with our decisions. I run to my healthy tools whether I feel like it or not.
I learned to renew my mind with the right things.
I learned to eat healthy, joined a support group, found a place where I learned to pray and meditate. What happens today does not have to ruin tomorrow. We can make the decision to let go of what we can and move on toward better things awaiting us. The serenity prayer used in 12 step programs is: “God give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
I quit making excuses and admitted that I was my own worst enemy.
I learned to take responsibility for my actions – not for my feelings. There is a time to grieve and mourn our real losses, but most of the things I dwelled on were a waste of time and a thief of joy. So now that I have coping skills and real peace and joy, it is my duty to pass it on – to pay it forward. We can choose to see every day as new. A favorite psalm of mine is “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” We have to learn to stage self-interventions and not carry over yesterday’s troubles.
Who needs your gift of encouragement today?
The result of my “new life” experience included a 100 pound weight loss, teaching high school for 30 years, starting an alternative program for troubled teens, a happy marriage of 40 years and teaching in our church. I have learned the real joie de vivre is to pour my life into helping others get out of the pit of despair so that they too can help others. The French root of the word encouragement is coeur – translated heart. There’s a great saying, “Flatter me and I may not believe you. Criticize me and I may not like you. Ignore me and I may not forgive you. But encourage me – and I will never forget you.”
Read more posts by Debra Peppers, Ph.D., here. Dr. Peppers blogs for JenningsWire.
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