The first positive psychology study dates 20 years before positive psychology was established as a field. In 1977, Michael Fordyce conducted a study where he showed that he could increase people’s happiness and life satisfaction by having participants do things that happy people do. I’ll share with you the details of what these happy people did in next week’s newsletter.
This week, I draw on that same hypothesis to say, if you do as depressed people do you’ll make yourself depressed.
Here are 4 things to avoid doing:
- Avoidance: People experiencing depression are more likely to avoid healthy risk taking behavior. Their mind chatter convinces them out of it. “Why bother going to that charity event tonight. No one is going to talk to you. You’re going to have a miserable time,” says the brain, and the depressed person buys into the excuse. Encourage yourself to step out of your comfort zone with the desire to learn and grow.
- Social isolation: Nurture the relationships you currently have. We are social creatures. Our primitive brain gets confused and often depressed when we don’t spend enough time with people or feel we don’t have close bonds to others that we can turn to for support. Make authentic connections with people a priority. Meet new people. All people, on a fundamental, biological level, want to be cared for, seen and connected with. Holding this information in your mind can make you more active in putting yourself out there.
- Lacking creative expression: Humans have an innate drive to use their creativity. It often gets stifled in the world of to-do lists, families, internet and other distractions. One way of describing depression is that it is a form of learned helplessness, learning that nothing you do matters. When you are using your creativity, making or doing things in the world, it is harder to feel that like nothing you do matters. Whether it be a simple painting, writing piece, dinner you cook up, travel itinerary, photograph or dance sequence, using your creativity is empowering.
- Lack of exercise: Your body is made to move. You’re an animal, really you are! Research shows that the anti-depressant effects of exercise are so strong that not exercising is like TAKING A DEPPRESSANT. Research also shows that being sedentary for more than 30 minutes begins to make the brain less efficient and increases the release of cortisol (hormone for stress) in your body. Not exercising puts you into a vicious spiral. Since your body isn’t moving it has less energy, since it has less energy it’s harder to get yourself to move, which gives you even less energy.
Give these practices a go! Your happiness is your birthright and your unhappiness can be prevented.
Love and light,