There are many causes of depression. External as well as internal. The death of someone we love or care about. The falling out of a friendship. A local tragedy. An unwanted divorce. A serious illness. The constant sense of “impending doom”. Perhaps we realize we haven’t lived up to a set of standards that we have chosen to abide by, making us feel shame or guilt. I call this my conscience. Perhaps we feel constant loneliness. Or worse than that, being stuck in a “bad” marriage. A chemical or hormonal imbalance. The list is as extensive as there are people. Some of these causes can be rectified by us. Some cannot. It is these issues that can seem to have a death-like grip on our emotions.
But what if I told you that you could still “change” your mood as easily as you could change your clothes? Would you say I’m not being realistic? Would you say that I’ve just never had happen to me what has happened to you? I have had several of these scenarios happen to me or to someone I love. Don’t get me wrong, if any of these things happen to any human being, the natural response is to get depressed. For awhile anyway. That’s normal. Think about that word “depress”. What exactly gets “depressed”? Our natural ability and desire to be HAPPY. There is a scripture in the Bible where God says “you must be happy because I am happy,” so since God is happy, and He created us in His image…
So how does one go about getting happy, truly, genuinely -as opposed to “artificially” – happy anyway?
Good question! Have you ever noticed that sometimes you can wake up in a good mood, then other times you wake up in a bad mood, and don’t really know why, either way? For whatever reason, either our subliminal dreams and the states of emotion they produce, our hormones, that “time of the month”, a sense of dread of either a test at school, some particular project at work, an upcoming bill that’s due, etc., can subconsciously put us in a “bad” mood, then again, maybe we are expecting to receive a tax refund, or a gift from someone, or are about to go on a fun vacation, these can put us in a “good” mood! Do you see how our thoughts can affect our mood? So in reality, what we therefore choose to think about can also affect, manipulate, guide, and control our mood and THAT affects how we FEEL! Do your thoughts make you feel sad or happy? Mad or glad? Realize also that no one can make you feel any emotion unless you give them the power to do so. Here’s proof: think about when you’re driving down the street and out of the blue, someone cuts you off and yells some obscenity out the window at you while making an angry hand gesture. That might make you a little mad. But you’d get over it pretty quickly. But what if, during a disagreement someone you love behaved towards you in this same manner. That would likely hurt wouldn’t it. Because we give those we love the power to affect our own assessment of ourselves. They matter to us!
So again I ask, how does one go about “getting” happy? Really, how can someone “practice happiness”?
One of the many NLP presuppositions says “if anyone can learn to do something and learn to do it well, you and I certainly can!”
There have been, throughout history, countless examples of people who have had horrific things happen to them, and yet they draw on resources within them that enabled them to stand tall, move forward and actually succeed in life, and sometimes succeed so well they are written about! That’s how you and I have come to learn about them. What resources do they draw on?
The very first thing is their thought patterns. What kind of “self talk”, or “pep” talk did they give themselves? Positive or negative? Well, for one thing, there is NO negative talk! None of this “I can’t” or “they won’t let me” or “I don’t know how” business! No, but it might go something like this: “I am not sure how to go about (accomplishing some task, or surviving for that matter) but I am going to ask someone for advice, or get help to learn what to do first!” If you’re a God fearing person, pray for guidance and direction. God won’t let you down. Remember, everything is temporary. We can make the best of a bad situation by remembering THAT, or we can wallow in the bad situation, getting stuck there, and milking it for all it’s worth! We can actually make a bad situation last longer, without meaning to, because we ultimately do nothing to change the situation or how long we “stay” there!
So here’s a little exercise to do when you find yourself “stuck” in depression. And it will take “practice”! In the morning, when you first get up…
Consciously think about how you are feeling. Don’t spend a lot of time there. There doesn’t need to be a reason for the “bad” or depressed mood. It just is. Think about where you feel those negative feelings in your body. Notice where your eyes go when you are deeply in those feelings.
Now consciously think of some good memory, not attached to the subject of your depression. Think of something or someone and an experience where you were happy, perhaps even laughing. Everyone has memories of that sort, no matter how far back you must go. Give it some time. Involve yourself in those thoughts. Then, raise your eyes up to the ceiling. This is important. Now say out loud, in as cheerful a voice as you can muster, “I am having a GREAT day today!” And I know this sounds silly, but start singing — even if it is through tears — and as you begin to walk away, walk with a bounce in your step! It matters not how depressed you are or have been. This works 100% of the time. But it might take some time. It is guaranteed to work! Just give it some time. If you do this every morning for 21 days in a row, you will notice a change in how you feel!
The dynamics of this exercise are these: it is your subconscious that decides your behavior. Your subconscious is where your drivers are. And remember, we wake up in the mood set by that very subconscious. We are hardwired to a certain set of behaviors but we can consciously change them by telling our subconscious what to do! When you wake up in a sad, bad, mad or depressed state, it is either because of our chemistry (which, by the way, can be changed by changing our thought patterns) or what our subconscious has been thinking about in our sleep, IF we sleep(!) When we take control of our thoughts, rather than let our thoughts “run amok”, we essentially “reboot” our mind / thought patterns!
If we really want to improve our mood, if we really want to be happy, we can! Once we “get the hang of it”, once we “fake it till we make it” — living in an “as if” we’ve already achieved our goal, the everyday problems of life won’t get us down, and the bigger issues won’t keep us stuck. We are in control, and we get to decide to practice happiness!
Cynthia is an NLP Master and Health Practitioner and practices in the Modesto, CA area.
My name is Cynthia (many call me Cindy) Smith and I am a certified NLP Master and Health Practitioner and live in the central valley area of California. I have a coaching / counseling business which I conduct in the Modesto, CA area.
I absolutely LOVE NLP and helping people reach their maximum potential using the various processes and techniques I learned in 2006-2007 at NLPCA in Burlingame, CA.