One of the most crushing depressions I’ve ever experienced happened during my first year of college.
My dad was an admitted workaholic, and so my sister and I both clung to my mom for everything. I didn’t realize it, but I had developed what was later to be diagnosed as a “Dependent Personality Disorder.” I was fully reliant upon my mom, leaning too fully on her for support. Thus, when I moved out and started college, I “crashed,” emotionally speaking, since my support system was gone.
During this time I wrote a poem for class, and when one of my friends read it, he immediately contacted the counselor. The poem has long since disappeared, so I have no clue of its contents, but apparently it was dispirited enough to alarm this dude.
So when the counselor asked to see me, I figured it couldn’t hurt. We talked for about half an hour, and then she brought out a book entitled, “Happiness is a Choice.”
I honestly felt like a light went off in my spirit, and I immediately stood up and walked out, never to darken her doorstep again.
Oh, I still had issues that would take years (and tears) to sort out, but it was this fact which lit up my soul:
I could CHOOSE to be happy; I didn’t have to let people or circumstances choose my mood for me.
Wow, what an amazing concept!
Thirty years have passed since that meeting, and I still try (note I said “try”) to choose happiness when I can. This gets tricky when you deal with chronic issues like blinding pain, depression, anxiety and the like, but it is possible.
It’s a matter of choosing to go to the movies with your best friend instead of sitting at home and watching television in the dark. It’s going to see your neighbor’s new baby, when all you want to do is take a nap. It’s going to church with your mom or your son, instead of sleeping in Sunday morning. It’s hanging out with your nephew, when all you really wanna do is stay in, slide under the covers, and hide from your pain. It’s babysitting your little cousins when you don’t feel up to it, and then actually engaging (i.e. “playing”) with them when they do come over.
Or in my case, it’s being “Robin” to your grandson’s “Batman,” turning the backyard into the Batcave, while the trees, squirrels and rabbits all play the villains.
“Happiness makes you smile; sorrow can crush you (Proverbs 15:13).”
“A joyful heart is the health of the body, but a depressed spirit dries up the bones (Proverbs 7:22).”
So, if I could, I think I’d revise the book’s title, from “Happiness is a Choice,” to “Happiness is a Thousand Little Choices a Day.”
Don’t cling to your gloom and despair like a tattered life raft; instead, swim for the shore, spread out the Spiderman beach towel, grab your sunscreen and enjoy the sunshine.
As the old saying goes: try it, you just might like it!