According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), one out of every 14 people suffers from severe clinical depression.
That type of depression needs to be treated by trained professionals through medication and counseling. It’s nothing to ignore. Failing to address clinical depression can be deadly. Seek help now!
For the rest of us, we often go through periods of doubt, depression, sadness and a general funk. Dictionary.com defines a slump as a period during which a person performs slowly, inefficiently or ineffectively; or to sink heavily as in spirit. We may or may not know the cause, but it’s real.
It can suck the joy right out of your life. When I am in a slump, it’s hard to see any light at all. The darkness seems to feed off itself. The more I dwell in darkness, the darker life becomes.
NIMH notes that more than one in four people who experienced strokes become depressed. That included me.
I had a mild stroke in September 2018. It took more than six months to clear that feeling of depression. I was moody, hopeless, and angry. I was no fun to be around, and I saw impending doom around every corner. Then COVID arrived and forced me into unwanted isolation, and I became even angrier than I was a year earlier.
Yet, when you’re surrounded by darkness, even the smallest light can be seen for quite a distance.
LiveScience.com reports the average person can see about three miles on a flat surface in daylight. But, get on top of a hill, and you can see a candle flicker from thirty miles away.
Have you ever attended a candlelight church service on Christmas Eve? The most incredible memory I have is attending a church that seated several thousand people. It was much bigger than a movie theater.
Once the lights were turned off, the pastor lit a match. It was instantly visible. With the match, he lit a candle. He used that candle to light one other one, and that person turned and lit still another candle. As the candles lit up, the room brightened until it was possible to see every corner of the auditorium—and every person in it—as clear as day.
If we can find one source of light and nurture it enough, we’ll produce more light. We will soon be enveloped in a feeling of joy and contentment.
But, where to find that spark? A few years ago, I wrote a booklet which provides twenty-eight ideas on ways you can find joy. Try implementing one each day—or week—and watch how the spring returns to your step and you become more enthusiastic about life.
Here were my 28 suggestions:
- Turn off online news. Your eyes are the lamp of your body. When all you see is darkness, your body is full of darkness, too.
- Turn off the television completely. You’re only getting 18 minutes of content every half-hour. The rest is relentless marketing messages.
- Turn your car into a university. You’re never too old to learn something new.
- Unfollow, unfriend and block people who routinely get on your nerves.
- Remove toxic people and constant complainers from your life.
- Watch your words when talking to yourself.
- Read the Bible, especially Psalms and Proverbs.
- Volunteer your time to support causes important to you.
- Turn off your phone and let calls go to voicemail. Whatever it is can often wait.
- Turn off all phone notifications which keep you a prisoner to the whims of others.
- Encourage and support other people, especially with handwritten notes.
- Make the decision about something you’ve been wrestling with for a while.
- Create a “thanksgiving list” of the 100 people and things you’re most thankful for being part of your life.
- Journal your thoughts to get them out of your mind and onto paper.
- Forgive yourself for your mistakes, and forgive others who have hurt you in some way.
- Laugh out loud.
- Enjoy a musical to lighten your spirit and get your toes tapping.
- Watch fun, funny or pick-me-up videos.
- Dream about what you desire most and display pictures to remind you of those dreams.
- Confess your sins, even if it is just to God, so past mistakes stop gnawing at your mind.
- Look through old photographs of happier times and people you love.
- Exercise, even if it’s just to take a walk in nature.
- Remember previous victories, especially ways God came through for you before in ways you never expected.
- Find a hobby, especially things that require working with your hands.
- Put an end to procrastination by accomplishing something you’ve been putting off for a while.
- Make a new friend. You’ll be amazed at what a plate of cookies will do to spark a relationship.
- Turn off pornography. Two out of three men and one out of three women admit to being trapped in this problem. Starve the beast one day at a time.
Caution: it will take some work on your part. These suggestions will require effort, either in changing your thinking or in avoiding people and situations that bring you down and keep you down.
In my book Restore Joy to Your Life, I go in to greater detail regarding what you can do to implement either of the above suggestions. If you would like a complementary PDF copy of Restore Joy To Your Life: 28 Suggestions For Renewing Your Mind, just send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is also available as a softcover or Kindle book on Amazon.
By reading through these ideas, you’ll see things that actively reduce joy in your life. Eliminate them and you’ll work to fertilize the small seeds of joy you do plant in your mind. Eventually, you will reap a harvest of godly fruit, including love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
If you order the book with the above link, Forward From 50 may receive a small commission.
After closing his business and enduring several painful years of uncertainty regarding what to do with his life, Greg founded Forward From 50 to help men and women over 50 to live more purposeful lives by pursuing things they are passionate about. A Wisconsin native, Greg currently lives in Arizona.