I’ve been wondering the past few days… If you’re good at being sad, can you get good at being happy? Can you get good at seeing happiness?
Looking back at my childhood, I’m aware I learned from my father to look for sadness. He had a very tragic early life with many huge losses no child or young adult should have to bear. I don’t believe he meant to teach me to look for and find sadness, but it happened. I learned my lesson well, and I got very good at finding sadness. Couple that with my predisposition for depression, and it was the perfect storm.
I’ve lost all five of my much loved sheep in the past 3 1/2 months due to illness, old age or the surrender out of kindness to a sanctuary where my one remaining sheep, Abby, will be happier living with adult sheep I no longer have. Now, I find myself struggling with sadness; intense sadness. I realize I’m not depressed though, but I am extremely sad. As someone who lived with chronic depression for decades, I know there is a difference, and I know what each feels like. My sadness over all these losses is just that sadness; appropriate sadness. Not having children, I have cared for my critters as if they were my children. Now, there’s no one in the little barn who needs me; no one who is waiting for me to come and spend time with them and offer hay, some animal crackers and love.
All this is making me look at other people who manage to soldier on with a smile during challenging times. We all go through stuff, and it’s made me wonder if it’s possible to learn to be happy rather than going to the sad side all the time. Wouldn’t it follow that if you can learn new behaviors, new skills, you should be able to learn to be happy? Seeing happiness in your day on most days would be so wonderful.
That’s how I began my day…
That’s how I began my day. What I just wrote were my thoughts even before my feet hit the ground this morning, and I resolved to focus my energy today on learning to find the happy, the positive in things around me. I’ve spent too much of my life on the dark side of depression to give in to going there again.
On a call today a good friend, who knows what has been going on with the loss of all my sheep, suggested a daily entry in a gratitude journal. I’ve played with this from time to time, but on days that are really hard, I haven’t been successful at remembering the good stuff at the end of the day. I did like her slant on it though. She said she notices at least five things during the day that are positive for her. It could be flowers blooming in the garden, or it could be an unexpected phone call from a friend. Then in the evening, she writes five things down in her gratitude journal. That keeps her on the lookout for positive things, thoughts and experiences during the day. She said she’s done it for years and has stacks of those journals! I loved this perspective on it, I’m going to begin this evening.
Maybe you’d like to do this too. If so, here’s a journal I found online that I like very much. https://amzn.to/3vUBwOH
Along with journaling about those five good things each day, it’s important to remember that certain food can increase inflammation in your body and also increase inflammation in your brain. If you are to prone to depression, your food choices and the inflammation they cause will bring on or intensify your blues.
And another thing…
It’s not just food you need to mindful of either. Many people who are sad or depressed turn to alcohol. Although alcohol can provide temporary dulling of your pain and your sadness, in the long term, alcohol fosters depression, so it’s not in your best interest to use it is as a crutch to quell your pain. Larry Campbell, one of my favorite song writers, in his wonderful song “The Other Side of Pain” has a line that refers to alcohol as “medication; a brief connection to the other side of pain”.
For your long term health wellness and happiness, choose foods that are whole, not processed and drink lots of water and green tea.
Just my random musings and sharing in this post. I’d love to hear what you think and if you’ve struggled with finding the happy in your days; if you’ve struggled with seeing happiness in your world. For me, I’m looking to for “the other side of pain” by making good food choices and learning new behaviors with my thinking.
Helping You Achieve Major Wellness!
Cheryl A Major, CNWC
P.S. I’m author, health coach, and entrepreneur Cheryl A Major, and I would love to connect with you. If you’re new to the world of creating a better mindset for yourself, please check out my training on how to do just that at Embrace Optimism. Learn how to improve your mindset and create a happier and more positive life for yourself and those around you.
P.P.S. Be sure to look for my upcoming book about how to preempt prediabetes due out in late 2022 and follow me on Twitter so you won’t miss my daily postings for health, wellness and mindset!