Gratitude: The Antidepressant

Five years ago (ish) I was depressed. Lucky for me, so was one of my new friends. I was feeling old and getting older and felt like my life didn’t fit me. It was like a cheap pair of jeans that rode too high, sat too low and the button would never stay buttoned. Life was frustrating, uncomfortable and I felt like I looked ridiculous. My friend was younger, smart and catching on too quickly to the meaninglessness in what “grown-ups” spent their lives doing. In short, we were a miserable pair.

I don’t know what it was, me, her, some lame Facebook meme or what, but somewhere along the line we challenged each other to be grateful. Everyday. Every night really. We would text each other a list of five things that happened that day that we were glad for. It could be little, it could be huge, that didn’t matter. It just had to make our day better that day.

When we started, it was easy.

  1. Ice Cream
  2. no dog poop in my house
  3. warm blankets
  4. Paycheck day
  5. Dr. Pepper

After a few weeks it got harder.

  1. the dumpster is close to my house
  2. oranges
  3. lists
  4. numbers.
  5. I didn’t die.

Some days she would force me. Some days I would force her.

Some days we just wouldn’t do it. But most days we did.

The effects weren’t immediate. But they were powerful. It was such hard work some days to come up with something that made me feel happy or glad that day. Over time, something started to shift where it became easier and easier again. If you had asked me back then why life was getting better, I would have said, “well, life is just BETTER now than it was then. I am just lucky. Things are just happening.” But that is NOT what was happening for us. Gratitude was rewiring our brains. We could see more clearly just how great things were for us. That, in turn, made us feel better. That, in turn, made us try more things. That, in turn, gave us new opportunities. That, in turn, made life more exciting. And now, life is perfect. Just kidding. I have bad days and she has bad days, but they are nothing like what they were before gratitude. In fact, suddenly, I find myself in a field I’m wildly passionate about and she finds herself currently travelling all over the globe. Two lifelong passions now realized.  Seems like a good change.

 

Give it shot. You only have discontent to lose.