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What Hobbies Make You Happy?

What are the loves of your life?  I’m not talking about people here but rather about the things you truly love to do – your hobbies and interests.  It may be your personality, your ability to keep them laughing for hours with your gift of humor, your skill at conversation.  Perhaps it’s your compassion for those in need.  It may be how your relate to children, to the elderly, to the homeless.  These are all part of your emotional DNA – the unique twists and turns that make you the special person you are.

Perhaps you’ve been emotionally exhausted for so long that you’ve put your loves on a shelf.  Depression may have kept you isolated and afraid.  You may have actually forgotten what once got you excited about life.  Perhaps the model train you used to have on display for the neighborhood kids to enjoy is gathering dust in your attic.  At one time you loved photography but now you don’t even know where your camera is located.

You may once had a smile as broad as all outdoors, but your life’s circumstances have taken your smile away.  It’s not that you don’t want to smile, but rather you feel you no longer have much about which to smile.

My grandfather, a miner who owned silver and gold mines in Idaho, loved to pan for gold and to use the nuggets he found to make necklaces for the women in our family.  These were handmade, pure gold nugget-laden necklaces – beautiful, personal works of art.  But more than that, they were labors of love and gifts straight from my grandfather’s heart.  From the day he gave one to my wife as a present, I have never seen her without it.  The day he died of Lou Gehrig’s disease, my mother sat singing to him at his bedside, the gold nugget necklace around her neck reflecting the light from an open window.  Today that heartfelt gift keeps on giving, bringing joy to the water and to all who see and appreciate this love-made piece of jewelry.

I tell you this story to encourage you to look deep within and beneath the mountain of hurt that may have buried some of your great loves.  You certainly don’t have to be a wood carver or a gold miner.  That’s not the point.  It’s not the cleverness of the gift but the attitude of the heart that gives the gift that matters.  I’m confident there is something you may have put aside – a real love of your life – that you may not be ready to revisit, bring to the surface, and share with others.

Expressing the loves of your life again will help steady your course, because it will take your eyes away from yourself and focus them on others.  This is something you must decide to do because it’s the right thing for you to do – not as an ego trip or to impress someone else.  When you give the gift of yourself freely, without thought of the cost – anything from your great smile, to baking a cake for someone, to making a gold nugget necklace — you will be edging closer to finding the inner healing.

Authored by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE and author of 37 books. Pioneering whole-person care nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Jantz has dedicated his life’s work to creating possibilities for others, and helping people change their lives for good. The Center • A Place of HOPE, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety and others.

 

Are You Experiencing Burnout and Exhaustion?

Perhaps you are a single mother who’s working full time.  Your kids are with a babysitter or in day care all day.  You feel angry, bitter, guilty.  Or maybe you’re a pastor or youth worker in a church.  You spend every single hour serving God, loving people, and making a difference in the lives of others.  Yet your own marriage is a disaster.  You’ve lost the art of communication with your spouse.  Passion is only a word in the dictionary.  You’re ready to call it quits.

Perhaps you’ve gained thirty pounds over the last year, and you’ve finally admitted that food is your only true friend.  You may have a problem with drinking, or are afflicted with a sexual addiction, or find yourself emotionally or physically abusing others.  Whatever your challenge may be, it has you in a nice grip from which you can see no escape. One thing for sure: You are exhausted.  Each day is another twenty-four hours of pain and struggle.  You scream inside but no one can hear you.

When our lives start to sputter and we forget to follow our dreams, we tend to become stagnant.  We stop thinking, caring, observing, and reaching out to others.  This is usually subtle, but it’s the first critical stage of coming distractions.  Because of this stagnation and cessation of emotional growth, we stop giving our bodies and minds the proper stimuli they need.

Fear, feelings of guilt, animosity, an unforgiving spirit, loneliness, frustration, or a Lone Ranger mentality can siphon off our energy, potential, and zest for life.  Left unresolved, these attitudes develop a life of their own, creating stress that over time can lead to emotional exhaustion.  Thoreau once said that most people “live lives of quiet desperation.”  They look good on the outside but internally they are a seething mass of pain and fear, walking a tightrope of emotional instability, hoping against hope that no one removes the safety net, because they know they are heading for a fall.  Until this quiet desperation is dealt with, the exhaustion will remain, and there will be little hope for inner healing.

What do we do when life seems hopeless or out of control?  We move into areas we think will help: more work, more alcohol, more obsessive/compulsive activity, more entertainment, more frantic escape from reality.  But it’s always more and more of the wrong thing.  Instead of helping us regain control of our lives, it produces an internal environment that evolves into burnout.  We feel an uncontrollable sense of disease, but because we’re on a vicious cycle of unproductive activity, we keep doing the same unproductive activity over and over.  When our burnout and stress builds to a level at which we cannot endure pain any longer, we cross the line to physical and mental exhaustion.

Before long we forget who we are and what we’re about.  We start to decompose.  We no longer feel special.  We wonder if God has even taken away our giftedness.  We look into the mirror, and we don’t like what is looking back at us.  We no longer see a beautiful creature, designed in the image of a loving God.  Instead, we look through bewildered eyes and see only what is wrong.

We forget that joy comes from within, never from external sources.  We fail to remember that spiritual emptiness produces impotence.  And because we have selective amnesia of what is truly good, loving, and kind, we become displaced persons, every bit as confused and alone as hapless refugees who stumble onto a foreign shore.

If you are struggling to find joy in your life, The Center • A Place of HOPE is here to help. Our team is skilled at navigating issues surrounding addiction, depression, stress and anxiety.  For more information, call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a specialist today.

Become an Active Participant in Life

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

To paraphrase the famous Serenity Prayer, it is so important to recognize those things in our lives that we can change and those things that we cannot. While there may be a great deal in your own life that you cannot change, you may be surprised at how many things you can. One of the keys to overcoming depression is to honestly and realistically evaluate your life. Then, develop a plan to accept those things that are possible. This requires taking stock of your life. Just as a storekeeper takes an inventory of all that he has, it is wise for us to make a tangible list of our physical, mental, and spiritual assets and liabilities. Make a list in your responsibilities; write down what you want to do or be in addition to what you have already done or become. Consider what needs to happen (or stop happening) to fulfill your hopes and aspirations.

You may be reluctant to do this exercise for fear that it will make you even more depressed. But the objective of taking stock is not to create an inventory of all the things that are wrong with your life. Rather, taking stock will help to categorize the changeable and unchangeable things in your life to intentionally more forward, out of depression.

Too often, we live our lives feeling like spectators instead of active participants with the power to choose our own course. We get caught up in life’s low, whether good, bad, or neutral. Wherever the currents take us, we go. It’s as if we are on autopilot, but depression happens when our autopilot gets stuck in a negative descent. Unless we take intentional action, chances are that circumstances won’t force a change to the positive.

In other words, if you go along waiting for some “thing,” or some event to alter the course of your depression, you’ll probably be disappointed. It’s time too take control and look at where you are in your life. It’s time to actively and intentionally participate in the course of your life.

If the prospect of taking inventory of your life is overwhelming, and you don’t even know where to begin, The Center • A Place of HOPE can help. Our team of depression specialists can not only help you take the first step towards recovery, but they can guide you every step of the way. If you are ready to begin your journey, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak with a depression recovery specialist today.

Excerpts of this blog were taken from Dr. Gregory Jantz’s book Turing Your Down into Up: A Realistic Plan for Healing from Depression.