Christian D. Larson is one of my favorite authors. I read a little from him every day. One of the quotes I read recently is that "it is our privilege to have abundance of all that is rich and beautiful in the visible world, but it is the wealth and the beauty of the soul that gives happiness; it is the treasures we lay up in the spiritual within that make all other treasures worthwhile." I know from experience that we too often look to other people and outside experiences for happiness and encouragement when in truth, we need to look inside our own selves for that.
Inside we do have the strength and resolve to become exactly what we want to be. We may have to dig deep sometimes when things look impossible, but there is real freedom in knowing that we have what it takes inside us. Sometimes we just need to bring to mind the victories we have had in the past. For instance, I often look at my diamond ring to remind myself that in spite of failed relationships in the past, I now have found true happiness with the man I love.
When I find myself discouraged with life, I remember to go with the flow and realize that it is in God's hands. I am friends with several people who have no faith in God. I honestly do not know how they keep themselves strong and positive. If someone tells me they have no belief or faith in God, I always answer, "That's OK. God has belief and faith in you." I truly believe that too. "God is love," according to I John 4:16. I find great comfort in that for them, but I am certainly relieved that I myself have faith to get me through the challenging times.
How do we pick ourselves up when we experience discouragement or depression? We turn our thoughts to "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure---if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." (Phil. 4:8) Early in my facebook experience, I joined a group called "Positive People" which grew to have something like 50,000 people at one time. Cat Forsley founded the group and Agnes Napenas was one of the first people I chatted with from this group. Agnes had her own group called "Bem Healing Connections". Then I started a group called "The Greatest of These Is Love". It helped me connect with many other positive folk, and I still have many friends from this group that inspire me with their posts. I also often find encouragement on facebook from several pages that I have "liked".
If someone is having a problem, I pray for them. We lift each other up. I receive mostly positive things in my news feed because I mark "notifications" for those people who are encouragers or I star them as close friends so I see their stuff. This is important because facebook can be positive or negative for us depending on how we use our settings and what kind of groups and pages we peruse, like, and join.
Everyone who knows me well realizes I have very liberal leanings in my political ideas, and I am proud of that. However, I have many conservative friends and relatives. We have discussions sometimes, but I try to never intentionally hurt anyone's feelings. Sometimes I am sure I do, though, just as sometimes I get my feelings hurt. The thing I've learned is that we need to accept others and their ideas even if they differ from ours. I'm not saying that we should keep still about the things that are important to us, but just that we should not take things as a personal affront if we disagree.
Another thing that lifts me up is exercise. I know I need to go to the gym or walk or bike on a regular basis. Even if I don't feel like it at the time, I know that afterwards I will feel so much better. The body is a marvelous machine that we need to keep in working order. That affects our mental well-being for sure.
Watch your thoughts. Keep them positive. I have a gratitude list I take out if I become discouraged. It is long!! Say "thank You, God" a lot. Have faith and mentally rehearse everything working out just the way it is supposed to happen. Don't compare yourself in a negative way to others. When I go to the gym and see all those young, thin bodies, I try to remember that I have earned every one of my wrinkles and that I am doing something about my fat just by being there. I leave proud instead of discouraged because I don't have their beautiful bodies. I see my own beauty inside and know God made me perfect. I am a victor just for going to the gym, and I am better off when I do my workout. If we keep our mind on God's goodness and have a good self-image, we will not be discouraged.
Another thing that keeps us from discouragement and depression is to let go of things we can't control and to quit trying to please everybody else or to get them to please us. Forgive quickly and don't judge and interpret the behavior of others. We are so much happier if we don't hold grudges or try to get people to change who they are.
Keep track of your treasures. I've seen teachers' rooms full of positive notes written by their students. I've kept my own positive notes and pictures students have drawn for me. These things keep me encouraged. Of course, I also have pictures and cards from my husband, kids, and grandkids that mean the world to me. I just have to look at them to give myself a smile and joy. I also know how to encourage myself with my journal. I celebrate accomplishments. I keep critical spirits at bay whether they come from others or myself.
Another thing that can get us down is the economy, but with faith in God, I do believe things will turn around. I always keep the hope alive by remembering how the pioneers made it through the hard times and how my grandparents made it through the depression. I have faith in our leaders and know that God is guiding them to make good decisions.
Leo Tolstoy tells a story of a beggar who sat on a box for years asking for money, not knowing that all the while there was gold inside the box. Too many of us do not realize what we have. Bob Greene tells us to "care deeply for yourself, and have the wherewithal to do what it takes to make yourself happy. Go out and claim the life you deserve!" Good advice.
Light and Love,