I live by five (5) rules that I believe provide emotional health:
- Do not harbor sinister designs
- Cultivate a wide range of interest in the arts
- Be knowledgeable in a variety if occupations
- Do not be negligent, even in trifling matters
- Understand that you can’t always get what you want, when you want it
I borrowed the first four (4) from Miyamato Musashi’s Book of Five Rings, while the fifth rule is a derivation from the Rolling Stones. In this article, I’ll explain the last three (3) (i covered the first two (2) here: First two rules.)
3. Be knowledgeable in a variety if occupations
To me, this is important because the more with which a person is familiar, the more he or she can connect with others. Now, “occupations” doesn’t necessarily mean “jobs;” in this context, it could also mean knowledge domains. This means that if a person can at least understand different things, he or she can share his or her knowledge and it’s through sharing meaningful things that depression can be reduced. Depression reduces a person to a single point: Overwhelming pain. This single point is indicated through isolation. So, really, in seeking a wide variety of knowledge through which a person can connect, the odds are reduced that a person will become isolated.
4. Do not be negligent, even in trifling matters
This is where mindfulness enters into the battlefield. Depression occurs over time, first slowly, then all of a sudden. If a person isn’t mindful of their emotional landscape, then he or she can become susceptible to the rising waves of accumulated pain. I strongly believe that if we are aware of ourselves in relation with our friends, family, and work lives, then we can detect the warning signs of malaise that can grow into full blown depression. We cannot ONLY look at ourselves; we should look at ourselves AND the ways we relate to the external world of which we find ourselves. For example, if I find myself feeling badly but not really paying much attention to how my feelings may be impacting others, then I run the risk of one day finding myself alone because I would have been negligent in how I treat other people. Also, if I feel badly and don’t address it, other activities will suffer; that is, work performance may decrease, I may dress sloppily, or I may not even groom myself in time. Really, because of the slow-build nature of Depression, when anyone allows themselves to be negligent, they run the risk of getting trapped in a negative feedback loop through which Depression will build. If we are aware of our self in relation to the outside world, we can celebrate when we’ve performed well and adjust when we need correction. Being mindful is the key.
5. Understand that you can’t always get what you want, when you want it
Too often in this “get it now” world, there’s a tendency for us to get stuck in the idea that our wants MUST be met RIGHT NOW. That idea is crap. While it is nice to have something we want, goal-setting and attainment is a strong way to build emotional health. But goals often take time and when an end is not immediately met, there can be a desire to quit all-together. Plus, being happy all the time is not really an indicator of emotional health. The ability to bounce back from adversity; however, is. We all screw up; we all do things we regret. But we need to remember that we have to allow time to pass through corrective action such that we can recover from our mistakes. Sure, someone may want a better job, but if that person doesn’t train him or herself towards that goal and research the new jobs requirements, then that person probably won’t get a better job. It’s almost as if we’ve taught ourselves that just because we want something, it should happen. Again, that’s crap. We can become anything; I believe that. But if we don’t take time to actually become, then nothing will happen. There are no magic wands or genies. Time and action are always going to be a key of emotional health. Wanting something, not getting it when we want it, tends to allow bad juju to enter and then build inside of a person.
That completes my five (5) rules of beating Depression. I can apply them, really, to Addiction as well an Depression/Addiction tend to have similar mechanics. I do know that if a person applies these rules (or attempts to, as they are not easy), then in time, he or she will find emotional health.