Strategising Your Own Happiness
Going to work everyday is made a lot more challenging when you’re dealing with anxiety or depression.
Whether you’re depressed, anxious, or just not yourself; working through these challenges can feel next to impossible.
But going through life while dealing with these issues is possible, and you’re strong enough to make it happen; but it’s going to take some strategy.
One of the keys to living a productive life through challenges like depression is working out which coping tactics are best for you.
Different strategies work better for different people, and different life choices are more effective depending on what you believe and how you see yourself and the universe.
Whether it’s Religion or Fitness
Religion, for example, is perfect for someone who has religious faith, and not so perfect for someone who doesn’t.
There was once a time, and perhaps in some places it’s still that time, when people were expected to be religious. For people that grew up under those circumstances, it can be understood that they might not take much comfort from religious experiences.
However for other people, faith is something that they rely on for comfort and happiness. If this describes you, then it’s important that you take the time to go to your place of worship and seek religious experiences. It’s important that you build a network of people around you who share your faith and can counsel you and make you feel better.
Even in a religious setting, it’s wise not to share more than you feel comfortable sharing, and make sure you don’t overstep your own trust boundaries regarding what you choose to share.
But if a religious gathering fills you with feelings of joy and warmth, then make sure you seek out a place where you can do that.
If, unlike me, you enjoy going to the gym, then make sure you find the time to do that.
It may sound like obvious advice being told to seek out what makes you happy, but for some people, it’s not an obvious thought at all.
Some of us believe that we don’t deserve happiness, and will purposely sleep through their gym time just to punish themselves. I sleep through my gym time because I hate going to the gym, but my far better looking friends don’t feel the same way.
If you can’t afford the gym at the moment (or you’re quarantined), then why not buy a yoga mat off eBay, download a fitness app, and get crunching on the living room floor?
If you can’t afford a yoga mat, then go out to the dumpsters behind your apartment and find some discarded cardboard. There is always a solution to any problem that’s inhibiting your happiness in the current moment.
The Church of Video Games
For me, even though I’m a grown man with a job and a mortgage, I find a lot of happiness in video games.
For most of my adult years, I chose to keep myself away from games and would refuse to allow myself to buy consoles as they were released.
I would livestream the release events, watch the press conferences, and even read gaming magazines. I would follow the gaming world as closely and as secretly as I could, but I believed that as long as I didn’t take part, that I could retain the illusion in my mind that I was a “normal” guy. (Needless to say that I was compartmentalising other issues I was experiencing at the time).
Unfortunately, I didn’t have any other coping mechanisms or any other way or releasing stress in my life. So as my anxiety worsened, my stress would increase and have no valve through which to be released.
Because of this, things grew to a breaking point and when I finally reached it, I didn’t need much of a push to fall over the edge.
One particular day a few years ago, I couldn’t get the lid off of an expensive jar of whole egg mayonnaise. It had been a productive month, and I’d made more from my paycheque then usual; so I had decided to treat myself with something I really loved but couldn’t justify the price for.
I’m a big sandwich guy, and an incredible mayonnaise is one of my greatest joys.
Anyway, I couldn’t open it because I had butter all over my hands. So as I reached for a towel, the jar slipped out of my hand and shattered all over the kitchen floor. After a proper tantrum, I got into my car and went on an ill advised shopping spree.
I bought a Nintendo Switch and a compatible TV. I got a high end laptop with all the specs that I needed for gaming. I then went to the Apple store and got the new iPhone and Apple Watch, I then finished the spree at Starbucks with four shots of coffee and a splitting headache.
While I’m grateful that I finally broke through my ridiculous self defiance, it was not a good thing that it took breaking the bank to do it.
Losing one’s composure in this way is counterproductive, and not at all how things should have played out.
If I had just understood my coping mechanism and embraced it, I could have bought everything I needed over a realistic period of time. I could have planned out the expenses like a rational and financially healthy person.
I’m lucky that I have no dependents, but if I were married or supporting kids, a spend like that could have really caused some major life problems. Luckily, it was only me eating squashed balls of grated cheese for dinner for the next month.
Seek Joy, Because it’s Not Seeking You
So whether it’s religion, gaming, fitness or any number of other things; if it’s legal and morally sound, you have a duty to yourself and your happiness to make it happen. (Within financial reason).
You deserve happiness and you deserve to find time every day to enjoy yourself. You don’t deserve punishment, and there’s no arbitrary standard of normal you should be comparing yourself to.
Life is too short, and the world has become too shitty for you to add to your own misery for no reason whatsoever.
If you’ve never sought out happiness before, it’s not going to come to you quickly and easily. You’re going to have to live out normal life for the next few weeks and take down a lot of notes.
Take notes of whatever you do that brings you joy. Note down any thoughts that make you happy, no matter how strange or twisted (these notes are for your eyes only).
A friend of mine needs tea every day, another friend likes to be bound and whipped. Both past-times are legal and consensual, so what’s stopping them from seeking out these pleasures? Only themselves.
Knowing what you need is half the battle, the other half is giving yourself permission to seek it out. Once you do, try living life while seeking out and taking part in joy. You might notice that your life completely changes, I know mine did.