Archive for the ‘Depression’ Category

Something To Make You Think

Posted: April 30, 2017 in Depression
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What I think happens in life and thereafter.

There is no supporting evidence for this. None. But I think this photo depicts what happens to us in our life and afterwards.

Firstly, the sign.
The concept that life ends when we die is a man-made concept. Take that away and the picture takes on a different meaning
In the foreground, the road and painted line shows the direction that has been mapped out for us. We may have painted the line or we might be following a line painted by others. It’s still a direction we follow. Life is reliable if we walk this way. No surprises.

The end of the painted line.
Notice that the line stops but the road continues. At some point in our lives we don’t need to follow a direction. We just know which side of the road is the safest and the direction we should be travelling in. It’s still a direction followed by most but we don’t need as many rules to guide us. We brush our teeth, save some money and have the weekend off without thinking about it. Admittedly, doing these things does save you some heartache later but really it’s your choice. There are consequences for everything. Even if you stop in the middle of the road there is a consequence.

The gravel.
The end of the road and start of the dirt shows our partial return to the way things should be as we age. We can start to connect with the natural way of life and appreciate the little things. Like being outside. Feeling the wind. Listening to our own thoughts. All these experiences becomes more comfortable as we realise that all things pass. We end up walking our own path regardless of others. The realisation that happiness and contentment is up to us makes it much easier to live.
The decisions we have made, passage we have taken, and where it has lead us finally shows what really matters. Material gain and credit for our performance loses its lustre. The knowledge that others are struggling now seems to drive us to a point where we are rewarded with a deep contentment that only service to another living being can give.

The sign.
It may be the latest theory to explain death but it really just shows a transition. In science, nothing disappears, it changes state. Ice melts and become water; water boils and becomes steam; the steam seems to disappear but really spreads out to become, well, everything.

Afterwards.
Just because we can’t see something doesn’t mean it isn’t there. There is a continuation of us but as the picture shows, things change.
It seems to me there is a natural beauty thereafter. No roads, no directions, no hazards. Still in existence but a more natural one that allows us freedom that we haven’t experienced beforehand. Whether we continue into the trees or the sky is up to you. All we do is move forward into a new experience.

The Pororoca lives in my memory now. In Brazil however, twice a year, the wave rolls on. Sometimes ridden by an inquisitive surfer, sometimes with no one to watch it.

Every time it builds up, it passes São Luis – the bustling town that lies near the mouth of the river.

It rumbles through the region of Maranhao where population dwindles and buildings become huts. As it approaches narrow banks and shallow water it builds up and passes by the lives of local Brazilians regardless of their problems.

It twists as the river curves and finally nears Arari, the town I used as my base for the expedition that put my problems into perspective.

You see, nature continues as we experience the events that seem to matter so much. As each full moon waxes and wanes, the lives of every person on the banks of the river wax and wane too. As I write this, the full moon tonight is the same one that greeted me in my early morning trips up river to meet the wave of my lifetime. Tonight’s full moon however greets a different me. I’ve changed. I look different. I think different. I’ve grown.

But I’ve changed because I wanted to. I could have returned to my life and struggled but as Robert Frost said, I took, “the road less travelled”.

And like Frost, it did make all the difference.

Now I don’t try to beat the world’s longest wave. In many ways I took the Pororoca home with me. I’ve made decisions since then that have allowed me to ride more waves. I moved so that I am minutes away from nature and waves and forest. I watch the ocean, the wind, the swell and yes, the tide.

I’m happy doing that. I found that the waves I dreamt of as a teenager do exist. I went to the end of the world and found that happiness is under my feet. Do I still struggle? Yes, but that is just part of being human. 40 years of wanting to do something better than before led me back to the place where I don’t feel bad about standing still.

I went from a human doing to a human being. Feels better.

Ridding yourself of negative thoughts is impossible. As parents we know this when our child is crying. We make them laugh or show them something that interests them and within moments they are laughing. They have at least forgotten the trauma.Real mud

As adults we must replace negative distractions with positive obsessions. You see, by concentrating on defeating something like depression your focus increases the subject of your thoughts. That is, depression. It’s like trying not to think of your father. Instantly his face springs to mind.

To combat depression all you need is an idealistic goal to chase. Victor Frankl, the psychiatrist who found himself in a concentration camp, accepted his place in the world, he just didn’t focus on it. He focused on the difference he wanted to make. He looked at how he could make a difference even though he was confined to Auschwitz with death all around him.

Okay, you are not in a concentration camp. But as the saying goes, “Man can make a hell of heaven or a heaven of hell”. So it’s up to you. It’s up to what you concentrate on.

Mud

Do you see burnt trees or new growth? If you have read this far, you know that the intended answer is new growth. The trick is realising that the fire caused the new growth.

It’s all about perspective.

“Learning is to a man as the leaves and branches are to a tree, and it should be said that he simply should not be without it.” So said Takeda Shingen, one of Japan’s best known generals who lived in the 1500’s. At age 52 he was hit by a bullet and died, but not before his legacy of knowledge had been recorded for all those who wished to see what a life of warfare had taught.

So it seems that a warrior can steel himself for battle not only by hard physical training but also by improving his academic abilities. If this logic holds, we can therefore create a life that rewards us more by following the same path. We can create happiness more easily than by just ‘trying harder’ – as our well meaning friends and relatives urge. If we research and see how others have dealt with difficulty, we find the same thing. Not only does it transport us to a higher level, we actually feel less alone. We realise that others who have come before us have also struggled (sometimes more than we have.) Our pain becomes more palatable purely through comparison with the trauma of others.

The question now becomes where do we look for guidance?

If the Samurai looked to the victors of the past, so should we. We should look to those who have left a record of actions that created a fulfilling life. Surely someone else has met with similar difficulty and has triumphed through a series of actions that will allow us to experience similar results.

The Samurai knew that attention to detail on a daily basis would lead to victory in a range of activities. They would not miss their regular training as they knew that hardening their resolve in battle came through defeating common human weaknesses. They knew that each time they didn’t attend to trivial household duties left them with the knowledge that they had chipped away at their level of discipline.

‘A nine storey tower begins with the foundation’ is a saying accredited to the ancient Samurai. In this same way, our foundation of attention to seemingly little things is the foundation upon which we build a character strong enough to withstand anxiety, panic, despondency and depression.

Quite often this can be as simple as rising earlier than normal and getting organised. It can then be improved upon by a short period of reading every day. Reading for a small period of time every day will bring about more emotional intelligence than 10 hours of last minute research when confronted with psychological pain.

At that point, it is often too late.

Rising early

The number of people who blame their childhood on their problems is huge. They say, “If I had a better start in life I wouldn’t have all these problems”. Well, every day you get a fresh start but it isn’t that easy. Our childhood trauma lingers in the form of memories that trigger the original feelings that we experienced. 
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“Why on earth did you do that?”

The voice came out of the blue.

It sounded like my father’s advice to me as I was growing up. I could hear the voice clearly in my head but dismissed it as being an old tape playing. Like a conversation that you had years ago that you can easily recall.

Only problem was that it made perfect sense. Like a voice of logic.

I argued back that I was only 17 at the time. That I didn’t know.

“But couldn’t you see that buying that car was a waste of money?” 

I then came out with a cliche of my own, “If only I knew then what I know now.”

Making decisions about what to do with current situations is easy if you have an all knowing spiritual being helping you. A Scrooge-like character that advises what will happen if you take a particular course of action. He doesn’t judge your actions. He is a passive observer that can be called on at any time. He just talks to you calmly and then drifts away whilst you get on with your original plan. It’s years later that you learn to listen to his sage advice. It’s only after time and time again of him being right that you realise that common sense does prevail.

That is what this book is about. It’s about separating the chatter of well meaning internal dialogue and acting on reliable advice. The kind of advice that is in all of us. It just gets rationalised by our emotions. Remember that emotions are knee-jerk reactions that are a result of past experiences. Problem is they get twisted and in the end we act contrary to what we know is right.

Our lives are punctuated by trauma.

Unfortunately the enlightenment we seek happens at the end of the trauma. Can’t we have the enlightenment without the trauma? Can’t we just learn the lesson without the pain? Why do the good feelings hide under the trauma in a game of hide and seek?

Each time we experience difficulty, we look to the enlightenment that we know comes as a result.

“What’s my lesson I have to learn?” I say.

Whether we like it or not, we have to face each impending disaster.  We wait until the event is over but often are doomed to repeat the situation. Unless we grow. Unless we learn.

We look to avert the next disaster by seeking refuge in religion, distraction, cheap thrills or addictions.

The big question is how many traumas does it take? We are often traumatised by life’s rotten apples and have even given it a name. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s actually an opportunity for growth if we can separate our emotions. Post traumatic Stress Opportunity. PTSO.

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That sounds better.

(The ebook, “If Only I Knew Then What I Know Now” is due for release via Kindle in February 2015. Follow this blog to learn more)

Not ‘Funny Ha Ha’… but ‘Funny Strange’.

Example:
When your life is in danger you will do anything to avoid the impending trauma.
But in the absence of a threat, we question what it’s all for.

Confused? Me too.

Enter Kevin Briggs, a California law enforcement officer whose beat covers The Golden Gate bridge. Kevin has talked to hundreds of people as they stood looking down at the water 245 feet (75 metres) below, ready to jump. His estimations are that he has dissuaded over 200 people from the suicidal leap. Of those that did and survived (low percentage) they all said that the moment they jumped, they wish they hadn’t. THAT doesn’t make sense.

More than 1,400 people have jumped off the bridge since it opened in 1937 with only 2% surviving the fall and of that small slice only 4% were able to walk again, according to the Golden Gate Bridge transit district.

Sometimes we need to turn to a professional to get some perspective when grappling with some of life’s deep questions. So let’s get some advice from Mr. Victor Frankl, a trained Psychologist and Neurologist who happened to live in Austria during the 2nd World War and was sent to Auschwitz concentration camp. When the average life span of a concentration camp detainee was somewhere between 3 weeks and 3 months, Mr. Frankl survived 3 years.
As a trained psychologist, his assessment of those that died and those that lived made him realise happiness is not the key. Meaning is. Those that find meaning for their existence are much better off than those that chase happiness.
His theory is called Logotherapy where meaning is the ‘primary motivational force in life’.

Aaah, now that is starting to make sense.

So let’s look at the meaning that others have found. Here are 5 examples of people who found a cause that drives them:
1) Adam Braun – Adam started Pencils of Promise where he builds schools for impoverished kids in third world countries.
2) Sam Kahamba Kutesa – This year Sam was elected President of the United Nations General Assembly’s sixty-ninth session. His vision of our world is far greater than any of our day to day headaches.
3) Al Gore – Mr Gore lost the US Presidential election but then went on to become the world’s foremost speaker on climate change. Instead of reflecting on his losses, he focussed on the job he had in front of him.
4) David Bryant – After retirement as a teacher and school principal, David found himself directionless. Shortly after he volunteered for a position teaching poor children in the Maldives. His passion for giving came back in an instant and at an age when others slow down, David is travelling and making a difference.
5) Team Hoyt – Fathering a cerebral palsy child is enough to give anyone meaning in their life. But Dick Hoyt motivates thousands if not millions of athletes by pushing or towing his son in countless triathlons and marathons. He says that his son Rick’s smile as they cross the finish line gives him motivation every day.

What next?

Search. Search for something that keeps you awake at night.
Something that will have you up at 5 in the morning motivated to make a difference.
Find a cause that upsets you.
Or one that fires you up.
Then find out how to act.
Then, commit.
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Get Victor Frankl’s Book by clicking on this link: Man’s Search for Meaning, Gift Edition

Knowing Your End Date

Posted: August 23, 2014 in Depression, Suicide, Survival

In Thaiboxing, the brutal national sport of Thailand, fighters fight full contact for 5 x 3 minute rounds. Blood is plentiful. Knockouts a regular event. Lots of money and bright futures for the winners.

Now an interesting phenomenon happens in the last round when a fight is one-sided. Quite often the winner will stay stay away from the loser saving them both injury. They effectively “give up the fight” knowing the end is near and the result obvious. Plus they want to fight again the next week.
Pretty logical.
So is it giving up when the end is in sight and the result is obvious. Is that what Robin Williams did? Was it as rational as the action of the Thai fighter? (more…)

But the importance of your role must be obvious to you. Not others. YOU.

Notice I said “Critical”. Making life merely valuable will only ensure you exist from one day to the next. That is no way to go through life. 

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