Depression and the Dalai Lama, Take 2

 

My post on countering depression, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and the Dalai Lama got more hits than any other post so far. Maybe it could be a combo of cosmic forces – Sarkozy had been ousted that very day – but I think it’s also the popularity of talking about depression. As unpopular as it is having depression around for a friend, it’s very popular.

So how do we counter depression?

I am quoting another Buddhist, Ven. Thubten Gyatso,who said, “Should you flush your Valium and Prozac down the toilet? No, not yet. Begin with small actions to help others – empty the garbage can without being asked, clean up your own mess in the kitchen, polish the shoes of others. Smile occasionally.”

I disagree. Don’t smile occasionally. Smile often. Take a deep breath, exhale, and then smile. Elizabeth Gilbert said that the Balinese healer she studied with – the one who always called her Liss – told her to do that.

Try it. You can feel yourself filling up, first with a sense of peace that you are breathing and living, and then, after smiling, you’re filled with silliness. And then with gratitude.

It might be easy to dismiss these suggestions. You might say: I have big problems. They can’t be solved by polishing someone else’s shoes. If that guy had my stuff to deal with, he wouldn’t be so smug.

But the more we focus on other things besides our problems, the more we get involved with life and living. We gain a new perspective. Our problems start to change. They even start to shrink to more manageable proportions.

What do you do to counter depression? How do you live your best chapter?

The more we focus on other things besides our problems, the more we get involved with life and living.

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About dianabletter

Diana Bletter is a writer living in northern Israel whose novel, A Remarkable Kindness, is forthcoming from HarperCollins in August. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, tabletmag, and other publications. Her first book, The Invisible Thread: A Portrait of Jewish American Women (with photographs by Lori Grinker) was nominated for a National Jewish Book Award.
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