Im generally not a fan of motivational speakers, but Tony Robbins has some good stuff. Depression is something that almost everyone deals with sometime in their life. For some it is transitory, for others is is a crippling life long disease.
What is depression? I dont know where I heard the following; it is probably someone famous and I am blanking on the name; but depression was once explained to me in the following manner: Imagine you have been attacked by a wild animal. You have been gutted and will die over the next ten minutes. As you lay there dying you think about various regrets. Specifically, things that you wish you had done in your life, things that you did do but didnt because they harmed your career, time you wish you had spent with you children but didnt.
A depressed person feels this way ALL THE TIME.
When this was told to me I was not depressed. I have not been for many years, but when this was told to me it sure hit home because it certainly describes how I felt the times that I have been depressed.
Ive done some more studying on the subject and I basically agree with Tony Robbins formula. We are unhappy when our Life Conditions (LC) Fall short of our Blueprint (BP).
That is, we have mapped out in our heads a Blueprint for our lives and when we fall behind that we get depressed. This explains the stark unhappiness of many of my peers that I grew up with in Greenwich. For most of them their parents were so successful that there was almost no chance of their life conditions meeting their blueprint (which was merely being the same as their parents). Of course, not all of those I went to school with are depressed. Those who are happy are the few that met their Blueprint and are very successful, but most of my old friends who are happy are the people who changed their blueprint. They are people who realized that happiness is a choice and that it does not come from material possessions, club memberships and the like.
When our life conditions do not meet our blueprint we essentially have 3 options: Change our life conditions, change our blueprint, our blame ourselves and get depressed.
My belief is to go for the first two at the same time. You can change your life conditions and change your blueprint at the same time. Changing your life conditions is hard work, but everyone can do it. At the same time, changing your blueprints is easy on the surface: just lower your needs. However, it requires years of de-programming.
I was fortunate to be introduced to a form of shock therapy when it came to my blueprint. Having grown up with every possible advantage I still was not generally a very happy person. Travel, however, changed everything. Witnessing extreme poverty in Kenya and especially Sout Sudan had a great impact on me. I also witnessed it all while living with only my laptop, kindle, and a suitcase full of clothes.
That is when it impacted me that everything I previously felt was important was in fact immaterial to my own well-being and happiness.
Changing your Life Conditions is also positively impacted by travel. Most Americans are horribly entitled when it comes to work and effort. Although I had a successful career, I thought it was actually difficult until I started traveling. In Kenya, for example, I used to walk through Uhuru Park every day. While walking through I would see scores of people in their best suit sleeping on the grass. These were people who saved up enough money to take the bus into the city because they had a potential job interview or two. They couldnt even afford to sit in a coffee shop to kill time in-between interviews.
In Albania, which is not much more developed than Kenya, on every street corner is a kid with a hose looking to wash your car, or a woman with cherries she picked herself that she is trying to sell, or if you are near a lake someone who caught some fish who is trying to sell them just to feed his family for the night.
Its a very humbling experience and has allowed me to work through situations where when I was younger I might have otherwise felt sorry for myself. Whenever I feel tempted to complain to myself about a task I dont really want to do, I remember the people I have seen who will do anything for a days wage. (The downside of this of course is whenever an unemployed friend in the US complains that there are no jobs I want to kick him/her in the ass. There are jobs, you just dont want to do them).
Remember, happiness is a choice. If you dont understand why you are unhappy it is because your Life Conditions are not meeting your Blue Print. Work to change both. Life is too short to spend it depressed.