| Peter Cook
In our previous blog, we quoted some depression statistics.
The reality is that the holiday season (November -December each year) is not a joyful time for everyone. People stress more. More than half of those with mental illness report that the holidays make their symptoms worse. Of all the people feeling sad and dissatisfied, more than two-thirds reported that they are lonely and financially stressed at this time of year.
Suicide and depression
The American Association of Suicidology reported in 2009 that most people who commit suicide were depressed. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among 15-19-year olds, and the percentage of college students committing suicide more than doubled in the five years between 2013 and 2018.
We kicked off this series with some ideas of how you can find greater joy in life. In this blog, we explore the topic further.
‘How can I find greater joy in life?’
Joy is something that only God can restore.
It is God’s will that we would know His joy. It is available to all of us. The only thing diminishing it is ourselves. We sin and do terrible things to ourselves and others. You will find it hard to experience real joy if you still carry many unnecessary burdens, hurt, and wrongdoings.
Give it to God. Your joy will increase tenfold.
Confront your past
Negative experiences, trauma, and bad choices can all create barriers so that joy eludes you. Sometimes the only thing to do is to do the work and get past it. Find a therapist or start by telling a friend. Commit to healing your past so that you can start growing and living life in joy.
Shift your focus
Instead of thinking about everything that is ‘wrong’ in your life, focus on the things you do have. Keep a gratitude journal or commit to using a small downtime every day (while the coffee is brewing or waiting at a bus stop) to focus on something you are grateful for. Someone once wrote that it is 'gratefulness' that makes us joyful.
Be grateful for the people that God put in your life who has developed you and encouraged you. Forget the unkind words and the hurts from others. You will have joy if you shift your focus.
Positive psychologist Martin Seligman once asked severely depressed patients to keep a gratitude journal for fifteen days. More than 92% of the participants said afterward that they felt less depressed and happier.
More ways to find joy
- Make time for the things you are passionate about, even if it is just for 15 minutes per day. Your joy lies in your passions.
- Set the barrier higher. Challenge yourself to something new.
- Find joy in the here and now. You can do nothing about the past, and always planning for the future won't bring you lasting pleasure. Try to exist in the now. Let go of being busy all the time.
- Volunteer for something. Acts of kindness lead to positive emotions and personal well-being.
- Get outside!
- Laugh with someone.
- Surround yourself with positive people.
Finding more joy in life has everything to do with a positive attitude and a turning toward God.
However, nobody said it would be easy. Overcoming depression and mental health issues usually is not just black and white – there can be fifty-five shades of grey in-between.
All we ask of you is to consider that life can be different. If you find it overwhelming to help yourself, remember help is always available: in your immediate circle of friends and family, but also out there with professionals and a variety of institutions and mental health non-profits. We can also help.
It is possible to find your joy again!