A man is about as happy as he makes up his mind to be. Abraham Lincoln.
Those who have experience with a depressive disorder may have wrestled with this idea, and may also have desperately tried to override a negative mood by simply choosing happiness. Often, these honest and heartfelt attempts fail and then backfire, causing more guilt and shame for not being able to successfully clear the dark emotional clouds. I should have the power to lift myself from these pessimistic thought patterns…
While there is definitely no one-size-fits-all cure to depression, there are some tried-and-true tools that help induce happiness, such as embracing an attitude of gratitude for blessings big and small. And after discussing the matter with others, it appears to me that each person has very specific, highly personalized actions, sights, sounds, etc. that activate deep joy within.
For example, when I was a school-aged kid, the children’s performer Eddie Coker produced two songs that still never fail to bring a smile to my face: “The Happy One” and “The Morning Dance.” Today, listening to these tunes automatically rockets me back to the 90s, sitting with my sisters on the front bench seat of my mom’s massive, fire engine red Suburban, bouncing around and singing loudly without a care in the world.
So maybe Abe is right, at least to some extent. Whenever I get to feeling down, do I have any excuse to wallow there? A quick push of the play button lends an immediate boost that always lasts 5 or so minutes, with the potential to carry on much longer. (It’s amazing what a little child-like singing and dancing can do.)