Doesn’t that salad look good?
Last year I had the fortune of traveling to Marseille, France to work with some friends who are connected to a group that helps people who are relocating.
One night they took me to a local restaurant, La Crepe Au Carre', my friend said, “You have to eat this salad, it will change your life.” His comment threw me off a little because, I thought you go to a crepe place to eat crepes. He insisted that I try this salad, and I did.
Take a look at my image of it. It is a toasted brie and almond topped salad made with fresh, local greens, and local cheese. The dressing was reduced balsamic vinegar with a hint of strawberry. As the waiter placed the salad in front of me, a warm, sweet, aromatics of the dressing, the toasted cheese and almonds stimulated both my imagination and my appetite. As one of my old Georgia friends would say, "That looks almost to eat pretty.
Well, I ate it. And I consumed that delicious blend of cheese, nuts, and greens in a slow, deliberate manner. I felt like I had a Mardi Gras in my mouth. My friend's words were true; it did change my life. That wonderful evening of food and fellowship, a time of savoring food, and hearing about the work that God is doing in people's lives never gets old.
To savor something is to taste or smell it. It means to linger over or dwell on.
Having traveled a little bit in Turkey, Israel, Jordan, and France I get a little frustrated at how fast we live our lives in America. Fast food, constant connectivity, speed dating, always rushing. While I would never trade off the blessings of living in this great country, I am reminded, at least when I travel that there are times that we need to slow down. Times when we need to break bread with friends and family. Times when we can intentionally savor our relationship, our blessings, and yes, delicious food.
One of the easiest tools we use as we continue to look at ways to regain our vision and overcome depression is to savor pleasant memories; past answers to prayer; a meaningful Scripture verse; and positive, meaningful words spoken to you. When we purposely reflect and meditate on these types of good, positive things, our brains begin to move toward health.
Take a few moments and think about it.
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“Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your blessings, see what God has done…” are words from a hymn I remember from my childhood while attending the First Baptist Church of Fort Valley. It is an old song with modern psychological and spiritual implications.
G.K Chesterton said, "Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder."
“Can you see the holiness in those things you take for granted–a paved road or a washing machine? If you concentrate on finding what is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.” — Rabbi Harold Kushner
Gratitude makes your life happier and more satisfying. When we feel gratitude, we benefit from the pleasant memory of a positive event. In addition, when we express our gratitude to others, we strengthen our relationship with them.
An exercise called the Gratitude Visit will help you experience relief from depression.
Close your eyes. Imagine the face of someone still alive who did something or said something that changed your life for the better. Got a face?
Your task is to write a letter (handwritten) to this individual and deliver it in person. The letter should be concrete and about three hundred words; be specific about what they did for you and how it affected your life.
Once you have completed the letter, call the person and let them know that you would like to visit them, but be vague about the purpose of the meeting. This type of exercise is more fun when it is a surprise. When you meet with the individual, take your time reading your letter. Notice their reactions as well as yours. If they interrupt you, gently tell them that you want them to listen until you are done. I promise you that you and the recipient will be much happier and less depressed.
Of course, if you cannot hand deliver the note, mail it, but follow up with a call.
Added Monday morning
My pastor, Todd Cook, Senior Pastor of Sagebrush Church in Albuquerque, shared a message Sunday on Psalm 90. One of the quotes I took away was, "If God leads you to it, he will lead you through it. Here is a link to the message, Boom Box if you want to hear it all. It was timely. Warning: this my be a little "out of the box" for you.
You can find this and more tips in my book Get a Grip on Depression. Obtain a personally autographed copy from me. In Albuquerque, you may pick up a copy at the Sagebrush Church bookstore, or order a copy through Amazon/Kindle.
Recapture Your Vision by Pushing Back Depression and Negative Thinking
Have any idea what this photo is? It is actually a hood ornament with clouds and sky in the background. Your perspective can mess with your head from time to time.
I love being an entrepreneur, it can be a bit chaotic at times, but one of the things that keep me going is vision. Whether you have a job, are self-employed, in school or involved in a vocational quest you need a vision. An idea of what you want to end up with when you have done the work.
I was reviewing some notes from reading I have done over the years and came across a great definition of vision. Hopefully, it will help you. You see, where there is no vision, no dream, no hope, there is little life. When you are depressed, the vision can become muddled.
Here is a definition: Vision is a precise, clearly defined goal with a detailed plan and timetable for achieving that result.
Just to be clear, you can have a vision for your business, your body, your relationships, your health, pretty much anything. One of the problems is that most people have wishes, but no vision-based plans.
When you lose that vision, the joy of living becomes replaced with the mere act of surviving or just getting by. You move from joy to subsistence to depression and ultimately to despair. Personally, I do not know anyone who aspires to despair.
The good news, gaining a clear picture, a vision of what you want and what you are willing to do to get it can be a tremendous energizer. Particularly if it honors the Lord and serves man.
So, if you are having “Vision Issues,” here are some things you can do to push back the negative thinking and depressive feelings,
One of the things that happens when we experience set back is a tendency to suffer from the “paralysis of analysis,” which can be a vision stealer.
Step Back from the Problem
When Thomas Edison felt stumped by a problem, he removed himself from the work area, lay down, and took a little nap. Years before the research on power napping was available, he understood the importance to stepping back from a problem to get a better perspective. Taking a break from the problem can lead to a fresh perspective.
There are ways to put this principle into practice.
1. Stop. Quit putting needless energy into solving a problem that isn’t getting solved. Dr. John Gottman, relationship expert, says that we need to focus on what is fixable, not on past failures.
2. Do something completely different. Choose to swim, go for a walk, take a break, call a friend, pray, read the Bible. It should be a repetitive activity that gets your undivided attention and absorbs, redirects, and gives you energy. Ten to twenty minutes is usually enough time to reset.
3. Observe what happens about the issue when you return your thoughts to it.
Here is a question for you. Are you caught up in the "paralysis of analysis" or are you Stepping Back from the Problem to clear your head? I would love to hear from you. #getagripondepression #AskJohnthurman
Laughter, Joy, tenderness, and passion are things that come to mind when I think of Robin Williams. Another attribute I admired was his ability to be vulnerable. For years he talked about his struggle with addictions, depression, and open heart surgery.
He had struggled a great part of his adult life with a brain disorder which included severe depression, which in many cases co-exists with addictions. Even with treatment, support from friends and family and remarkably successful career, mental illness can still end up killing a person.
As a Christ follower, I have been somewhat discouraged by some of the “faith-based” blogs I have seen about suicide. As a seasoned professional, I have come to see that individuals who come to the edge of the black hole of suicide are not in their right mind. Isolation, depression, and hopelessness steal the individual of their ability to look forward to the possibilities of hope and relief. I believe in a God that is at His core Compassionate, one who weeps with those who weep, one who feels sadness, and one who mourns with those who mourn.
We need to respond to hurting friends, neighbors, and relative with compassion.
Here are some facts about suicide and depression. I trust that you will find this helpful.
The following is from my book Get a Grip on Depression:
Over 90% of people who commit suicide have clinical depression or another diagnosable mental disorder. Many times, people who commit suicide have a substance abuse problem. Often they have that problem in combination with other mental disorders.
Adverse or traumatic life events in combination with other risk factors, such as clinical depression, may lead to death. But suicide and suicidal behaviors are never normal responses to stress.
Other risk factors for suicide include:
• One or more prior suicide attempts
• Family history of mental disorder or substance abuse
• Family history of suicide
• Family violence
• Physical or sexual abuse
• Keeping firearms in the home
• Chronic physical illness, including chronic pain
• Exposure to the suicidal behavior of others
Warning signs that someone may be thinking about or planning to commit suicide include:
• Always talking or thinking about death
• Clinical depression (deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating) that gets worse
• Having a “death wish,” tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, such as driving fast or running red lights
• Losing interest in things one used to care about
• Making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless
• Putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, changing a will
• Saying things like, “It would be better if I were nothere” or “I want out."
• Sudden, unexpected switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy
• Talking about suicide
• Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
• Prior suicide attempts (According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, between 20 and 50% of people who commit suicide have had a previous attempt)
What you can do if you have suicidal thoughts:
• Talk with trusted friends, family members, or others you respect who can assist you
• Talk with your doctor, mental health professional, or pastor. Many times, talking eases or removes suicidal urges. In some cases though, hospitalization is necessary until a sense of balance can be restored.
Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or a local hotline to speak with a crisis counselor.
John is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Speaker, and Author.
Here is an ancient thought that could provide encouragement.
Psalms 40:1-3 I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.
Click this link for a Free Depression Test
This is the third and final blog of the 10 steps for Surviving a Rough and Tumble world. Here is a quick review of the first seven.
1. Practice optimism.
2. Find a resiliency model.
3. Develop a moral compass and unbreakable beliefs.
4. Practice generosity and kindness.
5. Develop acceptance and cognitive flexibility.
6. Face your fears and learn to control negative emotions.
7. Build an ever-expanding tool chest of active coping skills to manage stress.
8. Establish and maintain a supportive social network to help you.
Dr. George Bonanno's research, in his book The Other Side of Sadness, points out one of the ways that people and cultures move beyond trauma, depression and other life events is through community, family, and other networks of people that give us courage, motivation, and shared history to move forward. His research also reveal how important family, friends, and community are in dealing with depression. Learn more about this is my book, Get a Grip on Depression.
Hebrews 10:23-25 - “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now...(NLT)
9. Stay physically fit. One I need to work on. Dr. Oz suggests starting out with walking 30 minutes a day. It is a start.
1 Corinthians 6:19 - 20 - “Don’t you realize that your bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” (NLT)
10. Laugh deep and often.
Whether it be some "Old School Comedy" like the Three Stooges or more modern comedians like Steve Harvey or Robin Williams, be sure to find something or someone that can help you keep life on the light side.
As sad as the loss of Robin Williams is, his humor and zany impressions, and his care for people will live on through the volume of work that he created over his life.
Proverbs 17:22 - “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” (NLT)
Author Ben Sherwood, The Survivors Club, was surprised when Dr. Charney shared the most-surprising insight of his career is "the hidden capacity most people to rebound from adversity."
One ancient Latin phrase says it best, Plus estem voius.” There is more in you than you know. Lean into life today.
My next three part series will include some thoughts about depression in men, Robin Williams, and practical things you can do to help someone who is struggling with depression.
6 Thinking Styles to Avoid
by John Thurman
Have you ever noticed how quickly your mind can get distracted? Things seem to be just fine and then out of nowhere you begin to have these intrusive, negative thoughts? Thankfully, it is a problem nearly every human being experiences from time to time.
Today, I am going to give you a quick overview of the Top Six “Stinking Thinking” patterns that I address in my book, Get a Grip on Depression. I will also give you some key questions to ask as well as practical things to do to lower the impact of these negative thinking patterns.
Here they are:
Jumping to conclusions: Being confident about the situation despite having little or no evidence. Action Plan:Slow down: Do I have any evidence to show I have been wronged or am I jumping the gun?
Mind Reading: Assuming you know what the other person is thinking, or expecting him or her to fully understand what you are thinking. Action Plan: Speak Up: Did I express myself fully, so the other person didn’t need to try to read my mind? Or did I ask for information from the other person rather than attempting to read his or her mind?
Me, Me, Me: Believing you are the sole cause of every problem. Action Plan:Look outward: How did others or circumstances contribute to my current situation?
Them, Them, Them: Believing other people or circumstances are the cause of every problem you encounter. Action Plan: Look inward: How did I control or fuel my situation?
Always, Always, Always: The belief that adverse events are unchangeable and that you have little or no control over them. Action Plan: Grab control: What can I change? What can I influence?
Everything, Everything, Everything: Thinking you can judge a person or your own worth, motivation, or ability on the basis of a single situation. Action Plan: Look at behavior: What specific behavior explains my situation?
2 Corinthians 10:5 ...we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (NLT)
For a more in-depth look at these patterns as well as some scriptural stories that illustrate them check out pages 77-93 in Get a Grip on Depression. Also available at Amazon and Kindle.
John is a Counselor, Author, Speaker and Photographer that helps people "Get a Grip on Life."