An Interesting Self-Analysis

February 16, 2011

So, my mother finally seems to have accepted that I have depression and not just a "happiness problem" or a spiritual shortfall. The last few times I have talked to her on the phone, she has asked me how I am feeling and has asked if I need counseling or medication. (In the great scheme of things, I probably need both, but I digress...) A few days ago, she sent me an email that intrigued me. It's the Duke University study on “peace of mind.” I read it and then compared it to my experience.

Factors found to contribute 
greatly to emotional and mental stability are:

1. The absence of suspicion and resentment. Nursing a grudge was a major factor in unhappiness.


I try not to hold grudges. I know they're dangerous. But sometimes I find myself getting angry over the way people have treated me in the past. Even when I think I'm over things, the bad feelings often come back to bite me when I least expect them.

2. Not living in the past. An unwholesome preoccupation with old mistakes and failures leads to depression.

It's not the past that has me up in arms; it's the present. I've enjoyed pretty good success in the past, so I feel like I should be accomplishing more now.

3. Not wasting time and energy fighting conditions you cannot change. Cooperate with life, instead of trying to run away from it.

I think this describes me. I'm rarely shocked when life goes south. However, I do spend a lot of time expressing my opinion on political matters. I get upset when people supposedly smarter than me cannot solve obvious problems. Constantly spewing about it, though, probably isn't good.

4. Force yourself to stay involved with the living world. Resist the temptation to withdraw and become reclusive during periods of emotional stress.

My husband and I just had a conversation about this. I DO need time to interact with other adults. Withdrawing only makes things worse in the long run. I'm going to start going out on Thursday nights to my favorite bead store and make jewelry with other women.

5. Refuse to indulge in self-pity when life hands you a raw deal. Accept the fact that nobody gets through life without some sorrow and misfortune.

I try. I swear I do. I know I have it good compared to others. Very good.

6. Cultivate the old-fashioned virtues—love, humor, compassion and loyalty.

This is where I believe I excel. The old-fashioned virtues enable self respect.

7. Do not expect too much of yourself. When there is too wide a gap between self-expectation and your ability to meet the goals you have set, feelings of inadequacy are inevitable.

Ouch. This is definitely a sticking point for me. If I had a list of all the things I think I should accomplish everyday, I'd have to move to Mongolia and live in a yurt with the Dali Lama. I often wish I could be the kind of super-productive, disciplined person who, at any time, has a spotless house, a pampered child, an exciting marriage, a multi-million dollar career, and three awards on my shelf. And then I have to remind myself that no one probably has all of those things at one time. It isn't easy.

8. Find something bigger than yourself to believe in. Self-centered egotistical people score lowest in any test for measuring happiness.

Those Duke people might as well cut me off at the knees with a chainsaw. Deep down, I'm an arrogant wench. The people closest to me know this, and I know my ego affects the way I perceive myself, my accomplishments, and my environment. I'm not sure if I should just accept this about myself or really strive to change it. Trust me, I've been knocked off my own pedestal a few times in the past, and I doubt those will be the only instances. I'm thankful, in part, for my failures, because they help keep my head in reality.

How do you measure up on the "peace of mind" scale?

2 comments:

Jojesek said...

Yikes, no wonder I'm depressed.

April said...

This study definitely gives one lots to think about!

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