I wish everyone could be happy. But unfortunately, the depression statistics in this country are grim. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, at least 9.5 percent of the United States adult population will experience some form of mood disorder in any 12-month period. At least 45 percent of these cases are classified as “severe.” Over a lifetime, these numbers are significantly higher with the average age of onset a young 30 years old. Women are 50 percent more likely to develop mood disorders than men.
Mood disorders encompass more than depression. They also include bipolar and dysthymic disorders. These statistics are derived from actual diagnosed cases of mood disorders and don’t take into account short-term cases of depression, mild cases of the blues, or generalized unhappiness.
It sometimes seems like it might be really difficult to be happy in today’s stressful world. A lot of people are experiencing economic difficulties unlike any they’ve ever had before. That can be really stressful and make it hard to feel relaxed. Our news media doesn’t help either. Every day there’s news of terrible things happening out there in the world – wars, genocide, unemployment, murders.
One of the fundamental ways to stay happy is to tap into the source of happiness from within, not from outside tings. Money, jobs, friends, boyfriends, come and go, but if you are not relying on those things for your true happiness you won’t be as attached to them. I know this concept can seem foreign or almost inconceivable to some, but I wholeheartedly recommend starting a meditation practice. It is what keeps me on track, and I don’t know where I would be without my practice. If you are drawn to a meditation path, you can see if the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda, my guru, speak to you.
Everything in the future will improve if you make a spiritual effort now.
~ Swami Sr. Yukteswar
Antidepressants: Worth the Price of Happiness?
Unfortunately, many people (medical professionals included) turn to pharmaceuticals to manage depression. In fact, according to the CDC2, antidepressants are the most prescribed drugs in the country, with children making up the fastest growing sector of growth for the pharmaceutical. In 2007, U.S. sales accounted for $11.9 billion!
While in severe cases of depression, anti-depressants may be helpful or even life saving, studies show that more than 50 percent of people taking prescription antidepressants continue to experience symptoms, with many slipping right back into depression.
The medications have many side effects, including:
- Weight gain
- Decreased sex drive
- Brain fog
- Increased risk of falls and fractures in elderly adults
- Physical symptoms like nausea, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea
These are just a few of the many reported side effects of antidepressants. So, with such a high physical cost, are they worth it? And without antidepressants, is it possible to be happy through life’s ups and downs? I believe the answer is yes! Let’s take a look at physical and mental strategies to help up your happiness quotient.
A Reed in the Wind
The green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm.
Many people assume happiness means that you will walk around every single moment of every single day overwhelmed with joy. While this may actually be possible for a few people, it is actually quite unrealistic for everyone else. In fact, the expectation that you should always be bouncing with joy can be a source of unhappiness when you fail to meet that standard.
It’s a fact of life that crummy stuff is going to happen sometimes. Things come along that can leave you feeling pretty lousy: job loss, death, loss of partnership, mean people, and many others. To expect to be happy in the midst of these types of things is clearly unrealistic. What you can do, however, is to be resilient. In fact, happiness is all about resilience. It’s about being the green reed that bends in the windstorm but does not break.
So what do you do when something lousy happens? Allow yourself to feel hurt, angry, or upset. These emotions are a necessary part of the healing process. At the same time, you can use other tools to stay grounded and not identify yourself too much with that experience as a permanent one.
The Absence of Expectations
I mentioned before that expecting to be happy all of the time can actually mar your happiness. Expectations do that, because when you have an expectation it means you are attached to certain behaviors and outcomes over which you have no control.
When you attach to specific behaviors (usually from others) or outcomes:
1. You limit the possibilities of what you can accomplish because you are so focused on a single outcome.
2. You create a very narrow view of what it will take to make you happy.
3. The attachment pulls your focus away from the moment, where it is often very easy to find happiness, and instead focuses it on some point in the future when a certain set of conditions must be met in order to make you happy.
4. It pulls you away from the journey, which is often the best part of the ride.
I should mention here – expectations are quite different from goals. Goals can give you a sense of direction and purpose, which may also be important to maintaining happiness. Expectations, on the other hand, set you up for unhappiness, so recognizing when you have them and readjusting your thinking can help realign you to a happier frame of mind.
The foundation of yoga teaches us to work hard towards worthwhile endeavors, while being unattached to the “fruits” of our label. Enjoy the journey and doing things that you believe in, and that are your duty, but do not be attached to the results. Be a reed in the wind.
Focus on the Moment
In his book The Power of Now, author Eckhart Tolle talks about pain arising from two places: the past and the future. If you focus moment to moment, then pain is illusive. It is only when you look back or forward that you begin to experience fear and pain – two things that block happiness.
Focus on the moment is a very simple tool that can generate true joy. Even in the midst of turmoil, tiny moments can be joyful if you allow yourself to be fully present. In any moment, you can bring your focus to right now and let everything else fade away. It will wait.
I’ll give you a few examples:
Hate doing the dishes? Focus on the sensation of the warm water, the sight of the bubbles, and the pleasure of being in your kitchen. I actually find it quite meditative now (I don’t own a dishwasher, so I do spend a whole lot of time doing dishes!). Hate cleaning? Play music you love and focus on the fact that you are caring for yourself by creating a clean environment in which to live.
Go outside on a sunny day and sit down on the grass. Notice the verdant green of the grass and how wonderfully the ground supports you just when you need a place to sit. Feel the sunlight on your arms and face, nourishing you with vitamin D for good health. Listen to the birds singing and enjoy the slight breeze that cools you. Each of these things can give you great joy if you just pay attention.
You can’t expect life to be stress-free, but with a few tools you can manage stress and reset yourself. By providing yourself with support, you’ll feel generally calmer and more relaxed. Some stress release techniques include:
- Deep breathing
- Adequate sleep
- Staying hydrated
- Practicing yoga
- Exercising regularly
- Eating a healthy, nutritious diet
Did you know the mere act of smiling can instantly make you happier? A recent Scientific American report discusses studies on Botox recipients that suggest facial expressions may drive emotion. So – if you’re feeling down? Smile. Laughing helps, too, so pop in your favorite comedy and laugh.
Positive thinking can lead to positive emotions. You’ve probably heard of the concept of “paying it forward” or “random acts of kindness.” Behaving in a kind and compassionate manner can actually help create a positive frame of mind. Other suggestions:
Listen to your thoughts and pay attention to when negativity arises. When you catch it, replace a negative thought with a positive one.
Use affirmations and visualization to reinforce positivity.
Learn to detect when your ego is driving the ship. Ego can lead to a lot of negativity, so learning to recognize and quiet its nagging voice in your head is strong step towards positivity.
Practice gratitude. Focusing on the things for which you are grateful is a great way to feel more positive.
Find ways to satisfy your soul. Whether its building a house for Habitat for Humanity, reading a satisfying book, or sitting down at the piano and playing music, pursuing activities that nurture your creativity and personal sense of values will help you be happier.
Focus on the journey, not the end result.
Learn a meditation practice, and stick with it (again, I consider my morning and nightly meditations the foundation for my life).
Physical Support for Happiness:
Supporting your immune system, building good health, and creating overall vigor is also important for happiness.
Your brain is 60 percent fat. Studies show you need to continue to provide it fats in order to be nourished. Lack of fats can actually physically cause depression and cognitive issues. Add healthy fats to your diet from sources like walnuts, flax seeds, chia, avocados, and other plant foods.
Your body needs to be well nourished in order to support happiness. The Beauty Detox Solution outlines a great diet to help you feel better, which can help you be happier.
Make sure you get plenty of B vitamins and other essential vitamins. Enjoy dark leafy greens, which are rich in these essential happiness nutrients, as well as Probiotic & Enzyme Salad, as probiotics can help manufacture B vitamins in your gut.
You don’t have to have everything go perfectly your way every moment of every day in order to be happy. Instead, focus on small things to create an overall state of happiness that isn’t tied to what’s happening around you.
Stay connected to our community here! We can all support each other. We have each other in this world, and we truly are all connected…so you never are alone.
Kim, but what about if an individual has anhedonia? A person with anhedonia will not feel any joy even when good things happen; as they feel emotionally flat all of the time.
Oh, that must be tough! You could check out this absolutely fab modality called eft or emotional freedom technique. What it does is that it frees up blocked energy which could be causing this (coz everything is energy and any block will give rise to corresponding symptoms) There are tons of websites, an excellent one being eftuniverse.com. Wishing you all the best 🙂
I just wanted to thank you for this amazing post – too little people pay attention to what’s going on inside a person. Mental disorders are on the rise – burnout, severe depression being only two of many.
I also wanted to tell you that it’s nice you also highlight why medication can sometimes even make things worse, whereas doing sports or eating healthy can boost your mood. (But only up to a certain point, I should add.)
I, myself, am bipolar and have an eating disorder and am on three different kinds of medication to control eventual outbursts etc, but my doctor told me about all the risks and also informed my parents and friends to be especially aware of any symptoms that could lead to self-harm or else.
That’s exactly why I think it’s very important to educate people – so thank you for reaching out to your followers and readers in this post!
PS: Following your tips on eating healthy really helped me with my eating disorder. Helps keep everything at bay! Also love your YouTube channel, so much positive energy flowing out of the screen – great!
Thanks for a wonderful post, Kimberly! I agree that it’s so important to do the things you have outlined above, particularly always finding things for which to be grateful and practicing random acts of kindness on a regular basis. The world will become a happier place as each of us individually becomes happier!
Great information, Kimberly! I enjoy your posts, they are well written and full of useful info! I recommend drinking Kangen water for superior hydration – it’s alkaline, anti-oxidant and better absorbed than other kinds of water, so you really get hydrated. Water is essential for the function of every cell in our body! It also makes up over 80% of our brain, so it has a big effect on mood, concentration and energy levels. Dr. Corinne Allen recommends it for mood and brain issues. She specializes in that field.
So many interesting and thoughtful things you have written! I need to take some time to absorb it all, and then I will write more.
Take care – –
I’m back again. I just bought chia seeds for the first time, and have been eating them as a “gel” – really good. I put a little cinnamon in for flavoring.
Back to this blog. I looked up your guru – interesting. I had never heard of him before.
Yes, stress and disharmony is all too prevalent within ourselves. As you noted in Beauty Detox, a lot of this comes from not eating the way we’ve been designed.
I would also like to add that a lot of this stress also comes from not relating to our Designer/Creator as we were meant to.
It is so interesting reading the first chapter of Genesis in the Bible: God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.” (Chapter 1, verse 29).
Right from the beginning, it was the design of the Creator that we should be primarily fruit/seed/vegetable eaters…just as you observed in Beauty Detox!
Yet, if we read further in the story, we see where man has rebelled against his Creator, which has affected both how he relates to himself, others, and his ultimate Designer. Restoring this harmony is the story of the rest of the Bible!
Well, just some further reflections on a very good topic that you raised. Take care – –
First of all , sorry by my mystakes in english , I am a brasilian nutricionist that found out your website to know more about your kind of diet and its was amazing when I read this article. Specially today I was angry and upset , because I try to find the reason that my professional life is not working. I returned to the nutricional area almost a year because i would like to be happy again with a job , but the things are happening very very slowly and it become complicated in my financial life. And today was a bad day , But when I read this words , in the other language , somethings that sounds very familiar to me , because I try to have a spiritual life and have a meditaion moments every day , I see that this is the way . I need to be like green reed which bends in the wind , and try to be more resilient. that it . Thank you for your words today . Sucess always for you. valeria – são paulo- brasil
Fantastic post! Being in the field of Clinical Psychology I have noticed depression stats shoot up too, majorly (in the United Kingdom). I too totally agree that happiness should come from within. So many people place their worth, value and happiness in things that are not stable. We need a firm foundation, something that will always be the same, give us direction, hope and something we can run to in time of need…or simply to rejoice! I’m a Christian and I believe my spirituality keeps me grounded! Together, your beauty detox lifestyle and my beliefs -I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. Even when I have problems I can rise above them, rather then dwell on them!
P.s I love your book!
P.p.s cannot wait for the next book (literally counting down)!!!
Have I missed something? Kimberly is coming out with a new book?? I need more details!
Love your book and drinking the GGS daily…it’s changed my life…thanks!!! Was wondering your thoughts-do you think it is safe to take natural progesterone prescribed by an NMD? This is the only medication I take and yet I am still concerned about it’s effect on the body. Do you know of any bad side-effects?
love it! so well written and well articulated! Thank you for writing this and sharing it. I undertstand where you true glow comes from aside of the GGS.
I needed it as I woke up this morning and was very upset about a certain aspect of my life! Thank you, many blessings!
I used to have major depression. I was on Prozac for a while. Then, I started eliminating meat and dairy from my diet. Within a few months, BAM! My depression was nearly all gone. Yeah, I get sad once in a while, but my diet has significantly helped my mood and overall health (and mental health). Becoming vegan was the BEST decision of my life so far.
Hey Kimberly… I would like to say thank you so much for all of your hard work and informative posts ‘I LOVE THEM’ all of them, as they automatically come to my email I can’t help but read them! The universe is definitely carrying you with knowledge! Love and light Namaste
Hi Kimberly, this is a great article! I have an off-topic question: what are your suggestions for those days when unexpected things occur, like an unusually hectic schedule that prevents a person from eating until they get home, just a few hours before bed. I refuse to eat badly on those days, so I’ve gone without occasionally, until I can get home to eat.
What would be the best meal/combination that will keep hunger from waking me up during the night?
Thanks : )
I don’t have a dishwasher either, and sometimes it drives me crazy, but I will try to focus more on the moment and enjoy myself. Following the principles in this article can help us live our best life…and Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda is an incredibly inspiring book so far-I’m halfway through. It has really made me think about things in ways I never have before. Thanks Kimberly for always inspiring us with your blog, and of course with The Beauty Detox Solution!
Do you really have a next book planned? When? When?
I needed to read this. Thank you. I agree 100%. I “get” everything you have to say. One really silly question though……how do you meditate? (I told you it is a really silly question) I do just about everything else you say in this article in addition to trying NOT get caught up with “keeping up with the Jones”.
But when it comes to meditation….my mind just runs all over the place with random thoughts. Is that what is supposed to happen? Just let your mind think what it wants? Even in yoga class I am thinking of what I am going to make for dinner, or what a cute outfit the teacher is wearing, etc. Maybe I’ll try reading the link to the book you provided!
What’s the best way to make the gren juice if you don’t have a vitamix ?
I appreciate what you are trying to do with your recommendations for yoga, positive thinking, meditation, etc. Believe me, I’ve tried them all, and unfortunately they were not enough.
Couple of questions as i am starting this new way of eating! Very exciting…
1. Almond milk – How long does this last in the fridge before making new batch?
2. I have read a few of your posts about not using plastic bottles as they are toxic. Can you advise what i should use as a travel cup in order to take my green juice to work in the mornings? I don’t really want to use glass as i am travelling and the normal stailness steel ones are hideous! Any ideas?
Would really appreciate a response 🙂
Excellent post Kimberly!!! Thank you so much! I plan to read this many times!! :O) xo
I just read in a book that you must eat carbohydrates with protein and a little bit of fat with each meal to stabilize blood sugar – not doing this will make you gain weight.
Your book says you shouldn’t combine fats with proteins and to eat light through the day – with salads and fats, whereas it says you need carbohydrates throughout the day to keep your blood sugar stabilized.
I’m very confused now, there is a lot of conflicting information out there, i’m just trying to find the perfect balance for me,
Hi Kimberly. I know you here it all the time but I am another that loves reading your blog. I have learned so much and cannot wait to read your book. We live in a town where your book cannot be found…believe me, I’ve searched . But this weekend we are making a special trip to our nearest city to purchase a copy. But I’m very curious to know what you think about dry skin brushing and the best way to go about it. I would greatly appreciate any advice you have on this subject. Thanks for your time and for helping so many people. Have a gorgeous day 🙂 Crysta
I wondered when you’d address this topic, as (I believe) your lifestyle is primarily geared towards this emotion. 😛
When do you eat the daily seeds (like Hemp seeds, chia seeds)? I’m struggling with food combinations, especially protein if dinner contains another concentrated food. I like putting seeds on my dinner salad but what if I decide to have Ganesha’s sweet potatoes after the salad? Wouldn’t that be bad food pairing?
Dear Kim, thank you so much for this wonderful post. Depression runs in my family and I have been tempted to get on antidepressant but with healthy eating and movement in my life I find it isn’t necessary. I also wish doctors wouldn’t just write the perscrptions for antideppresants so easily without trying to get the patient to eat healthier and get exercise first. I also understand some people must be on antid. pills to function in this mad world to day. I am very glad that we have out community here on your beautiful blog. Blessings and Love to all.
great article! What do you suggest for someone who suffers from A.D.D. and/or A.D.H.D.? Trouble focusing and always getting distracted while trying to do homework and projects for university. I’d rather not take adderall but it really does help with focusing on my school work. I get stressed when I’m not able to pay attention because my grades slip. I’m in a bit of a catch 22.
Hi! I also have ADD and have done a lot of trial and error to see what works for me, so I know how you feel! Try an l-tyrosine supplement. People with ADD have an unbalanced amount of dopamine; l-tyrosine regulates dopamine production without amphetamines like those that are present in adderall. Also,while light-to-heavy is great for digestion and good for most people, people with ADD need to modify a little bit. A multi-protein breakfast is important for us because protein inhibits alert-inducing neurotransmitters that help you focus. I like to make a quinoa porridge with almond milk, chia seeds, and flax seeds.
Hope this helps!
typo I said protein inhibits neurotransmitters–I meant it triggers them 🙂
Thank you Kimberly!!!
This is just what I needed to read at a time like this. I truly appreciate your work, please continue to share us.
Thank you for your inspiring and informative posts. Keep them coming! I agree with this one particularly because I am currently on antidepressants and they have saved my life. However, through meditation and yoga I have been able to to come to a place where I believe one day I can get off the meds. What I can’t understand is how I did not find these tools earlier in my life! I think it’s important to teach our children to take care of their mental health with tools like meditation and yoga. This way maybe they learn to deal with life in a healthful and authentic way and won’t come to a point where they need meds.
Thanks for the great article. I need reminding to meditate. I had heard of Yogananda, but never read his book.
All your good advice in this post reminded me of a great book written back in the mid 70’s. Handbook to Higher Consciousness by Ken Keyes Jr. I think it is out of print, but used ones are available on Amazon.
I really appreciate all your fantastic posts, Kimberly
Just went to Amazon to check out Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda. The Kindle version is free.
It’s CRAZY to me that when I went to many doctors and psychiatrists for “depression” that no one ever asked me what I was eating or putting into my body. From my own experience I think it’s most important to ask yourself what you can “take away” rather than what you can pile on to the problem (medications). Like can you take away coffee, alcohol, junk food, negative media, negative people. The best thing for me to get real and feel better was doing yoga, and just sitting with myself and breathing. Medications can be a wonderful aid, but It can’t be the only answer!
whoah this blog is wonderful i like studying your posts. Keep up the good work! You recognize, a lot of individuals are searching round for this info, you could help them greatly.
This is a great blog! These tips will help anyone going through depression, and even if you weren’t, all the information here can help give a regular person a more positive outlook with life. This was great reading! Thank you for sharing!
It’s nice that Kimberly has all this great advice, but I see ZERO responses from her. Also… she’s not a doctor, and it doesn’t sound like she’s ever actually had DEPRESSION as an illness. Sure, everyone gets sad and down sometimes. All of us have difficult periods of time during our lives, or events that keep us feeling blue. That’s not depression, necessarily. I’ve struggled with depression since teenage years. I didn’t do anything to cause it. I’ve tried pretty much everything to fix it including natural and holistic options. I take medication because that helps me function as a productive member of society. I also stay active and try to eat healthily, and do all the things that I know will stave off future recurrences of another big depressive episode. Nutrition and exercise are essential to wellbeing, but sometimes they’re not enough.
Love this article; so many home truths.
Thanks Kim 🙂
I love this article. I myself have suffered from depression and anxiety for almost 20 years, and have just recently started a journey to heal myself from within. Meaning no more meds. A friend of mine was so sweet and shared this article with me. I must say I am now hooked to the community. Thank you!
Wonderful blog! Ive suffered from depression since age 8 as my father was murdered. Life had its ups & downs, but it has always been a battle. I am now 23 years old. The last 2 years of my life have been the worst as I have been in & out of mental institutions as well as intensive outpatient therapy.Tryed just about every antidepressant.. was actually over medicated at one point.. nothing seemed to work. I had come to realize I had to do it for myself. I haven’t taken medication for a yr & a half. Its been a struggle, but with the right coping skills,learned techniques & faith with in yourself.. it is possible. You just have to hold on & fight. The outcome will make you stronger than you could ever imagine! This blog truly gave some great pointers that I must try myself on these ‘blah’ days. Thank you! 🙂
hello! i’m lucky to have a psychiatrist (he’s also a neuro-chemist & surgeon) who knows the brain & the effects of nutrition, supplementation, spirituality, the arts, meditation, & honestly more than i can list. he was one of the 1st to study the effects of quality fish oil for the brain (take it! i take about 4x the recommended dose.). he has reflexology, tai chi, accupuncture (sp), neurofeedback, QEEG, & psychotherapy in his office. he’s not part of the 15 min. meds machine; he honestly cares that everyone he sees to feel better. he keeps up on ALL reading. he’s a seasoned “user” of auyrvedic(sp!) medicine & offers info re. it. he’s practiced meditation for years (he’s a child of the 60’s ;o).) i had to see about 10 psychs b/f i found him (& have been w/ him for 8 yrs).
everything re. the info here — i know he agrees w/. the neuroplasticity of the brain allows it to heal. BUT, for me, we don’t poo-poo meds. while the end product of a healthy brain & body (together) includes all the great modalities here (plus more, such as immersion in the arts), it takes time to incorporate & habituate. for me, meds help bridge this gap. i do find satisfaction in the fact that i’m an odd case in that only an maoi works for me, so the drug companies make next to nada on me!
i would LOVE to be off meds, but they help me right now. also, if a medication is keeping a teenager from suicide, i don’t want to be urging him or her to stop in lieu of a lifestyle that needs parental assistance (grocery shopping for greens, etc.).
again, i think the info here is helpful & positive & offers a great facet to psychological / overall health.
p.s. my psych. is 73 yrs. old & can pass for a 50 yr. old! ode to an amazingly healthy, moderate lifestyle — he does drink (high quality) coffee!
Please anyone help, I am on abilify 5mg, life is wonderful now. I use to be on 15 mg of abilify. I need to take gaba 900 mg. And currently taking magnesium 1500 mg, with abilify 5mg. Any advice? Does it affect one another?