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Rainbowstar

How To Make Sense Of The Negatives Of Life

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Hi everyone,

One of the worst aspects of major depression is the pessimism about life that accompanies it. When I am depressed, my view of life is very negative. I only see the negatives of life such as the suffering in life (poverty, long list of human diseases, natural disasters, humans fighting with other humans, suffering etc). This inevitably makes the depression worse.

We can look at the positives of life however, the negatives seem to overwhelmingly outnumber of positives.

How do we keep a hopeful positive view of life in light of all the harsh negative realities of life?

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I like to watch the animals. They always seem so happy doing what they evolved to do, however brutal & painful that may be. Usually just ends with me wishing I was one though. Who cares if your their lives, are nasty, brutal & short, you're more or less happy since you're doing what you were made to do. I am reminded of Robert Sapolsky's book title Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers (although I think new research shows ulcers aren't actually caused by stress so much, that was just the belief when he wrote it)

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Good question, Rainbowstar. That question led me to a long quest for Truth. But in the end I have been left an agnostic, and this life still does not make sense to me. The suffering seems way too much to justify this existence. I don't know. Maybe we're on a journey through many lives to evolve all our potentials. But I don't really know. All we can do is make the best of this journey.

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I think it helps to consider that although a lot of people are currently suffering and have suffered throughout history, it is a miracle that you exist. Think about all the history behind your very existence; all the struggles and effort that every one of your ancestors had to go through in 3.5 billion years of evolution just so you could come into existence and have the chance to experience life. And if you have access to this forum, you have access to the internet, so chances are you are actually quite wealthy compared to the majority of people in the world. I know the idea that others are suffering is very depressing, but I take solace in knowing that not only is it a miracle that I exist; it's also a miracle that in a world that has seen so much pain throughout time, I'm a member of the most intelligent species on Earth - possibly one of the most intelligent in the universe - and on top of that, I'm actually quite well off. So despite my depression, OCD and other health problems, I really do think that I have beaten all the odds so far, and chances are that you have too. I think we have all won the lottery more than a couple of times.

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I wish I knew the answer to your question, Rainbowstar. The negatives of life are probably my biggest trigger. It wouldn't be so bad if I just thought about a depressing topic, got sad, and then moved on. Instead my mind will obsess over it all day and night, in an OCD type of way. I just try to use logic to ease my mental agony, which is easier said than done, but the more I try the more progress I make.

I'm not Buddhist, but I do think Buddhism has many good thoughts and teachings, one of them being that suffering is a part of life. It always has been and always will be. What good is it for us to sit around and make ourselves mentally sick? It keeps us from reaching our full potential AND actually helping alleviate the world problems that bother us so much. It's normal to be upset and bothered by terrible events, but we depressives take it to a counterproductive, self-destructive level.

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I find writing or discussing your problems very openly with someone then suggesting solutions to the problems you face and things you can do to make a difference, it is well wishing something will happen but this leads to hopelessness whereas if you put in some action, you're bound to be a step further to where you were yesterday. The rest is figuring it out on the way but it's better than doing nothing.

During Depression, the negatives are awfully expanded than what it really is - that tells you about perception of the problem at hand. If you change the perception to something you have control over, you can turn negatives into positives. That's how I see challenges personally.

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Well it's probably your depression--but not just at the cognitive level-- talking and not the negatives that overwhelm you really. As for the cognitive aspects, maybe making a list of positive things, good things in this world, would help you put things in perspective. All those things you mentioned, there are opportunities for us as a whole to make them better.

On a physiological level our depression sort of makes it hard to think happy; sometimes it's impossible. Serotonin problems tend to cause rumination and a tendancy to access long term memory for example. So rather than assign such significance to how your view the world right now, just rememeber your brain is on this weird cocktail of the wrong mix of neurotransmitters. All it takes is the right meds or I dunno, falling in love or something. C'mon, you can't tell me that if you were totally in love (yeah, so in love your brain looked like that of a high coke addict?) that you would be thinking like this. Heck no. No way. So falling in love--or illegal drugs would seem to be the answer to your question, haha. Kidding. So how do we keep a hopeful positive view of life in light of all the harsh negative realities of life? Work on thinking differently but also do things to nudge your biochemistry. Watch comedians on youtube, eat chocolate, take meds, listen to music, exercise. You know, fun stuff.

Edited by thebatman

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I hear you Rainbow star!

I am perpetually asking these questions. Throughout the last 10 years or so I have gone through a few major depressive episodes.

I can recall when I had realized one day that I was no longer thinking negatively. I was driving to school and thought "do I want to **** myself?"...hmmmm? The answer was "NO! what the heck?! I am going to stick around just for the hell of it - just to see what happens next to me in this crazy life. For the pure entertainment of it!"

As you can imagine, that was a relief and strange to think that way. It was a good time. I was in grad school, feeling safe, around a good group of friends and happy. It lasted about 2 years before I had a downward spiral again. I had some bad days in there, but all-in-all I felt better.

Now, I have spent the past year really struggling. But the memory helps me.

I also think that we all take this life way too seriously. Right now I do what I have to do (work) but I really am aware that I owe it to myself to find joy. Why waste our time ruminating over things we have no answer to?

The term finding joy means different things to different people - maybe fun is a better word for me.

Maybe the meaning of life to me is to be here and have fun. Is that too simplistic? Why not?

Anyway, there are heaps of negative things in my life and trust me, I can focus on them - I have just forced myself to stop ruminating and thinking about them. How? I distract myself. I keep my brain on a very busy stimulating and fun schedule. If I meditate or relax - its intentional, with a relaxation CD. For me, just lying around and thinking is no good.

I could be nuts - but maybe some of this might give you good ideas for things that might work for you?

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I try to get through it by seeing the positive/beautiful things in life.Such as seeing my little niece learn new things every day and seeing her sweet little smile.Watching my dogs play with each other and how they are happy to have you tickle their tummies and give them a cuddle.Listening to my favorite music and how it helps me feel that I am not alone in feeling this way.My family ~even though they don`t always understand they are there.

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