Mihaly Csikszentimihaly (1990) writes that
“the best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times……the best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limit in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”
I previously wrote that to be happy we need to enhance our enduring happiness as opposed to momentary happiness which is short lived. With this in mind if we can set ourselves challenges that aren’t demanding but not too simple we can start to not only build our enduring happiness but also shift our focus to a challenge instead of the thoughts, emotions and behaviours that shape our depression. I have found a number of activities recently that have provided differing levels of difficulty and focus that have helped to shift my focus off depression, these have included knitting, sewing a variety of things, and embroidery. More recently my writing has become a challenge for which I have completed regularly, and found a definitive focus away from depression and anxiety.
Not only does our mind refocus away from depression it takes us away from the self, and allows our awareness to be absorbed into the challenge before us, because when you undertake an activity you no longer need your consciousness or your emotion. Within this moment we lose track of time, we don’t feel discomfort, and negative thoughts no longer enter our mind, occurring because we are too busy focussing on our challenge. The affect that we get from doing a challenge that can refocus our mind has the same affect that meditation, mindfulness or yoga can have on our depression.
“Contrary to what we tend to assume, the normal state of the mind is chaos….when we are left alone with no demands on attention, the basic order of the mind reveals itself….entropy is the normal state of consciousness – a condition that is neither useful nor enjoyable.” (Csikszentimihaly, 1990)
The challenge is for all depressives is each week set ourselves a new challenge, one that is not too difficult but one not easy that you can’t focus and lose yourself in the activity. Take up a craft like knitting or sewing, try art, do scrap booking, photography….do anything that takes you away from your Black Dog….