Sunday, 8 August 2010

Overcoming discouragement through rational thinking

Depression has become so common in our society that, most of the time, we don't even notice it. You can only see the phenomenon through the darkness its exudes. Motivation becomes paralysis. Vision breaks apart in doubts. Energy can no longer be replenished and attention gets distracted.

If you look around, you will find plenty of examples: Co-workers who lately have been looking sort of sad, call up the office, name some vague problem at home, and disappear for week. Students who have been at the top of their class, start to fail one exam after the other. Thoughtful friends, the kind who used to have strong opinions, suddenly turn silent.

What is the cause of this wide-spread ailment? Where is this malignant wave coming from? The automatic response in those cases is to blame the world. When you talk to men and women who suffer from the blues, you will often find them willing to enumerate all the negative conditions affecting their life.

Those complaints will usually have a sound basis in reality. Some people will tell you stories of abuse and unfairness, injustices of all sorts, inefficiency and dishonesty. Others will speak about their sickness, the ingratitude of their family, treason by friends, loneliness or divorce.

Nevertheless, those explanations remain insufficient to justify the overweening levels of depression in our society. The most important element in the equation is never mentioned. Why is nobody pointing out that, for every dispirited person, you can find a reasonably contented one who is enduring similar difficulties?

Misfortune and catastrophe are not to be trivialized. Bad luck and sickness can wipe out your savings, your business, your family, and put to test your will to keep on living. Serious problems and painful periods do occur in most people's lives. My point is not that one should become foolishly cheerful in the face of adversity.

Pharmaceuticals aimed at alleviating distress can help to a certain extent, although they are frequently loaded with secondary effects. My message is that, in the worst possible moments, a man owes to himself, to his happiness, to reflect and act with proper perspective. What one should keep in mind is that, on many occasions, depression is a synonym for short-term vision.

Rational thinking is the only antidote that has repeatedly proven its effectiveness against discouragement and depression. Seeing obstacles and disadvantages in the frame of a lifetime helps to reduce them to a manageable size.

Drop the false comfort of self-pity. Never allow yourself to limit your own potential. Never give up before the game is really over. Remind yourself everyday that life offers many opportunities. Define your long-term target, sharpen your arrows, and leave the blues behind. You have better things to do.


[Image by alisamii under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under]