5. Make a Strategy

John A. Schindler said that all psychological problems are caused by unhappiness and the only cure is happiness. Well, I can think of a lot of concrete causes. But this is our last step. Once you’ve looked at the contributing factors to your depression as much as you can and you’re still unhappy, it’s time to look at it directly. If you believe in depression making things hard, such as getting out of bed in the morning, then you believe in the incredible potency of feelings. Imagine if you could get even half or a quarter of that kind of power on your side.

What does your depression feel like? Gray? Foggy? Empty? Drained? Parched, or drowning? Can you imagine a feeling that’s the antithesis of that? Free and easy? Lighthearted and laughing? A bright, sparkling dawn? The rest when an ordeal is over? Floating above the pain? Being a light in a dark world? Enveloped by love from a distance? “I can see clearly now, the rain is gone”? “The energy of the universe is always available to me”? It doesn’t matter what other people think of it, only you.
Pick a feeling you like. That’s your goal. Now you need a strategy to get you there. If you already feel that way sometimes, you have a head start. If not, consider the closest you’ve ever been. What led to that, or what could lead to that in a lasting way? For example…

  • Rewatching a triumphant moment in a TV series
  • When I’m out in nature I feel like the world is bigger than how things are right now
  • This song makes my spirits soar
  • When the world feels dry and boring, I search for videos of heavy rainstorms
  • When I wear bright colors, the world is less gray
  • A charming movie from your childhood
  • Going to a new place, even on a small scale
  • Fiction about struggle reframes my perspective

Creative types, if you can’t think of anything meaningful to you, you can make something. A good artist is powerful because art can influence the unconscious base of feelings. Could you design a hero you can relate to who represents the way you want to feel? Could you create a picture, or a song, or a story? (Note: Sad art is a defense move. It helps keep you going. Sometimes you need it. But at some point you have to deal damage to win.)

If this page seems silly to you, chances are you either have trouble accessing your feelings, in which case, look here if you haven’t, or still have specific unmet needs or problems contributing to your depression, in which case, look here if you haven’t. (Or for some reason you’re here even though you’re not depressed.)