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Those of you who have followed this blog for a while know that I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression and have written articles and books about the subject.  In my free time, I try and help people who are struggling with similar issues and provide them guidance and hope.

With this in mind, I was very interested in a recent article that shares the science behind happiness.  Within the article, he shares thoughts from Kate Bratskeir, a researcher on happiness, that I thought would be good to highlight for any of us.  Some of these are similar to what I outline in both my book, Discovering Light: 12 Steps to Overcoming Anxiety and Depression without Medication and a similar article I wrote a few years ago.  Below are 10 of Kate’s findings on how to become a happier person:

happy people

Ten things that supremely happy people do

1.       Happy people surround themselves with other happy people. Joy is contagious. People are four times more likely to be happy in the future with happy people around them.

2.       Happy people try to be happy. When happy people don’t feel happy, they cultivate a happy thought and smile about it.

3.       Happy people spend money more on others than they spend on themselves. Givers experience what scientists call the “helper’s high.”

4.       Happy people have deep in-person conversations. Sitting down to talk about what makes a person tick is a good practice for feeling good about life.

5.       Happy people use laughter as a medicine. A good old-fashioned chuckle releases lots of good neurotransmitters. A study showed that children on average laugh 300 times a day versus adults who laugh 15 times a day.

6.       Happy people use the power of music. Researchers found that music can match the anxiety-reducing effects of massage therapy.

7.       Happy people exercise and eat a healthful diet. Eating a poor diet can contribute to depression.

8.       Happy people take the time to unplug and go outside. Uninterrupted screen time brings on depression and anxiety.

9.       Happy people get enough sleep. When people run low on sleep, they are prone to feel a lack of clarity, bad moods, and poor judgment.

10.   Happy people are spiritual.

Those of you who have read my book and articles know of the ways that have helped me with exercise, relaxation, spirituality, etc. and all I can say to this list is Amen!

I worked out this morning and my back is a bit sore, so when I saw #6 and massage therapy I got excited for the massage I’m going to get this Saturday!

One thing that is on this list that I haven’t outlined before is spending more on others than on ones’ self.  I like that one!  I would take it a step further and say spending both money and time with others is important whether that’s with your kids, a friend, spouse, etc.

What are your thoughts about this list and what have you found that helps make you a happier person?

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A few years ago I wrote an article on how I was able to overcome anxiety and depression without using medication.  At the time, I didn’t realize how many people struggled with either anxiety, depression, or both. 

Since I wrote that article along with some other ones,  people have emailed me, called me, or just talked with me about their struggles with anxiety and depression.  When I started receiving so much feedback, I decided a great way to get the word out would be to write a book on the topic.

Over a year ago, I started writing a book on my experiences with overcoming anxiety and depression.  What I thought would be a short process ended up being about a year in the making.  Editing the book and finding a publishing company was another endeavor that took almost as long.

Long story short, I finally finished the book and am excited to share it with you or anyone else you think may be able to benefit from overcoming anxiety and/or depression. 

The book includes my personal story along with several resources to help guide people to learn how to cope with and eventually overcome anxiety and depression.

Feel free to visit Amazon.com and check out the book.  I arranged a “Look Inside” feature so you can read some of it.  Click on the image below to check it out:

I’ve alluded in previous posts to problems I’ve dealt with as a result of issues from my early childhood.  One of my most often read posts is the one I wrote last year about overcoming anxiety and depression.  I’m grateful that God has been able to reach so many people through my experiences and I hope that the reference in this post will help as well.

Along with dealing with the depression that I previously wrote about, I was dealing with certain addictions (which, I feel were a trigger for depression I was having).  I won’t go into detail about the addictions I had to overcome, but I will discuss the process I went through in overcoming them.

As a young child I had some traumatic events in my life that affected my views on various things in life.  Unintentionally I formed addictions later in life as a result of these early experiences.  The funny thing is that I knew what I was doing was wrong but I would seem to always revert back to my addictive behavior over and over again.  It affected my self-esteem and the way I viewed the world and it went on for many years.

Overcoming the addictions I dealt with were a process.  First, I was in denial and I would put the blame on others such as my parents or the people involved in my addictive habits.  However, after a few years and a serious wake up call I realized I had a problem and needed to overcome it.  The only problem was that I couldn’t stop myself from the habits that had been formed even when I knew they were wrong.

To make a long story short, God helped me through blessing me with determination, patience, and guidance from the Holy Ghost for a number of years.  One day as I was driving the Holy Spirit told me in my mind to contact an old friend I hadn’t talked with in years.  When I called her I thought I was going there to help her on an errand from God but soon found out that she had recently gone through an addiction recovery program.  She became my sponsor for the program which was a major part in my addiction recovery. 

Looking back on it, I am deeply grateful that God knew me personally and cared for me deeply enough to guide me to the right program.  For me, it was very helpful and worked in the end.  However, I did feel a bit of a void especially when talking with my church leaders.  I would have loved to have been in a session with people who had similar views on God but I don’t think the leaders were properly trained or aware that the LDS church has an addiction recovery program.

The other day I came across this LDS reference and thought it would be very helpful for people to know about. 

Here they have support groups, counseling services and publications for addictions dealing with the following issues:

  • Alcohol
  • Drugs (both prescription and illegal)
  • Tobacco
  • Coffee and tea
  • Pornography
  • Inappropriate sexual behavior
  • Gambling
  • Codependency
  • Disorders associated with eating
  • I encourage those of you who are either dealing with any of these issues or are in a leadership or counseling role to help others with these issues to use this website as a reference.  I think if I had known of this before-hand it could have saved me some time and I could have overcome the issues with much more support.

    If anyone else has ideas of good references for those dealing with addictions please feel free to share.

    I came across notes from a talk given about 1 1/2 years ago by James E Faust, who at that time was serving as a counselor to President Gordon B Hinckley for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Parts of his talk was on having a healthy self esteem.  I will list the 6 keys that he mentioned and share some of my thoughts as well.

    6 Keys to a Healthy Self Esteem

    • Keep your Free-agency

    In my opinion, this is one of the only things that we truly have control over.  We have the power to decide what we will do in any given situation.  I have written about controling our thoughts and how our thoughts shape who we are.  If we get in the habit of doing good things and keeping the commandments good things will come our way.  If we choose bad things or even go to the extent of using harmful things like drugs, our agency is given away.  It is our choice to either choose the will of God or not.  Those who choose to live within the commandments of God have a healthier self esteem than those who do not.

    • Humility

    There are a few scriptures that point out how humility and meekness bring us joy and abundance. (Isaiah 29:19; Psalms 37:11)  Those who feel the love of God and the joy that comes from humbly following Him feel greater joy and self-worth than those who do not. 

    • Honesty

    I know that when I’ve chosen to be honest in all my associations and conversations I feel much better about myself than when I’ve chosen not to.  Those who strive to be honest with themselves, their friends, their employers, and all people feel greater self esteem.  The big challenge for me and probably many other people is the small “white lies” that creep in there.  If I exaggurate a story or build myself up in a way that isn’t necessarily completly true that is lying.  Some may say it’s impossible to be completely honest.  Maybe it is, but striving to be honest will surely lead to a greater self-image.

    • Love of Work

    I grew up on a farm and learned to appreciate work.  I wouldn’t go as far to say that I love it.  However, I do know that I definitely feel better about myself when I’m working for a good cause than when I’m bumming around. 

    • Ability to Love

    This one is a life-long pursuit and those who are blessed with this ability to give and accept love have much higher self-esteems than those who do not.  For years I feel that I didn’t love and respect myself as a child of God.  I had negative thoughts about myself and blamed others for some of the bad things I did as a result of not respecting myself or others.  Fortuneately the Lord was there for me the whole time and helped me through this.  I learned that it is o.k. not to be perfect and to love myself for all my strengths and weaknesses.   I’ve learned that love is a choice.  In fact, loving others doesn’t come naturally for me.  I have to pray for this love every day and I feel that the more I pray to the Lord, the more He blesses me with the ability to love myself and others.  To read a list of great scriptures on love and charity for yourself and others, click here.

    • Love of God

    1 John 4:8 states: “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”  Therefore, in order to love we must, as Joseph Smith stated in his Lectures on Faith gain a “correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes.”  These attributes can be found in the scriptures and include: mercy, grace, slow to anger, abundant in goodness, constant, all-knowing, and many more.  I know that when I strive to show love towards God that I have better self-esteem and desire to do good.  I feel more grateful for the blessings that He gives me on a daily basis and realize my dependance on Him. 

     

    In conclusion, I realize that we all struggle with varies things and some of us struggle with self-esteem.  I know how difficult it can be to learn to love myself, others, and God, but I also know that it is possible to overcome.  My hope is that this post helps some of you who may be struggling with any self-esteem issues and that this serves to assist you as it did me.  Feel free to share any thoughts you have.

    12 Steps to Overcoming Anxiety and Depression without Medication

    1. Learning from Others

    I suffered for years having panic attacks followed by a darkness that would come over me sometimes for days.  I didn’t know what it was for many years, but one day a friend mentioned that I could be struggling with depression and anxiety. I was devastated when I took a test online and learned that I indeed had symptoms for anxiety and depression.  I didn’t know where to turn.  Thankfully, there are other people who have gone through similar experiences to share their insights.  If I didn’t have valuable resources and other people to help me, I wouldn’t have survived because at my lowest point, I was considering suicide.

    I didn’t want to use drugs to overcome anxiety and depression, so I turned to others for advice that found in the book: Discovering Light. Discovering Light  is a #1 Amazon bestseller and a book that has valuable insights in the category of overcoming anxiety and depression and contains a  journey in overcoming anxiety and depression without drugs.  This book not only highlights the story of suffering from anxiety and depression and overcoming it, but it

    Overcoming Anxiety and Depression without Medicationalso provides many other resources and books for those who are suffering.  All of the concepts in this book helped me completely overcome anxiety and depression.  It is worth the $10-$13 and will save you a lot of time and money trying to find ways to overcome anxiety without drugs.

    Simply click on the image of the book, or the link below to learn more:

    My friend also referred me to use self study programs, which were very cost effective and helpful for me as well.  They referred me to a sites similar to the ones listed below:

    ***Cure Panic and Anxiety***              ***Beat Depression Naturally***

    2. Desire to Overcome

    After I found out I had both anxiety and depression, I had an intense desire to overcome anxiety and depression.  I wanted a normal life back and held an image of that in my mind.  It was very hard, at times, and I sometimes lost hope and would just sit and stare at the walls wondering if I would ever make any progress.  Thankfully, there were many resources that helped give me hope to keep looking forward and to not give up.  One of the books below, Discovering Light contains many valuable insights and references to other books that helped me maintain a hope and desire to overcome anxiety and depression without medication.  This desire led me to complete the other steps.

    3. Faith in God

    Alma Chapter 34: 32-34 was what kept me moving ahead.

    When I had serious depression and thoughts of life being better if I weren’t alive, I remembered this scripture.  I believe that the same spirit we possess now will be with us even after we die, so if I don’t deal with it now I’ll be dealing with worse things later.

    5. Home Study Programs

    A friend of mine told me about an in home program and how they had used to overcome anxiety and depression without medication.  I had tried taking medication, but it didn’t feel right to me so I quit.  This program was a very useful tool for me and I still refer to it often.  I highly recommend it to anyone dealing with anxiety and/or depression.  This book describes in detail how to use the in home study program along with the benefits involved.  In home programs played a crucial role in overcoming anxiety and depression.

    Below is a list of very effective in home programs that are both time and cost effective and recommended:

    ***Cure Anxiety and Panic***            ***How to Cure Anxiety***       ***Stop Depression***         ***7 Steps to a Depression Free Life***

    6. Talking with a coach or mentor.

    Many people who deal with certain issues from their childhood such as I did with abandonment develop negative addictions.  For me, talking with clergy was somewhat helpful, but bishops aren’t usually trained to handle these issues.  I was referred to a different program that helped me overcome my addictions and also train my thoughts.  Bishops know where these resources are.  If you are not a member of the LDS church, you can also look up various agencies such as: alcoholics anonymous, sex addicts anonymous, etc.  I think they have organizations for people who use drugs, have eating addictions, etc.  I believe that most of these programs will have a 12-step approach.  I found these to be very, very helpful.  There is a list of various resources outlined in detail in this book.

    7. Prayer/Meditation

    Again in Alma 34, it talks about praying for everything important in one’s life.  This links back to step #2, but I can’t emphasize enough how important faith in God and prayer are.  Through this experience I learned how God cares about me personally…especially when I’m at my “worst”.  I say this in quotes because we are never bad in God’s sight, no matter how good or bad our behaviors are he views us and loves us the same.

    Through prayer and meditation, I was able to learn how to focus and control my mind.  I am very grateful to God for the gift of prayer and know that miracles happen as a result of sincere, humble, faithful prayers and patience.

    If you are interested in learning powerful meditation techniques check out the following programs:

    ***Meditation Power***              and     ***Learn how to Meditate***

    8. Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP)

    NLP was the key to me being able to move from just managing anxiety and depression to completely overcoming it.  NLP is another tool I used to clear my subconscious mind.  I worked with two coaches who used NLP on me to clear negative experiences I had seared into my subconscious mind that were affecting my behaviors.  This is another highly recommended tool.  The book contains a whole chapter dedicated to NLP.

    Some very good programs to learn about re-programming our subconsious minds are:

    ***Subconsious Sabatoge***    and   ***Quantum Mind Power***

    9. Learning to control thoughts

     Proverbs 23:7 says: “as he (or she) thinks in his (or her) heart, so is he (or she)”.  This is true.  I think this is something all of us will be working on throughout our lives.  However, learning to control our thoughts is essential.  I wrote another post a couple of months ago on how to overcome negative thoughts and provided a few techniques I use.  The post is called “The Gifts of the Spirit: Overcoming Negative Thoughts and Speaking with the Tongue of Angels”.  In addition to that article, Discovering Light has very detailed information on learning to control thoughts and how to train our minds.  If we do not learn this skill, we will not be able to overcome anxiety and depression.

    The Quantum Mind Power program is a good resource too.

    10. Have a daily routine/Healthy Living (Exercise and Nutrition)

    Having a daily routine helps me a lot.  I notice that I do much better when in a familiar environment surrounded with positive things.  For me, this is my daily routine: Wake up, pray, exercise, read scriptures, make breakfast for my wife, think about daily goals, work, come home and either relax or do house chores, etc., read scriptures with wife, pray, go to bed.  Sticking to this schedule keeps me focused and my attitude stays much more positive.

    Eating a lot of healthy breads, fruits, protein, and some meat has helped me a lot.  Staying away from sugar and caffeine is essential as well.  I’ve found that the promise in the Word of Wisdom is true in that I receive more health by following its counsel.

    Although these suggestions are good, there is even more involved with eating properly and taking care of our bodies.  A complete chapter is dedicated to nutrition and how it plays a role in being able to overcome anxiety and depression.  In addition, the following programs on nutrition and exercise are available:

    ***P90X***                and           ***Shakeology***                

    11. Keep a Gratitude Journal

    The book Real Men Do Cry has a great reference on counting our blessings and how gratitude can change our mood.  I found this to be true in my situation as well.  I keep track of all the positive things that happened to me and at the end of the day I write them down.  This keeps me in a positive state and away from dwelling on the negative.

    12 Relaxation

    For someone who has struggled with anxiety, relaxing is a learned technique.  There are certain activities, music, and thought control techniques needed in order to train our minds to relax instead of fly into “fight or flight” mode.

    I found Reiki and meditation to be very relaxing and would recommend checking the following programs out:

    ***Reiki Home Study Course***   and ***Deep Zen Meditation***

    In conclusion, I know that if you are struggling with anxiety and/or depression how hard it can be.  Some of you may be on medication and that might be necessary or even mandatory for you, which is fine.  My main purpose is to share some things that have helped me and I encourage you to incorporate any of these things, if you haven’t already.  Also, please feel free to share any additional things that have helped you so other readers can benefit from it.

    I also want my readers to know that I know that God hears your prayers and will answer them in due time.  I’ve learned to be grateful for my experiences with anxiety and depression because I’ve learned how dependent I truly am on God and have see how great His hand can be in my life if I stay close to Him.  I pray that we can all stay close to our Father in Heaven and know that if we do, he’ll lead us through the dark and discouraging times on our lives.

    One of the most prevelant gifts of the Spirit is that of speaking in tongues.  In the LDS Topical Guide under the topic “Holy Ghost, Gifts of,” one of the most, if not the most prevelant gift of the Spirit discussed is that of speaking in tongues.  I counted seven scriptures in the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price that talk about speaking in tongues in the Topical Guide. 

    Reading these scriptures (especially the one in 2 Nephi 31:13 that talks about speaking with the “tongue of angels”) reminded me of a talk given in General Conference last year by Jeffery Holland called “The Tongue of Angels.”  I love this talk and I recommend reading it.  As I read it again today, this small section of his talk impressed me:

    “In all of this, I suppose it goes without saying that negative speaking so often flows from negative thinking, including negative thinking about ourselves. We see our own faults, we speak—or at least think—critically of ourselves, and before long that is how we see everyone and everything. No sunshine, no roses, no promise of hope or happiness. Before long we and everybody around us are miserable.”

    I have struggled at times in my life with negative thinking about myself and have found that when I have negative thoughts about myself it trickles into other areas of my life such as negative thoughts about others, society, God, my family, the church, other churches, work, God, etc…and pretty soon I’m looking at everything in a negative and depressed state.  I want to share with anyone who may be able to benefit from this and may be struggling with negativity in their lives.  The following things have helped me (and continue to help me) overcome negativity:

    1. Remember what it felt like when I was positive.

          For me, this is the first step…much like Alma’s talk in Alma 32 about having a desire to believe.  I must have a desire to become more positive and remembering what it felt like being positive helps me. 

    2. Trace my thoughts back to where I first started thinking negatively.

           Most of us have heard the Proverb “as he (or she) thinketh so is he (or she)”.   I’ve found that many of my problems can be traced back to negative thoughts about myself and others.  Thoughts (negative and positive) are like seeds and they’ll grow.  This can be good if it is a positive thought, but if it’s a negative thought we’ll want to catch them before they grow too big.  If I think a negative thought about something or someone long enough eventually I’ll act on it either by something I’ll say or do.  If I feel down or if I’m saying things or doing things in a negative way, I’ve found that most of the time I can trace my actions back to a negative thought. 

    3. Once I’ve identified the negative thought, replace it with a positive thought or something else uplifting

          About a year ago, I was having some problems with negative thoughts.  One of my friends suggested some cds by James Cox called “Becoming Spiritually Centered.”  I HIGHLY recommend these to anyone who may be struggling with depressive or negative thoughts.  Listening to these and applying the lessons has greatly helped me.  I found that when I traced my thoughts back to an original negative thought and then identified something to replace it with when it popped in my head again, I was able to gradually over time become a more positive thinker. 

    4. Keep a journal

        This is kind of in conjunction with number 2, but for me, it is very helpful to get all the negative thoughts out into a journal.  Once they’re all out there I can then identify ways to combat the negative thoughts.

    5. Pray for strength

       I want you to know that God will answer your prayers and help you.  I’m very grateful for this in my life. 

    6. Talk with good friends, family, and spouse

       If I’m struggling, I’ve found that talking with friends, family and spouse is very helpful.  Rather than hiding things and trying to cover them up.  If they (family and friends) know you struggle with negativity I’ve found they’re more likely to help and it’s good to have support.

    7. Avoid Comparing myself to others

        When I’m feeling down if I compare myself to other people who seem to never be down, I get even more frustrated and hard on myself.  Comparing myself to myself and my own personal goals are essential to progressing in a more positive course. 

    8. Always keep trying

       Overcoming negativity/depressive thoughts can be a difficult thing.  It takes time and effort.  I’ve found that patience and practice makes perfect…well, I’m not perfect, but you get the idea : )

    It has been my experience that as I’ve learned to control my negative thoughts I become more receptive to the Holy Ghost.  As I open myself up to more positive thinking and the Gifts of the Holy Ghost, I find my words and thoughts about myself, others, and the world around me are closer to what Elder Holland and other prophets are referring to by “speaking with the tongue of angels.”

    I know this is somewhat of a personal topic, but if you feel comfortable sharing your thoughts on what has helped you overcome negativity and be able to have better dialogue with yourself and others, I think there are many people who could benefit from this.  If you don’t feel comfortable sharing, I hope this helps you and you can share this with others.

    Cleanse your Soul with Grace for Grace “Spiritual SOAP”

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