Positive Mental Attitude

Or PMA for short. It may sound like a throwaway phrase spoken by the wealthy, who may or may not have inherited their riches. There is a trend with the successful in any venture, though, to owe some of their gains to a positive mental attitude. Not only can and positive attitude bring success in careers and in turn, wealth, it is strongly believed to aid  in overcoming illness; laughter is the best medicine, right? (besides actual medicine of course)

I have read many self-help books over the last few years, in particular authors like Napoleon Hill, W. Clement Stone and Og Mandino. The former two in particular stress great importance on PMA, co-writing a book called “Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude” (which is a great read, by the way). Reading these books I developed an undying optimism, my very own positive mental attitude. Are there downsides? Sure. Is the whole PMA creating success a little overblown? Probably.

Reading Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich” was a turning point. The three books that changed my life are “The Power of Now”, which I read as I was on the better end of a long depression and slingshotted me to positivity. “The Greatest Salesman in the World” made me believe I was worth something, that I could succeed and finally, Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich” made me so sure I could succeed I began to act, with the first step being a move to Canada which I’m enjoying every minute of now.

Potential downsides of being positive all the time? It can make you a pushover. I was the rock to my girlfriend of 4 years, propping her up when she was down became a daily task. The reward of abuse and absolute betrayal may have been avoided if I didn’t always look on the bright side of things and made some drastic but necessary decisions. The downside of the books? These authors are quite close-knit in their beliefs, many being influenced by the other, ultimately leading back to the beliefs of Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, three of the most successful and powerful men in the history of America. The message in these books becomes somewhat repetitive and cult-like, which can make it hard to buy into their belief.

My thoughts, having lived with a balanced optimistic/cautious outlook, a highly pessimistic view as well as a chronic optimism is that balance can be good. Whatever floats your boat, as they say. Whatever your beliefs are that make you do what you do and enjoy doing it is what you should continue believing in. Personally balance is great, it is important to step back and worry every now and then. Both for those of us who can no longer maintain that healthy balance, no doubt that my current attitude that the positivity gained from constant optimism is worth the occasional pain.

Battling depression

So I beat depression a few years back. Sure, I have my downs now and then for a few days to a few weeks at a time but overall I am now happy and very positive. I became at around 16, after having the best year of my life until my 20s. It creeps up on you, that’s the scary thing. If you could just see it coming you could prepare better, you could see where you were before to get a better idea of where you want to be now.

This post is being written for a few reasons, for one it’s a topic I know personally which helps me in my beginnings of writing. It will also help me when those ‘downs’ come back and more importantly with that, it will hopefully help people going through what I went through for 6 long years.

Firstly, for those suffering what I suffered, know that you are not alone. When our brain is in this state it does crazy things. Your brain, when the depression is deep enough, craves the path of least resistance. It will tell you this is a disease with no cure but ‘time’. Your very own brain will convince you that your problem is unique, there is no answer, there is no help. Your brain, in this state, lacks hope. Hope is important, hopes keeps us alive, hope drives us to further ourselves in any endeavor, so please do not give up hope. Never. Do not give up. Knowing what I know now I could have saved some of the years that were taken by this awful disease. Don’t get me wrong though, hope won’t cure you. Hoping tomorrow will be better than today won’t cure you by itself.

Hope makes happiness possible. That is the goal, right? That is everyone’s reason for being, to be happy most days. As I mentioned, depression is sneaky. Depression is like an opportunistic virus, it waits, it festers in anticipation for the moment your guard is down. It’s there waiting in the shadows, gathering more and more influence on your thoughts when things get you down, when stress is building. It is strange to think this is your own body’s reaction, bringing you down for an indefinite amount of time in such  cunning and ruthless manners.

Just like a cure is not truly known, neither is the root cause. However, depression is given the bulk of its strength through a variety of influences. Diet, prolonged stress, sleeping habits, diminished self-confidence and self-image and more. Depression would not appear with just one of these, it requires a collaboration of these influences.
Now before I go any further I need to confess that I did not use any anti-depressants or any other form of medication and so I cannot comment on the pros and cons of them. I only hope the advice and suggestions I make can help all people battling this in some way no matter what the severity.

Your brain will tell you that the cure is ‘time’. Just wallow in it for now, eventually things will get better. This isn’t entirely a lie. Ultimately time is the answer to depression, making your duty to minimize the time required to become happy again. There are many things that influence the condition, it’s not possible to find an accurate how-to guide to improve everything required to reduce the time taken for you to get better. The biggest step is to start gauging yourself whether every day, every few days or week by week. It is important when determining what directly influences your depression. For me, fitness was a major issue. I was a very energetic child and teenager until a bad chest infection left me bed ridden for about a month. That was around the start of my depression.

Of course, the nature of this condition diminishes motivation to be active and it deteriorated my fitness to the point that at around 18-19 years old my calves began to swell after a few minutes walking up the smallest of inclines. It is easy to see now how obvious lack of fitness can promote a baseline mood of apathy, but like I said, depression is sneaky and cunning. My depression’s effort to remain unnoticed was aided as I was turning 17 when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Suddenly my poor mood, energy levels and overall melancholy could be explained away if not for the utter disinterest I felt when having my life permanently altered. I was kicked out of college over this break, having missed too much class in the previous month. Finally, I had no need to go out every day. I only needed to concentrating on adjusting to my new life as a diabetic.

The other major component to my depression was my withdrawal from my social circles. This also happened when I had that bad chest infection, it was during a 6-week summer break. I spent the last 5 weeks in my room. I got into playing games, my lifelong sleeping troubles developed into a minor insomnia where I was sleeping in the early morning and awake all night. The conditions for an awaiting depression was complete. I was isolated, feeling content living in my own world during the night, I was losing stamina and energy, I was coming off a great time year and wondering what was happening to me. I was alone, I was being overcome.

My fight to be content and happy was a long one and began with my local GP. I was seeing her most weeks about this issue and that. “You sound a lot like you are depressed” began what lead to this post. She referred my to a psychologist who gave me the advice I needed. After my doctor, without direction from me, gave me another “you sound like you might be diabetic” I stopped my frequent visits. I saw my psychologist just a few times but she made an impact.
‘Step by step improvements’
‘Do the things you would normally do if you were happy, you will remember how to enjoy them again’

These are words I will remember forever and I wish that you apply them yourself as I cannot overstate that I would not be who I am right now without them. I never thanked my doctor or psychologist for everything they did, which they did with the utmost compassion and desire to actually help me but I will be grateful until the end of my days.
Now I am here for anyone in the same boat. I will be glad to answer any questions and help in any way I can, but right now my advice is:

  1.  Keep track of how you feel at regular intervals, this will help see what is helping or hurting. More importantly, seeing a trend of improving mood is an unbelievable motivator and one I wish I used years earlier.
  2. Keep at improving, baby steps add up to a hell of a lot over the weeks and months. Never stop moving forward regardless of whether you feel it’s a big enough improvement or not.
  3.  Read. Read every day. Read “The Power of Now”, this gave me the relaxed attitude I have now. I related to the author and took his advice and I live the reward every day. Read self-help to improve and motivate you every day, read fiction to improve your mood. Read.
  4. Never be ashamed. Never. You are who you are because of the sum of all your experiences and all the influences from your particular biology. Be proud of yourself, ask for help, Tell people you’re low so they can help pick you up. You’re not bothering anyone and if you are, they’re not worth suffering in silence for.
  5. Remind yourself every day that you will get better. There is light at the end of the tunnel, no doubt. Then go about making that light shine sooner rather than later.

 

The minimums of communication

I’m sure you’ve seen it, on Facebook or other social media platforms –
“their*”.
Now, I know the basics. Heck, I’m trying to start a blog so I better know, right? I mean I do abuse commas and girlfriend, whose first language isn’t English has informed me that there’s something called present-perfect so I can’t call myself an expert. I’m not exactly writing ‘Learning English’ manuals or making entries into the dictionary, so does it matter?

I’ve seen a lot of abuse, a lot of looking down on people who did not learn the difference between their and there and it irks me. These people, both the victim and the critic typically are not on an endeavor to set the world of linguistics alight, so what does it matter if someone says “your an idiot” (Besides the negativity in calling someone an idiot)? Even now I don’t know where that question mark goes, before the brackets or after? Yet no one has ever criticized my English language skills and I am actually trying something that involves a decent use of writing etiquette.

The reason this all annoys me is because it’s communication. You get what I am trying to say, you know if someone says “that’s there bag” that they mean “their”. You know it. You understand what they’re trying to say and that should be enough because our language, with all its rules, is simply a means of communication. If they communicate their meaning to you, does it matter if they used the wrong there? It shouldn’t. Even if it does matter in some way, surely it doesn’t mean so much that it entitles bullying, calling people stupid or illiterate over something so simple and essentially insignificant. Besides, how can you criticize your friend or colleague over their spelling or grammar and then make “cash me ousside howbow dah?” girl famous?

So let’s fight over something more worthy of our time to discuss, like are goatees making a comeback in 2017 and why?

Value of the internet community

Recently I have been spending more time on user-input sites like Reddit and Imgur; It was Imgur that inspired me to create this blog after giving me the inspiration to write. By no means am I a writer nor have I ever aspired to gain views and upvotes on my opinions or stories. The pleasure of having someone approve of my work had disappeared while I was still in school, but online communities brings out this desire in many. How many people do you think are right now checking to see how much karma their comment received?

This is what it means to put yourself out there in the online world. Facebook began this incredible idea that people want to hear your thoughts, of giving likes depending on how relatable or inventive opinions are. Twitter, Instagram etc all thrive on getting followers and likes for this kind of approval. Largely post frequency, regardless the content (your mother’s spag bol) gets the rewarding appoval but there are some who use these platforms to display their innate creativity, think Bo Burnham on Vine and Youtube.

These internet communities have changed (and improved) over the years. 4chan as an online forum attracted many different types of people, the timid looking for advice to those who preferred a more chaotic pastime. Bullying, organized trolling and the works highlighted 4chan’s /B/ forum. Here, the input gave the satisfaction, knowing you have contributed via a comment or image surely gave someone a chuckle. With Reddit and and Imgur there is a race to the front page, through being the quickest to post a big story, reposting old favorites and through original content which typically comes in the form of meta mocking the lack of original content.

These platforms are for the up-and-comer and those trying to take their first steps towards releasing their creativity to the world. There is no looming shadow of the largest Youtube channels, there is a sense that if you have good content you can attract like-minded people who will reward you with support through upvotes and positive comments. Imgur was where I took my first step and I’m sure it was the same for many others looking for release in the way of creativity. This is the true value of these online communities, they are just that: a collection of like-minded individuals who want to support because they too want support. Everyone needs release, whether it is from their creative side or release from the horrors of the day. This is community, you, me, everyone, are one.