I decided a while ago that I was sick of being depressed. I wrote in my journal, “I WANT TO BE HAPPY.” Other people can do it, that means that I can, too—and besides, depression is no fun. It’s totally exhausting, demeaning, overwhelming, and it’s slowly sucking the life out of me. I made the decision that day to do absolutely whatever it takes, every single day, to not be depressed anymore and be stubbornly happy, no matter what. So I started researching, reading, and experimenting ways to beat it without becoming a pill-popping zombie. (Some people need pills, and I totally get that, but it ain’t me babe; I turn into a zombie. Pills have never helped me. I need long-term, sustainable, self-reliant solutions. But hey, do whatever you have to do to be happy, so don’t listen to me; if pills help you, then that’s awesome. They just have never been good for me). There are still hard days, but this is a marathon, not just a sprint, and I’d like to think I’ve made a lot of progress. Here are ten things I came up with in my guide to stubborn happiness.
Don’t take shit from anybody, including yourself. Period. If negative thoughts started coming up, mentally cut them down or squash them like a bug. You are not your thoughts—therefore you can squish them if you want. “Fuck you, thought,” I tell it: “you’re not welcome here anymore. You’re not making me happy. You are of no service to me.” (Cursing seems to help—thoughts are pretty easily offended.) Then replace that thought with a better one. Like: I can do this. I’m smart. I’m capable, I am changeable, etc. This is very important: You are nothing more than the stories you tell yourself. Choose better stories.
2. Planned Pleasure
Be selfish about your happiness. Plan that shit. You like chocolate? Make sure you have a constant stash of it. Like fuzzy socks? Candles? Bubble baths? Indulge. Pleasure may be temporary, but hey, it’s the little things. I keep incense, crystals, candles, chocolate, posters of my favorite bands, and tea in my room for constant little pick-me-ups.
3. Cut the crap
Throw out anything that makes you feel guilty, or sad, or nostalgic, or depressed in any way at all. Get rid of that ugly sweater your aunt bought you that you never liked anyway. You don’t owe anyone anything. Burn your ex’s letters while you’re at it. Choose to only keep things in your life that make you happy. That includes relationships. It’s OK, don’t feel guilty—I’m giving you explicit permission. Decluttering is one of the greatest things to ever happen to me. JUST GO DO IT.
4. Personal Protection Program
You are worth protecting. No, don’t just brush that off—YOU ARE WORTH PROTECTING. Heart, mind, and body. If someone disrespects you, block them. You need to treat your personal happiness like it’s a matter of life and death—because it is. I protect myself by being selective about how I spend my time, what kind of conversations I want to have, and how I choose my friends. I schedule yoga, meditation, music lessons, hiking, exploring and of course, therapy—at least three activities a week to make myself happy. I journal daily. I listen to music that makes me happy. I follow inspiring things on social media. I don’t watch the news, it’s a waste of energy. I built a safe bubble around myself, intentionally.
5. Eat Your Way to Inner Peace
It’s clinically proven that depression is caused by inflammation. Foods that cause inflammation include: sugar, junk food, spicy food, dairy, meat, and anything with high levels of acidity. Eat alkaline (green) food, eat food that is still alive (vegetables, baby) and it will make you come back to life, too, I promise. Restrict yourself to fewer than 20 grams of sugar a day. Eat organic. Drink non-dairy almond/coconut/soy milk.
6. Just Dance
Happy people are moving. Dancing, running, jumping, lifting, swimming, biking, hiking, doing yoga, skiing, fire-spinning, hula-hooping, skateboarding…all of these things give you a rush of endorphins, not to mention they will exhaust you so much that you’ll actually sleep better at night too. Find an activity that works for you. Better to be an adrenaline junkie than just a junkie.
We are social creatures and we all need community. If you don’t have one, then build one. Go to therapy. Get a fitness trainer. Join a church or a commune or an online forum or something. Go to the next bike club outing. Volunteer somewhere locally and feel better about yourself for being useful to other human beings. Other people caring about you will make you happy, and you caring about other people will help you get out of your tiny little bubble of self-centered depression & raise your self-esteem.
Gratitude. If you can’t do it, fake it ‘til you make it. Here’s a few things you can be grateful for: you are a living, functioning human being with the ability to cognate, read, communicate, listen, and speak. That’s huge. You can literally do fucking anything with just those skills. Including change your life. You’re breathing. The earth is rotating. It’s a new day, go do something.
9. Total Responsibility
Here’s the thing: Nobody cares about you as much as you do. It’s a harsh reality, but only if you haven’t been caring much about yourself as much as you should. The good news is that you are completely, one hundred percent responsible for everything that is happening in your life. What I mean is: Get out of your victim mentality. Knowing that you are in control is empowering, because even if you’ve fucked everything up, every day is a new day to try all over again, and you are completely responsible for all of it. Delegate it. Make a plan. Write it down. Set some goals. You don’t get to blame anybody anymore for anything. Stop pushing off your power onto other people, and carpe that diem already. Do whatever it takes. Fuck yesterday. No more thinking about your mistakes. You are here now. And you have total control over everything, starting right this second. Become a child of the moment, like all the smiling, enlightened individuals on this planet.
All human beings are creative. That’s a fact. If we aren’t creating, we are destroying. You need to go create something. Anything—it can be a photo album, a poem, a painting, a kick-ass sandwich, a knitted scarf, a letter for a friend, a song about your favorite things, a bookshelf, a new habit—literally goddam anything is better than nothing. Go make something you can hold, or share, or sit on, or look at, or eat. I wrote this article.
The truth is that what you really need to do is decide to be stubbornly happy. It’s like throwing noodles at the wall—just keep throwing noodles and trying different things until something sticks for you. Maybe it’s a new morning routine, maybe it’s some awesome daily supplements (I take fish oil & D3), maybe it’s something on this list, maybe it’s something totally random like a TV show or a book or an old lady, but the point is: life is happening. Go make something happen. Because I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of letting life walk all over me like a doormat. That’s why I bought some awesome combat boots, cuz buddy, these boots are made for walking and ain’t nobody gonna be treading on me anymore. Hope this list helps you figure out whatever it is that it takes for you to be stubbornly happy. Here’s your new mantra, babes. Repeat after me: I AM STUBBORNLY HAPPY!