My experiment in choosing to be happy or focus on the positives went as follows: Can one simply choose happiness? Maybe, but it takes more work than a mere desire and pasting a happy face on things. It's better to be realistic and work on the problems as they arise in the present. Did the world suddenly collapse if I stop worrying for a moment? No - my personal efforts to control the universe don't seem to be instrumental in holding it together. This is encouraging, because given the state of the world I would hate to be responsible for how much misfortune there is. Child soldiers, terrorism, corporate rapaciousness, corruption - it's not my fault, man, I didn't do it. It's still easier for me to come up with negative things than positive things though, so for the next week I will note each day 5 positive things that happened.
I had a good visit with therapist this week. Came in feeling pretty defeated and left feeling like things are going to be okay. The revelation was that I had been telling myself I am useless, don't bring anything to the table, dull, boring, nobody would have anything to do with me. In fact there are a few interesting things about myself and I have accomplished some things that I can be proud of. I've started to support myself more instead of beating myself up all the time. Unfortunately self flagellation is a deeply ingrained habit so it's going to take some time to reduce or erase this activity. That leads to the other skill I am learning, which is patience.
Patience does not come easily to me. I want the world to function at the speed of my mind. That is as soon as I think of changing something, I want it to be changed. The fact that our habits have momentum and cannot be undone with a single thought is something I drive myself crazy over. Resetting this expectation to a more realistic level is helping to reduce my stress levels, and with it reduce depression. We had a dharma reading in meditation today, which involved the slogan, "Turn all mishaps into the path." This was then explained to be a way of cultivating spiritual patience. Yes things don't go the way we want them to. In fact this is the case more often than not. If we can face this with dignity, we gain strength and that strength is the virtue of patience. In this way all mishaps become the path. Going to work on that. Dignity is not very high in my repertoire, yet.
Still I keep having these thoughts, "I want to die." "I should kill myself." "Nobody will even notice." Again these are habits of thought that have been deeply ingrained. This suggests the next practice is to be patient with these thoughts. Not to let them run rampant and possibly influence my behavior, but to give them space and allow them to dissipate. I don't need to get sucked into them. In the past I would drink to MAKE them stop. Now I have to learn to be more gentle with myself and use techniques that maybe don't have as quick results, but are less harmful to the rest of my mind and body.