Bouncing Back from Micro-Depressions

smileyflowerMadison avenue wants to sell products.

Its basic pitch is “Buy my product & you will be happy.”

A Ketchup Company – came out with a Slogan – “Where there is …. – there is happy.”

I don’t usually feel happier once I had ketchup.

Or any other product for that matter.

But the ad agencies want you to think that.

People want to be happy. Companies have to sell products. Ad agencies put two plus two together and found that if they show happy people using their products they will sell more products.

They are right. People buy the products.

Does it make you, the consumer, happier? That’s a question you must answer yourself.

Are rich people happier than less well off people? I don’t know.

Apparently, people who work 9-to-5 jobs are happier than others. Why? We can explain that later.

The mistake that people make is that – that the Ad Agencies want you to believe – satisfying yourself with materialism will bring happiness.

The Torah’s take on happiness is:

A Person is composed of a body and soul. Certain activities done by the body will gladden and certain will sadden. Those activities that satisfy the soul – ie, bring a person closer to spirituality – as defined by Torah will bring you closer to happiness.

There are pleasures that gladden a person and those that sadden. The pleasures that bring a person a person closer to G-d make a person happy. The pleasures that bring a person farther from G-d sadden them.

People who work 9-to-5 jobs are doing more than one Mitzvah / commandment. They are involved in the building of the world. That is one Mitzvah. Usually they are helping other people in their job – that is another Mitzvah. They are helping to support their families. Thus people involved in a 9-to-5 job are happier – because they are involved in Mitzvahs.

Theodore Herzberg’s Theory of Motivation – shows that people are satisfied when they have:

Motivators or Certain Job Factors including
Work itself

All these factors show that a person is doing a Mitzvah from the Torah – building the world.

When people feel that they are not achieving – they may feel depressed – because they are not fulfilling a Mitzvah. Or it might be that they are involved in activities that are run contrary to the Torah and sadden the Soul.

Overcoming Depression

For a long-time I was caught in a depression. When I heard once on the radio that consuming too much sugar may lead to depression – I thought: How could that be. Sugar provides pleasure and if you have pleasure, you should be happy – or so I thought. That’s when I revised my thinking and started thinking that having pleasure does not necessarily lead to happiness.

Apparently my depression was based upon the fact that I was not achieving my potential. I had much to offer the business world and world at large, but I was stuck in a rut. Spinning my wheels without going forward.

How did I get out of it? Apparently I started aligning my activities with those congruent to satisfying the soul.

I still do fall away from the mark the Torah expects. I feel saddened that I missed the mark. But I also feel that my soul feels saddened – because I pushed myself away from serving G-d properly.

I read a book recently that – although was inspiring – it also put a bit of a damper upon me. It was about Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. He was such a tremendous scholar – that some said he knew over 40,000 books by heart. (He had a photographic memory and was very diligent in his Torah study.) I thought how can I ever compare to him? It takes a concerted effort for me just to memorize a verse from the Torah.

Remove Yourself from Bad and Do Good

Pinpoint the Activities that Lead to Depression
It would have helped me if I would have been able to pinpoint the activities that gladden the soul and those that sadden it. It would have saved me lots of trouble and heart-ache. But at least I figured it out. Some people unfortunately feel a lacking or a sadness, but cannot put their finger on why. It might help them to examine their deeds based upon the Torah’s take on happiness.

Distance Yourself from Bad
The Torah gives a formula for success – Remove Yourself from Bad and do good. Obviously one must examine what is good and what is bad by consulting a rabbi or the Shulchan Aruch / Code of Jewish Law (for Jews) or the 7 Noahide laws (for gentiles).

Do Good Deeds
Good deeds please the soul. Torah study does too. Doing One’s appropriate Mitzvot makes a person happier. Do something that you feel will make the world better – according to Torah.

Some say the fault of Adam, the first man, was not so much that he ate from the Tree of Knowledge. It was that – instead of acknowledging his misdeed – he blamed his wife and insinuated that it was G-d’s fault. “The Wife You gave me caused me to sin.” Although, she did provoke him to sin – he should have faced it and try to find a way to make amends and improve.

Seek Guidance
Ask a friend or someone with a Torah Perspective if you feel down. Talking it out might help you relieve your concerns.

Actively Try to Be Happy and Pray
Some people want to remain sad. The Torah wants a person to be happy. Make an effort to be happy. Force yourself to smile. Pray to Has-m / G-d to help you be happy again, find the right path and serve him properly according to your abilities.

Know that You are You
At times I do go through micro-depressions. I am saddened that I missed the mark or that I am not as great as the great Rabbis – like Moses.

G-d gave tremendous abilities to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. But G-d also endowed you with great abilities as well.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef had a certain purpose to fulfill in the world. You have a different purpose to fulfill. G-d endowed you with the abilities to achieve your purpose or to learn to achieve your purpose. Don’t become depressed because you aren’t able to memorize 40,000 Torah books.

If you did wrong – repent and try to go on. Better yourself. Don’t remain with your depression. At times that is the intention of the Yetzer HaRah (the Evil Inclination) – to keep you in depression to break your motivation to achieve.

G-d wants you to believe in yourself and achieve the good that you can do.

There was a great Rabbi, named Zushia from Anapoly. He said something profound:

“I am not afraid that after I go to heaven, G-d will ask me “Why Were you not like Moshe Rabbeinu / Moses, our Teacher. I am afraid that he will ask me – why were you not like Zushia.”

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