Mental Wellness Challenge – 2020, January 23

Mental Wellness Challenge – 2020, January 23

I’ll start today by recapping my challenges to you last week.

Last week I challenged you to three things:

  1. Answer the questions:

Am I worrying about “stuff” I have no control over?

If I am worrying about “stuff” I have no control over, how is this worry serving me?

I thought about worry a bit last week and came to recognize that I am far better at doing less worry.  I still worry about things I cannot change, but I think I catch myself earlier on in that worry and do what I can to distract myself… “cut my worry off at the pass”.  I know that this worry is NOT good for my mental health or my physical health either.

  1. Research the differences between empathy and sympathy. Build your own understanding of how empathy and sympathy serve you.


Most folks know the differences between the two.  I knew the difference between the two for a long time before I recognized that I tend to being sympathetic when I should have been empathetic.  My understanding of two terms boils out, very quickly, to this; Sympathy – I feel what you feel.  Empathy – I understand what you feel.  There’s a big difference.  I would so very often get mired in sympathy when I really should have been exercising empathy.  Dr. Brene’ Brown does a good job of speaking about the differences between the two in a little The RSA video on YouTube.  I don’t agree with her 100% on sympathy – as she indicates that sympathetic persons maintain an emotional distance – I do agree with her on the importance of sympathy.

The link to the video is   if you want to check it out.

  1. Share a quote about joy with a friend, a co-worker and a loved one. The quotes could be the same one or different ones for each person…  Maybe copy it out onto a sticky note and leave it on their desk, in a book they are reading, or maybe even in a conversation.  make certain to give props to the person you are quoting too. Don’t do this anonymously, put your name on the sticky.  Let that person know that you have had them in your thoughts.


I shared a quote that I often paraphrase – Its Mahatma Gandhi who says – “Joy lies in the fight, in the attempt, in the suffering involved, not in the victory itself.”

I paraphrase this as “There is benefit in the struggle.”  I’ve used this for a number of years now and I sincerely believe – as Gandhi points out – that my real joy comes from the effort, the struggle, the preparation, “in the making of it”, rather than from the “finished thing itself”.  Now, while I do enjoy a nice loaf of bread or the completion of a certification – it is really in the labor of getting there that I find my joy.  Very often – for me anyways – the goal is anticlimactic.  I only need to bring up the whole day that is spent in the preparation of a “holiday” dinner or feast – spend all day in the kitchen, peeling, mixing, stuffing, spreading, making – and it takes 20 minutes and “Y’all be sleepin in the family room.” and the dishes are still left to be washed up.  This view for me might come from lifes experiences, but I have learned to appreciate the struggle, the effort – as much if not more than the destination… and really isn’t life about the journey, the experiences and struggles along the way – cuz, as far as I know – the destination is not that… well – enticing.

That’s how my challenge went for me.

I’d like to thank the folks that commented on my last post, both publically and privately.  I am assigning the following – unless you tell me in your comment that you intend to comment to everyone – those are private comments.  If you, in your comment, tell me that you intend the comment to be public – then I will moderate it as a public comment.  I might ask you if you would mind me making your comment public – but that would be totally up to you.

This week I’d like to share about that ‘spark’ of light that I share in my “My Journey” presentations where I am so very lost, in that place in my depression that is black dark, lonely, full of despair, pessimism, fear, doubt, self-loathing, self-hatred, disgust.  That spark of light – and I’m not even certain that it is light, but in my analogy of my depression I use that faint spark of light to indicate – HOPE.

I’ve looked in a few different dictionaries and the definition I find there-in don’t seem to do justice to the way I feel about the concept of hope.

Merriam-Webster defines hope:1) to cherish a desire with anticipation : to want something to happen or be true. 2) Trust. 3) to expect with confidence.

My definition of hope is much different than those.  I suppose at the black and white level – they are similar… but my life certainly isn’t black and white.

In my search for a dictionary definition I noted the language and imagery that I paint for my depression are 100% antonyms for the word hope in most of the dictionaries that I have looked at.  When I am at the depths of my depression, I am truly “hopeless”.  Every second is excruciatingly painful.

Before I get going to far here – I DO NOT USE HOPE AS A LIFE STRATEGY.  My point here – “I hope I have enough gas to get me to where I am going in this winter storm.”  Or “I hope this machine stays together long enough to get this critical job done.”  To me – that’s using hope as a strategy and that’s folly in my books.

So, HOPE.  I noted a meme on the web the other day that created an acronym from the word hope.  HOPE – HOLD ON PAIN ENDS.  That little meme rung true for me – with one caveat – the pain won’t end on its own.  Hope – you see – in my definition – while a gift of sorts – is also a responsibility.  I can only really have hope if I hold fast to the responsibility to the aspiration or expectation that hope conveys.  I hope that makes sense.

There’s more to this than internal and external locus of control.  I haven’t always had the mindset that life is happening, and I am a part of it – I have sincerely spent large portions – too much – of my life letting life happen to me or being a victim.  More on this in some other post…

In my last and deepest depression – life wasn’t good at all.  I was lost lost lost.  I currently attribute my HOPE to my wife and children and while I am certain that NOT wanting to hurt them any more than my depression already was – I don’t know if they are truly ALL my hope.  My spouse was encouraging me to get help from where-ever I could find it – but I was already seeing doctors and taking medications.  I had – at that time – been profoundly depressed for over 2 years…  I think that hope is something internal – within each and every person.  I think hope is some piece of each person that NEEDS TO CONTINUE!  I don’t know if it’s a/the life force…  I don’t know…

I do know that what came from my recognition of hope, is the beginning of my journey to wellness.  I know that seeing that glint of hope – that “keep going” – helped me to forge my model, seek counsel, be responsible, get better.

Hope for me is a “Reason to be”… hope helps me to do the work I need to do to be better.  Hope isn’t a magical thing that just makes everything all better.  Hope isn’t a magic wand that waived, and all my troubles go away.  Hope for me “isn’t winning the lotto”, or even necessarily having a dream come true… HOPE helps me recognize the value of the people, the experiences and the gifts that I have had in my life.  Hope is a gift that both comes to me and I give to myself.  I honor hope when I am responsible for the actions that I take, the connections that I make, the understanding of my circumstances, that values that I hold, my intentions and the steps that I take to help to increase my wellness.

As you can tell by my writing that I am still not certain as to a definition of “HOPE”.  I tend to mindfully use the term less now – because I don’t want to “cheapen” what it is to me by using it for everyday things.  Sorta like the way that I tend not to use the work LOVE for everyday things… I don’t love chocolate – I really enjoy it.

I do know this – HOPE – saved my life.  Hope gave me reasons to fight, step by step, breath by breath to work my way out of the darkness that was that depression.  I can only imagine the misery that would have surrounded me had I not found hope – for whatever it was/is – when I did.

Hold On Pain Ends.

The only change that occurs is the change that happens within you!

My challenge for you this week.

  1. Spend a little time –  and write down what you think/know hope to be.  Identify a couple of places in your life where hope gave you the strength to get through – and be grateful for it.
  2. Play a boardgame with a friend, colour something, make a craft.
  3. Get some exercise. Go for a walk, have a snowball fight, go for a swim, shovel some snow… just move your body – 20 – 30 minutes.

That’s it, I challenge you!