Keep walking on the bright side while you have the light
There’s a rather charming advert on TV at the moment for Tetley Tea. A dog and a cat are having a conversation on a couch. The dog complains that he will be made to go out in the rain for a walk. The cat asks in a sarcastic way: “Why is your tail wagging then?” The dog has to defend himself and says that it is the tea that is making him wag his tail – in other words, he is not wagging his tail because he is looking forward to a walk in the rain. Oh no! He wants to be negative.
The dog represents those who like to grumble, whose glass is always half-empty rather than half-full, who choose to look on the gloomy side.
Now I know that there are many people – more than most people realise – who suffer with real black depression. They may have clinical depression and may need therapy and medication to manage their condition. I have tried hard with certain people who suffer in this way to change their outlook, to reframe the way they look at the world – with extremely limited success. In fact, one went on to take his own life.
However, there are, I believe, others who could be fortified and supported in such a way that they don’t slip into clinical depression. They can be given the tools to lift their mood. A simple tool is exercise. This is very well established. Another might be putting oneself in green space. Putting those two things together, a brisk walk in the park must be a good thing.
There are lots of self-help books and articles on warding off low mood. Having looked at a few I would say that they mostly involve exercises in identifying the positives in life. Keeping a Gratitude Diary, for example. “Count your Blessings, name them one by one” in Christian terms.
We can all help each other to look on the bright side. To find the things in life which inspire and sustain. To do less hankering after the things which are almost bound to disappoint (eg a Lottery win!) and instead go for the things which sustain (eg good relationships). After all, didn’t Jesus say: “I have come in order that you might have life – life in all its fullness”?
A few Old Testament passages won’t come amiss.
“If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.” Ps 139:11-12
“When you pass through the deep waters, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.” Isaiah 43:2-3