The Cure for Depression: Joy

I am not looking forward to this article.

Whoa –what?! Why wouldn’t I want to type about happy things? I’m the expert, dishing out advice. I should be ALL OVER this topic.

I’m not.

I am terrible at happiness. -Aaaannnddd that sentence just proved it.

Instead of the ol’ biblical casting of stones at me, however, I’d like to pipe up and suggest that we all might struggle a bit with the positive side of things. That’s kind of, sort of why we’re looking at solutions for depression, right?

So, with seeking counseling, improving our diet, getting outside, exercising a tad, and perhaps taking medication, let’s Do Something that Brings Us Real Joy.


Lemme give you an analogy: Right now I am sitting at my computer typing you advice. I can smell something, and it’s not a pleasant sort of something. I am fairly certain this unpleasant odor is coming from the garbage can.

I live in a fancy house with a fancy pull-out garbage drawer thingie with two entire garbage bins so that I can procrastinate taking the mess outside for a really long time (like two days, since I have four children). We’ve been playing a game of smashing the mess down instead of removing it because we’re really good at procrastination.

The garbage needs to get taken out. Why the heck don’t I do it?

  1. I enjoy the stink of stinky things. They remind me that life is full of crap and I shouldn’t forget it.
  2. I’ve read about other people smelling garbage. I feel better knowing I’m not alone and leave comments about how I, too, can smell bad things all day.
  3. Thinking about refuse removal overwhelms me. What if the bags are too heavy? What if they tear when I pull them out? What if, what if, what if?
  4. It’s a really long couple hundred feet out my garage door to the outside cans/bins/etc. I just don’t think I can make it that far.

Didja get the point? Good! You get extra credit. Everyone else (myself included): just insert phrases like negative thoughtsdepressionhiding in the closetfeeling terrible every time I wrote about smelly waste.


My story sounded silly when I was talking about garbage. I mean, OF COURSE I SHOULD JUST TAKE IT OUTSIDE. But why do we hang onto personal garbage?

Feeling terrible is simply not worth it.

I wrote about why I numb awhile back. Not doing happy things is an activity I participate in because I’m trying to self-protect. I think that not feeling happy will make it so I also don’t feel sad. Instead, I am constantly in a haze of nothingness and still feel sad.

Feeling happy is okay. In fact, it feels good.

Let’s small step out of our stinky, dark corner. First, I want you to think a happy thought. Seriously, Tinkerbell, DO IT. I recommend thinking about a time that you felt happy, even just a little bit. Or, think about an activity you love to do.

Got it firmly in your mind? Now, wave your wand and… Expecto Patronum!


In the real world, we’re going to take that happy thought and write another one below it. We’re making what’s called a LIST. Yes, I want you to actually put pen or pencil on paper and list them out. Even in today’s technological world, listing helps our primal brains make connections.

Your list may read: eating, reading, me time, skiing, friends, chocolate, gardening, walks, booze, sex, sunlight streaming softly through slatted blinds, and whiskers on kittens. Dude; it’s your list. Make it catered to you and stop worrying that someone will judge you for it.

Now, small step numero dos is to pick one thing on there that you think you can do soon. It is your list, but pick one that gives you REAL JOY (sex and drugs don’t count, sorry). Decide to do it. Today would be ideal, but maybe you’re reading this article at 3 a.m. and water skiing with your friends might be a little lethal in the dark.

I don’t want you to just say you will do it, either. Put it in your phone. Send a text to a responsible person like your mother. Carve out the time that you will do it and then actually do it.

It’s just one thing, I promise.

After completing that thing, recuperate. Then, do something else from your list. Recover. Pick another one and do it. Lather, rinse, repeat.

After you do that first thing, I want you to do me a favor. I want you to come back here and comment on this here blog post. Tell me what you did (unless it’s classified). You get extra internet credit if you tell the class how you felt afterwards.

Let’s find real joy, together.


This has been part of our tips to help cure depression. Tune in next time, to read about service.

Blaise Vonlanthen
Sharon McCutcheon

*Chelsea Owens is not a licensed anything, except a Class D driver in her home state, and shares all information and advice from personal experience and research.


14 Replies to “The Cure for Depression: Joy”

  1. Humour aside, this is such a beautiful piece. I think there’s one thing that can give you long standing joy. It’s called love. I’m not talking about puppy love or lust or infatuation but the real deal that develops after years of trust and commitment. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be romantic. It can be platonic or something you share with your children. But spending time with people who really love you is worth the effort and brings me joy.

    1. Yes, Nitin! So very true!
      I briefly, blunderingly touched on connecting with a human as the first tip because of this idea. We NEED human connection; a deep feeling, and a trusting one.

  2. Hey, I’m the first one to report on here. Go figure!
    I made cookies today, like from scratch. The dough is refrigerating right now, and then we’re going to cut them into interesting shapes and add frosting. Yum!

      1. It made me laugh and think deeply all at the same time, that equals a pretty amazing read to me😄😄

      2. Awesome! 😀 Laughing is also important. Perhaps I should add that one to my long list of tips.
        …Come to think of it, why didn’t I specifically mention laughing in a post talking about joy?

  3. I like Andrew Solomon’s take . He says that ‘The opposite of depression is not happiness – it’s vitality.’

    I think joy is a major component of vitality.

      1. His Ted talk on Depression is remarkable. I’ve watched it a few times, and it never fails to help me be more self aware and empathetic to others as well.

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